Saturday, November 14, 2009

What motivates people to earn money ?

I sometimes wonder what actually motivates people to earn money? Rather, earn more than they are earning now. The obvious answer is to improve the standard of living. To buy a car, to buy a new car, to buy a new expensive car and we are still at car! Human mind never ceases to dream. We always dream of the things we want to own.We always dream of a new house, of the latest car,of the latest cellphone. But do we really need all the things I mentioned above ? May be not. Do we really enjoy them ? Occasionally. After buying the latest cellphone - which has so many features that it is difficult to tell whether its a cell phone or a computer - how long do we use these new features?. Most of the things we aspire for are neither needed nor enjoyed by us, still why do we keep running behind them ?

Lets try to understand this by considering some exceptions.Most actors would be happier if their performance is praised, rather than say, a foreign holiday.Amitabh Bacchan will be more happy to get critical acclaim for his acting in BLACK than get 1.5 crore per episode for Big Boss.For a sportsman, the ultimate glory is performing in front of his fans, not the millions of dollars he might earn in endorsement money. Sachin Tendulkar will be more happy to scores a 60 ball hunderd and help India chase a target of 350 in a world cup final, rather that sign a multi million dollar endorsement deal with Nike.An author will be more happy to see his book getting good reviews than half a million dollar advance on a new book. A common factor in all the above instances is the preference for recognition over money. To gain an acceptance among others that you are indeed a special one. This is a feeling not restricted to actors, sportsman and authors, but is pervasive in all human beings. As Chetan Bhagat, the investment banker turned writer, writes in his blog "I no longer work in the bank, as I felt I had to get over the lure of money and go after what I really cared for".

How does a common man fulfill this inherent desire for recognition ? The most obvious way is to earn money and buy things which attract others envy. Money allows you to become The-one-who-has-mercedes or The-one-with-the-big-bungalow. Its not what we do with the money that gives us satisfaction, but what others see us doing with the money. Also, people's perception of a person's capability is directly proportional to the amount of money he earns; more the money, better is the perception.This in turn motivates us to earn more money.

Again, this is not true for every 'common man'.Money is the topmost thing in the minds of only those who don't have a goal in life. Since without achieving anything worthwhile, it is difficult to get recognition (the ultimate aim of any human being), people fall back on gaining respect by earning more money. Once we have a goal,an ambition in life, something to show others what we are capable of, we would find the lure of money slowly decreasing.