Why You Don’t Want to Be Rich
I know you probably just had a strong adverse reaction to reading this statement. You probably just rolled your eyes or grunted in disgust. You’re thinking, “Yeah right! Why would anyone not want to be rich?”
But before you write me off, let me explain my position. At the offset this is not an article on how now I don’t care about money and am becoming a monk. You see, I learned a while ago that while being rich is great, it is definitely not the best option. Yes, there is something better. Much, much better.
To explain, let me give you a little background.
My father started what would eventually become the largest medical insurance brokerage firm in our state. Some of my best times were working side by side with him as he taught me the industry. We grew our client base, acquired others and it made us very good money. By handling benefits for clients and were paid on commission for these clients. We had big clients and lots of them. I was good at selling and I liked it.
But there were some major down sides, to start we worked insanely hard – all the time. Now let me be clear, I like to work and I will work extremely hard and go to great lengths for success at anything I do. But the business lacked something that I believe to be vital in long term economic success. That is the ability to compound efforts. We were on what I call a treadmill.
This is something that most Americans can relate to. You wake up, go make the money to pay bills and do it every day – forever. You are running on that treadmill every day. Most of us are running as fast as we can but not getting anywhere.
In my situation, the only difference for us is that we made a lot of money while we ran. But the problem was that if we ever stopped running the money would stop too. At some point, you can only run so hard and at some point, you have to stop. That happened a lot sooner for me than I would have ever imagined.
I have always been very active, I love the outdoors. I’ve always been involved in skiing, fishing, backpacking and really anything you can do in the mountains. I have never had any health problems outside incidental injuries from outdoor sports (broken bones, stitches, etc).
But one day after a long back-breaking afternoon involving planting huge trees in my yard my legs began to hurt and I started to get sick. I didn’t think much of it at first. Considering all the intense yard work I had been doing and the fact that I had spent late hours at a friend’s wedding all weekend, I thought my fatigue and pain were the results of those things.
But soon I began to feel sicker and the pain become overwhelming.
We first went to urgent care, but they sent me away saying that I was fine. The pain steadily increased as well as the weakness in my body. After we went home, I got into the bath to try and ease the pain in my legs. But instead of relief, I experienced horror as I soon realized I could not feel or move my legs. I could not stand on my legs to get out of the tub.
Half crawling and pulling with my arms – I pulled myself out and called to my wife. She carried me into the car and then rushed me to the hospital. From there, I lay in the hospital in excruciating pain while the doctors argued for days about what was wrong with me. During this time, my condition rapidly worsened.
The paralysis didn’t stop. It steadily marched upwards on my body, paralyzing me and inhibiting my ability to move. Very soon, I started to have a hard time breathing. It was then the doctors believed I had a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain Barre Syndrome.
Shortly thereafter, I lost the ability to breathe on my own and had to have an emergency tracheotomy. At this point, I lost all ability to communicate. I became paralyzed from head to toe. I was put in an induced coma and on life support with the hope that it would give my body time to recover. Tubes ran in and out of my body sustaining life. However, when I came out of the induced sleep, I continued to rapidly and terribly deteriorate for several weeks before I was stabilized. If that wasn’t enough it felt like my skin was on fire and my bones were being crushed under the weight of my own body. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t move, speak or talk, all I could do was look forward – silently being assaulted by my pain and sickness – aware and awake but unable to express my torture.
Recovery was slow and the pain was like nothing I could have ever imagined. It was a pain that they could not stop no matter how much drugs they pumped into my body. I laid on life support for months not being able to breathe or move. So, in my life – I was forced off that daily money treadmill. Something outside of my control inhibited my ability to keep running it. Trust me when I say my money treadmill stopped! I could have lost everything.
Luckily before this happened I realized that there was something better than being rich.
What is better than being rich? Being WEALTHY!
The distinction between the two were very clear in my mind. Being rich means how much money you earn, while being wealthy means you don’t have to earn money.
During my treadmill days, I was by any standards rich, but I was not wealthy. I worried about what would happen if one of my large clients left me. How would I pay the bills or send my kids to college? I read obsessively, anything I could get my hands on about business, investing, wealth and personal finance. I wanted to find my wealth vehicle, the one that would take me from worrying about where my money was coming from to worrying about growing my wealth – a much better problem to have!
From this, I chose something we knew and had the ability to grow. I chose something that worked for me not the other way around! It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, it took years of making nothing and working two jobs but it was this that saved my family’s financial life. It was this that paid me while I laid paralyzed for months in the hospital. My wife could take care of the kids and sit with me in the hospital not having to worry about the next paycheck, getting a job or leaving me or the children. Not only was this the case, but even while I couldn’t physically work my assets became more valuable.
My family and I now have the money and time to travel, to be together, to choose how we want to live our lives. That is not being determined by a boss or a client. I work to improve my life and to grow my income. Because of this my family and I are now wealthier than we have ever been!
Let me be clear, because you are wealthy it does not mean that you are not rich. In fact, most people that are wealthy are also rich. But because you are rich it does not mean that you are wealthy.
That’s why I say, “You don’t want to be rich. You want to be wealthy!”