As is true for many other aspects of our lives, the Bible has significant lessons about money, wealth and success. Many of these come from the life story and teachings of King Solomon, the son and successor of the Israel’s first king, David. Solomon is said to have been the wisest, and by no coincidence the wealthiest, man who ever lived. With a true zest for life and a penchant for saying exactly what’s on his mind, King Solomon gave incredible wisdom in the Old Testament scriptures, namely the book of Proverbs. Whether you are of the Judeo-Christian faith or not, the wisdom of King Solomon, purportedly the richest of all Rich Guys, is definitely worthy study, and we will examine his teachings regularly on TLRG.
One of the most fascinating things I’ve observed working as a financial advisor for the last decade is the difference in attitudes between the Rich Guys and the Not So Rich Guys about a variety of subjects. There is a significant difference in the way Rich Guys think and assess the world around them, and I can’t recall offhand any time this wasn’t the case. I’ll say it over and over again on this blog, because it’s true: Rich Guys do not see things the same way the rest of us do. And I firmly believe that if you can learn to think like a Rich Guy, you can learn to achieve like a Rich Guy.
We have many Rich Guys in our own time to study and emulate, like Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk. These men were visionaries and pioneers in many ways, willing to step out and take a risk with great visions of what they believed they could achieve. Becoming rich wasn’t their goal. Building something of substance and contributing something greater than themselves, was.
But history gives us a much wealthier person to study; one who left behind much of his thought process and wisdom in the text of the Bible itself: King Solomon. Purported to be the wisest person who ever lived – supernaturally gifted with wisdom in order to lead the Israelites – King Solomon also grew to become the wealthiest man in human history. From time to time, we will examine the wisdom of this, the richest of Rich Guys, and try to apply those clear and simple teachings in our own lives.
Most of Solomon’s wisdom came in the form of quick snippets – notes, almost- fleeting thoughts, that the Bible calls the Book of Proverbs. In this book, Solomon opines on nearly every topic imaginable: from marriage, to sex, to parenting, to various trades, to hard work, to ethics and philosophy, and yes, to money management and success. Often in just one sentence, Solomon dispensed wisdom on nearly every subject imaginable. It’s a fascinating read.
Today’s lesson, the first of many, comes from Proverbs 10:4.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
In this verse, Solomon lays it out for us clearly: if you aren’t diligent in the work you do, you won’t be successful long-term.
Notice that Solomon didn’t say “hard work” brings wealth, but rather, “diligent” work does. There are lots of Poor and Average Guys who work long, hard hours. But how many do diligent work? What’s the difference?
Dictionary.com defines “diligent” this way: “a constant in effort to accomplish something”, and “attentive and persistent in doing anything”. The word comes from the Latin word diligere, which means, “to love; to take delight in“.
In other words, “diligence” means being fully engaged and committed to do the best, most complete and thorough job possible, because you are giving love and focus and mindfulness to the task at hand.
You don’t have to kill yourself with work to be successful. You do, according to Solomon, have to give that work your full attention and care. Solomon understood that our work carries our signature, and our reputation is built slowly, one completed job at a time. If your work is thorough, complete, and of high quality, so will be your reputation and opportunities for advancement and success. But if your work is half-hearted, sloppy, and merely “good enough”, you’ll never be given the opportunity to do more, to be more, to achieve more.
So many other famous Rich Guys understood this wisdom, too. Ovid said, “Make the workmanship surpass the materials.” Denning wrote, “Quality is pride of workmanship.” John Ruskin advised, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” Henry Ford once said, “Quality is doing it right when no one is looking.” And Aristotle tells us that, “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.”
In other words, we become what we act like. So we need to act like the person we want to become. In the case of Solomon’s proverb, that means if we want to achieve great things, we must act great in small things first.
The Rich Guy Takeaway:
Are you doing your work diligently, or are you “phoning it in”? Do you plan your work, or just see what happens? Do you put pride in all of your work, or do you do just enough to keep from getting fired?
Solomon tells us, and successful people throughout history confirm, work done without care and passion is wasted effort. In order to be successful and achieve that promotion, or move your business to the next level, the work we do must have the most important quality we can give it: our very best effort.