Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Profit And Loss

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

May 30, 2016



"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ... Jesus Christ quoted by both Matthew and Mark the apostles

"Too much is never enough." ... David Bowie
This essay, Profit And Loss, is the seventh in an octology on Money:
  1. Money And Us
  2. Give Me Money (That's What I Want?)
  3. Laurence Platt Video Interview III
  4. Exceptionally Rich
  5. Stake To Play
  6. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  7. Profit And Loss
  8. New Financial Order
in that order.

It is also the twentieth in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs:* It was conceived at the same time as


We're thrown  that more money brings more satisfaction and makes things better. That's not always true. Just google the many accounts of folks who've won colossal prizes in the lotteries, whose lives have been ruined as a result. Of course there's also the disappointment if not outright hopelessness and panic  when there's less than what's needed. And yet if you visit the most impoverished nations on the planet, you'll notice more happy faces (many  more in fact) than in most American suburbs.

Somehow it happened (I'm not sure how  it happened ... I just know somehow  it happened) that I got who I am  tangled up with my checkbook balance, and with the bottom line of my investments portfolio. That's bizarre when you consider the implications: human beings experiencing a quality of life defined like paint by numbers???  Yet that's what happened: bigger numbers (profit) meant I was having a good day, and smaller numbers (loss) meant I wasn't having a good day. No, that is not really an accurate account of where this mis-correlation left me. It is closer to the truth to say that bigger numbers meant I was a good person, and smaller numbers meant I wasn't  a good person. With hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision), that's an untenable position to be in. When I first noticed it, its untenability was clear. Yet I didn't know what I could do about it or how to shift it. I only knew I seemed to be tied to the numbers in some way.

Further exploring this, I began to notice how my ease of living is not  always correlated with the amount I'm earning - contrary to expectation. For example I've been contracted to deliver week-long high-tech training seminars for many of the Fortune 1000  companies at top drawer remuneration rates. I've also driven winery tours around the Napa Valley in California, the wine country  where I live, for more modest wages. In retrospect my financial life was more balanced and easier to manage during the latter venture. It began to dawn on me no income amount, no matter how many trailing zeroes it has, will be satisfying without a satisfying context for it.

Sir Paul McCartney, with now nearly a billion and a half dollars of net worth, has famously and endearingly noted that one thing he is ongoingly afraid of is waking up one day and finding himself poor. It doesn't matter that it is a billion and half dollars later. It doesn't matter that it is nearly sixty years later. The same sense of being poor in Liverpool is still there, still in the background, still running him. The quality of life afforded by wealth is undermined by the past. Too much is never enough (as David Bowie says). If there is not a satisfying context in the present or for the future in which to hold wealth, there will never be enough money to be truly satisfying.

This is my thesis: no numbers will ever be big enough to satisfy us (listen: if they were, then every human being with any means would be satisfied, yes?). I've lost a great deal of momentum puzzling over why  we are thrown that bigger numbers will satisfy us. So I've dropped that particular inquiry, and now I am committed to a breakthrough generating a context of satisfaction for those numbers, regardless of what they are. It goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) being responsible for the quality of my life, to generate a context for holding money and the numbers which comprise my checkbook balance and the bottom line of my investments portfolio.

This context (and in particular, being responsible for generating this context) for those numbers, is always satisfying. The numbers in and of themselves on the other hand, are never  satisfying - in contradistinction, those numbers are always  satisfying when held in this context of satisfaction. In other words money (or at least my relationship with money) is never transformed by making a bigger profit (even though that is an attractive option). Rather my relationship with money is transformed by generating a transformed context for both profit as well as loss. Neither profit nor loss defines who I am, for I am the context in which both profit and loss occur.


* The presentation, delivery, and style of Profit And Loss are all my own work.

The ideas embodied in Profit And Loss crystallized for me during my participation in and after my graduation from the Landmark Money: From Concern To Freedom seminar.


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