We Either Want it All OR we Have it All
Sometimes, the most profound words of wisdom come from the least likely characters in our lives. Last week, a security guard in my office building stopped me dead in my tracks.
I was walking out to my car one evening and the guard popped out from his post as he does from time to time. He has a very optimistic personality. He usually greets me with a smile and a quip or a joke on my way out. But this day was different. He could see that I was stressed. I’d had a long day and was rushing out to pick up the kids from the sitter before a whirlwind evening of feeding them, bathing them, and wrestling them to sleep. I wasn’t looking forward to it.
Bret popped out of his post and said “Hey Jeff, you alright?” I smiled. “Anything I can do to help you?” Bret continued. I told him I was alright, just not looking forward to my evening of kid stress. That’s when he dropped the bomb on me. “You know Jeff, you either want it all, or you have it all.” I laughed and said something dumb like “you’re right, buddy. Have a good night.”
I sat down in my car and started reflecting on what he said. You either want it all, or you have it all. I mulled that line over and finally realized how profound it was.
We Hide the Obvious with a Mound of Details
I see myself in the “Want it All” category. I work hard to have a middle-class lifestyle for my family. We have 2 cars and 2 kids. Every day I think about making more money, having nicer cars, having a bigger house, and “living the high life.” I want to run my own business, live on the beach or in the mountains, vacation in the Caribbean, and do whatever I want whenever I want. I want it all.
What Bret told me is “you have it all.” The life I live is the life others want. They want a house, they want a family, they want cars; they want to live the high life. They see the high life as my life.
I was in a moment of angst and I’d forgotten to be grateful for what I’ve got. Montgomery Gentry sings a song titled Lucky Man. My favorite line in the song is “I look around at what everyone has and I forget about all I’ve got.”
Sometimes, we lose sight of what we’ve got. We focus on getting more and we focus on the details. We focus on wanting a bigger house. We focus on wanting a BMW. We focus on starting a company. We focus on building up 6 months of savings. We focus on paying down tuition debt. We live in this mound of details and we forget to take the time to be grateful for the obvious.
The man who didn’t realize he had it all
Adolf Merckle was the grandson of a German pharmaceutical wholesaler. He took over the company in the 1967 and grew it into the country’s largest pharma-wholesaler. The company grew from 1.4 Million in annual sales to over 31 Billion under his watch. Needless to say, Adolf Merckle had it all.
Adolf grew this company from 80 employees to over 100,000 employees by the late 1990s. His company provided ‘the high life’ for thousands and thousands of people all over the world.
In 2007, Mr. Merckle was worth 12.8 Billion Dollars. He was the 36th wealthiest man in the world.
In 2008, he had made a bad decision in the stock market and it cost him 3.6 Billion dollars. Remember, this was during the greatest financial crash since The Great Depression.
By May of 2008, Adolf Merckel was worth $9.2 Billion. He fell from 36th wealthiest to 94th wealthiest in the world. He was the 5th wealthiest man in Germany. He tried to restructure some debt his company had taken on. He continued investing in the stock market and made another miscalculated decision which cost him over $100 Million.
On January 5th, 2009, Adolf Merckle committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a speeding train.
He had it all. He was worth 9 Billion Dollars at the time of his suicide.
What’s the point?
Most of my blog is about living frugally, saving money, and getting out of debt. I want to make sure you don’t lose sight of the great things you already have, the great progress you’ve already made, and the amazing things you already do.
We either want it all, or we have it all. Don’t lose sight of the great things around you in your pursuit for more.
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you. In the comments on this post, tell me 2 things: what are you grateful for, and what are you working towards.