In one of the pillars of success literature, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill states, “Quick riches are more dangerous than poverty.”
Perhaps that’s why, according to the New York Daily News, almost 70% of lottery winners end up broke within 7 years.
I can tell you whose fault it isn’t: the money. Money doesn’t make you broke. I know many people with a good amount of it, and they’ve managed to not only keep from going broke, but to grow that money, to invest and give generously, to do great things with that tool.
One pretty crucial difference between those folks and these lottery winners, though: they worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, and WORKED, and workedworkedworkedworkedworked. They worked hard, they struggled, they failed, the took risks, and occasionally lost, they learned and studied, sacrificed in unconventional ways.
And during that period of time, that painful, necessary, slow growth, they learned how to appreciate what they’d worked so hard for. They learned to steward it. They learned how to protect it, to use it well, to use the money to make more money, to not cling too tightly to it—they learned the healthy role that money can play. It’s a great blessing and a powerful tool.
Here’s what it isn’t, though: it’s not all for you. And it’s not all for me. I don’t have the opportunity to earn decent money so that I can build a life that serves as a shrine to my immediate pleasure.
If I indeed earn some money, however much or little, it is being entrusted to me, but it isn’t necessarily all for me.
I remember when a person I’m close to confided in me that he had made his first million. He had officially crossed the $1 million net worth line, and we had a private, celebratory conversation about it.
The next time I saw him, hew was still driving a paid off, nineteen ninety-something Nissan pickup. Standard transmission.
It was glorious. The guy was a millionaire.
Now, don’t hear me saying that you shouldn’t drive a nicer car than that. It’s okay if you do. I would like to as well.
But the point is this: he wasn’t a millionaire because he’d spent 30 years indulging the relentlessly unsatisfied consumer inside him.
As Dave Ramsey says, he had lived like no one else, so that he could live like no one else.
The danger in quick riches is juxtaposed with the beauty in the slow building of true wealth. Balance in life, appreciation for your own time, your health, your family, and of course your money.
I had breakfast this morning with a friend and we talked about how difficult it is to have patience for the future: “I see what I can be doing and accomplishing in the next 5 years, but I don’t want to wait 5 years. I want to be there now!”
The problem is, right now I lead a team of 5 or 6 people. I want to lead a team of 25 people. But if I had 20 new people thrown at me tomorrow, I’m most likely not equipped to lead that group effectively, to steer the culture of a team like that.
There’s a reason I have to grow one agent at a time.
Because there is danger in quick riches.
By the time I have 25 agents, I will have grown into each one. I’ll be equipped to very effectively steward that team. To challenge them, encourage and inspire them, to train them, to guide the culture, ultimately to serve them.
So don’t be like me—don’t wish away the next two or five or ten years. There is immense value in the learning that naturally occurs during that growth.
Don’t wish for quick riches—you’ll likely go broke. Then you’ll have lost time and experienced that pain of loss.
Rather, wish for and press forward into a pace of healthy growth, and the timely rewards that will inevitably come with it.