The Richest Man In Babylon

I don’t think that there was any way for me to read this chapter without really feeling like it was a gut punch. There is a sort of bitterness Bansir and company have receiving Arkad’s wisdom: that at one point, they were all equals and now, they are much worse off than he despite Arkad being, in their minds, “no more honorable a citizen than [they were].”

Isn’t that how a lot of us might feel? That, others who started at the same point in life as we did have gotten so much farther ahead, that it almost seems unfair. I know I’ve had that thought before. I know I’ve also been envious of those rags to riches stories – people who my any objective measure were (in my mind) destined for a worse life some how became King.

I know the reason why that is: Pride. I’ve had too much pride in my own self to admit that my performance, to date on the life scorecard, has been mediocre. I know that I am capable of great accomplishments but I’ve also bee sitting around assuming that, because I am capable that I am deserving. If I am deserving, then it will just happen to me. It hasn’t. As Arkad says:

“If you have not acquired more than a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you either have failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth, or else you do not observe them.”

That’s where I am, today. I have failed to learn all the laws governing wealth. Any that I might understand, I have failed to act on and have come up with excuses as to why I have not.

“As for time, all men have it in abundance. You, each of you, have let slip by sufficient time to have made yourselves wealthy. Yet, you admit; you have nothing to show except your good families, of which you can be justly proud.”

I am proud of my family, just not the state I have left them in. Should I be gone tomorrow, I have left them with a life insurance payout. That’s it. That’s not going to hold them over until they grow old. That isn’t going to help them find liberation in their life. That will bind them to the desk as a servant like I am. I don’t want that for them.

I want to learn, like Arkad did, to have his own servants that work for him. Arkad is taught to treat his money like servants and the money his money makes like their children. As they are put to work, they create more children, who can be put to work. I’m not advocating child slavery or anything like that, but I’m certainly on board for making my money work a little harder for me and not me for it.

The remainder of the chapter is discussing the phrase: “A part of all I earn is mine to keep.” Pay yourself first. Arrange your other expenditures so that you are paid first. Enjoy life. Don’t over-strain or try and save too much. 1/10 of all you earn is what you should look to comfortably keep – everything else is gravy.

Like anyone who talks about money, the chapter ends with some who think there should be hand outs, some who did not understand and some who had just received the revelation of a lifetime. I won’t say where I am at because I really don’t know. What I will say is that focusing on the chapter, slowing down to put my thoughts on paper is helping – and maybe that’s the best thing I’m getting out of the book so far.

From here – I’m going to be working through Nate’s e-mails on this chapter. As of this second, I haven’t read any of them; however, I know that there are multiple e-mails about this chapter so – I expect from here out to be answering a lot of questions. Here we go!

I’m asked to figure out if I sound more like the crowd (“that’s unfair, I work just as hard as you”) versus Arkad (“you haven’t earned it”, “it’s your fault”). I would say is that it depends on the day, leaning more towards the crowd on a normal day – but certainly beating myself up and telling myself “it’s my fault” when I’m trying to be objective and evaluating my personal situation.

I do know that the world, simply by its design, is unfair and won’t ever truly be fair. I also accept that some people are luckier than I and that others may seem to be luckier and that I don’t always understand their personal situation. I do believe that hard work is tied to more wealth, materials and benefits.

I’m asked how much of my life is my fault and I’ll go with the good old 80/20 rule. I think 80% of my life is my fault and I’m 20% impacted by stuff I can’t control. I know that the extreme ownership people might disagree and that’s OK. I do believe that if I was to take control of the 80%, the effect that the 20% had on my life would be reduced. I don’t think people deserve wealth with little to no effort. I believe that the only persons responsibility to “save me” is myself.

Nate links this video: Iguana vs. snakes to drive home a point. During this video, the iguana and all the snakes each have a reason (if they could talk) to put the blame on someone else or say that the other was “lucky.” I like this statement in the e-mail: “if you are a slow iguana, you better take ownership of that and learn to be still, so the snakes don’t eat you.”

There is no way to predict the number of snakes that are in between us and home. There is only pushing forward and using all your energy to achieve your goals.

