Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
~Albert Einstein

There have been two occurrences in the past 24 hours that have made me wonder at what cost do many individuals place financial success as the utmost of importance, and at what emotional cost?

There is a highly successful and well regarded man I know with two grown children and three grandchildren. His wife also has the same. He is extremely likable as well as skilled, which is part of the reason why his business has flourished. Working 6-7 days a week was a “necessity” in his practice due to its nature. Wanting to help other married couples achieve a dream, essentially, has been a goal for 30 years.

Recently, I had found out through the grapevine that he and his wife had adopted a baby, which I though was a little strange as he’s in his late 50’s, a time when many others at his level of success would perhaps slow down a little. When I saw him yesterday, he showed me a photo of his new son, a really beautiful baby of 6 months. After congratulating him on the adoption, I asked him what spurred on the decision.

To make up for lost time with his other two.

There’s another man I see periodically. Although I don’t know him at all, my husband Paul has chatted with him upon occasion. One of those time, the man offered a drink from a flask out of the trunk of his car. At 9 AM. Paul declined, but the man partook. Upon telling this to another person we know, she said that he typically smells of alcohol.

I saw this man this morning, just before 9. Taking that flask out of the trunk of his late model Cadillac, he took a couple of swigs.

Why does this man drive an expensive car but drink before 9 AM?

Of course I would like to be more of a financial success. Paul and I work very hard, try to work smart. We also happen to be in the process of raising 8 children. One is now out on his own, so 7 remain. When going through a self-evaluation / motivation workbook recently, I realized once again that my family is most important of all things on this earth.

The driven tend to keep going to achieve even loftier goals although we have more than enough to pay bills. If we work hard and achieve financial success but in the meantime forget our family or our friends or our charity work, what have we achieved? Money. Unhappiness, loneliness, perhaps. One day, you smile at our financial success only to realize that your children are grown, your spouse (if still married) doesn’t even like you anymore.

It’s important to strike a balance between missing out on our family (or needing a crutch to get through the day) and gaining a measure of success while taking care of ourselves and spending time with others.

According to a Reuter’s article by Edward Hadas, “Deaths from overwork are rare. But exhaustion, family breakdowns and substance abuse are common in high-stress jobs with ultra-long days. The extent of the gradual degradation of character – intelligent and interesting people reduced to narrow-minded careerists – is a matter of ongoing debate.”

He discusses how anyone who is skilled enough to make a career as a lawyer is certainly skilled and smart enough to do well at another career where work would not be all consuming.

In 2013, Moritz Erhardt was an intern at Merrill Lynch. As an epileptic, he took his medication as needed. At the age of 21, he was found dead, having worked 3 consecutive 20 hour days. 

I realize that many people must spend more time away from home than they desire as they need to pay bills. How often, though, are we trying to pay bills that we think  we must have, when in reality they are a bonus? (Cable TV? Starbucks?)

Healthy relationships, according to Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD, can help us live longer, be healthier, reduce stress and helps us to feel richer. (A link to the article can be found here.)

There’s nothing wrong with having oodles of money. Many benefits can result from this, especially if one is a generous benefactor. However, if you lose relationships or become addicted to something as a result of attaining this, is it worth it?