A Better Life
Listen to “A Better Life.”
As I handed him the check for the work he had been doing for us he paused before folding it neatly and putting it in his shirt pocket.
“Are you happy with your current lifestyle? Would you like to know about a business opportunity that could help you get more income and be able to afford a better life?”
I knew what was next and, fortunately, I had a prepared answer that stymied him completely.
“I really don’t want any more money than I have. In fact, I probably have more than I need right now.” I had the feeling that was a response not covered in the book. That was the end of the conversation. But now, 30 years later we were invited by a close friend to attend a local meeting sponsored by a multilevel marketing organization.
I was expecting pretty much the same appeal to my interest in having more money to buy more things and have better vacations. But, things had changed in 30 years and, while there was that element, it was obvious that more income was not at the top of the list any longer. It was still there but had moved down and I found that more than interesting. It was an illustration of how our lives and what motivates and sustains us have changed.
First, there was the offer that you could be in charge of your time. We would no longer be chained to a job that demanded a fixed (and increasing) amount of time spent working. No more punching a clock or working insane hours to make a good living. We would have time to invest in things that mattered.
Second, there was an emphasis on the value of family. Not only would we have more time for the family but the nature of the business encouraged family involvement. There would be no more “going off” to work and being separated from those we love. It reminded me of studies done on the impact of the Industrial Revolution on family life. For the first time in history, the father left home to go work for long hours away from the home and came back exhausted. Work relationships replaced the close ties families had enjoyed for centuries.
Third, there was the promise that we would be joining a team of people who would support, challenge, encourage and commit to making us successful. This was not becoming part of a faceless corporation but it was not the isolation of being the lonely entrepreneur taking the whole risk of the venture on themselves.
Fourth, by the very nature of the business and the chance to offer the benefits to others, we would have an impact for good in the lives of people who were struggling in so many ways. Over and again, we heard personal testimonies of people who were grateful for the opportunity to help people. They were not telling stories of how their new found wealth had given them total independence. In a way, it was just the opposite. Their lives had been enriched by helping others.
Fifth, there was the obvious prospect of making more money for a better lifestyle, for funding a college education, nicer homes and furniture and all the many things that people do with disposable income. But, while this was at the top of the list 30 years ago, it was almost at the bottom now. In fact, 30 years ago there had not really been a list. It was this one thing as the main incentive.
Finally, there was the opportunity to use increased wealth for charity. People talked about mission trips, supporting orphanages, increasing their giving and being charitable in a variety of ways. The money had a higher purpose.
Naturally, it started me thinking about what this means. Have we moved from a culture that was once motivated by and primarily interested in more money? While the lack of money for a better life or the simple desire to be rich had been enough to engage people in the past, it was far less a driver now. Instead, what we lack and want is time, relationships, control, being part of a team that is supportive, and a desire to make some kind of genuine difference in the lives of other people. I think it might be and, whether they have thought it through this intentionally or not, it certainly did resonate with people as I watched their body language and attentiveness. Yes, the money was interesting but not nearly as appealing as before. Something had changed. What was once merely a multilevel marketing organization had discovered somehow that all of us have multiple levels of motivation.
I think they are on to something.