Success and money. These are two powerful driving forces in our society. Everyone wants to be successful, and I don’t think anyone would turn down an opportunity to be wealthy. But attaining those things is where the trouble lies. What are your motivations? What perspective do you have as you go about your daily work?

What We Have Is Not Really Ours

Here is a contemporary rendition of an ancient fable:

The world’s most prominent scientists gather together and call God to a meeting. The group includes an astrophysicist, a molecular biologist, a geneticist, and the most accomplished professional of every other scientific discipline.

With as much respect as they could muster, they basically tell God that the jig’s up. “Anything you can do with life, we can do. All the power, knowledge, and technology needed to control life are now in human hands. We can modify it. We can prolong it. We can eliminate it. We can even create it!”

God listens to them patiently and raises an eyebrow at their last statement. “You can create life? Really? Show me.”

So the head of the group reaches down to scoop up a handful of soil to put into his test tube. “Not so fast,” declares God. “Get your own soil!”

The moral of the story is that no matter how much control people think they have over their lives, everything they do is still using material on loan from the Creator. This is an important perspective to have in everyday life, and even more so in business.

Perspective Of Ownership

Here’s why the lesson of this fable is significant: it puts the whole idea of ownership in proper perspective. Ownership is a way of distinguishing between my property and yours. For example, I own my home and you own yours. I own my business and you own your business. I have my own my life insurance policy and you have yours. What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours. No one is going to argue with that. We can certainly share our respective properties, but that’s through an intentional agreement that we make with each other.

Ultimate Ownership

But even those basic examples only explain ownership in a relative sense. The idea of ultimate ownership is that the true owner is Whoever initially created it in the first place. Whether that’s our home, our business, our assets or all the other stuff we build, collect, and value. In the end, everything passes through our hands because when we die, we can’t take anything with us. Even the biggest building or the most precious stone ultimately returns to the dust it came from.

Does that thought sober you as much as it does me? This perspective reveals the true purpose behind what we actually do when we conduct business and engage in the marketplace. At best, we strive to obtain something that will be in our hands for a comparatively short amount of time. It makes us appreciate the process of getting there, of making the acquisition or selling the policy rather than focus solely on the final result.

Process And Priorities

In this series, we’ve looked at how success guru Steve Siebold believes that faith in a higher power brings true success. When it comes to the process and perspective of business practices, he states that the best decisions in life are made when people prioritize how they get what they want:

“The masses repeatedly attempt to create happiness from the outside in, whereas the great ones know sustained happiness stems from being and becoming, not acquiring and possessing. Average people have mastered short-term happiness, easily gained through instant gratification mechanisms…[but] the world class vests a substantial amount of time ensuring their future happiness by creating congruency between who they are, what they’re doing, and where they’re going. Champions are masters at doing such things as marrying the right person, selecting jobs they love and building friendships with people they admire and respect.” (67)

I know this is a lot to dwell on. But as you dive into your motivations and your everyday business practices, take some time to think about your perspective. Do you take control of everything you have or do you recognize that it was given to you for your time here on earth? Do you put all your energy into obtaining some end product or do you glean as much wisdom from the process as possible? I’d love to hear your thoughts and find out how your business perspectives affect your day-to-day life.