Wanna be a wealthy idiot?

The name Nasrudin is used as the mythical character in a tradition of Sufi tales.  Here’s one:

Nasrudin used to stand in the street on market days, to be pointed out as an idiot.  No matter how often people offered him a large or a small coin, he always chose the smaller piece.

One day a kindly man said to him, “Mulla, you should take the bigger coin.  Then you will have money and people will no longer be able to make a laughingstock of you.”

“That might be true,” said Nasrudin, “but if I always take the larger coin, people will stop offering me money to prove that I am more idiotic than they are.  Then I would have no money at all.”

Sometimes the most obvious solution really isn’t the best one.  You might assume that the best way to grow your business is to get more customers – it may in fact be more profitable to reduce your number of customers and charge them more.  Here in Nashville a doctor just reduced his 3,000 person client list to 300 “invited guests,” each of which he charges $2000 annually to be his patient.  He is their “concierge doctor” – and he locks in a $600,000 annual income with minimal office expense.

We all “know” that “winners never quit, and quitters never win.”  But is that really true?  How does that work with smokers?  Or with people who have taken a wrong turn on the freeway?  What if you have been in business for a year and still haven’t made any money?  What if your retirement funds have suddenly been shown to be worthless?

20 years ago this month I suffered through a devastating business crash.  I scrambled to find solutions for both the emotional pain and embarrassment as well as the financial disaster I had experienced.  My logical mind raced to find ideas where I could make money quickly to address the screaming creditors and the ongoing needs of my family.

Yet one of the “solutions” defied all normal approaches.  In reading the book of Proverbs each day – the chapter that correlated to the day of the month (31 chapters) – I began to see timeless principles that I had repeatedly violated in my previous attempts at financial success and I also discovered some counterintuitive keys for increasing my bank account once again.

I learned that wisdom is more valuable than gold or silver.  But that seeking wisdom will ultimately bring gold and silver on the back side anyway.  Here’s what it says in Proverbs 3: 13-17

“God blesses everyone who has wisdom and common sense. Wisdom is worth more than silver; it makes you much richer than gold.  Wisdom is more valuable than precious jewels; nothing you want compares with her.  In her right hand Wisdom holds a long life, and in her left hand are wealth and honor. Wisdom makes life pleasant and leads us safely along.”

The dictionary defines “wisdom” as “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.”   How are you doing with “wisdom” in these days when stocks, real estate, and mortgages may turn out to be worthless?  Are you increasing your “wisdom portfolio” and assuring that you will be wealthy in the coming years?

One of the evidences of “wisdom” is finding that authentic fit for how God wired us.  Many years ago I met Dave Anderson, the founder of Famous Dave’s restaurants.  He told me that as a young American Indian kid he had wanted to be rich, but in chasing money it always seemed to be just out of reach.  When he finally gave up on getting money and just resigned himself to doing what he loved to do, (making great barbeque) the money showed up in lots of unexpected ways.  Among other things Dave founded The Life Center for Leadership with a $1.4 million gift.

Maybe you’re chasing the wrong thing.  Give up on getting rich — try getting “wisdom” and see where it leads you.

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