In his terrific book, Harry Browne discussed the nature of Profit as being:
one situation with another.”
The natural example would be that, in a free-market based exchange, both parties profit because they are each — by choice — exchanging something they value less for something they value more.
However, Profit does not pertain only to business but to any area of life. Let’s say we forgo the immediate pleasure of a delicious piece of cake because we believe we’ll look and feel better as a result. We have exchanged instant gratification for long-term gain, which we value more. That’s a non-monetary example of the “profit motive.”
Harry explained that we all make decisions based on what we “believe” will make us happier than our current situation. The decision is determined by what we value more and within the context of the limited number of resources and options available to us in any decision.
WOW — when looking at it that way, pretty much every human action and interaction makes sense, doesn’t it?
What are some other examples that come to mind? Feel free to share.
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This is such a simple yet brilliant perspective on profit. Importantly, I believe profit can be multi-faceted. By example, I set up an introductory meeting yesterday with a man in the early stages of his start up business and a woman who builds web sites and helps deliver marketing messages. Should they decide to do business your definition of profit definitely holds true. My ‘profit’ – already realized – is the satisfaction of connecting two good people who may – or may not – work together. I’ve delivered value to them while strengthening my relationship with both.
Thanks for your insights and sorry to post a comment which is almost longer than your post. 🙂
Bill: Thank you. Loved your comment and the wisdom you shared. Indeed, that’s an excellent example of profit!
I am surprised by this post. Profit is a dirty word. If people focused more on other people and less on profiting for themselves the world would be a better place. I mean, using Harry Browne’s own definition we should give up profit and our own happiness. The world would be a better place if people were much less happy. The next time you are making a choice, choose the option that will make you less happy; you will be unhappier that you did.
Maybe profit and happiness will lead to more of it. And that is a great thing for everyone.
P.S. Love Harry Browne’s way of simplifying human interaction. Thanks for a great post.
Doug: LOL! Love the way you framed that. I wonder how many new visitors to this site were agreeing until they realized you…jes’ kidding! Yes, Harry certainly had a way of making simple what is often believed to be very complex.
Great Day Bob & Company,
When I first read the post, the word “profit” grabbed my attention and took me to a divine plateau, where I exchanged Mr. Browne’s intellectually “natural example” for my spiritually supernatural insight and awareness. At first glance, the word profit immediately became prophet, being personally and relationally defined, as someone who exchanges a prophetic vision with the profitability of someone’s belief and faith for the mutual manifestation of things that will surely come/happen. While the prophet gives the individual the benefit of any doubt, there is an assured “instant gratification for long-term gain” between both or all parties involved. Ultimately, the individual places their complete trust and confidence in the desire to be happier than they are, based on what he or she already believed, wanted, and needed to believe will make him or her happy, which doesn’t have to be monetary and can be anything from getting married to getting pregnant to being healed of a disease/sickness.
Thank you for sharing and providing the opportunity for myself and others to profit with you and one another, interactively.
Nikeeta: Thank you. What a thoughtful and wonderful interpretation. Not to mention, very deep and inspiring! Thank you!
Bob, your book, ‘The Go-Giver’, changed my view of money/profit from negative/evil/corrupting to influence/freedom/energy.
I like your take here on the word ‘profit’. I also think of ‘Profit’ as ‘Abundance’ in that it can describe ANYTHING, not just money, that you have enough (ideally MORE than just ‘enough’) to be able to share with others. Resources, Time, Energy, Focus…if you have enough for yourself and then some, you can then begin to look for places to SHARE and HELP others.
Thanks for your continued sharing of your abundant and profitable knowledge and energy. You continue to be a positive influence in my life.
Greg: Wow, what a terrific compliment! Thank you so much for letting me know. And, thank you for sharing with us your interpretation of today’s post!
Always love the reactions that the topic of “profit” inspires. Even when people appear to be talking about profit they are often actually talking about much deeper ideas such as job security for their people, safeguarded training budgets, better safety and environmental protection systems and yes – things that create the conditions for increased happiness – team building, innovation funds, flexible working so that mums and dads don’t miss football games or dance recitals.
Profit in itself is no bad thing – if problems arise with profit it is generally more about how it is made and what it done with it in the end!
Keep up the thought provoking work.
Jackie: Thank you. Very well said and 100 percent right on the mark. Love it!
We “profit” every day in this life. Whether your a business person or a lay person. It is a give and take of idea’s and fiscal, financial responsibility and on a personal every day life routine. In families we profit from everyone’s cooperation, love and understanding from a parent to a child and when that child is grown and a responsible adult, we reap the emotional pride and personal effort that has been shared. The child has gained by what has been given and gives back, to society as a whole in the personal gain and knowledge thus creating a win/win situation for the future employers. The employer gains from the life lesson’s that has been passed on through a simple act of fairness. As a member of a management team, I found that the simple act of caring and fairness, raised profitability and loyalty in employees which in turn gave an example for their children to follow. Whether that child chose to follow in their parents footsteps in the same company, or in another profession, there was something for all to be gained. A company that cares, a company that shares, creates great things, a good reputation, a great support system, and profits in the end. You give back to the world, and gain so much in return.
Adrienne: Wow – what a terrific look at how we profit when we make choices that benefit everyone involved. It’s a never-ending chain of growth and profit; as you so eloquently wrote, profit in all its forms. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I profited greatly just from reading it! 🙂
Helping my legal clients understand and appreciate what the “long-term” profit or goal is can be challenging. Getting them to see through the correct lenses and focus on the true pleasure (resolving conflict, getting compensated…) is one strength not usually taught in law school but is learned later in life. Great post Bob. Putting all the professional stuff aside, it also reminded me to refocus on my personal life “profits” 🙂
Mitch: Thank you for your comments. Indeed, that can be challenging. And, as you so wisely alluded to, the first key is getting them to understand that lense (what we could also call the “frame” or “premise”) in the first place. Unfortunately that that is not taught in law school. The lawyers you mentor are very fortunate to have you in their lives. And, so are your clients!