Have you ever struggled to connect with high net worth donors?
Are you feeling frustrated because you make so little, and they have so much?
Most of us cannot help but respect people with money. Theoretically, we may feel that it’s foolish to defer to a person just because he is rich, but when we are with that person we cannot help ourselves.
Maybe it’s time to have two kinds of self respect. Sure, money is the main way we attain respect from others, and therefore the principal means of social self respect. That’s the first kind of self respect.
Our society places such value on material wealth that it’s hard to feel that you are respected when you’re making so little.
Media reaffirms over and over that we listen to the rich, tell stories about the rich, and put the rich in charge of doling out money to our programs.
Jacob Needleman, a professor of philosophy, posits in his book, “Money and the Meaning of Life,” that we have two kinds of self respect.
One is the respect that others accord us, socially, by how much money we have. But there’s another, inner self respect.
Q: How to find respect for the inner self? What can allow us to respect ourselves independently of money?
A: The answer is, The effort of seeing the truth, no matter what the truth is, is the real seed of the higher self, and this effort we can make, no matter what life hands us. Authentic self respect can never come from the ego alone. Self respect in its authentic form is based on awareness of something within ourselves that is completely independent of the ego and body.
So when you’re having a hard time connecting with high net worth donors, consider that you’ve got another kind of self respect, not tied to money, a self respect tied to seeing your own truth, and speaking it in the world. No one can ever take that inner self respect from you.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t agitate for higher wages, or strive to get ahead professionally. I think that having social self respect and inner self respect are both important goals.
But when you’re standing in front of a donor that makes millions of dollars every year and you just don’t know what to do, remember that no power on earth can make you insincere with yourself. Your ability to stand in your truth matters just as much as the donor’s money.
What is the right way to use your money, once you’ve got it? Blow it on a big car, a vacation, a house, or some other material thing?
No. What if, instead, money becomes an instrument in the search for self knowledge?
If you have time and space to study yourself, why you want what you want, how you respond to different people and situations, then nothing can control how you feel. Isn’t that one of the ultimate satisfactions, having dominion over your own thoughts and emotions?
Needleman suggests, “We must use money to study ourselves as we are and as we can become.”
“The ego has to become gradually convinced that what it wants – safety, happiness, existence -cannot be obtained through mechanical thinking, personal emotion or instinctive action. The mind has to become convinced that the only source of its well-being is consciousness. The work of studying oneself introduced a motivation that is free of personal gain. Study without the impulse to change anything, is like the breath of the true wish, the true aim of evolving man.”
I have a poetry teacher who told me, long ago, to “Study your own case”. And this seems to be an elegant summation of Needleman’s theory. Why study your own case? Because then you’ll have real clarity about yourself, and life, and no amount of money can buy that.
I’d highly recommend this book if you’d like to delve deeper into what money truly means to you-why we get so emotional about it, and why it has such a power over us.