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Money Is a Terrible End (Find Meaning Instead)

A very good friend and fellow Charles Haanel Fan, Anthony Michalski sent an email that jarred my memory of a favorite Week of Charles Haanel’s
The Master Key

Charles F. Haanel wrote in Week Sixteen of The Master Key System, the point about wealth  (or making money) that most people miss
is that money in and of itself is a terrible end.

Money is merely a means.
Money is the means for accomplishing goals, both personal and financial.
As you will see, the people who make the most money have a greater goal in mind.

Let’s review the first six points in Week Sixteen.

  1. Wealth is a product of labor. Capital is an effect, not a cause; a servant, not a master; a means, not an end.
  2. The most commonly accepted definition of wealth is that it consists of all useful and agreeable things which possess exchange value. It is this exchange value which is the predominant characteristic of wealth.
  3. When we consider the small addition made by wealth to the happiness of the possessor we find that the true value consists not in its utility but in its exchange value.
  4. This exchange value makes it a medium for securing the things of real value whereby our ideals may be realized. Money allows you to enrich yourself so long as you use it wisely?
  5. Wealth should then never be desired as an end, but simply as a means of accomplishing an end. Success is contingent upon a higher ideal than the mere accumulation of riches, and he who aspires to such success must formulate an “ideal” for which he is willing to strive. You get rich by thinking beyond the money. Instead of focusing on the money, you focus on an ideal.
  6. With such an ideal in mind, the ways and means can and will be provided, but the mistake must not be made of substituting the means for the end. There must be a definite fixed purpose — an ideal.

You can listen to Week Sixteen or Download for the future.



Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki said that “making meaning” — not making money — is one of the most important things an entrepreneur must accomplish

Great companies start because the founders want to change the world … not make a fast buck. “Making yourself rich” seems like an insipid reason to start a company. However, if you make meaning, you’ll probably make money.

From Anthony’s email:

Of course, making money is important. It’s important to us personally (we all have to eat!) as well as in business. The point with all of this — with what Haanel wrote in The Master Key System and with what Mr. Kawasaki is saying here — is that it should not be the sole end goal.

The vision — the ideal — is more important.-

Imagine that a person wants nothing more than to provide well for his new son and to raise him right. He works assiduously at making money. He works so much, in fact, that he doesn’t spend any time with his son. Yes, he provides all the comforts that money can provide, but he doesn’t provide the things that count: time, attending his son’s activities, taking his son to a ball game. Before he knows it, his son is grown. The father provided well, but did he provide everything as he had in mind? Did he focus so much on money that he lost sight of the reason he was making so much and working so hard?

Similarly in business, should all decisions be made based solely on the bottom line? Should corners be cut in order to save a few cents per unit?

These are tough questions. And there are no easy answers. But with insight and wisdom and with controlling our thoughts so that we keep our grand goal in mind, we’ll be better equipped to wisely respond to these questions when they arise.

For now, don’t worry (too much) about the money.- Instead, keep your eye — and your mind — on your ideal.-

Think. Imagine. Visualize.– Everything else — including the money — will fall into place.

Harry Chapin and Cats In The Cradle, a Father’s Song

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