I’m currently listening to the book The Richest Man In Babylon, which I heard had some worthy ideals that may appeal to me. It’s been a bit of a laborious read since the linguistics are from another era, namely the era of the early 20th century, but I push on. It talks about the great American ideals of picking yourself up by the bootstraps, being self-reliant, and taking control of your (financial) life while not blaming others for the situation you happen to be in. In this way, it may be a timeless classic. Let’s face it, in 2021 this may need reiterating.
We live in a time when many people think that they deserve what others toil for. We can read that Jeff Bezos makes about $9,000,000 per hour, and wonder why because even making just $15 per hour would change many lives. Mr. Bezos is one of a handful of billionaires that simply make too much for the good himself or society. But let us stop there on that today – because there is truth in the reality that none of us control what Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates or, for that matter, what your neighbor makes. You can only control your own financial future, and to focus on the success or failure of another man is simply a bad way to go about improving yourself.
Those born into wealth and privilege have the easy path toward passing that same wealth/privilege down to their children and grandchildren. However, that does not preclude you and me from also becoming wealthy.
Picking yourself up out of a cloud of debt is going to be the hardest job you may ever do. I thought the author did have some valuable insight on the matter in the following thoughts, which are vastly paraphrased: If you found yourself in a fight for your life, wouldn’t you fight as if your life depended on it, bringing all the strength and power you could muster? The same could be said about your debt. Debt is a man who will take all that you have, including your pride, and punish you so much that you will be afraid to show yourself in front of your friends and family. Debt is a big, strong, powerful man, he will pummel you. Make no mistake about it, if you have debt (and don’t we all), you’re in the fight of your life.
If you have somehow over-leveraged yourself, or have been through a life event that has impacted your income, then you may find yourself struggling. COVID has given many terrible gifts, and for some, it has been the gift of a hulking debt soaking up what little income you have remaining. To paraphrase my favorite TV minister, this is just a season of your life, God is setting you up for the greatest come back of your life. But that come back depends on your ability to recognize the opponent (debt) and fight with all the tools in your toolbox.
In The Richest Man In Babylon, the author states that the mind of a free man fights, while the mind of a slave will roll-over, and accept his fate. I nearly didn’t include that in this blog because it recons back to a time when men should be slaves to other men. But let’s be real for a moment, aren’t we all slaves to something? Perhaps that’s a habit (like tobacco), a debt we owe, our upbringing – but we’re a slave, in that context. As he states, we can choose to have the mindset of a free man, a man who can hold his head high in public, a man with coin jingling in his pockets, a man who makes consistently good decisions.
Wealth is not achieved overnight, it’s the slow build up of good decisions and discipline. Luck will bless the prepared man. But today I ask you to examine your mindset, and ask yourself which mindset you have, the mindset of a slave or one of a free man. If you have a mindset that says ‘everyone is against me, I’ll never get out of this situation’ and so on, you can change your mind, you can become a free man, too.
I’d love to hear your feedback, or if you’ve read this book, your thoughts on that too.