What does it mean to be truly wealthy? Having a fat bank account? Riding the best cars ? In this piece, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, a philanthropist and knowledge based investor, shares his thoughts on what he has described as real wealth and meaningful living. Please enjoy
Let me start by sharing with you the last words of Steve Jobs on his death bed:
“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I now realize that all the recognition and wealth, at which I took so much pride, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death. In darkness, I look at the green lights from life supporting machines and hear humming mechanical sounds, and I can feel the breath of the god of death drawing closer…….Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth……. The wealth that I have won in my life, I cannot now take with me. What I can take are only the memories precipitated by love……. Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – Life. When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading –the Book of Healthy Life……”
Here is what I have discovered in the process of building wealth: when you break this thing called “Life”, you would discover that happiness should be the central goal of all men. Our living is best enriched through the pursuit of happiness, we live and lead quality lives when we are happy. We would see the beauty of the stars and not worry about the hustle of the next day. Happiness is gold. Building wealth can only be meaningful if such wealth gives happiness to others. True wealth is measured by how much impact it makes.
Indeed, happiness is the central ingredient to meaningful living by man. True happiness, from utilising the principles of positive psychology, for life’s fulfilment, is the very foundation of that special area of psychology. Happiness helps humans to lead a useful life. This issue of studying how to remain happy began with early humanist thinkers like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. However, the father of modern positive psychology is Martin Seligman. Martin Seligman espouses that happiness is best obtained by giving unto others, as different from receiving. Hence, the essence of acquiring wealth, includes very importantly, looking and closely exploring, what makes life really meaningful”.
Meaningful living has been found by Martin Seligman, to be central to making human living more purposeful and useful to oneself, others, one’s society and nation. Seligman’s thesis is this: The essence of acquiring wealth is not being limited to building wealth for wealth sake alone, but about using the wealth built and the process of building the wealth for the pursuit of happiness for one’s self, family, non-family members, one’s society, and one’s nation. Even employees at senior positions should make it a duty to expose and develop their subordinates to the knowledge of building wealth, provide opportunities for subordinates to grow, while such bosses continue to pursue the building of their own wealth.
This is what is gives happiness to living. Life is not just about surviving. Life is not just about living, but making impactful contributions to the lives of others in need, one’s society and nation, in line with the philosophy of positive psychology. It is about deriving authentic happiness from giving inspiration to subordinates, giving them happiness, and letting subordinates love to work for their bosses. This is the very essence of positive and meaningful living.”
I submit that the essence of building wealth is more with deriving happiness in habitually giving unto the needy others, from the wealth possessed and not in holding wealth, solely for oneself and family. From experience, the philosophy behind such habitual benevolence, as in the school of positive psychology, has personally been found to give me incredible happiness, deep satisfaction, inspires me to continue to do more.
Again, my observation of the successes of others through my inspiration has been an incredible source of happiness for me. Over the years, I have come to realise that, whatever you give out to needy others, you will always eventually get rewarded in multiple folds.
WE WON’T TAKE ANYTHING WITH US FROM HERE
Everything we own here on earth is only on a lease to us; it would pass on to others when we die. The best decision that the wealthy should make, is to remain detached away from the glamour and ego of their wealth and create happiness for themselves, through habitually giving and giving to society’s needy.
Man was not created to own anything. As mere trustees, everything owned by man does not belong to man. We need to learn from Alexandra the Great, who was the ruler of Persia but died at thirty-three years of age. Alexandra the Great was quoted to have asked his pallbearers to ensure that medical doctors line up the route to his grave and that both his hands must extend outside his coffin throughout the procession to his grave. When asked why this was his request, he informed them, “I want the world to see that even as great as I was, before my death, no doctor could save me from dying”. Again, when asked, why he wanted his two hands extended outside his coffin, he said “I want the world to see that even though, I owned so much of the world, I took nothing away. By so doing, my two hands would be seen by all, to be empty to my grave”.
I have lived by that rule since I was 32. My knowledge of positive psychology and theology has guided me in being aware and conscious that, I am a mere TRUSTEE with all that I may possess, in life. Indeed, we humans own nothing here on earth”. “We came to this world with nothing and we shall leave with nothing. We are mere trustees of God almighty. As provided by the Bible in the book of Genesis, God is known to have created everything and decided on the sixth day to create man by saying, “let us create man in our own image”, to manage all I have created. Hence, we are merely only managing whatever wealth we own, while living, and at death, whatever we own surely belongs to God.
