There is a bit of an urban legend going around that at an investment and finance conference last year, Bill Gates stunned his audience when he said his daughter cannot marry a poor man; despite being amongst the richest people in the world.
The legend tells that he argued that only a wealthy man was deserving of his daughter’s hand in marriage. The question is, why?
Whether or not Gates actually made this statement, the question still remains an interesting one.
If you could step on a platform high enough for everyone on the planet to see you and ask, “Who wants to be wealthy?” Billions of hands would go up in response to the question.
But if you decided to push further and asked, “How many of you know what wealth is?” At this point, most of the hands raised would start to tremble, eye contact broken, and whispers would ensure.
A large population is not confident about their understanding of wealth and the remaining few who do either have a coherent definition of wealth, or an impoverished one. So... what IS wealth?
At the most general level of definition, wealth is the abundance of assets (an asset is anything that yields profit), especially when it has a significant financial value.
Yet that does not do justice to the term. The meaning of wealth is oftentimes context-dependent, individual-dependent, cultural-dependent, etc.
The idea of wealth is varied:
"Wealth measures the value of all the assets of worth owned by a person, community, company, or country. " - Investopedia
In the book (Psychology of Money), Morgan Housel argued that,
“Money has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.”
He claimed that one personal experience about life makes up an insignificant quantity of what the entire world is, so no one conclusion/perspective is sufficient.
Furthermore, luck and risk are highly responsible for all life’s possible outcomes. He argued that getting wealth involves taking a risk, action, deprivation of certain unnecessary liabilities, and luck (which most people tend to deny, attributing all their success to long hours of night candles and willpower.).
Also, real wealth works on compounding interest, with no quick scheme around it (Which makes it harder for people who are not already wealthy to get there.).
Robert Kiyosaki, a financial educator and entrepreneur caused a serious debate across the financial institutions, when he said “your house is not an asset.'' He pointed out that financial freedom (or wealth) starts from the mindset and the information it feeds upon.
That the rich don’t work for money, they put money to work. They build a cash flow system where their assets column is above their liabilities column.
In all these, one thing we can conclude is that wealth is elusive; and requires intentional effort to achieve, coupled with a bit of luck.
It seems to be less about how much actual money you have and more about how you think about money.
By nature, humans are wired to seek answers and solve problems; hence it is no surprise that when we want to be wealthy, we instinctively start looking for “something” that would solve the problem.
Yet, unknown to us, acquiring wealth is hidden in the simple day-to-day tasks, until each task is compounded to yield a sustainable financial system (this was part of the argument of Morgan Housel).
Morgan Housel noted that “few people make financial decisions purely on a spreadsheet. They make them on dining tables, or in a company meeting. Places where personal history, your unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together into a narrative that works for you.”
Nothing about life is static, not even the process of amassing wealth. True, there might be the story of someone who inherited his family's wealth, or the young girl who took over her foster father’s multi-dollar business, but these are examples of rewards of past efforts (Wealth was created in the past, before the inheritance).
Probably before then, there was the little boy who went through the school of hard knocks to find his way into one of the most recognized societal positions, the gifted child who developed a serum that could relieve humans of a certain ailment. The positions are dynamic and may stretch beyond lifetimes
However, there are things the wealthy have in common; and we can tell because wealth is a process that involves phases.
The first phase starts with thoughts and helpful information.
Every wealthy person harbors optimistic and creative thoughts about life in general and they are naturally information mongers. They seek out activities and knowledge that enrich their minds. At this early stage, wealth can not be seen, it can not be financially equated but its presence is not invisible upon a closer look.
Every good thing we celebrate in modern society was first conceived in the mind - the process of wealth is not exclusive.
Hence, if you want to be wealthy, begin with enriching your mind - consider the sort of information you feed it. (Learning about personal finance = productive. Mindlessly scrolling social media = not usually productive.)
“ As you can see, wealth isn’t necessarily about money; it’s more the wealth that you have within your soul and what comes out through your mouth and heart.” – Catherine Pulsife
The second phase is accompanied by actions and innovation. It is a time to put your million-dollar thoughts (ideas) and information to work.
Robert Kiyosaki believes the rich are the capitalists and they are more giving. Against all odds and in the face of risk, they create, set out to build a business, organization, invent a valuable product that solves problems and provides income.
He thought the poor are the receivers, with the strong demand to work less and earn more. They are more concerned with paying the bills and job security - they think in a much smaller way
. Therefore, if you desire to be amongst the wealthy ones, be willing to act on your ideas, take calculated risks, and remember that luck is also part of the process. So, be willing to dive into the deep and remain open-minded about every outcome.
The third stage depicts your success story when most of the work done behind the scenes is now revealed to the public. When your creation adds value to society and when your actions can now be equated with financial value.
This could be after 5-10 years of constancy in anything you have decided to invest your time, energy, and resources in. When you can influence your immediate community because of your contribution to society.
In the end, although wealth is subjective as it demands the right individual to unlock it - it requires the right thoughts, actions, and grit.
It is also crucial to know what success is to you before it comes - so you know when you have had enough. Some possibly never get enough, never contented with what they have achieved, so they press on harder, pushing their luck until it runs out.
Until wealth - which was meant to be an intellectual, honorable, and humble process - is stained with greed, fear, and an unhealthy ego.
“Enough is not too little” – this is when you realize that wanting more than you can bite, an unsatisfied ambition for more will only push you to break, and to the point of regrets.
Therefore, enjoy every little effort you make, pride yourself in your humble beginnings, and remain faithful to the cause you have pledged to and luck will reward your commitment.
August 16, 2022
August 15, 2022