What do we really have to lose?

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Steve Jobs’ passing today got me thinking about a few words I strung together about death and its motivational power in “The Wealth in Questions” as such:

“The fears that we cultivate regarding losing our job, money, house, car, clothes, respect from peers, and the long list of other daily human worries are insignificant. When people come face to face with death, they wake up and realize that all that stuff really doesn’t matter. The prospect of death brings this very simple concept to life.”

What do we really have to lose?

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R.I.P. Steve Jobs: If today were your last…

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One of the world’s most creative and visionary entrepreneurs of all time passed away today. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple which gave us the Mac computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone and tons of other life-enhancing revolutionary products left us today at age 56. He will forever be missed.

The lasting memory I have of Steve Jobs is a commencement address he gave at Stanford University’s graduation ceremony in 2005. In his speech, he spoke of how a simple quote on death helped to push him to success. This is a short excerpt of what he said:

“… for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself ‘If today were the last day of my life would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life… Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

A few simple words. But more powerful than just the letters strung together.

If today were your last day, would you do what you are about to do today? 

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.

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What is Wealth?

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We often assume that Wealth is Money. But in the book “The Wealth in Questions” and on this blog, we must understand that money is just one form of wealth – Financial Wealth. To describe the other 3 forms of wealth, allow me to re-publish a quote from the book that explains this:

“Wealth has many forms. If we give love to someone, even if that someone is ourselves, we are sharing our Spiritual Wealth with this person. If we learn something from somewhere or someone, we acquire Mental Wealth. If we are physically healthy, we are blessed with Physical Wealth. We are each born with some form of wealth. But more importantly, this means that we are wealthy right now.”

This is Wealth.

And in order for Wealth to grow, it must flow - Give Wealth, Receive Wealth.

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Why is Wealth always over “there”?

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It’s in the news every year: That guy over there came up with that simple idea and made it big. That woman over there came from poverty, worked hard, and achieved massive success and wealth. Wealth is always over there, with that other person. We seem to always be watching that person over there.

What about this person here? Why can’t that news story be about this person here now? Why not us? Why is the success and wealth always with that person over there in that place over there?

And if we do believe that we can accomplish as much as that successful person, we see it over there, in the future. Hence we dutifully create 5- and 10-year plans. After all, success and wealth cannot be here. It must be at a different place and different time. Surely not here. Surely not now.

This is society’s programming at work. Success and wealth is over there: That person, that place, that time. Definitely not here. Definitely not now. Right?

From childhood, we are taught to look out there. What we desire is out there. Reality television shows are so popular because they enable us to watch those other people live and thrive or self-destruct. We study successes or failures in books, magazines, on television, or on the Internet. Due to programming, we instinctively watch that person over there. He or she has the life that we want. Our life sucks.

Interesting programming, huh? Any form of entertainment will do. Anything to distract us from looking at the face in the mirror. Anything to distract us from looking within ourselves. Anything to prevent us from looking at the success and wealth we carry around in us from our first breath to our last breath.

The same Source that that successful person tapped into to receive his or her success and wealth is freely available to all of us, all of the time. That Wisdom, that wealth, is here, now, forever. The same Source that Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and others tapped into for their wealth is here now available to each of us in the exact same measure. No more, no less. The Source does not discriminate. None of these successful individuals had any more rights to this wealth than any of us. They were ordinary men and women who looked within themselves here and now. They asked and they received.

So, for a few minutes each day, let’s stop staring at that other person. Let’s put the 5- or 10-year plans away for just a moment. Tomorrow does not exist. All our life is here and now. What do we feel in our here and now? Not in that place over there. Not at that time in the future. Here. Now.

We may not feel or see much today because we lack experience in listening to ourselves. We’ve been so busy listening to that other person’s noise that our senses are numb to our own voice. But let’s keep at it for a few minutes each day. Soon we begin to feel these subtle urges. This subtle guidance. There it is. It has always been there. That is us. The real us. Our success. Our wealth. Here. Now.

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Isn’t Value in the eye of the beholder?

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I recently watched an old TV interview with Nicolas Hayek, the legendary founder of Swiss watchmaker Swatch, who passed away in 2010. Hayek built Swatch into a global powerhouse which includes the Omega brand promoted in the James Bond movies. Hayek was even involved in the creation of Mercedes-Benz Smart Car.

He was an amazing entrepreneur who loved engineering. He believed in the pride of designing & building physical things that people use and get real value from, such as watches and cars.

Anyway, let me get to the point. Hayek was asked to offer advice to young people on how to succeed in business. His advice was that they choose careers where they build things instead of becoming stock traders who buy and sell stocks & create no real value.

This is a pretty common belief held by a lot of people. After all, America is finding it harder to compete globally due to fewer technology and engineering grads on its shores.

All this got me thinking about the word “value.” What is value, really? 

Businesses all over the world claim they offer value for the customer’s money. But who decides what value is? Isn’t it the customer? For example, even if I bought a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle for $1, I consider it to be of no value to me. Why? Because I’m not a motorcycle rider or enthusiast. To a rider, that’s huge value for their money.

Well, if I want to buy a stock at $1 a share, and someone (who bought it at $0.50) sells it to me for $1, I have received value. Why? Because I got what I wanted. And isn’t that what value ultimately is? The recipient gets what he wants whether it be a stock, car, motorcycle, watch, or intangibles like peace of mind, convenience, or a sense of security. Aren’t intangibles valuable too?

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not work on Wall Street or in the financial services sector. However, I do own businesses that invest in stocks, domain names and websites. But I don’t want to join the crowd and vilify the finance folks for ripping off the masses and not creating value without actually giving this some thought.

I believe value is when the customer gets what he or she wants. If a stockbroker or investment manager gives his client what the client asked for, isn’t that value? If a trader sells a stock to another trader at the price the buyer wants, isn’t that value?

Like beauty, isn’t value in the eye of the beholder? What is value to you?

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