I have been reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason as part of a couples’ course that I am going through with a few people. The book is set in Baylon, obviously, during it’s most prosperous period. However, the wealth gap is huge and the book starts with a couple of guys upset at their never-ending poverty in the sight of the few really rich people. Their plight is not unnoticed because, on the other side, the King is bothered by the fact that they have heavily invested in the country, imagining a place where no citizen has to suffer but alas, a wise few have maximised the opportunities. To fix this, he enlists the help of Arkhad, the richest man in Babylon to share his wisdom with a few people on how he got his wealth.
A few interesting facts about Arkhad: he is described as being unlike the rest of the wealthy class. He is humble and doesn’t look down on anyone, he is generous to others but also not flamboyant in his spending and every year still makes great profits. His wealth in itself is a result of his own dissatisfaction at his poverty and applied advice from another previously wealthy man. The very first piece of advice he gets is very simple: part of what you earn belongs to you. Basically, save some money from your earnings. At first, as he is taught the lesson, Arkhad retorts “But all I earn is mine!”. And his mentor says “Nope, you end up paying other people, what is actually yours is what is in your purse”. That is what is yours to grow and create profit for yourself.
In the book, he points out that in building wealth, you will need to work with other people which then creates income for them but the final and biggest outcome is yours for your own profit.
The book is a wealth of knowledge in every sense of the word. For now, I want to add one other lesson I have picked so far. During his sessions of sharing his wealth knowledge, Arkhad shares the philosophy that wealth cannot in fact run out. When I look at news headlines and the figures involved in corruption scandals, it looks like these people are trying to literally clean out the coffers. But then there is always another scandal, there is always something that goes missing. In the book, he points out that in building wealth, you will need to work with other people which then creates income for them but the final and biggest outcome is yours for your own profit. Think of building a house- there are many different people who invest and reap in the building of the house but ultimately it is yours and any long term profit that will come from it. If you are working to build wealth, you can’t think of it as being limited because built right, wealth can have exponential growth.
These two lessons create a beautiful contrast in my mind. The first is the power of the right perspective and using it to build the right habits. A quote on habits I once heard is that your goals are only made possible by your habits. You can dream of having that 120ft yacht but follow-through with a bogus plan, forgetting to change your habits and setting yourself up for disappointment. In the same thread, business empires have been built by changing one small thing regularly. The second demonstrates the power of the bigger picture. We walk around wanting to gather and hoard not realising that it takes a village and there has to be a constant movement of ideas, work, people for a sustainable vision. And most importantly, in the long run, there will always be enough.
In business or entrepreneurship, the mentality is that it is the space that you now work for yourself. I pose that this is a false narrative. Whatever work you do, you work for yourself. The purpose is what you build for yourself.
The human rat race that we are in follows the route of education, work, family, then die. We approach work as doing it for someone else and not enough for what your work can do for you. In employment, you have met someone who takes their work lightly reasoning that “I am here to make my employer richer”. In business or entrepreneurship, the mentality is that it is the space that you now work for yourself. I pose that this is a false narrative. Whatever work you do, you work for yourself. The purpose is what you build for yourself. The fallacy of employment is in the security of a paycheck. The figure on your payslip gives you delusions of grandeur, you see the ability to live that fancy lifestyle and most people get sucked into saving the barest minimum. If you are to check your balance sheet right now, are you really as rich as your payslip says you are?
The entrepreneur is the same but has it harder. When coming up with the business idea, the projections are sweet! All you can see is growth and a bright future. The reality is the variable that is life. There are people and supplies that consume your capital, there are clients will pay you on their schedule by which point your reserve will be depleted, there are socio-economic factors that could stop business in the blink of an eye. An entrepreneur’s sole focus is the business and everything goes to the business until either it breaks through or you, the entrepreneur breaks. In both scenarios, paying yourself is the last thing you think of.
Your work, whether on your own employment or another’s, is a resource to your growth.
The work mentality is changing to what your work can do for you. No more should we rush into an office to trudge on the wheel, hoping for fortune or that someone else’s treasure will be your big break. Your work, whether on your own employment or another’s, is a resource to your growth. The take out from the book is that regardless of the circumstance, you make your money work for you.