This should always be our guiding principle in the pursuit of building wealth. We should realise that we have primarily only come into this world to live and survive. There are three classes of wealth builders; some of us are positive wealth builders; some others are neutral wealth builders, and some others are negative wealth builders”.
The neutral wealth-builders are those who live to build wealth solely for the benefit of themselves and their immediate families. The negative wealth-builders are those who build wealth through any means and who, in the process create turmoil, pain, and hardships for others for their sole benefit. These class of wealth builders are conscienceless, selfish, self-conceited, evil, greedy, wicked and pursue wealth, no matter who or what gets destroyed in the process.
To this class of wealth builders; any means always justify the end. Such people, only build wealth for their perceived pleasure, without giving happiness, to others, except to themselves. Indeed, negative wealth builders can be found at times, to build wealth without spreading happiness even to their immediate families. Their immediate families may be suffering pain, hardship, without an iota of care by them.
Positive wealth-builders are those who live their lives meaningfully, in line with Professor Seligman’s school of positive psychology. Positive wealth-builders, habitually give more than receive. They spread out happiness, love, and joy to others while building and holding on to wealth.
Positive wealth-builders make it their philosophy to develop others, make others happy, develop their society, develop their nation and make a significant difference in the life of many others in the world. Anyone who has been able to create a business, which employs other individuals, put food on their table and even go beyond that to give out part of their wealth to the society, has grown beyond being just a tree branch but into being a huge tree. By so doing, they contribute to society’s wealth distribution system. We thus need to celebrate a few of them here.
The pursuit of building wealth is a lifetime process. You do not build wealth and stop, you continue to build wealth all your life. However, as you build wealth you use wealth to make others happy and not only one’s self. Positive wealth-builders, build wealth and pursue such building of wealth, as a lifestyle, but still make it a duty all their lives, to give and give to society and others, to spread happiness, love and joy to others. So, holding onto wealth is not evil. You hold onto wealth to use it as working capital, in building more wealth. However, part of the wealth built should be used for others, to spread happiness, joy, give inspiration and build others into wealth builders.
Interestingly, you would notice that those who embrace God’s way of distributing resources always end up having more? Warren Buffet has given over 90% of his money to charity and has also instructed that 20 years after his death nothing should be found in his bank accounts. He has successfully recruited other kind-hearted givers to embrace that lifestyle. And you know the interesting thing? He has continued to feature on the list of the world’s richest persons. They understand the way God’s kingdom economy functions and God sees to it that they never lack.
WE ARE ALL ENDOWED BY GOD
People generally underestimate their potential of ignorance. God has given us a brain so that we can reason with him but unfortunately, most people suspend and abandon their critical thinking ability. This situation is largely found in Nigeria, where problems are commonly referred to God for solution. We all employ artisans, who on being confronted with challenges, would rather leave the solutions to God rather than put their thinking cap on, and do some critical thinking to find solutions to the challenges confronting them. We must realise that God has endowed man with everything he needs, to face the challenges of life, through thinking, reasoning, and finding answers to daily problems with requiring only the blessing of God after efforts have been made by man, for solutions to the problems and challenges faced. People therefore generally underestimate the gift God has planted in man to critically think, reason and work hard to find solutions to their daily challenges, rather than solely waiting for God to solve virtually every problem of theirs without work.
WE CAN WAKE UP THE GIANT
To awaken the giants in us requires the acquisition of knowledge and continuous learning. Knowledge acquisition and learning, are very vital in awaking the giant in us. We need to extensively learn, read, interact with each other, relate with mentors and ensure that reading and knowledge acquisition is a lifetime goal. The more exposed one is to knowledge, the more we awaken the giants in us.
SUMMING IT ALL
We must all realise that we came to this world with nothing and we will leave it with nothing. We must make arrangements for the little we have acquired through building wealth, so that we do not get caught suddenly, in the way some people have been caught leaving humongous wealth behind, without making arrangements with how that wealth should be wisely distributed. Such negligence is not good for society, it is not good for one’s family, and it is not good for the world. Efforts should be made at every stage of our consciousness, that we shall not live forever.
We must all realise that we came to this world with nothing and we will leave it with nothing. We must make arrangements for the little we have acquired through building wealth, so that we do not get caught suddenly, in the way some people have been caught leaving humongous wealth behind, without making arrangements with how that wealth should be wisely distributed