Contributed by Lewis J. Walker, CFR®
You have done well through diligence and wise investing. You have achieved your goals for financial independence, or are on target to do so. An inheritance or sale of a business may have added to your net worth, or may do so in the future. Enter Abraham Maslow.
In his 1943 seminal work, Motivation and Personality, American psychologist Abraham Maslow published his famous Hierarchy of Needs. Often pictured as a pyramid, at the base was Psychological Needs (food, water, shelter, warmth). As basic needs were met, humans concerned themselves with the satisfaction of needs higher in the hierarchy: Security Needs (protection from danger); Social Needs (love, friendship, comradeship); Ego Needs (self-respect, personal worth, autonomy). At the top of the pyramid was Self-Actualization Needs (full potential).
Consider the celebration of your own life in Professor Maslow’s terms. Envision the psychographic cycles of your progression and that of family and peers. You can see the Hierarchy of Needs at work, especially in your relationship to money.
As you started your career and/or marriage, financial planning was basic — pay rent or a mortgage, buy food and gas. Security (safety) needs kicked in when you decided to “save money for a rainy day,” buy insurance, write a will, etc. As your comfort level increased, you found the time, energy, and financial resources to concentrate on social needs, with more satisfaction derived from love and friendship. Peer group comparisons spur ego needs, the growth of self-respect, personal worth, and autonomy, including financial independence. Along the way life transitions occur, changes in motivations key to purpose and meaning.
“Love” is the point. Marriage, the rearing of children, and dealing with parents and relatives growing older, brings home the realization that “it is not always all about me.” Men and women caught in the “sandwich generation” squeeze are having to reconcile conflicting pressures. As the oldest baby boomers reach age 70 this year, the youngest 52, reflections on the meaning of life, spirituality, self-actualization and full potential needs, become more intense and introspective.
Mega-church pastor Rick Warren sold over 60 million copies of his book, The Purpose Driven Life. Self-actualization and the search for meaning is a dominate cycle as the boomer wave matures. Concepts of stewardship (“not me and mine; it is about thee and thine”) are receiving heightened religious and social emphasis. Women, with God-given gifts as nurturers and peacemakers, are in the vanguard of the self-actualization phase of American societal evolution. As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, has observed, “The new currency is meaning, not money.”
Covey notes that secondary greatness is based on transitory standards — position, net worth, address, toys, i.e., the classic “things” that you “cannot take with you.” As we mature and wrestle with life, we come to understand that primary greatness is what counts — character, contribution, moral example, leadership.
Some years ago I attended a memorial service for the 86 year-old wife of a dear friend, himself age 88 at the time. She passed away in their 65th year of marriage. Wed in 1941before he shipped out for the Pacific and WW II, they raised three children and she nurtured them with love and devotion. An example of the Greatest Generation, he returned from the war as and as a couple they became prominent citizens in their southwestern Georgia town. He was a successful self-made entrepreneur. She was active in civic, charitable and church affairs, a well-loved and respected lady. At a reception after her service, surrounded by friends and family, including grandchildren and an adorable 6-month old great granddaughter, the new widower said, “Lewis, it’s all about family.” He passed away years later, and still is remembered and revered in his town.
He was right. It is about family. It’s about love, devotion, sacrifice, and service. And at the end of the earthly game as we meet our Maker, it will be about legacy, values, how we served others, about what we instilled in future generations.
It is about the road well-traveled. God speed!
Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group.