Passivity vs. Wealth and Success

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writing for Forbes, author Michael Ellsberg explains why the myth of "passive income" is dangerous nonsense. Although its title might lead one to expect a short article, the piece is long, and carries on, full steam, from the end of the short list that lends its title to his piece. Before going on, I'll give summary statements of Ellsberg's four reasons the myth is doomed to fail in a business sense:

  1. You can't stay ahead of competition passively.
  2. You can't maintain a loyal tribe of customers passively.
  3. You can't lead great teams passively.
  4. You can't create meaning, passion, or purpose in your life passively
It is on the last point that Ellsberg's piece really shines. Here is part of his reasoning:
This is the basic mistake they've made: they've fallen prey to the belief that money and meaning are two totally separate things. They've chosen to make their money from something that feels completely meaningless to them (some business they care so little about, they just can't wait to get away from it and minimize their involvement as much as possible), which they hope will buy them the freedom to do something they actually care about. [bold added]
Ellsberg looks at (1) the empty lives of a few people who actually have something like a "passive income", (2) the lives of a few "active" successful people, and (3) the ways the former fail and the latter succeed, in the process of showing how mistaken the fantasy is. Ellsberg also delivers a much more positive message about how good actual success is. I am not at all surprised at how well this all ties together, but I am very impressed with how well Ellsberg demonstrates it with his writing.

Read the whole thing.

-- CAV

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