Do you love cars? Earlier this summer I was in La Jolla (California) with my wife. We’d just finished lunch and were taking a leisurely stroll, stretching our legs. The sun was out. The temperatures were in the mid-70s. The humidity was low. And there was a nice breeze coming in off the water. Perfect Southern California weather. There’s a reason SoCal is a popular destination.
And there they were! A vintage American muscle car alongside a foreign, exotic sportscar. Wow! If you could only choose one, which would you chose? No cheating. You can’t say I take the more expensive one, sell it, buy the other and pocket the change. No. You could only take one and you had to drive it. Me? I’d take the Ford Mustang. True American muscle. No offense to the Porsche. Both are sweet rides.
Me? I drive a Toyota Prius that’s seven years old and has 120,000 miles on it. I can afford a nicer car, but there’s something about my heritage and roots that won’t allow it. I’m too fiscally conservative. I prefer to give money to the church, the needy, my family, and the like. But if I HAD to take one of these cars, it would be the Mustang. What was your choice?
There’s a lot of money in Southern California and La Jolla is no exception. Money from all over the world comes to live, vacation, work, and play along the southern California coast. Some people have earned their money honestly. Some have inherited it. Some got lucky and won it. Some earned it dishonestly. But wherever you go, you see money. Nice cars. Nice homes. Nice yachts. There’s a lot of money in this part of the country and much of it is on display.
And that’s what got me thinking. What did all these people do for their money? Are they crooks? Entrepreneurs? Corporate executives? Day traders? Or did they marry into it? Regardless of HOW they go it, they have it. And I started wondering if I wanted their money. Was I jealous? Did I envy their wealth? Did I want their social status? And so on. Did I covet what they had or was I content?
Probably because of age, hormones, and personal values, I am content. I’m happy for others when they achieve something, make it big or win some type of award (the only caveat is that I’m happy for them if acquired something honestly and ethically). But even if someone obtained wealth via corrupt means, I am content.
The greatest people I know are content. They’re comfortable in the own skin. They may be motivated, driven, and ambitious, but they’re content. They aren’t jealous of others. They don’t put others down to make themselves feel or look better. They demonstrate genuine joy for the success of family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
As I walked on down the street in La Jolla, another thought hit me. There are many who could look at me and desire my things, my experiences, my education, and so on. There are many would love to have a fully-paid for, seven year old Toyota Prius with 120,000 miles on it.
You see that? We are always tempted to assume that whatever we have is “the norm” and that only people who have more than we do are “successful.” I was kinda proud that I was content and happy for the owners of these two nice cars. But I wasn’t fully appreciating that many would call me fortunate. It often feels like my life is normal because I can, at times, take my blessings for granted. This ever happen to you?
In the end, I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving for my blessings and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with my wife. It was a good reminder to be content AND thankful. Thankful for the thousands of blessings in my “normal” life. Thankful AND content.
How about you? Are you content with what you have? With who you are? And are you thankful as well? Have a great week!
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
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