A lot of people have the misconception that wealth is things and comes from having things. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, wealth comes from service. Put another way, wealth comes from our relationships with other people.
Here’s a brief thought experiment inspired by the work of Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Imagine that everyone in the world has made you their heir, and then suddenly everyone dies. You are now the owner of trillions upon trillions of dollars. You own all of the gold in the world, all of the silver in the world, even all of the banks in the world. Every car, every private jet, every yacht, and every expensive toy on the planet belongs to you. You own all of the world’s real estate, including every high-rent office building in every city on the planet.
But all of your gold, silver and cash cannot buy you anything. There are no new goods being produced, and no one to hire to provide you with any service. There is no pilot to fly your private jet, and no one running the oil refineries to produce fuel for your jets, yachts, boats and cars. There is no one to maintain the roads. Your high-rises are worthless because there is no one to rent anything, and there is no one who will maintain them for you.
The toys are fun (for a few days), but lose their appeal quickly because there is no one to enjoy them with. The worst part is that the tens of thousands of people who used to labor to provide you with groceries, electricity, running water, medical care, and everything else that made your life comfortable are now no longer available. You are quickly reduced to eking out a subsistence living as a hunter/gatherer in a decaying landscape. And the purpose you used to find in your life via your career, your family and the communities you served no longer exists.
None of the things that you own provide any real wealth. So we confused cause and effect. Real wealth results in having things, but having things is not wealth. True wealth comes from serving others and being served by others.
In sales and in business, it’s also easy to confuse this cause and effect. Success in sales and business IS a matter of serving others, and is its own reward; the tangible rewards that come later are the effect of that service.
Every day in driving to and from my office through the Denver Tech Center, I pass billions of dollars worth of property — more wealth than I could ever need or use in a lifetime. And yet none of that has any meaning apart from the people that I am also surrounded by — and that I am put on the planet to serve.
Steve Johnsen is a marketing strategist, a business coach, and the Founder of Cloud Mountain Marketing. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 best-seller, 5 Easy Steps to Make Your Website Your #1 Employee.