This is the last piece of my 4-Pillars to Success series. We close the script with a discussion about money – a material possession that helps put food on the table and to secure other essential resources.

In my Why You Need Money blog, we explored as to why our Financial Capacity is a means that enables acquisition of the essential resources beyond our immediate reach and control. Meaning, if we were to have an obscene amount of essential resources – food, water, and what we consider shelter today – then the value of money would have significantly diminished.

Is a Billion Dollars Real Wealth?

But, since that’s neither realistic nor attainable by most if not all people, we continuously pursue financial gains.

Birth of Barter

As the human race transitioned from purely impulsive beings to intelligent species (you are welcome to include your condescension here), the resource competition means and tools transformed. With time, collaboration and exchange began producing more effective and far more efficient results. For example, a weak hunter but a good handyman was better served if building homes (shelter component), then hunting (food component).

This collaboration enhanced the survival of collaborators through exchange of one resource for another. These activities set the tone for an early move away from complete self-reliance to establishing and accumulating all of the essential resources. Barter became the norm.

Starting in 6000 BC in Mesopotamia, for millennia, barter dominated how people interacted with each other to acquire the necessary resources for survival.  For instance, landowners learnt how best to capitalize on their possessions – utilizing land as shelter as well as means to grow and produce goods to consume and exchange. Individual resource abundance burgeoned, yet fell well short of producing long-lasting assurance.

Ascent of Money

With advent of money, the current civilization largely replaced barter with financial transactions, producing capital wealth, which became far more of a reliable and lasting resource than the actual consumption and security commodities.

Over time, the Financial Capacity made people safer and more productive. Individual riches started diminishing the importance of accumulating the essential resources beyond our immediate need, thus explaining the resiliency of the money since its advent.

No longer people, regardless of their desires or expertise, had to grow crop or do other mundane stuff to get ahead. This is not to say that all societies and individuals have graduated from this. Only to show that the realities have changed and that money has given people formidable options.

These days, we get compensated for various deeds and turn around and purchase food, water, and shelter with that money to satisfy the basic requirements for our survival. We also attempt to make more than the amount required for the basic needs in order to ensure our long-term subsistence.

The Poverty Trap Demystified piece discussed how the competition for all resources is severe, as such there is never free lunch. Yet, financial zenith is in no way an answer or a solution to anyone’s pursuit for serenity in life. History keeps demonstrating that one is an insecure and an unhappy fool with or without a billion dollars to his name.

Real Wealth

It is important to differentiate something that serves as means from something that is an end in of itself. Money is only part of an answer to our sustenance, and in actuality, not the biggest factor. Individuals require Intellectual CapacityNetwork Capacity, and Financial Capacity and the three in an equilibrated form (not equal) to survive and thrive.

Money is always a means and never a panacea. Real wealth is explained with our abilities to keep us safe and sound. One cannot eat or drink money unless one has the intellectual ability to trade some of it for those essential resources and have the required access to the sources that control those resources.

The Intellect and Network are the fundamental capacities that with the right amount of material wealth can produce a long lasting value. A simple way to demonstrate this is to imagine a person with a wealthy uncle who just left him a billion dollars. In order to understand the value of billion dollars, he must first understand the value and significance of a single $1 bill. Without that basic knowledge, $1 billion is a bunch (a big bunch) of papers – 5 pallets of $100 bills to be precise (see the image here). In order to appreciate the meaning of all that money, we would need to have critical Intellectual Capacity to understand what it is, recognize what it can do, evaluate its value, strategize ways to benefit from it, and apply it to obtain the value.  Remember, many people who win the lottery, end up worse off in the years ahead than prior to their winnings.

Strive for a balance – build intellectual superiority, establish a strong network and with both you will make enough to assemble financial independence – and all for a prosperous life!