Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Good advice from a billionnaire

"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work."
- H. L. Hunt (US oil tycoon, reputed to have been the world’s first billionnaire, 1889-1974)

This quote is often used in articles intended to encourage people to devote themselves to making fortunes in business, as Hunt did.

However, it has importance because of one component of the equation, "decide what you are willing to exchange for it."

This seems easy! Just give my business endeavour more time and focus and it should flourish. Maybe it will. But without knowing what you sacrificed, how will you evaluate whether the time and effort were worth the result?

If the goal is money, then time, effort and determination will eventually produce good results. But money for what?

Most people who have enough money want more, not because they need it but because they have no idea what to do with what they have. They have simply bought into the industrial ethos that rich is good. And richer is better. It's what business is all about, greater and greater profits.

Before committing ourselves to a business venture, we should examine what we would need to sacrifice to achieve success. That means knowing before we begin what we value in life.

Peace of mind? There is no peace in business, of mind or anything else. Tranquility? Business, by its nature, is never tranquil--if it is, there is no business. Time to rest and recouperate? Most business owners don't dare take time to relax for fear their business will collapse while they aren't looking.

Can having more money than we need provide us with the kind of safety net we need to feel protected in our senior years? Recent economic downturns suggest that no one investment is safe or productive continuously. In a matter of months or a few years, a well-off person can become a pauper if conditions change and he or she deson't know how to adapt. Many can't adapt. Some turn to crime to prevent themselves from poverty. Just read the newspapers to see some who have.

How much comfort will money offer in the final months and days of our lives? Yes, we can give it to a worthy heir, but those with lots of money didn't work themselves silly for decades just to give their money away.

Before making major life choices, decide what is important to you in life and what is likely to be important to you in 10, 20 or 30 years. Then figure out if your new commitment would satisfy those needs and wants. If not, look for other choices.

The world's first billionnaire gave you good advice.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help everyone make balanced choices for their lives.
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