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What would you trade?

As I See It

Times are good in America.

Our country has enjoyed a decade of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Just about everyone wanting to work can find a job. Though our soldiers have fought in a few

mini-wars over the decade, we have been spared the national trauma of thousands of body bags being shipped home for burial. Our pockets and our driveways reflect the success

of our free enterprise economy.

At the time of writing this column, the presidential election appears likely to be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, a novel twist of fate if ever there was one. Regardless of our

political persuasion, all of us can be thankful that our system of government works. Resolving the close race for the presidency is not likely to produce riots or the threat of a

military overthrow.

This truly is the greatest country on earth, and we should all be thankful for the opportunity to live here.

How could things be better?

Our 401(k)’s are fat, our stomachs are full, our house is big and our kids’ college is funded. What more could we possibly want or need? I think this is a good time to revisit

Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs theory.

Space does not permit a thorough discussion of Maslow’s theory, so a brief explanation must suffice. Maslow theorized that people have different priorities at different levels of

security. Offers of a bonus and promotion would have little current interest to a man fleeing from the clutches of a grizzly bear. Similarly, the fine points of the company’s 401(k)

plan is generally irrelevant to a person facing home foreclosure and inability to buy modest Christmas gifts for his family. Only when a person’s comfort and security needs are

met can they be motivated by non-material things.

Maslow characterizes this motivation toward non-material goals as “self-actualization.”

Due to the economic miracle of the last decade, many of us are now in position to consider self-actualizing. Like President Bill Clinton, we can now afford to be concerned

without legacy.

What will our legacy be?

Perhaps, through the process of self-actualization, we may learn that the most important things in life don’t really carry dollar values. What would we trade to have people say

that we are the type of person who is always honest and faithful in what we do? What would we trade to have our children, or some other young person, want to pattern their

lives after our own? What would we trade to be remembered as the one who always comforted others in time of despair?

We can have all of these things in our legacy.

Generally speaking, we are the masters of our destiny. If we are truthful and faithful, our reputation will reflect it. If we are empathetic to people in need, that is how we will be

known. If we live in a way as to win the adoration of young people, it will be recognized.

If we live in ways to bring credit to ourselves, then we will be poised to hear the greatest commendation of all. What would you trade to hear the Prince of Peace say, “well done

my good and faithful servant?”

May the blessings of the Holiday Season rain upon you like manna from Heaven, for after all, that’s where the real blessings come from.

Thought for the Moment

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s

happiness!’ “

— Matthew 25: 23

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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