Money. It’s the most important topic that no one wants to talk about.
If you want to create an awkward silence at a social gathering, just ask someone “how much money do you make?” or “what’s your net worth?”
You might as well have asked them to strip naked!
Some of us love money. Some of us hate money. But none of us can ignore it.
Money is critical.
We work for money. It pays our bills. It secures our future. We use it to support causes that help others. Right or wrong, earning a certain amount of money means we are successful in our society.
But money is also a dirty topic. Money is a symbol of greed. Money is the tool of corrupt politicians, crony capitalists, and drug kingpins. The Bible and other moral guides tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil.
Is there any wonder the topic of money stirs up so many conflicting emotions? This conflict can then lead to selling out for money.
How We Sell Out For Money
Selling out is a strong term. It means we compromise our values and our dreams. Do we really sell out for money?
At some point, I think we all do. I know I have. But we do it in different ways.
When we overemphasize money, we sell out by spending our lives exhausted on never-ending work and financial treadmills. Our primal human fear of survival is transferred to our fear of running out of money. And that fear is never satiated because there is never enough.
The book Your Money or Your Life called this “making a dying.” On this never-ending treadmill, we compromise the things that money could never buy – our health, our family, our friends, our dreams, our causes, and even our core values.
But on the other hand, money is still a vital part of a life well lived. We don’t need to fear, ignore, or condemn it.
Lack of money is not noble. In fact, it restricts our choices. It creates dependency. It’s a grind.
When we make money less important than it is, we give away our personal freedom and our personal choices. We restrict our ability to make a difference in the world.
We may complain that our boss, politicians, or corporations have too much control over our lives, but in reality, we sold out control long ago by ignoring and discounting money.
So, the two forms of selling out are opposite sides of the same coin. You either give money too much importance, or you give it too little.
But there is a third alternative. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle called the place between these two extremes the Golden Mean.
The Golden Mean of Money
Aristotle and the ancient Greeks placed a lot of emphasis on virtue. The Greeks described virtue with the word Arete, which means excellence or living at your highest potential from moment to moment.
Don’t you love that idea?!
For Aristotle, the Golden Mean was a way to understand that any virtue can become a vice in its excess or in its deficiency. Arete was found in the balancing of the extremes.
For example, courage is a virtue. But too much courage makes you rash, reckless, and foolhardy. And too little courage makes you a coward.
Money is central to our economic society, but it also has its excess and its deficiency. And just like for the virtue of courage, there is a golden mean of money.
What is your Golden Mean of Money? All I can tell you is that it’s not the same as mine. Or your next door neighbor. Or anyone else for that matter.
But it’s an important place to think about. Because when you’re selling out at either extreme (and you know when you are), you and your loved ones bear the brunt of the consequences.
A Healthy Balance With Money
The fact that you’re reading this article probably indicates that you are already financially intelligent and that you’re paying attention to money. This is a wonderful thing! In fact, supporting you in this endeavor is the mission of coachcarson.com.
But I’ve found in my own financial journey a tendency to stretch too far financially. A good thing can become a bad thing in excess. I get off balance.
Perhaps you’ve been there too.
It’s sort of like your relationship with food. You MUST eat. Your body requires it.
But your body does not need 5,000 calories when 2,500 would do. It does not need twinkies and donuts for breakfast. The double bacon cheeseburger for lunch every day could be a little too much, right?
Instead, our bodies need a balance of nutrition and just enough calories to meet our needs. Not too little. Not too much.
It’s the same with our emphasis on money.
And like a healthy balance of nutrition, a healthy balance with our money requires constant, life-long introspection and work. Like me, you’ll probably never stop swinging back and forth over that balance point.
But balance is still a worthwhile ambition. You may not be perfect, but your pendulum swings will become smaller and smaller. And if you’re being true to your own center point, you’ll also find yourself becoming happier and happier in the process.
Have you ever sold out for money? In what ways? How does the Golden Mean of Money apply to your life? What’s your ideal financial balance?
I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments section below.