Pearl Harbor, Cash, And A Secret


When I was 23, I was a nuclear engineer for the DOD working at Pearl Harbor. As interesting as it was working on nuclear submarines, I wanted something more. I wanted money. I was hell bent on getting a financial engineering degree. That was until I talked with my cousin who already had one. In short he said, “Never ever do something solely for money. Because there will be 9 guys who do it because they love it and they will run you over.” You can’t fake inborn drive. You can fake it for a while but eventually your tank will run out.

That’s the secret I’m sharing today. If money is your SOLE motivation for staying at the job you have, you’re going to be in for a miserable life. Not because you’ll be broke – you may very well be rich – but money on its own does not lead to kindness, generosity, purpose or inner peace.

I am not suggesting you quit your job and go make hand paintings underneath an abandoned bridge because you like to make hand paintings; we all need money to survive, I know. But once you have enough to have enough, money does not aid in your happiness.

But you must balance out our body’s needs to fulfill its intrinsic interests with the demands of life (rent, food, clothes, friends, etc). Who knows, one day you might be able to carve out an earning doing something you love to do but you’ll never know what doors will open in life if you’re not willing to walk down a different hallway. So it’s important to always have a hobby, always be tinkering, always be questioning, always be exploring what it is that drives you.

Of course, whatever you’re doing in life you’ll have to work damn hard at it. But that shouldn’t be a secret anymore. If “hard work” is the secret you’ve just stumbled upon, I suggest you stop feeling sorry for yourself and get to work. As Carol Dweck says, “Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it. It would be an impoverished existence if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working toward them.”

Or as my grandfather put it, “Make sure you live an interesting life. No one wants to talk to an old man with no stories to tell.”