The worst phrase of all phrases

“I’m not trying to make a ton of money.”

This has many derivations: I’m not trying to get rich; I just want a sustainable source of income; I want to help the little guy; I don’t want to be greedy. They are all effectively the same and are being said by the same entrepreneur or aspiring business leader. Some reading this may take issue with the separate phrases I’ve effectively combined into one. I do so because I routinely hear them said interchangeably, from the same sources. The person who says to me, in discussing their business or career development, that they don’t want to make a ton of money, has also quickly shown their virtue and commitment to poetry by wanting to help the little guy or new people get their start, and they are certainly quick to regard anyone on the opposite side of them as greedy until proven generous.

Imagine a tree were to say “I don’t want to grow very tall” or a flower that it “wanted few petals and with dull colors.” We would laugh.

But when a human says this, we applaud. We call this morality. Sentiment, weakness, smallness, to never dream beyond our borders.

The human has been made very calculable, to borrow from Nietzsche, and from his views on the taming of humans, or drift away from instincts and thus our inability to wield them effectively. Morality according to Nietzsche would have read more like thou shalt be strong, adventurous, creative, and independent; and thou shalt delight in others doing the same.

Business should have such a calling. Be profitable, industrious, innovative, and secure in your assets and debts, and shake hands with people and businesses doing the same.

To return to the tree analogy. The tree that grows tall is home to so many, and provides so much life and beauty. The tree that doesn’t grow tall is unable to provide for anyone or anything else. Moral sentiment, therefore, depends upon capability. This is true of trees, professionals, and businesses.

If your goal is profit, growth, and capability, your ability to do good becomes possible. So, please, go make a ton of money. Grow your net worth and your businesses. Develop more professional capabilities. If you do so, you’ll be the one capable of doing good, rather than the one who has spoken, demonstrated, or protested about it.