The Enlightened Caveman


Money and the Option
July 8, 2004, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Culture and Society, Enlightened Living

Finally got around to reading Kiyoski’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. What a great book. Though he spends the majority of his time explaining how to do things that will make you rich, he touches on an idea that I’ve been advocating for years – the option. At least that’s what I call it.

The option comes in large and small sizes. In making little day-to-day choices in life, I am always on the lookout for the option. For example, when I travel, and when it is practical, I rent a car. It gives me the most options. And in thinking about the direction I want for my life, I am obsessed with the option. The ultimate option is to have the financial wherewithal to do whatever I want, wherever I want, for as long as I want.

The option is founded on the idea that I can’t predict what I’ll want to be doing very far into the future. The thing is that it takes money to realize the ultimate option. So, being a generally lazy person, I look for speediest way to get what I need. That’s where books like Rich Dad Poor Dad come in. They offer instruction in how to make money and, more importantly, in how to make money work for you. But there seems to be a question of morality here, at least for some people.

To pursue money doggedly is, in the eyes of some, a shameful endeavor. Somehow, the notion that being financially ambitious is equated with utter selfishness and a self-centered personality. Without question, there are many money chasers who fit this description. However, it is intellectually lazy to assume that all do. The fact is that those who achieve financial independence often do so by creating businesses, which create jobs and wealth for other people. At the same time, many people pursue money in a laser focused way, but by doing things that people like – actors, rock stars, writers, etc. Those people are interestingly exempted from the contempt that is normally reserved for the so-called “greedy”.

But I digress – this is about the option. How could there be anything wrong with my wanting to have all of my time to do what I want, which happens to be playing with my friends and family? If anything, it pushes me away from materialism for materialism’s sake. Buying ostentatious things only wastes money that I can contribute to the option fund. Those who want to be rich so that others will know they are rich have missed the boat. Maybe it is their ethos that has elicited the backlash against the greedy. Or maybe it is the fact that the rich effectively serve as provocation to the poor, as a situation that gives them two options – either look inward and examine whether or not their choices in life have contributed to their lack of capital (and therefore lack of options, though they may not see it that way) or convince themselves that the rich have obtained their wealth through nefarious acts or via advantages that are only conferred upon the well-to-do. What happens at this crossroads is telling. Those who look inward often look realistically at the situation and set their sights on doing what it takes to get what they want from life. They take control. Those who blame the rich do nothing but seethe in resentment, assuming that no action will amount to anything. Theirs is a futile existence.

Those who view their lives as futile are truly sad. There is no scenario that has not been endured by Americans. Those who succeed in the face of adversity normally share one critical attribute – they are determined. In my view, determination is usually an adequate substitute for talent. The good news is that determination is nothing more than a decision not to quit. It is available to everyone. In fact, determination is the preferred tool in the pursuit of the option. And if it I have to be determined to make the money I need to achieve the option, why not focus on the good my determination provides (jobs and taxes) and refrain from assuming that I’m just another jerk trying to get rich so I can run you off the road with my beamer? But like I said, this is about the option.

It is perfectly possible (and likely, in my case) that the pursuit of money en route to the option can coincide with living a magnanimous existence. The less I have to worry about money, the more time I have to do positive things in my community, and the more resources I have to do it. The fact is that many who achieve financial independence serve as benefactors to society. In the spirit of everyone getting along, I think it makes sense to assume that anyone we don’t know who is in pursuit of financial freedom is doing so to play that role, whether they mean to or not (once again, businesses create wealth and jobs). I am convinced that when presented with the option, most any thinking person will embrace it. There is no shame in doing so, nor is there any shame in doing what it takes to get it.

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