Maximizing Life’s Dividends
I not only remember going to see the movie, but my parents bought the soundtrack, so by osmosis I memorized almost every song that made Disney’s Mary Poppins iconic. The movie is a study in contrasts, between the imagination of children and the distracting pursuits of parents. Being released in the early 60’s, during the era depicted in AMC’s Mad Men, it was an excellent moral lesson, targeting not children but their parents (corporate climbing dad, Mr. Banks, and the equally obsessive, suffragette mom).
The movie reaches a climax when Mr. Banks takes his son, and his tuppence (two cents), to open an account in the institution where Banks aspires to be a partner. Seeing the teachable moment the bankers break into song.
“When you deposit tuppence in a bank account, Soon you’ll see that it blooms into credit of a generous amount, Semiannually and you’ll achieve that sense of conquest, As your affluence expands in the hands of the directors, Who invest as propriety demands.”
Then Dad chimes in:
“You see, Michael, you’ll be part of… railways through Africa, Dams across the Nile,
fleets of ocean greyhounds, majestic, self-amortizing canals, plantations of ripening tea…all from tuppence, prudently fruitfully, frugally invested, in the, to be specific,
In the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs, Fidelity Fiduciary Bank!”
Well, Michael doesn’t want to invest; he wants to spend his tuppence on crumbs for birds and the ensuing conflict with his dad in the lobby causes a run on the bank. As is usually the case with Hollywood, investment (versus blowing your money on bread crumbs) and the adventure of capitalism is depicted as a vice, with the same vehemence that prohibitionists would make a movie on the perils
But what the film does underscore is that there are things that money, position and power can’t buy, like your presence in your children’s lives, regardless of age.
What Are the Deliverables?
Belief is a powerful thing; it spurs our imagination, motivates our actions and is the doorway to our dreams. Experience teaches us, though, that misguided beliefs are the submerged icebergs floating in the ocean of life. One of these wrong beliefs is thinking money is the answer to everything. It is the age old confidence that something will deliver something, which it can’t, while neglecting what is within your power to attain.
Most people I know who are financially successful aren’t greedy or full of avarice. Money is simply a tangible representation of the goals they have achieved and it is the pursuit of those goals that they enjoy, just like someone working in the not-for-profit sector is motivated by achieving their goals. However, often people believe that by giving countless hours to their work, they will ultimately be able to provide the comfort, security and opportunity to the very things (e.g. their marriages, their children and their souls) which they are currently neglecting.
One Such Delusion
I recently made a road trip with a guy who spent his twenties with a good deal of money and one of the sleekest sailboats you’ve ever seen. We’re not talking about a multimillion dollar trophy yacht, but a fine and functional craft that took him around the world twice.
During our time together he commented, “No matter how much money I had I would never just give it to my daughter.” Mind you, he loves his daughter like few fathers I know. But he described the “trust fund kids” he met hanging out in the Caribbean in the 80’s and 90’s. “We would come into a port,” he recalled, “and party like rock stars. But a day or two later we would pull anchor and head out. But the trust funders thought that was what life was.” Adding, “Most of them were burned out at 22 and disasters by 26.”
I’m sure their well-meaning and hard working parents or grandparents were ensuring they never wanted for anything. What they left their children wanting for however, was a life that had meaning and purpose, along with the struggle that is necessary to achieve it. They were also longing for that sense of value that only comes when we invest time, as well as money.
A respected author and speaker, Eric Wright is the managing director and editor of i4 Business magazine and assignment editor for SpaceCoast Business magazine.