"The number"

September 16, 2018

Last week I gave a speech to Citi’s Private Bank leadership team on effective communication in general and year-end in particular. What I love to see about Citi is that they continuously strive to adjust to other values other than this industry has been once famous for. Greed, money etc. As a former employee I have to give massive credit to them. The intention to “doing the right thing” was noticeable in the room. To be fair, this can only be a process and no sudden switch, as what has grown over years can’t be changed overnight.

In preparation for my talk I thought, I had believed in “the number” (or promotions delivered via a year end conversation) for all too long. I always thought once I reach “the number” my life will be completely worry free. I underestimated hedonic adaption and that there are always things you can’t (and shouldn’t) plan for as you stop living in the present moment, which is the only thing you have control over. At the end “the number” is just a lazy short cut not evaluating the meaning of your own life. And its dangerous, as we tend to use “the number” as a single measure of success too, when there are more definitions of success than money, a car, a watch or a handbag. Worse, once we have what we believe shows our status value we already think about the next. So we lay on the sunbed in the Caribbean thinking about the next holiday.

It’s a vicious circle. How can you break it?

First, by asking yourself, who are you and what’s left if you take the money and status away. What do you believe in? Why do you think you are here? What’s your purpose? I don’t think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Nelson Mandela, Roger Federer, to name just a few, ever put money first. Secondly, by giving. Helping others and being of service to your community, to your team, work colleagues, friends and the world around you will bring you more satisfaction than “the number” will ever be able too.

In next week’s “The difference” (Part 2), I will write about the different focus of mind.


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