Sifting – Chapter 3: Bob’s House of Cards

This posting is part of a series on my book Sifting. If you have not read the previous postings, please visit the menu above (click on Sifting) for a chronological listing of any previous chapters. Thanks!  


Sifting – Chapter 3

Bob’s House of Cards

Sunday Evening 

Bob hadn’t gotten around to wealth accumulation yet. There would be plenty of time for that later.

He had, however, absolutely mastered consumption. He knew that the nation was built on debt. If it was good enough for the nation, it was good enough for Bob. With this in mind, and the ongoing flow of bills in the mailbox, Bob was excited about the upcoming week. His plan was to visit four cities in four days and close four deals. If just one of the deals hit this week, his trappings of success would be funded for yet another year. The house of cards would remain standing a while longer.

There was a low vibration rumor going around at work that Bob might get a call from the guy in charge of global operations. Bob wasn’t supposed to know about the potential call, but he had friends in high places at global headquarters in Europe. Something very, very big was going down! From what little he knew, the scope of the project was staggering. He also heard his name had been tossed in the hat to potentially head up the project. They needed a strong leader, and Bob thought he certainly qualified as the best of the best when it came to strong leadership.

All in all, Bob was doing quite well now, but this assignment would represent a quantum leap to the outer orbit of corporate titans. He would breathe rarified air and become a card-carrying member of the Gulfstream globetrotting super-leaders. It would be a stunning victory over his peers and organizational rivals.

Bob had a few enemies. It was all a necessary part of the game you played if you wanted to be a winner and stay on top. If Bob got this promotion – and according to his mole inside headquarters, he had a good chance of doing just that – there would be no stopping him. All of his efforts, all of the sacrifices, even the occasional ruthless annihilation of his adversaries, had brought him to this time and this place with this opportunity.

Bob tried to get his mind off the enormity of this new opportunity. It was mind-boggling, but Bob needed to focus elsewhere for now. Considering his personal cash burn rate, Bob needed to get some deals done. He didn’t quite understand how you could make so much money and run out of cash so often.

This time tomorrow, Bob would be on the West Coast meeting with one of his most lucrative clients and closing a huge deal. He needed to stay focused on this upcoming business trip and not get too far out in front of his headlights. That was one of those quirky things his dad used to say to him all the time – another gem from his dad’s anything-that-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger collection of quirky sayings that were supposed to explain life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

Bob was glad his wife and kids were going to be away at some kind of island vacation for the next few days. Since the phone service on the island was awful, it gave him a good excuse not to call, and he wouldn’t have to spend time on the phone talking about things he didn’t really care all that much about. He needed to maximize his focus on the business at hand and minimize any distractions for the next few days.

As he thought of this, his mind plucked another gem from the dad collection: “Son, don’t trip over a dollar to get to a nickel.” In Bob’s world, that translated into “Don’t trip over a million to get to a thousand.” In less than 12 hours, Bob would be on the West Coast doing what he did best – making things happen!


End Chapter 3


Author’s Notes:

Main takeaway: There is a big difference in people focused on consumption (spending in excess of what they have) and true wealth. A person who makes $40,000 a year with a lifestyle that requires about $35,000 a year to maintain is wealthier than a person who makes $400,000 a year with a lifestyle that requires about $450,000 a year to maintain. Don’t confuse consumption with wealth if you want to joyfully participate in life. In other words, live within your means if at all possible.

  1. Bob is partially correct, there will be plenty of time for wealth accumulation later…until there’s not.
  2. Beware of counting on future events (pending “big” deals, inheritances, hitting the lottery, etc.) that will “bail you out” of a consumption lifestyle. With discipline and patience, you can usually work your way out of any excessive spending problems in a reasonable amount of time. In the right frame of mind, people often experience significant joy when reversing a consumption lifestyle and letting go of things and obligations.
  3. Do you think Bob is correct when he thinks, “making enemies is all a necessary part of the game you played if you wanted to be a winner and stay on top?”
  4. How do you think the demands of Bob’s job are affecting his personal relationships?
  5. So far, do you think Bob is a successful person or not? Do you think Bob deserves the potential promotion he has heard about?
  6. Consider reading, or re-reading, the posting The Slippery Slope of Spending and Satisfaction. Pay very close attention to the following statement in the posting: “Enjoy your money, but make sure it is serving you and not vice-versa. If you are already beyond the ‘enough’ point, I predict you will get more joy from getting rid of things than from acquiring things. Try it and see if it is true for you.”


The entire book will eventually be posted on this blog. However, if you want a copy for yourself, or as a gift for a friend, you can find it at this link: Sifting

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