I had a personal epiphany last month. I was speaking to a group in Las Vegas (if you are going to get a revelation about acquiring the most pieces, Las Vegas is the place for that to happen). A speaker friend whom I’ve known for several year asked me how business was going.
For years I bought into the myth that more is better, and much more is to be bragged about to your peers. You’ve heard the saying, “He who dies with the most pieces wins the game.” But watching others chase the pieces and not wind up any happier, I decided that the chase isn’t worth it. I reinvented my thinking when he asked me that question. More on that in a moment…
It is familiar territory for me to be asked a question like that and give an exponential answer. I witnessed it in high school when another student would ask what my grades were in a certain class we competed for supreme genius in. My high school was very competitive for honor roll and dean’s listing positions on a public page once a semester.
I witnessed (and participated in) the pieces game during my ministry days at denominational meetings... “How’s ministry, Dan?” “Great, super! We’ve baptized a quadrillion this past year and the nickels and noses just keep increasing every week.”
I witnessed and also participated in the game at national speakers conferences. “How many gigs you speaking at this year?” “More than you and more than that person on the stage.” “Wow!” But watching the National Speakers Association convention this past summer where egos are on parade, followed by the rebranding debacle, where they outright stole another organization’s and another speaker’s brand, I realized something I hadn’t before… it just isn’t worth it. The building a bigger house, business, or automobile fleet is worthless.
Worthless is defined as it doesn’t bring you satisfaction or real lasting happiness. You want more. It’s called the Law of Diminishing Return. The Law states that whatever you strive for in material or glorification will subside once you get it and you will want more.
Young people experience this when they try to push the boundaries of alcohol, drugs and sex. Young adults experience the law when they buy the first house or marry the prom queen/football captain. Older adults experience the law when they buy the bigger house, go for the big job or buy their first luxury automobile. You probably witnessed it when you bought your last iPad or smart phone right before they announced a newer version. Then you had to have the new one NOW… before the price dropped and it became commonplace.
I know I sound preachy. In fact a famous author simply named, “The Preacher” once called this pursuit vanity. It is vain to go after something you know won’t bring you true happiness.
So when my speaker friend asked me last month how business is going, he was braced for the inevitable “size matters” argument. But I said, “It’s good. I am making enough money to live safely and take care of my family. I have fun doing what I love to do, and not trying to ‘one-up’ the other guy. I want to continue make enough to start helping other people with what I have in any excess.” He was blown away. But what I said made an impression on him. And if it didn’t I just don’t care.
As John Ortberg said, “No matter how you play the game, the pieces go back into the box when the game is over.” Reinvent your thinking and will make all the difference in the world to you physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and monetarily. If you don’t, one day you will realize that all the pieces go back into the box and you will be left with nothing but that box. Yes, THAT box!
So my question to you is this. Are you happy?