When I was studying Philosophy at Berkeley, a friend told me that she could tell who was going to be rich and who was not. “Fascinating,” I thought. But when I asked how, she refused to answer and only said that I would figure it out. So after 20 years of thinking about it, I finally discovered the secret.
Have you thought about what foreshadows who will become truly rich? It’s remarkable how clear the one sign really is when you think about it.
“There are many types of rich — and I am talking about both external and internal rewards. Being rich is about having an abundance of what matters to you most.”
Money and happiness, although complex, are linked says economist Justin Wolfers. Obviously, there are many ways to measure wealth—whether it’s having a $200,000+ salary, the most followers on LinkedIn, volunteering the most time at the local animal shelter, or having the most free time with your children. Whatever you value, you are rich if you have an abundance of it.
I have been thinking about this a lot as the CEO of Aha! (which is product management software). We are adding tons of great people and I want the team to enjoy what they do and be rewarded.
So, here is what I believe predicts who will be rich.
The one sign you will be rich is that you work harder than everyone else.
Whether your riches are measured in friendships, fitness, talent, or money, those who have an abundance, get it by working harder to secure it.
There is often a backlash against working hard to secure wealth — some may call you a workaholic or a perfectionist. Some may despise your inability to set “work/life” boundaries. And others may still wonder when you will take a “real” vacation. But there is no other way to be great and fully rewarded.
“Don’t let the skeptics fool you, winners just work harder than others think is possible (or want to themselves).”
But it’s not a winner-take-all equation — we all want different kids of wealth. But those who do work harder are rewarded proportionally and realize these additional benefits:
Working harder than your peers brings the natural benefit of making you an expert in that field. Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. That’s almost 5 years of 40-hour weeks. I actually think it takes longer, much longer. Regardless, those who work harder, do get to mastery faster.
In the midst of big efforts you will start to recognize patterns that others don’t. Understanding a specific cause and effect is vital in business and personal relationships. Do you ever wonder why some people seem to always have deeper insights — it’s because they work harder to see the facts and what’s possible.
To be great means that you must continually improve. Hard work unlocks new efficiencies and strategies in your routines. Those extra hours of focus bring freshness to life as you work to be better at what you do.
Being rich is not for everyone — it requires a special motivation because true excellence is hard to obtain. It also requires a certain freedom — which, if you are reading this you likely have.
It you outwork the others around you, you will realize a depth and richness that most will never know. Regardless of whether you want to be the next under 40 year-old billionaire, or whether you want to create a lasting marriage that others dream of — it all starts with enduring effort.
So, my friend was right. It’s easy to tell who will be rich. It’s not those who sit back and wait for a big break. It’s those who are constantly moving towards what is most valuable to them and work harder than anyone else to get there.
Are you giving your max effort?