5 reasons to redefine wealth

5 Reasons to Redefine Wealth

Happy belated Thanksgiving… in Canada, that is.

Canadian Thanksgiving was a week ago this past Monday. The fact that my father is Canadian, my mother is American, and I have family on both sides of the border, I’m excited to celebrate both country’s Thanksgiving holidays – that’s twice the turkey. One down, one to go 😉

Have you ever noticed that events like Thanksgiving often draw out a number of “I’m so thankful for” type posts on mainstream social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on?

Personally, I enjoy seeing and reading what people are thankful for. It’s a welcome break from a typical news feed of business opportunities, product innovation videos, rants about millennials, all the current political rhetoric from both Canada and the United States, motivational memes and of course those damn cat videos (sorry, I’m just not a cat person ;-).

As I reflect on the things that I am thankful for, I wonder – being post/pre-Thanksgiving and all – if we might take a moment to pause, reflect and reconsider the definition of wealth?

According to Google, “The definition of wealth” is;

  • an abundance of valuable possessions or money
  • material prosperity
  • plentiful supplies of a particular resource.

Let’s also not forget what they (university professors and business magazines) might say about wealth; the sum of all accumulated assets in your life less all owed debt. In other words, add up the value of all of your properties, business valuation, savings and investments to name a few, and minus the money owed – mortgage, debt (credit cards, loans, line-of-credit), etc.

Mathematically, I agree, this is true.

I don’t deny money is important, but there’s a lot more to value in life than money, wouldn’t you agree? I wonder if you would consider a different perspective?

I to define wealth as the abundance of five elements.
Personally, I have come to define wealth as the abundance of five elements. These five elements are based on my experiences and observations as a business coach, my time in the military and deployment overseas, my years in athletics, and experiences in all the areas of family, love, sadness, failure, and all things made with coffee.

1 – Money.

Money is important – no question about it. Money allows you to buy food, shelter, transportation, additional health care, entertainment, among other things.

Money allows a business to hire staff, reinvest in their staff, invest in innovation, and give back to their communities and charities.

Without money, choices quickly become limited, and times can be challenging, to say the least.

So yes, money has value. I can argue that money can also buy happiness – just spend $2.50 on an ice cream cone and you will see the biggest and brightest smile on a sad child’s face.

2 – Relationships.

Rich relationships – rich in love, appreciation, and significance.

In the world of Social Media, one can easily get caught up in the never-ending, nor never satisfying a collection of followers, likes, and views. Let’s face it, people and organizations alike will often give more recognition, credibility, and value to people (and businesses) who have accumulated more followers than someone else.

“You’re on twitter? How many follow you?”
“Their LinkedIn page only has 52 followers. Are they any good?”
“Look. Every picture gets at least 250 likes or more.”
“97 YouTube subscribers? That’s it – who will they ever influence?”
Shit, I better buy some followers if that’s what it takes for people to take me seriously. Sound familiar?

However, at the end of the day, although it may look and ‘feel’ good to have a lot of (online) connections, friends, views, and likes… quite candidly, it’s all bullshit because those digital numbers offer very little emotional connection and support – especially during tough times.

Clients of mine, Gabriela Dersch and Maryrose Gutierrez, are the co-founders of RED Paper Boutique – a greeting card company they launched which was ultimately inspired by their work as professional mental health nurses.

“What we (people) ultimately desire and benefit from is a genuine human connection. You know… love. Not likes, not followers… love, as well as acknowledgement, appreciation and maybe most importantly – significance.” – Gabriela Dersch

If you ask Gabriela and Maryrose why RED Paper Boutique exists; To celebrate happiness and human connection so that others feel valued and appreciated. It’s no wonder why they’re a growing company.

When people find themselves in one of life’s little jams, they reach out and find comfort in human beings, their ‘tribe’, people with a give-a-shit factor to the power of 10. Likes, views, subscribers – none of that matters. True, genuine, human, connection matters most.

