Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
Proverbs 13:11 ESV
We live in the age of sudden fortunes.
Invest in the right crypto currencies at the right time, and you can become billionaires. You can suddenly buy things that your parents couldn’t afford after slogging for a life time.
Find the right formulas in social media, and you can become an influencer in a year. You can command the attention of millions of followers and become the ambassador for big brands.
But there is wisdom in acquiring wealth a little by a little, although very few will like it. “Too slow, too late.” we say, “Better be rich when I am young, beautiful and energetic.”
What is the wisdom in acquiring wealth little by little?
Acquiring wealth bit by bit calls for patience. You learn not to give up after a year, or after ten years. You learn to wait.
Acquiring wealth bit by bit calls for being sustainable. If you get your fortune by a few year of intense hard work, you may ruin your health and neglect your family during that time. Such kind of effort is often a road of no return. Once your family is broken, your health is gone, you can no longer pull the same stunt in life.
Acquiring wealth bit by bit calls for gratitude. If you get rich by investing in a few things, you may think highly of yourself and your own smartness. You may not have eaten enough humble pies, or received enough help from others when you’re down and out. You may not have enough evidence, to be convinced that your success is not due to your own ingenuity only.
Acquiring wealth bit by bit builds resilience. Through years of hard knocks, lack, improvisation, you have acquired habits of living with little, of doing the hard things first, of being flexible when you need to, of being principled even when you have to pay a terrible price. These qualities cannot be gained in a hurry. Yet they are qualities that gives us the tenacity to sail through life’s up and down.
Acquiring wealth bit by bit builds defensibility. Let’s compare two tuition centres.
One tuition centre owner is doing well after accumulating years of experience and solid credentials. He has done many good works with his past students, and has established trust in his community over time.
Another new tuition centre gains a lot of customers over a few months because of a lot of investors’ funding, aggressive marketing effort and impressive looking team.
The second centre might look much more successful than the first one, but it’s success is less defensible. In the same way that its rapid growth is “hacked” through funding, marketing, talents, it can be overtaken by another competitor who also have funding, marketing and talents.
As I mature, I am learning to evaluate success on whether it stands the test of time. More often than not, I notice that wealth acquired little by little, more often than not, is more lasting.