Even when things are looking bad, the world is full of opportunity. Energy gets you over that hurdle. That energy can be sapped by the mob and the mentality that they can’t do what others do. Be the iguana.

On the same chapter – the next e-mail is titled: Beat Fate.

I won’t lie – I missed the direct reference to a “Fickle Fate.” I skimmed over the discussion on how fate will ruin those who come into gold before they earn it. Mainly because my brain said “you already know that.”

I’m asked this question: Do you find yourself overspending when times are good? Yup. Here is a phrase, upon reflection, that I’ve used a lot with my wife: “a pay raise is coming, so yes, we can afford X.” We moved to a bigger house, we bought a larger sized SUV (which I love, but did I really need?) and so on. Just the other day I thought Hey, maybe I should get a new TV, mines like 10 years old. They’re only like 299$ now! I paid $1400 for mine a long time ago. We don’t need a new TV.

Do you regularly prepare for the future? Not really. I have a pension that, when I retire 25 years from now – will pay me enough to live on. I’ve just assumed that a) it will exist when I retire and b) that I won’t really have any other expenditures and I will be able to live off it comfortably. So, this just leaves me just allowing us to indulge in our vices, rather than using money to buy assets.

I have back-pay coming, it will be substantial; however, it will all have to go to my debt. I’m not saying that I’m mad about being ale to do that; however, discussing assets here reminds me that I can’t use the money to get ahead because I’m forced to pay back things that are not currently benefiting me. So I feel like, most times, I am just paying off debt to go right back into debt. I want this time to be the time where I get ahead.

Do I have a hard time enjoying the fruits of my labour? I’m not a miser, per se, but I certainly do guard my money. Or well, I suppose I pretend to? I’d have more money if I was a miser. Typically, I find a way to talk myself into going to the store to get junk food. Drains my health, drains my pocketbook. Outside of stuff I really need though (and the junk) I don’t spend much. I’m usually trying to balance paying off debt with the need (and wants) of my family.

In his second email with the same title, Nate hits at some of the content of his course – Holy Shift – being a switch from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance. Desire isn’t enough to get you where you want to go. I know this – there is lots that I desire but I am no where close to achieving it. Habitually working our your determinations turns determination into discipline. This is the discipline = freedom mentality that has become so popular recently with Jocko Willink.

Time and study will be required to make your determinations become disciple. Just be careful that you don’t study the wrong thing. Unlearning something is harder than learning something new. Usually what you want to unlearn has a steep cost associated with (like trying to unlearn always wanting to eat junk food.)

Nate says that you should:

  1. Never take a job based on money alone.
  2. You should take the job based on the freedom to experiment and the knowledge that it will give you.
  3. If you place money above all else, it will enslave you, and you will become trapped by your paycheck.

Arkad is able to change his own fate while he is working by being bold. By being bold, making a promise and then following through (and not backing down), you become someone that people will want to invest in. You become worthy of it.

Arkad had a mentor. Mentors are good. Nate outlines three ways to get one: familiarity, paying and a mastermind group. As I’ve stated before, he has a course called Holy Shift, which he plugs at the end of this e-mail as having it all. That’s no affiliate link. I’ve bought the course and I’ve not even started it. As of this post, I can’t say if it’s worth your time or not. Once I complete it, I will give it an honest review.

Babylon: Stop your mob mentality is the last e-mail for this chapter. The opening concept in the e-mail is around Arkad coming to realize that he’s paying everyone but himself. He pays the cloth maker and the sandal maker, but not himself.

Nate ends his e-mail with the wealth rules that you should follow if you want to be like:

  1. Save at least 10% of your income
  2. Learn how to make money work for you
  3. Make sure you will have an income in the future, preferably separated from your labors.
  4. Get life insurance. If you can afford it, get disability insurance as well.
  5. Find a mentor, teacher or mastermind group, we have Holy Shift for this exact purpose
  6. Enjoy your life

There is enough wealth to go around. Nate is saying that people who are wealthy know that the best money is money in motion. If the money makers are moving money, why can’t it move through me? If I understand it, I can find it. If I work for it, I can have it and make money dance for me too.

If you want to read this series of posts from the start, click here: http://nicksnotebook.com/?p=70

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