An Unexamined Life.
When I asked about his financial goals, Stanley gave relatively plebeian responses. A big house, a big boat, fancy cars, etc. But when asked WHY he wanted these things, the simple question brought him to his knees. He didn’t actually know. He had never asked himself, “Why?.” It turns out he had been told to want many of these things but never really valued any of them.
Instead, Stanley valued time with his children. Now in their early teens, who still love to spend time with their dad. He loved to sail, but not on huge boats, rather more hands-on in a little boat, at a nearby lake, just dorking around for the thrill of it with his crew of children. Sure, he had raced boats but it wasn’t anywhere near as fulfilling as sailing with his children. Sure, he made good money, but he but did he really want to give up family time to make great money? Sure, he had a nice house, but did he really want to give up family time to have a great house?
So Stanley decided to call his financial advisor and ask for help. To his chagrin, Stanley’s financial advisor desperately tried to stifle tumultuous laughter. After all, it had been less than three months prior when Stanley had called his financial advisor, “high,”for suggesting that he spend time with his young children instead of chasing the bigger-better-faster-more rat race so common in corporate America. But after enduring some good natured ribbing, Stanley and his financial advisor got to work. They mapped out how Stanley could work less than half-time, could delegate tedious business activities to others or outsource them, and could begin a more remote approach to his work life. All of this would enable Stanley to spend far more time with his children.
You Saved My Life.
Over the next several years, Stanley would perfect this approach spending gobs of time outside the office, working unusual hours, and maximizing the amount of time he got to spend with his children before they left for college. One random Thursday afternoon he called his financial advisor and said, “Guess where I am?” with no clue, his financial advisor said, “In a Mexican prison,” as it seemed the most far-fetched thing he could imagine. “No,” Stanley said, “I’m out on Lake Minnetonka with my daughter. We’ve been here every day this week. She leaves for college in a couple of weeks. I would never have been able to figure out how to spend so much time with her without your guidance. Frankly, you saved my life. It has meant everything to me. I will never forget this.”