We all have a love/hate relationship with money – we love to have it and hate to have to do without it.
Because of what it can do for us, it has power of its own and this power is not confined just to what it can buy the person who possesses it.
People have very complicated relationships with money which evolved from experiences and lessons they encountered about money from very young. Depending on how you were brought up, the way your parents or caregivers handled money and what they said about it has influenced the way you think about and handle money.
For this reason, some people are extremely cautious with money. They hang onto every bit they get and part with it very reluctantly because they are not sure if they will get any more. Others, in turn, spend it like there’s no tomorrow because they are either very confident that more is coming from where the last lot came from or they’re simply irresponsible and don’t understand the need to plan for the future and imminent responsibilities.
But money has another power – the power to reveal character and very few people realise this. There’s nothing wrong with having money. We need more people to have more money. But watch what happens to people who acquire a lot of money over a short period of time or who are trying very hard to acquire lots of money. The money they acquire, or want to acquire, very soon reveals their character. When they’ve got the money or they’re trying to get more, they show you what they’re really like inside. If they’re greedy, their money or need for money will reveal that. If they’re selfish, money will reveal that. If they’re dishonest, money will reveal that.
What people are prepared to do to get money also merely reveals their character. Again, watch how people conduct themselves when there’s a possibility of their acquiring a lot of money.
If this all sounds a bit farfetched, think of all the corruption that bedevils our government, our society and our business community. It doesn’t matter whether a person is at the head of a large organisation, making multiple millions or living from hand to mouth. Their actions in response to money will reveal their character. Not all people who have nothing are dishonest. There are many scrupulously honest people who have very little of this world’s goods. Then there are those who have more than enough money to last a few lifetimes but who feel the need to be dishonest to get more.
A recent case study in this regard concerns Vodacom’s former CEO, Alan Knott-Craig who, according to a recent Constitutional Court ruling, lied when he claimed that he had invented the popular “please call me” feature that made much money for Vodacom. Why did he lie? He didn’t want to pay the real inventor, Kenneth Nkosana Makate. Why didn’t he want to pay Makate? Because he wanted to make more money for his company and for himself.
Clearly, Knott-Craig has contributed greatly to the mobile phone industry in South Africa. He made much money from his contribution, and so he should have. But money has revealed his character. By the way, another lesson he has also failed to understand, for all his intelligence and business acumen, is that the truth always comes out. Always. It may not be today, this week, this month or this year, but it will come out.
What does money reveal about your character? When you are faced with a decision as to what to do about either getting or keeping money, how do your act? It’s not about what you say – talk is easy. It’s about what you do. Your actions reveal how you really feel about things.
During the course of my business career, I have been done in by a number of people, all for the same reason – money. They wanted to make more than they were entitled to or didn’t want to pay for services they had received. The interesting thing is that they all regarded themselves as very honest, upright people who lived in complete denial of their true character. But their actions spoke for themselves.
Don’t let yourself down when it comes to money. If you consider yourself to be ethical, honest and upright, act like it!
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.