Is it OK to be motivated only by making money in business and work?

When my team and I coach and mentor clients, one of the first exercises we do is to get people to identify and write their Personal Mission Statement – much like a Mission Statement of an organisation. In the Personal Mission Statement they are to succinctly outline their primary reason for doing what they do in business or career. It might be to serve people, to help customers maximize enjoyment, to innovate, to be the best in their field, etc.

It is the foundation upon which everything else springs from. Once the Personal Mission Statement is set, goals, objectives, behaviors, values are all much easier to identify, live and breathe. Many of you may have seen Simon Sinek on YouTube with his now famous ‘Find Your Why’ video. It’s a great start to help you clarify your Mission in career and business:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Sinek mentions that making money should never be the primary ‘Why’ or our primary mission in career or business. He states that money is merely the result or by-product of our primary Personal Mission or ‘Why?’ He goes on to cite an example or two in history where people who made money their primary motivator eventually failed. He argues that it’s only people motivated by something bigger than themselves that achieve true success and fulfilment. Further, only the people with a selfless mission can have a positive effect on other people.

This has been consistent with my own views to-date. Don’t get me wrong-money is a motivator and we need it to pay our way for life’s essentials, but should it be the primary motivator?

What’s wrong with Money Being Your Primary Motivator/Mission?

I had a client recently who said his primary Personal Mission was to make as much money as he could. Quite a common initial response when I do this exercise. I usually then get Clients to reach deeper and look for a more selfless Mission that resonates, e.g. to serve, to be innovative, etc. This one client wouldn’t budge-over a few conversations he steadfastly maintained he wanted his primary Personal Mission or reason ‘Why’ he does what he does – to be about making huge amounts of money.

This challenged my own beliefs on the subject.  Can we truly be successful and fulfilled with money as the primary or even sole motivator? Will this core drive manifest in greedy, rip off tactics? Will our prospects, customers, employees or employers sense that we’re only doing it for the money?

I asked him all these questions and more. He responded that quite simply the only thing that motivates him is making money. He says therefore the more money he makes the more motivated he’ll be, therefore the more people and customers he’ll please in the process of making money.

So that started me pondering:

  1. Is solely making money as your Personal Mission a valid proposition to base a career or business on?
  2. Is it feasible to have money as the core motivator so long as commensurate value is provided back to customers, employees, employers and other stakeholders?
  3. What do your core values truly tell you?

 

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