Here’s a question for you. Who can do you reach out to when you’re experiencing challenging times? Of all your friends, who do you reach out to? Any friend? Or is it a select few – the people you be completely honest and candid with, be vulnerable with? It bet it’s the latter, isn’t it?

3 – Time.

Time to spend with those you love. Time to spend doing what you enjoy. What you want, when you want.

Whether you spend money or lose money, you can make more of it. Time, on the other hand, once spent, it’s gone. Time, for all of us, is a depleting resource. We either invest our time or we waste it. Time is a pretty big deal that many undervalue.

As to wealth, tell me, what good is making money if you don’t have the time or loved ones to appreciate it? I think we all know someone who earns a lot of money and in the same reality, they don’t seem to have or make the time to spend it with those they love.

One of the greatest gifts, I have realized, that I can give to my wife and children my time. Yes, money will afford me to buy my wife a nice piece of jewelry, and my children a popular toy, but what they really love and value more is my time.

4 – Health.

The health to enjoy it all. Again, quite candidly, what good is money if we don’t even have the health to enjoy our time with those rich relationships – the people we love and care about?

Time and time again I meet executives and business owners who are working their asses off to grow their careers and businesses, and yet all too often their health has been compromised along the way. Whether they neglected their nutrition, exercise, sleep, got caught up in addiction, a combination of, or all of the above – they are unhealthy.

I speak from experience. After 21 years of playing rugby, even at 38, I was in pretty good shape. At 40 I started a new career in business coaching, and at 42 I went into private practice. In the process of growing my career, I let myself go. I lost my strength and fitness. Worse, I worked my body so hard that my adrenal glands started shutting down – adrenal fatigue set in. My body broke out in hives. Not fun.

Long story short, it took a full year of eating right, sleeping right to get my health back to where I could be physically active again. All the money in the world couldn’t make it happen any faster.

It was a hard road back but worth every step. I’ve been back in the gym for about a year and a half. I am crystal clear on why I stay fit today – so that I can enjoy my time with my family so that I can be a better husband and father.

Guess what, my clients get a much better coach as well.

Without our health, we compromise our ‘operational effectiveness’ (Army lingo 😉 in all the above areas.

5 – Spiritual Journey.

I have found in all my interactions with people over the years, that many people I have met and know have some sort of spiritual belief they are exploring, be it God, Muhammad, Buddha, Higher Power, etc.

As to the atheists and agnostics, I have found that they live life with some sort of moral compass as well; be it their own defined personal code of ethics, core values, belief statement. etc. I believe it’s just another form of spirituality.

The value of a personal spiritual journey challenges us to question our thinking, to think differently more than ever before, to pause and reflect. I have found that my own spiritual journey routinely challenges me to become a better version of myself which is intertwined throughout all the areas of my life.

I often joke that when I attend church on Sunday mornings, I’m there for my spiritual workout. I joke but it’s true. Spirituality, for me, is not a one-way conversation from someone reading scripture, rather a discussion filled with thought provoking dialogue that forces me to wrestle with previous beliefs, context, and meaning. Sometimes it is clean and clear, other times it’s a messy brain cramp. Either way, I find it to be an incredibly valuable investment in myself.


To define wealth as solely by your net worth, in my opinion, is short-sighted. Click To Tweet

To define wealth as solely by your net worth, in my opinion, is short sighted. That’s why I believe wealth is defined as the abundance of all 5 elements.

Yes, there can be more of one than another – eg: A person who is unemployed may be lacking in money, but still have an abundance of time, relationships, health, and spirituality.

So as you take the time to reflect beyond an incredible Thanksgiving dinner I wonder if you would also reflect upon these five elements and redefine wealth for yourself? How wealthy are you now, beyond the bank account?


If you’re one who needs to put things into a measurable perspective, consider this formula:

Give each element a value rating between 1 and 10 (1 being least, 10 being best). Then, add your numbers up.

Time + Money + Relationships + Health + Spirituality = ____ of a possible 50 points.

I did this very exercise this week with a client – they scored a 37/50. That’s 74%… and even in math class, 74% is still a passing grade 😉