by Judy M McCutcheon
I am sure that most of you remember Pat Riley and the glory days of the LA Lakers. I remember the playoffs, filled with fun and excitement and as an avid Lakers fan, I was so happy when they won that ‘fatal’ championship. And I call the championship fatal because it was the rise of their fall from glory.
Pat Riley in his book called it the ‘Disease of More’, and it is a term used in the sporting arena to describe what happens to a team after they win a championship, as a team. They are unseated not by a bigger, better, or smarter team but by their own greed and selfishness. The first thing they wanted as a team was to win a championship, but after that championship is won, they suddenly all want more, but this time as individuals. Each member wants more airtime, and tasks that they did as a team that made them successful in the first place, they feel are now beneath them. It’s almost as if that one little taste of success has turned them into entitled teenagers. They want more attention, more endorsements, more, more, more, and instead of uniting as a team, their egos now take centre stage.
We want bigger and better, even when bigger is not necessary. Everything is supersized. We want the latest model car; we want the latest fashion, the latest in everything, even when the ‘latest’ is beyond our pockets. Truth be told all we really need is food, shelter, and clothing, which is basic to our survival. But because we rely on our external possession to define who we are; we go out and work our fingers to the bone in the name of acquiring more. If you’ve ever looked at the TV show Hoarders, you would understand what I mean. The more stuff these hoarders get it’s the more they want, they are never satisfied with what they have. You would probably look at those hoarders and think that maybe they have a mental issue, but in some instances, we are the same way. Do we need that shoe in three different colours, do we need 5 red dresses, or do we need to have 4 cars parked in our garage, when all we need is maybe only 2? The issue here is not whether we can afford it or not, the issue is whether we really need it. We put ourselves in debt just for the sake of having more. Just ask anyone the question, ‘Who are you?’ and they will tell you about their job role or profession – I am an accountant, I am a doctor or dentist or engineer or whatever profession they are in. One of our fundamental problem as humans is that we do not know who we are at the core, so we rely on the things we own and what we owe to define us.
We are in this constant spiral to achieve more, to do more, to be better, without actually knowing or understanding why. Is it that we do it because society expects it of us? Do we do it because our parents expect it of us? Or do we do it so that we can impress others? Do we even know why we keep pushing for more? And the biggest question, after we’ve achieved that ‘thing’ is, what do we do with it? And before we can appreciate what we’ve just achieved we are onto the next big thing. We need to settle down and be very clear with ourselves why we want more because it seems that the more we get, the less satisfied we are. It is about time that we get stricken by the ‘rainy day’ syndrome. We must adopt the attitude that while we need to live in the here and now, we must start saving for that proverbial rainy day, and we all know that day eventually comes, in one form or the other. Whether we lose our jobs, there’s death in the family or an illness; that day at some point comes along. The issue here is for us to be prepared financially to treat with it. It’s one thing to be unprepared emotionally, but it’s a whole different ball game if you are unprepared both emotionally and financially.
There is nothing wrong with being stricken by the disease of more if it’s the inverse form of the disease. We must start thinking about saving and investing more, helping, and giving back more to our communities. Let us start thinking about being more grateful and complain less. Let us take some time and reflect on why we do the things we do. Let us concentrate on the things and people that add value to our lives and connect with them on a deeper more meaningful level. That way we are not caught up in bigger and better just for the sake of bigger and better.
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net