This post summarizes two major perspectives. Few people are at either extreme. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. You know people with both worldviews.
The Interdependent Worldview
One worldview suggests we are interdependent. Both at the beginning and toward the end of a natural lifetime, we need help. It’s less obvious that we need help in all the years between.
In this view, the affluent, the fortunate, the gifted, and the healthy have a stewardship responsibility to the rest of the community. Some gift others with band-aids, education, encouragement, guidance, hugs, memories, or quilts. Others bless their circle of influence with challenges, introductions, opportunities, or vision. People with this worldview aim to benefit more than their kids and grandkids, but also people like they were in their younger days, or just people who need some help.
These people act as if they could get what they want by helping enough other people get what those people want. Adherents of this philosophy believe that direct pursuit of happiness is futile. They think that happiness is discovered while seeking others’ benefit.
The risk of this notion is that you might dissipate time, talent, and wealth on a greedy and unappreciative mob, while your loved ones suffer because you squander resources on others.
The “Get What You Can” Worldview
An alternate major option seeks “more and more, for me and mine.” The one who wins is the one who dies with the most toys.
This group would be happy to be one of the few billionaires. They understand that there are billions of peasants. But since they didn’t exploit anyone deliberately, it’s not their fault that unfairness exists. Nor is it their responsibility to ameliorate other people’s pain.
People with this worldview think it’s prudent to hide within their gated community, protected from the disadvantaged, ignorant, poor, or oppressed. Their favorite charity is themselves. Their family comes second.
One risk of this perspective is that one might become the smallest package in the world: a person all wrapped up in himself. Remember there will always be someone better, faster, funnier, leaner, smarter, stronger, or richer.
Worldview and Legacy
Our legacies are the way people act because of the way we live. We create our legacies by what we do every day. Our worldview shapes our actions, and our actions create our legacies.
One definition of wisdom is knowing what you want and then being pleased when you attain it.
What’s your worldview?
What legacy are you creating?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”