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Dan Kennedy: On Achievement, Prosperity, and Envy

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy, The Millionaire Maker

Oscar Wilde said: “It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.” There’s nothing wrong with both, of course. Those who insist that money doesn’t buy happiness are usually short on money, ignorant of means of getting any, and selling their philosophy hard because misery loves company. Mark Twain wrote that, actually, no one can stand prosperity – another man’s. Money can’t buy happiness, but absence of money, endless worry about it, and envy and resentment of those who have it most certainly buys unhappiness. There are reasonably happy, almost poor people. I know some. But they are rare. The lack of financial security wears a person down.

I’d also note, making a great deal of money by honest means does not guarantee unhappiness. I know quite a few 7-figure earners and rich folks who are quite happy. And it shouldn’t just be about personal happiness anyway – such a childish pursuit. There is some ethical obligation for being here, to be constructive, productive and contribute, whether by creating magnificent art, or writing an influential book, or building a company and creating jobs, or amassing and being a good steward of wealth, or being the best schoolteacher, nurse, cop, taxi driver or whatever you can be, and being willing to do tasks and bear responsibilities that don’t necessarily produce happiness-as-you-go in order to accomplish significant things.

Money is not the only measurement of such accomplishment, but it is certainly a valid measurement; money is a mirror reflection of commercial value created. Those who resent the rich are often, truly, resentful of their own failure to create such value. It’s not a constructive emotion, and others’ having and expressing it ought not influence you in the least.

One of the great benefits of my work is the up-close relationships I have with people I categorize as Renegade Millionaires, and beyond that, getting paid to be keen observer of many others similarly striped. An interesting thing I find about them is, compared to most, little time or thought or angst given to the question of happiness; and compared to most, much more time and thought and energy and, yes, angst given to achievement.

It’s easy to lose sight of the central question: are you choosing goals for yourself that are significant and rewarding to you, and progressively achieving them? If you went to Harvard Law School and now choose not to practice law and instead live as an itinerant cowboy, sleeping under the stars and drinking campfire coffee from a rusty tin cup, and you’re honestly, authentically happy about that, more power to ya – unless you have unpaid loans and debts to family, or institutions for your education, or other responsibilities that must be honored and discharged. If you make millions and wish to spend much of it on wine, women and wine, and it’s your money, and you do no harm to others, have at it. It’s unlikely, though, that such things absent achievement and contribution will long sustain happiness, but you’re welcome to try.

The trick in it all is honesty with self. Earl Nightingale observed, that when it’s all said and done, each person is about as happy or unhappy as they choose to be. That’s true as far as it goes. Happiness is amazingly subjective, but not entirely subjective. For one person, never even having to think about money makes for happiness. For another, with no economic necessity, still, redeeming a coupon and getting a good deal makes them happy. But there is fact: achievement contributes to happiness; lack of achievement contributes to unhappiness. Envy contributes only to unhappiness. And much criticism masks envy.

Your business is YOUR business. Never forget it. That’s the core philosophy behind so much of my work, including books I hereby self-servingly but also sincerely suggest you get and read: NO B.S. RUTHLESS MANAGEMENT OF PEOPLE AND PROFITS; NO B.S. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS; and NO B.S. WEALTH ATTRACTION IN THE NEW ECONOMY. As arrogant as it is to say, they just may change your life.

So, by all means, seek out role models, inspiring examples, teachers, mentors, advisors, experts – validated by relevant, successful opinion – and learn from and sift and sort and consider all they have to offer. But ultimately know that The Renegade Millionaire Way is by very definition the finding of one’s own way.

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