Beyond Money, Fame, Power


I grew up in a society where "rich" and "poor" are mentioned often, and the "rich" is always admired. I look around and see most young people looking up to the rich with gusto, frantically seeking tips on "how to be rich" and "how to make money quick". "Success" often means rich, fame, power; and a person's asset value can  now measure her self-worth.

I had met countless rich, famous, powerful people who, in their heart of heart, feel an endless emptiness. And you also must had met people who lived humbly; but they were so alive; their inner light shines through.

So what is it that we failed to grasp?

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi weaving his own cloth

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When I was little, My mother told me wise girl married rich man. I aspired to be rich early and proudly set it as an audacious goal. Despite the fact that my family'd had a comfortable life, I started working part-time to earn money since junior school.

When life led me to AIESEC, I took the opportunity because extracurricular activity could differentiate me with the crowd, and contribute to future success. During these five years, AIESEC helped me to challenge this paradigm by throwing me to a different land full of selfless people, sheer joy of giving and books of great minds.

The conviction about what success means saved me and instilled the peace of mind I'd been longing for. Now I imagine each choice I make every day having threefold impact; on myself, on others, on the world.

The way I interact with others could trigger love or hatred; respect or disdain.

What I do to the world through my work and deeds might bring me a sense of purpose or mere aimlessness; joy or guilt.

To my most loyal companion: myself; I might give strength or exhaust my body, expand or restrain my knowledge, gain peace of mind or stress, treasure or undermine my self worth.

Be sure that with each of my touch, I could make others happy or suffer, cause the world to flourish or wither.


So where does money lie?

I'd watched Richard St John's "8 secrets to success" over and over again; it remained to be my all time favorite talk on the subject. Richard said:

And the first thing is passion. Freeman Thomas says, "I'm driven by my passion." TEDsters do it for love; they don't do it for money... And the interesting thing is: if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.

Neil Gaiman, one of the greatest author our time, advised art graduates in his commencement speech in his sincere tone:

" ...and I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn't get the money, then you didn't have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money, at least I'd have the work.

Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. I don't know that it's an issue for anybody but me, but it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience."

Once we'd fulfilled our basic need for shelter, food and safety, I had no shadow of doubt to say that money, fame, power should neither be our compass nor destination.

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When I was 5, all I wanted was to make art, I chose Financial Management when I turned 18. If a child was brought up with the wrong measuring stick, what would he then choose to do with his life?

I hope for myself and for others to understand that we always have a choice between knowledge, health, peace of mind, self-esteem, love, respect, sense of purpose, fulfillment; choices beyond money, fame and power.

May we follow our heart and choose the path that makes us dance.

And if money, fame or power came to us one day; it would find us capable of using wisely to do greater deeds in this world.

But if it didn't, so be it; we would keep marching. 

Photo credit: Geraint Rowland