(Extra) Ordinary Success
How much is enough?
The richest one per cent took nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of the world put together over the last two years. While billionaires became $2.7 trillion richer than before the pandemic, with billionaire fortunes earning $2.7 billion per day, the poorest of the poor’s daily income was less than $2.15.
The World Bank has announced that it has almost certainly lost its goal of ending world poverty by 2030. Roughly one in ten people (820 million people!) on the earth are now going hungry, 60% of them women and girls. And the increase in global inequality and poverty, last seen at these levels in WW2, is set to increase. Even as the fortunes of the mega rich are set to continue to surge further in 2023 and beyond. (See oxfam.org)
How much is enough? Some say less is more, while others say more is definitely more without a doubt. How do we find the balance, if we are fortunate enough to have that option?
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” – Mother Teresa
In our world of constantly striving for more, I have often considered successful, content people, who live ‘ordinary’ lives. People who form the vast majority of the planet. People who live in ordinary houses and drive ordinary cars as they navigate their ordinary lives. Except that this ordinary-seeming activity is not so very ordinary, because these people are succeeding. They are doing well.
Yet this ordinary success looks mundane by the standards of our time. No one looks twice at those who have only managed to run a modest, beautiful home and raise children who have attended college or university. Those who have only worked for a living or maybe run a small business that is successful in that it pays the bills, allows for some holidays and treats. For while there is nothing ordinary about such lives in reality, this level of success is generally ignored. It may even be regarded as an almost failure in our world so obsessed with the exceptions. The outliers. The 0,00000000000x per cent of the population who live such extravagant lives that everything else pales in comparison.
The ordinary successful people may not own yachts or jets. They may not holiday on private islands. They may not own a fleet of cars or a collection of designer handbags or watches. Their pets may not be dressed by famous labels and their children may not necessarily attend Ivy League schools or universities.
Yet these people represent most of us, and reflect the basis of what we all aspire towards. All, being the ever diminishing middle class, and definitely the ever expanding majority of people on the planet, who, at this very moment are literally starving on the streets – that’s the reality of the situation. Oh how those unfortunates would love a tiny, tiny slice of that ‘ordinary’ success.
“The community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles.” – Plato
I have dealt with increasing the wealth of the wealthy for the major part of my life. First for over a decade while managing the portfolios of the mega rich, and in the last decade and a half while writing, teaching and coaching wealth expansion, again to mostly successful and wealthy individuals.
Yet it occurs to me, as it has done for some years that I need to look at the ordinary success of ordinary people which is really extra-ordinary. This does not mean that I am lowering the bar. It does not mean that I am abandoning ‘extraordinary dreams’. No. What it means is that I want to write about the people who are leading wonderfully abundant lives without necessarily having those over the top lifestyles that I personally have become bored of hearing about.
Yes, I am taking exception to the enormous wastage that is taking place on the planet. Where the infinitesimally tiny percentage of the mega rich continue to gobble ever more wealth, while the masses of poverty stricken people continue to rise at an alarming rate. I am bored with all the ‘how I became a multi-millionaire’ stories. All the ‘how I went from not being able to pay my rent to owning a yacht and my own private island’. I don’t want to hear those stories any more. I want to find some new stories that are about real people and their real lives.
Why does a small handful of people take up all the space online and in our consciousness? A small handful of people who present a norm and an ideal which frankly only another handful of people will ever achieve. Yet somehow everyone has fallen under the spell of thinking they too need to chase this non-reality.
Meanwhile, apart from poverty, depression and stress reign supreme in our world, and continue to grow. I would venture to suggest that much of it is a result of the average Joe and Jane feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis, as they try to navigate an ordinary, successful life, while the media tell them that nothing less than being a billionaire is enough.
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” – Buddha
The epidemic of mental disease in children and teenagers too, can definitely be attributed, at least in part, to the unrealistic expectations presented as the norm online. On the subject of success, children now measure themselves against the handful of overnight successes who have become millionaires or billionaires in their teens. And on the physical front, against photo-shopped facial ideals and bodies that are often anatomically bizarre.
A long time ago, Plato had a lot to say about celebrities and the model they represented for the ordinary man. Yes, it seems even back then, the Athenian society celebrated and were focused on wealthy aristocrats and sports celebrities. Plato believed that new heroes were necessary, in order for people to develop good outlooks and ideas, since celebrities seem to influence one’s viewpoint to such a huge extent.
Plato suggested Guardians as the new heroes and celebrities. These would be people who were good, wise and moderate, who lived simply, were distinguished by their good deeds and broad experience, and disliked limelight. They would represent a new ideal that would positively influence society.
This is as great an idea today as it was over 2000 years ago. Oxfam suggests that an annual wealth tax on the super-rich of a mere five per cent would raise $1.7 trillion and would not only lift two billion people out of poverty, it would cover shortfalls on humanitarian appeals, help climate ravaged countries, provide universal health care, and much, much more.
Yes! We need to create, imagine, manifest and find the Good, Wise, and Kind Guardians, the new heroes that can help us move into the new age. We need to adjust our thinking and our expectations. We need to reach new agreements on what success really means and how we are to measure it.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr Seuss
We need to stop celebrating, aspiring towards, and following that small handful of people who are the greatest polluters and consumers on the planet. Instead we need to inspire them to do good. To direct their resources into solving real problems, offering real solutions to the people of the earth. Instead of trying to find ways to reach and occupy other planets, let’s find a way to predict an earthquake, right here on earth, for example. Let the great minds on the planet become occupied in solving peace, hunger, loneliness.
We must pray for enlightened leaders to emerge. We must create them, with our intent, our desire and our goodwill. Pull them out of the ethers, manifest them out of the goodness of our hearts and the depths of our humanity. We must create new aspirations for abundant simplicity, kindness, and for the wisdom to know what enough is.
“He who knows enough is enough, will always have enough” – Lao Tzu
* Erratum: The last quote in my previous article was by Ben Okri not Haruki Murakami – apologies.
Wealth Expansion Author
Kiki Theo combines decades of successful business experience with energetic processing tools she has created to help people grow their wealth and business. She is the author of nine wealth expansion titles and offers courses and sessions for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to learn how to fly!
Kiki will offer a series of Conscious Business courses over the next year on Zoom.