A while ago I wrote this post about some of the ideas I have been unpacking regarding the nature of success and the way that we often supplant an intrinsic attitude with extrinsic results-based approach to it.
I became aware of this a few years ago, as a teenager when I went through my moderate obsession with Championship/Football Manager. I often found myself going into the editor and allotting a bottomless pit of finance to the club that I wanted to manage (cheating). This gave me endless possibilities to purchase the best players and staff and thus generally gave me no excuses to fail in winning every competition I entered.
I was essentially buying success (winning), and anything less than that was unthinkable and very annoying. As I went from season to season winning everything I found that the feeling of beating everyone wore off. I then became obsessed with not conceding goals, with winning every game by at least 3 goals, and other such extreme targets. They however, just serve to make it completely un-enjoyable. This is something we see in football today with clubs such as Manchester City and in previous years Chelsea essentially buying expectation and nothing less than success. As a result I would find both teams ironically depressing to support.
But I don’t want to just talk about football. I think there is a lesson here for all of us.
Do you ever dream of winning the lottery, or suddenly coming into a lot of money? Do you think about how you would spend it? Is this what your dreams are restricted to or do you have other hopes and desires, because I believe most dreams would actually be shattered by the acquisition of quick money. It would make existing a hell of a lot easier, but it would make living a hell of a lot harder.
As a kid I dreamed of building a recording studio. Over the years I made this a moderate reality as I collected bits of gear, replaced bits and pieces, and most of all learnt how to use it. I spent within my means and created the best of what I could afford, albeit at the sacrifice of other things that I could have spent my money on. But what I realise is that the process was vital. If I had a bottomless pit of money I would have bought the most expensive equipment, or hired a great producer. I would not have learnt how to do it myself, even though that is where I have found the intrinsic success and the most enjoyment.
I wanted to record music. I learnt how to do it with what I had.
Football fans want their team to win. They must do it with what they have. Otherwise it’s just a childish game. It is like the house that was built on the sand. For a few minutes it resembles the house that was built on the rock, but then the slightest knock or a change in the weather and it comes tumbling down.
When we build the foundations of what we do on something solid that is not reliant on or expectant of extrinsic success then we can just keep building. We don’t need to keep moving from one plot of land to the next and starting again, we can build more rooms and floors upon the same foundations.
It’s obvious; it’s common sense, yes. But it also flies in the face of our current systemic reason. The reality of our whole system is founded on the sand, and we are encouraged to do the same with our lives. We are told to live beyond our means, desire things we don’t need or want and consume without being satisfied, for satisfaction is evil as it will hinder growth. Essentially what is needed of us is to be the reflective image of the system – the credit monster that consumes and consumes and needs to be fed constantly or else the house collapses. So no wonder we are dissatisfied. We have to be. And the more we have the more dissatisfied we become.
Like the boy who bought success on a computer game, we too need to aware that money is not the solution we need. It is certainly something we need in order to exist (within this particular man-created version of reality), but it is a meaningless mode of exchange if we don’t build our foundations despite it. If we chase after money, believing it to be the solution to all our problems then we will become corrupted. It is meaningless. If we believe winning the lottery would be the answer we just don’t get it. We are worshiping the system. It would quite plausibly be detrimental to the state of our soul and to our ability to live and grow (in a real sense) – again, we would drift into a vacuum of meaninglessness. We would just buy our desired ends and flit from one plot of land to the next without taking the time to breathe the joy of the intrinsic.
Money does not equal wealth. As humans we can create abundant wealth, whereas money, by nature is designed to restrict its creation. Money ruins everything that is good. That is a fact.
Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.