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Take Action or Retire Poor

Welcome to the 21st century, a fast-paced age where dynamics of survival and coping with everyday life has never been more challenging. The days when mornings began at the sound of a cock’s crowing, walking for miles to the nearest stream for water, and preparing breakfast with the ever fresh produce from the farm are fast eroding. Instead, waking up to the shrill sound of an alarm clock, make a mad rush to work early morning to avoid traffic, munching on a quick breakfast sound more familiar to us. Increasing expenditure and Piling up Bills have made it difficult to make ends meet, and deep down everyone craves for financial Independence. The current trend shows; the Rich seem to be getting richer while the Poor keep getting poorer. The growing concern for many is how to belong to the latter group.

Parents instil into their children to work hard, obtain good grades in school for a secure future. Society maintains that hard work and high IQ is a sure path to success. On the other end of the continuum, some believe wealth and prosperity is luck endowed from divinity. It is The Creator who decides - who will be rich and who will languish in abject poverty for the rest of life. These ideologies and many more such myths surround the idea of creating and building ‘wealth’. Of course, enduring principles like personal discipline, habit of saving, accountability etc., cannot be overlooked in the quest for financial freedom. However, underlying fact is, wealth building is a “deliberate action”. We might argue and give instances of people who became wealthy overnight or inherited wealth; but this category of people is very small compared to a world population of 7 Billion people.

‘Wishful thinking’ and ‘day dreaming’ do not bring wealth unless they are not backed by right actions in the right directions. Malcolm Gladwell in his highly influential book “Outliers” demystifies the reason why some people end up being successful and rich while others do not. A very important character trait is what he calls “practical Intelligence” or PI. PI plays a major role in knowing when and how to channel one’s actions in the right direction to produce results. This does not mean people with high PI are perfect, but they are the ones who learn a lesson even from their mistakes.

The predominant question is, “how do we take the right actions to guarantee wealth generation”? The first step is to know - what your heart craves for - your passion. Unfortunately, passion is one of the most misunderstood words these days. Real passion is realistic. A good litmus test for know what your passion is to find an answer to the query - “Are you enthusiastic about your object of interest with or without money”? Knowing what you really want and wanting what the object of desire as badly as the Air you breathe gives you the drive to forge ahead in spite of all inevitable challenges.

Secondly, what differentiates the Rich from those who retire poor is how well the former utilised and availed the opportunities that came their way. As the quotation goes, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet favour to men of skill; but TIME and CHANCE happeneth to them all.” Those who choose to be proactive about their financial situation make it a lifelong commitment to always look out for opportunities. They press hard, they do not judge a situation superficially, on the surface level only, because they firmly believe an opportunity could be lurking somewhere. It is upon such people, the laws of the Universe appear to always smile upon. Onlookers call them lucky but only they know in their hearts that they are ordinary people who only had taken a step further before others did.

In short, taking the right action towards financial freedom and wealth is essentially tied to ‘passion’ in the right direction, recognising and seizing the opportunity when it comes. Opportunities come in different forms and in subtle ways- it could be either an avenue to acquire knowledge about stock market, developing a new skill, reading a book on finances, or attending a conference, a willing friend to explain the dynamics of wealth creation and many others. It takes humility to recognise these opportunities.

Sometimes you may not immediately comprehend the opportunity coming your way. Grab it nevertheless. Steve Jobs, in his 2005 address to Graduating students at Stanford University shared a profound lesson from his personal life. He tagged it, “Connecting the dots”. He dropped out of college but decided to stay back for a few more months studying calligraphy in the process. He didn’t understand how calligraphy would contribute to his life’s purpose but he just knew he loved it. Ten years later, when his team was designing the first Macintosh computer, his knowledge of calligraphy came in handy and it was applied in revolutionizing the typography of personal computers, which is used till date.

The question which crops up at this stage is; how do I take the right actions. The answer is very simple - Constantly seek ways to add value to your existing knowledge/ update your skill. More money or wealth generation is simply a reward of value addition. Appropriately put, ’value is the precursor to money’. The mistake most individuals make is aspiring for money at the expense of enhancing their true value, and recognising their true worth. This act of putting the cart before the horse usually backfires, if not immediately, but in the long run. Getting the above fact deeply ingrained in our psyche will always guide us towards taking the right actions. In the same vein, a heart full of loving and giving can never be over emphasized. All good actions leading to financial freedom have two components in common- “Give and Serve.”

Lastly, one needs to understand that persistence and endurance are key virtues needed to succeed in any known endeavour. Thoughtful observers around the world have often reiterated that it takes 10,000 hours to build a talent. It’s easy to celebrate the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of today, but taking a closer look at their personal lives reveals they have a lot in common- thousands of hours devoted to hard work to become successful in what they wanted to achieve, they enjoyed what they did and do, they are big givers, they always seek opportunities, they do not rest on their past laurels, they took and take risks, they made mistakes but learnt from them, they are proactive with their lives.

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