The importance of seeking wise council and discernment.
The title of this week’s blog post is one of the many catch phrases of the late Jerome Lester Horwitz a.k.a. Curly Howard of the Three Stooges. He is considered by some to be one of the funniest men of all time. He portrayed all types of experts from layers to doctors to military advisors during his short acting career. Although he passed away in 1952 at the untimely age of 48, he has made an indelible impression on contemporary culture.
Would you go to an actor for medical or legal advice because you had once seen him play a doctor or lawyer in a film? As Curly Howard might say “soitenly not!” Yet today countless individuals place their faith in celebrities like movie stars, professional athletes, or even their favorite singer when seeking advice, endorsements, or general information of all sorts. This is why it is always important to consider the source!
Just because someone is rich doesn’t make them intelligent.
The average salary of an NFL football player is 2.1 million dollars according to a recent report by Forbes Magazine. Some actors get paid millions of dollars per film. Yet despite this level of wealth, we constantly read about these same celebrities going broke, owing back taxes, or filing for bankruptcy.
Knowledge is power!
Successful people do not find themselves in these types of situations when they have made it their lifelong goal to seek wise council. It is imperative to constantly read and do research in whatever field we are perusing, and especially in the area of personal fiance. It’s not always about what you know, because it’s what you don’t know that’s going to blindside you.
Wisdom does not always come from age.
There are countless retirees living in poverty because they did not take the proper steps in their youth to ensure a comfortable retirement. My late mother was one of these people. When I was a boy, I heard her brag to her friends on more than one occasion that ‘her son will provide for her in her old age’. There was no reason for her to die in poverty, she had a lifetime to seek wise council and take steps to invest. In the end I supported my mother for the last few years of her life, and was then burdened with a hefty funeral bill.
Two quotes from success expert Brian Tracy come to mind:
- “The sad fact is that people are poor because they have not yet decided to be rich.”
- “Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy”
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22
I did not come from a wealthy family. My father was the financial expert, but he unfortunately died when I was a young boy. My mother did not know the value of money and would spend two dollars for every dollar she had. As a result, I grew up in a roach-infested flat, eating government cheese, and the free lunches and breakfasts provided from NYC public schools. I decided as a teen that I was going to be rich when I grew up.
In 9th grade, I got terrific financial advice from my social studies teacher Mr. Rosenthal. He went above and beyond to teach about the importance of investing and the stock market. He had 2 dozen blue VALUE LINE binders of stock market research on a shelf in his class. He taught us kids how to read the stock reports. One of the first stocks I tracked was United Technologies (UTX). He encouraged us to go to Merrill Lynch and use our ‘allowance, birthday and/or Christmas money’ to buy stocks. I remember going home very excited and encouraged. UNFORTUNATELY about that time there was a friend of the family visiting. The kids all called him ‘Pops’. As a teen, I thought of him as this wise, old guy that knew card tricks and jokes. That particular day he happened to ask what I learned in school, and I told him about my new investment passion. His response was “You’d have to be crazy to invest in the stock market! During the Crash of ’29 people lost all their money and jumped off rooftops because of investing in the stock market.” So I got talked out of good advice because of a lack of discernment. I didn’t know any better, I was still a kid.
This brings us to an important point made by Dave Ramsey in his book Total Money Makeover:
- “Don’t take financial advice from broke people.”
“Economic advantages may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid, in a spirit of PERFECT HARMONY. This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune.” — Napoleon Hill author of Think and Grow Rich
If you want to be successful, you need to seek wise council from successful people with proven expertise. These people must have your best interest at heart. It’s no good if they are a bunch of self-serving ‘yes-men’ who will tell you whatever your itching ear wishes to hear. You need discernment to weed out those types of parasitic sycophants.
You can be successful and financially stable in the future if you take steps today. As always I wish you happiness and success!