As I sit in the comfy business class seat of this commercial airliner I cant help but think about Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook IPO and the numerous individuals who are all about to become millionaires. As I begin to write this article it is exactly three months since I quit my job in Government, a job I really loved. I covered the entire Middle East, providing advice into the Prime Minister, and hopefully adding some value to cross Government policy making. 2011 was the year of the Arab Spring, I worked regular 12hr days and more, but I loved every single minute of it. I had the enormous privilege of attending dozens of meetings of the National Security Council, chaired by the PM. So given I had the job of my dreams, was I right to leave?
My decision to leave focused on one main issue, my desire to become rich, successful and ideally powerful. So as I head out overseas for a short work project I wonder, to what extent have I achieved what I want, but more importantly, will I ever achieve what I want?
Since leaving the civil service I have been hugely fortunate in what I have done. Thanks in part to my voluntary redundancy, but more so to the work I have managed to get I have now over tripled my life savings, which I didn’t think were too shabby in the first place. I have been lucky enough to work in more areas that I love, and hopefully have some great prospects for the coming months and beyond. But I ask, what will satisfy me?
As I sat waiting for the plane to taxi I was overcome by the thought that, “Wow, I am now 30, yet Mark Zuckerberg is 3 years younger and is floating his company for $100bn, why the hell haven’t I done something like that.”
It made me wonder, is it just me, or does my entire generation have this feeling that there is no reason why they shouldn’t be a billionaire. Is this perhaps the same sense of entitlement that has led some British employers to conclude that foreign workers just work harder than young Brits? Am I really a failure if I am not a millionaire? Many people would say no of course not, a good job, family and a good reputation are important. But I cant get out of my mind that there must be millions of millionaires in the world and I am not one of them. And I want to know why not, and how I can change it.
So how can I get there? How patient can I be? Do I need to love my job? And most importantly what, or how much, will make me feel as if I have finally achieved something? In my time I have given a few public speeches or presentations and have had to write a bio for them. When I have read it back I have been astounded, I have been fortunate enough to have done some amazing things, many of which I could have only dreamt of when I was a teen. But I am always equally astounded that this doesn’t satisfy me….I constantly want more.
Many people, including my wife for example, wonder what its like to be a celebrity. I am sure I will never know, but what I do know, is that whenever anything happens to you it becomes normal and you lose the perspective that its something that others find different.
So, I should have been asleep a couple of hours ago to make sure I am fully useful when I arrive in the Arab world, but I am still here, writing this article and wondering if my aspirations are too high and if I am really capable of joining those that have made themselves enough money that their families and children will never have to struggle again.
Many people who read this article would I am sure start to say thing like “Money isn’t everything” or “Money doesn’t bring happiness”. I agree on both counts, but lets face it, money gives those that have it the options to live their life as they see fit. Happiness is available for everyone, rich and poor. But I cant help thinking, we get just one life, and what has the person with the Ferrari got that I don’t (and don’t answer “a Ferrari!”).