Each week the owner of the martial arts school where I teach and most of the other instructors meet to lay plans. The owner of the school is a huge follower of motivational speakers, Zig Zigler and a host of others, especially those that talk about business, and especially those that focus on martial arts businesses. Yes, there are some of those.
At a recent instructors meeting, the owner was laying out a process for us to build a mission statement. A mission statement is often employed by a business in order to help define the business’s direction. In that discussion the owner made a comment that just did not feel right to me. He said that it is human nature for the individual to always want more. That just rubbed me the wrong way.
The owner has come a long way in the almost two decades I have known him. When we first met, he lived in a small home, which he owned. He and his wife owned two muffler shops, and he and she both taught martial arts more or less as a hobby. They had a long term plan of someday teaching martial arts full time. Unfortunately, the wife died in a motorcycle accident. After what I considered a too short morning period, the owner got engaged to a new lady. They married, had their first child, and eventually the owner and his new wife sold the muffler shops and opened a full time school.
So that brings us back to the meeting I was describing and that uncomfortable idea that it is human nature to always want more. The owner has done well but he, himself, does seem to always want more. More work, more students, more this and that. He and his family take several vacations each year. He regularly flies to Dallas to train. New cars, new boat, more this and more that. He is heads and heels above where he was when I met him. He is living his dream. A big house with a pool, a family with two daughters, and his own, full-time martial arts school that has few rivals in the area. But he wants more.
I disagree with the idea that it is human nature to always want more. Sure, if we eat today we will want to eat tomorrow, but that is not more, that is maintenance. More is having a refrigerator full of food and feeling you need to buy a freezer as well. Wanting more is not human nature. It is consumerism. It is the push by providers to convince the consumer they have to have more or they just aren’t normal. That they aren’t like their neighbors. That they aren’t pretty enough, strong enough, going fast enough, going often enough.
There have been countless human societies that existed within the means of their surrounds, like the American Indian, South American and African cultures have all existed without a drive for more. The wanted what they had, and gave no thought to getting more. Once the human being’s needs for procreation and safety are met, the human will react like water, following the path of least resistence. Getting more requires work. Work is something humans natural shun. There is no instinctual drive to get more, merely a drive to maintain.
To me, the owner has become seduced by the motivational speakers he listens to. A motivational speaker is selling you the idea of motivation. You cannot be interested in motivation if you feel content. You want to be motivated to do something. An easy desire to plant in an individual is the desire to want more. More business, more fun, more money, more vacations, more, more, more. The more you want, the more you are willing to be motivated to acquire what you want, but at what cost?
I cannot count the number of times the owner has said, “I wanted to see that movie, but … ” Or the times I’ve heard him say, after coming back from a vacation, “I needed a vacation from my vacation.” Similarly, I cannot count how many times he has said, “I want to give an in-house seminar, once a month.” But he never does because he does not have the time. He wants the more of these things, but he does not have the time to accomplish them. He does not have one free weekend at all for the next year. His quest for more has led him into booking every spare moment. He is smart and schedules time with his family, such as vacations, but that time is scheduled. Vacations are not leisure times. They are organized itineraries. He is zooming at a million miles a minute, but life is simply passing him by. He would not know how to enjoy ten minutes with nothing to do but listen to the birds and enjoy a favorite drink.
It is not human nature to want more. Do not let motivational speakers and tv advertisements convince you otherwise. It is not getting what you want. Life is enjoyed by wanting what you have.