The secret of wealth is working easier, not harder
Want to get rich? Just work hard and you will is the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Since the dawn of humanity, the road to wealth has been through working easier, not harder.
Let me explain how understanding this can benefit you.
Why is someone like Bill Gates so rich? Is it because he works hard? I'm sure he does. But I'm also sure that he mostly works hard at working easy.
When you buy a Microsoft product, how much of Bill Gates's actual work do you think has gone into that particular product. Did he write the software? Did he design the advertising campaign? Did he personally make the packaging it comes in? Did he reproduce it for your consumption? Of course not.
Instead, Bill understands what almost all rich people do. That the way to work most productively is by leveraging your time. Rather than doing the work himself, Bill built a system to deliver the product to you. Rather than spending time hand-building his product himself, he designed a business that would do that for him. He worked easy, so one hour of his time went towards designing, manufacturing and distributing millions of products rather than just one.
This is the way wealth is built.
Six hundred years ago, all books in Europe were reproduced by hand. If someone wanted a copy of the Bible, they had to commission someone to rewrite it for them using pen and paper, usually a monk. This took a long time!
Even working hard, a monk would be lucky to produce one Bible a year. So even if you happened to be in charge of a monastery of a thousand people, the most you could hope to produce would be one thousand books a year. And you had to feed, cloth and house your monks while they did it.
Then, in 1448, a German named Johann Gutenberg thought of a better way. He designed a printing press that used moveable type. Now, rather than writing each individual word, a page of a Bible could be printed in a few seconds using a printing block. The work of one monk hand-writing for a year could be done in less than a day. Gutenberg had discovered a way to work easier.
Further advances in printing came with automatic presses, powered by electricity. Now we have computers and industrial scale presses that can print thousands of books an hour. Because of this, books are everywhere and readily available to whoever wants them.
Humanity became richer by learning to work easier, not harder. We found a way to produce books that took much less time and effort, and we exploited it. This is how almost all wealth is created, from individual wealth, to family wealth, to the wealth of nations.
Today, we have machines that can produce in a second products of such high quality that they would have taken years a century back. We have become richer by being lazier. Rather than doing the hard work ourselves, we have the machine do it for us.
If you can find a way of working easier, you can produce more - and you will therefore become more wealthy.
The mistake most people make is to completely overlook this lesson of history. They learn how to produce something - be it a cup of coffee, a legal opinion, or a wall, and they just keep producing that thing the same old way. The only method they can use to produce more is to work harder, so that's what they do if they want to grow richer.
Instead, they should use the core lesson of wealth creation and be thinking about how they can maximize the value of their work. I'm not saying you need to invent something as revolutionary as the printing press. Making yourself able to produce more with less effort may be as simple as getting some extra schooling. Or it may involve thinking of doing things in a different way.
You should be asking yourself - what can I do to work easier? How can I produce this thing, or even something else of similar or more value, using much less effort?
If you can find an answer to that question, you will become more wealthy.
If you can't, you're destined to be stuck in the rut of only being able to work harder.
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