My motto for my work has always been simple:
Impact First, Then Income.
My primary concern is a positive impact. My secondary concern is a positive cash flow. And that matters, because the prioritization I try to maintain will suggest certain activities and discourage others. As a philosopher, writer, and speaker, I want to make a difference for other people, as well as myself, and my family. I want to put giving over receiving, spreading over gathering. Of course, finances matter. They matter a lot. But other things matter even more. And it's those other things that should be our ultimate guides.
But, I can almost hear a question, which is even, perhaps, a skeptical hesitation: Is this sort of perspective simply a luxury for the few - to think first about making a difference and only second about making a dollar? My answer is: No, I truly don't think so. No matter where we are in life or what we're facing, it's important to focus first on the contribution we're making, on the good we're doing. That's ultimately the best way to get help, or a job, or a promotion, or the big payday that most of us would like to see. But it's also right for its own sake. We're here to give more than we get, and to leave the world a little better than we found it.
I'm convinced that coming at the equation from the other end is always a mistake. Those who think first about making money and only second about making a difference will eventually encounter trouble in some form. And they'll risk not becoming the best they're capable of being.
Even if you work focally with money in a field like financial services, it's important to see beyond the the market and the monthly report. We all work with people. And that should fundamentally guide us. What's the real human benefit of your work? Is it everything it could be? is it what it should be? Will a certain decision enhance my impact, or only my income? Those are the questions we all need to ask. Money without meaning is empty.
How am I using my talents, my abilities, and my opportunities? What difference am I making for other people? Could I do more? Could I do better? Those are the fundamental issues. And then matters of finance can helpfully be raised. Income is necessary for most of us, and profit is good, if it fits properly into our overall lives and values.
Don't let the tail wag the dog. Put first things first. Focus on what you can do to bless and benefit those around you, and you'll see good come back to you in surprising ways..