Are we confusing work, effort, focus, and hustle for greed?

The new culture of greed

Are we confusing the word “greed” with perfectly honest hustle and focus? In today’s business media world the word greed gets thrown around loosely. As if to say that anyone out trying to earn a buck is considered greedy. But are we confusing greed with well-meaning hustle, focus and delivery of products and services to a customer base?

In an Entrepreneur Magazine article, guest writer Han-Gwon Lung writes and article titled 3 Business Lessons That The Worst Year Of My Life Taught Me. Han was the typical worker in a company. He was not satisfied in that so he went on to cofound an agency with a great business partner. Their business is called Tailored Ink. Tailored Ink was growing by leaps and bounds and making a six-figure revenue by working with dream clients they never thought possible.

In 2018, Tailored Ink entered the vastly growing cryptocurrency and block chain market and rapidly emerged as one of the top creative agencies in the space. In no time, the partner’s pipeline was bursting at the seams with new aggressive clientele. Han and his partner were so good at predicting market trends in the crypto markets that they soon became advisors to several other cryptocurrency agencies earning them even more business. Han was so confident in Tailored Ink’s ability to call the markets he himself liquidated his own retirement and investments into the crypto markets ballooning his own money investments by 500% in just 3 months.

But then in 2018, the crypto market began to crash. Han lost not only his clients’ money but lost a half a million dollars of his own money. Cryptocurrency began what seemed to be an endless bear market as the partners watched as everything they had been working for literally vaporize out of existence. While distraught about the immense loss, Han maintains a great attitude and chalks it up to making 3 fundamental mistakes of running a business.

1. Pride makes you greedy and greed leads to mistakes

2. Burnout is real, time off is the best medicine

3. Work-life balance is essential

Personally, I do not agree with any of these three but I take particular issue with number one. What Han was doing was not greedy! Han explains he felt he was being greedy because he was working all the time in a vastly growing market. They were overloaded with premium clientele, the market was strong and because he was not writing this article from a jail cell, clearly he was working in the best interest of his clients! From an outsider’s view of what he was doing, I would say he was working tirelessly to deliver value to his clients. Does that sound like greed? The definition of greed is:

an inordinate or insatiable longing for material gain, be it food, money, status, or power. As a secular psychological concept, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, or to receive without first giving.

Han was simply running his business and was delivering back to his customers a value that in no way should be seen as greed. The commerce was in place and the exchange of services rendered for reasonable compensation fulfilled the balance. Han is at no fault that the volume of business and the scale at which it yielded the positive side of revenue.

How do you define, “More than one needs” anyway? How do you know what I consider need? Where did this premise come from and who decides what the Threshold of need vs want begins?     

Again, I think we get caught up in the buzz-terms like “basic need” and “sustainability” and the fear of looking greedy when we are successful. These words feel good and are mainstream so we hitch our wagon to them trying to look nuanced. Maybe we even have a little success guilt start to set in. I was also faced with success guilt when my businesses really started to take off because I thought from my previous youthful education and conditioning that business was supposed to be hard and a struggle. I actually found risk and hustle of business to be quite easy and exciting so I thought I was doing something wrong.

Our modern world has created a culture of making us feel bad for success and having vast achievements. So many out there today are working hard, most likely harder than us, only to fall short of the American Dream resulting in settling for an average and mediocre lifestyle. While at the same time, a few are creating incredible empires of wealth. The delineation of those two worlds are rooted in the amount of effort one puts into their work.

But the ones that are coming up short seem to feel success are inborn gifts or innate talents that get people to the top. Once they find out that work and effort is actually the secret to super levels of success, it creates a real dilemma in their minds. They end up living a tortured thinking that they too could have had that level of success if they were willing to put in that level of effort. To soothe their psyche, they resort to creating the guilt culture for success and in turn, paints work, effort, hustle, and focus with the brush of greed.    

I feel we need to make sure we are not confusing the success of business and “earning” great money as being greedy. It takes a lot of giving long before you ever receive in the realm of high level business operations. In fact, this level of ‘giving first’ is so significant that the vast majority of people would not be able to sustain it for long. That’s why only a small percentage of the population are full time practicing entrepreneurs!

With that said, I would even argue that the highest successful earners of today are more often the most generous. Which is the opposite of greedy! The days of being-on-the-take are long over and if there are incidences of take-operations, they get swiftly snuffed out and brought to ruin through legal or social justice.

What Han was doing was not greed and I would say that the real number one mistake he made was thinking he was greedy and looking for a way to apologies for his success.

Success requires no apologies and failure permits no alibis

Napoleon Hill

I fully believe that hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary things. Just look at Han-Gwon Lung today. He is a guest writer in Entrepreneur Magazine! This is a great achievement, and achievement is not being greedy!      

Daniel J Bockman


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