Monopoly

Monopoly was an intense and serious game at our home. Winning mattered. Like a lot. So much so that as adults most of the players are unwilling to play it again. Looking for non-Monoply games for Family Game Night I spotted the Mad Magazine “What-me-worry” game Unlike Monopoly, the object of this game is to lose all your money. There is also no strategy that you can follow to win – it’s determined by luck. It is surprisingly hard to play. Your mind has to overcome years of ingrained training that winning means earning more (and more) money, and instead, learn to cheer when you lose it.

Many of us have tied our identity to our careers. We measure our self-worth by promotions, titles and yes, money. This is doubly true for entrepreneurs – your individual success is measured by the financial success of your enterprise. Most of us would hesitate to ask someone directly “how much do you make?” (quite a usual question not so long ago on train and plane rides). But it is quite normal to ask a business owner questions about number of employees, expansion, profitability and growth – which all tell you how much money he or she makes. Heck, if the company is listed the whole world knows the answers. Even if the individual is very comfortably off on a personal level, these business-related questions are tied to their identity and self-worth and can keep reinforcing the self-belief that their success is linked to continual growth.

As a country we are still quite new to modern capitalism. That means that we don’t necessarily have the most sophisticated understanding of business risk, or the systems to protect us from the downside. Worse, both formally and informally our individual fortunes are tied to the business. For example, banks try very hard to get a personal guarantee even if the business is sufficiently credit worthy. Stakeholders expect the promoter to make good from his personal savings when the company goes belly-up. The concept of failing gracefully is new. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is a step in the right direction, but we also need to change societal perception. Vaitheeswaran’s interview about how he thought about taking his own life in the aftermath of indiaplaza.com is frank, real and a must-read

It’s brave of Vaithee to share the story, and admit how vulnerable financial failure makes you. Thanks to Deepika Padukone we know that Depression is real. Neerja Birla and MPower are creating more awareness of mental health as an issue and easy access to resources that can help more people move to the “What me worry” state of contentedness.

So what steps can you take to have less worry in your life? I have three suggestions:
1. Focus on financial independence as a goal rather than wealth.
2. See if business or professional growth is allowing you greater control over your destiny or just more hours on the corporate treadmill.
3. If you’re feeling out of sorts talk frankly with a friend or professional counselor.

Back in college I had a Snoopy poster which said “Live for Today, Plan for Tomorrow, Party Tonight”.

Valuable advice from Peanuts.