What does John D Rockefeller, a nameless Melbourne businessman and an ancient King all have in common? In this post, Guy answers that question and outlines how you can avoid the same legacy-burning mistake that trips up many men on your way to real wealth.

A few years back I sat at a famous Melbourne restaurant -The Flower Drum – for lunch.  The FB is a restaurant that you need deep pockets for, is difficult to get a reservation for unless you are a regular, and you can tell everyone’s status based on where they have been seated.

It is also a good lunch venue to regularly spot the rich and famous.  Personally, I’ve only seen John Alexander from Seinfeld there, but I haven’t been that often.

I was at lunch with a colleague and another man who had made a fortune when the company he co-founded had an IPO (listed on the stock market).

My colleague asked him the same question that a reporter is said to have once asked John D. Rockefeller:

How much money is enough?

Rockefeller famously replied:

Just a little bit more.

My lunch companion repeated Rockefeller’s answer.

At that time, this man probably had more than he would ever need, but not that long afterwards GFC hit and much of his wealth suddenly disappeared.

In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle. – Proverbs 23:5 NLT


The End of Wealth

That experience got me thinking.

If you live your whole life building something up, and if you do well you may realise a lot of value from it; but what does it give you in the end?

One of four things will happen:-

  1. you enjoy it for the few years you have left, then you die
  2. much of it disappears, leaving you empty-handed for all your toil, then you die
  3. you give most of it away, and then you die, or
  4. you die before you get to enjoy it.

In every case, you die.

You can’t take it with you. Depressing!

And if you think that you will at least leave it to others who will remember you for it … how do you know whether the people you leave it to will be wise with it or fools?

A Kings Dilemma

A great king once spent much of his later years dwelling on this problem.

He was both incredibly wise and wealthy.  His fame spread so far and wide that the great kings and queens (such as the famous Queen of Sheba, spoken about in Jewish, Islam, Turkish, Persian, African and Arabic literature and art).

Nations around him stayed at peace with him, and he was popular despite the high rates of taxation of his people. He had so many women he could be with a different one every night and not see the same one twice for over a year.

Phew! Sounds tiring.

He had everything he could have or want for the age in which he lived, and yet he had this to say about it all:-

So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 2:17

This was a King – but still, also just a man – who was near the end of his life and like all of us will also do one day, reflected on what his life meant.

After all that he had achieved in life, he “hated life” because he realised that what he had actually achieved was futile.  He couldn’t take any of it with him, he knew not whether those who inherited his “stuff” would be wise with it, and even those born after him would one day be forgotten.

This king is the great King Solomon who ruled much of the land of Israel, Syria, Jordan and some of Egypt some time between 900 and 1000 BC.

What is Your Eulogy?

King Solomon’s summation of his life wasn’t the sort of eulogy that warms the heart.

The question for you and I is, will our final thoughts be like Solomon’s?

The sooner in life you ask yourself this question, the more your life will mean: At your last breath, will your life’s achievements matter? – Guy Mullon

The way to ensure our achievements do matter is to think ahead to that day and decide what it is then that will have been important to you.

Step out of your young man shoes or your middle-aged man’s shoes, and consider what you would like to look back on when you are in your old man’s shoes.

What will matter to you?

Life Accounts

A practical way to look at this is to break down your life into what is most important.  What are the most important areas of your life? Let’s call these “Life Accounts”.

Let’s call these “Life Accounts”.

For me, my most important life accounts are (in no particular order):

  1. My self – my own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
  2. My family – this includes my wife, my children, and hopefully one day some grandchildren
  3. My workmen are made to work and it is a life role that all men should give due attention to without it becoming all-consuming
  4. My Faith – despite all man’s attempts to deny it, we are spiritual beings.  If we neglect the reality of it, our life will be incomplete and we will be woefully unprepared for life after death.

What are your main life accounts?

The reasoning behind this approach is that once we have identified our life accounts, we can then set about outlining the end goals we want for each.  Chopping our life into these accounts means that each gets the attention it needs.

It can be so easy to focus on one area of our life and neglect the others, and so looking at our life in life accounts helps to prevent that.

What is Important?

A good way to do this is to think of an important person (or persons) in each of those life accounts.  For my family, it is easy, this means my wife and then each of my kids.  I also will think about my grandsons and granddaughters (who are in the future because none have been conceived yet!).  I picture that person, and write down for each:

1. what I want them to remember about my character (what character qualities are most important to me that I want them to also value)

For example, loyal, honest, courageous, generous …

2. what I want to have left them that is of tangible value (this could be money, houses, items of heritage etc)

For example, set up for my kids a trust fund with a share of the investments, and for my wife a fully paid off house and a passive source of income to meet her needs.

3. how I want them to be different from having known me that will last even beyond their lifetime (how have I positively influenced them – forever)

For example, I want my kids to have learnt from me to see themselves as priceless, loved unconditionally by me and by God, and that I modelled a man that my boys want to be like and that my girls would look for to marry.

For life accounts that are primarily about you, it is likely you will have a slightly different list of goals.

This is one of mine:

4. to not have any regrets from not taking enough risks during my life (what will I challenge regarding conventional thinking?)

For example, to dump a good well paying career to follow my work dreams in a different field.

Bringing it together

After you have made bullet-point lists from asking questions like these for each life account, pull it together into sentences and paragraphs.  Don’t file it away, read it to yourself often so that you can remember what is important to you.

Some hints for writing it:

  1. write it with the idea that the objective has been achieved.  Don’t make it aspirational, but make it from the perspective of having achieved it
  2. write it from a third-person perspective about you
  3. don’t make it so short it is without detail, but also not too long that it becomes tiresome to read.

Here is an example:

“The example that Guy most left to his sons was to be courageous with standing up for others, for what is right and for taking on life’s many challenges.  He modelled to his sons to live with integrity, to take responsibility (even if it wasn’t all his to take), to lead others with that same courage and to not sit on the sidelines when he was able to speak up, stand-up and take action.”

Do you notice how this incorporates (1) character, (2) how I want others to remember me and (3) how I want them to be different from having known me?

A Lesson Not Just For Kings

I wonder how King Solomon’s life would have been different had he followed this approach?

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God. – Proverbs 30:7-9

You see Solomon had goals, but he was seriously lopsided in a few areas of his life.

Yes, he sought out wisdom.  He sought to create peace and prosperity.  In one year he was brought by visiting kings 666 talents of gold (2 Chron 9:13), which is around 21,000kg worth almost USD$1 Billion today.

He built or rebuilt many cities; counted Pharoah’s daughter as one of his wives; had a great merchant fleet, navy and had 12,000 horsemen across 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots.

Oh yea, Solomon created what is widely thought to have been the most magnificent temple ever built.

Solomon had more wealth than he could ever spend. But he had not thought through what type of end he wanted for his children, and therefore how his legacy (including wealth) would continue.

Perhaps Solomon was preoccupied with having “Just a little bit more”.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam took over his kingdom when Solomon died, but soon he had lost half of it as well as the loyalty and respect of the people he ruled. He lost most of his father’s wealth to Egypt and he began a long line of evil kings.

While, clearly, Rehoboam is responsible for his own actions, much of the blame for what he did must also rest with Solomon because Solomon did not leave his son with the right model of how to live beyond Solomon’s lifetime.

I don’t think he had thought through his family life account.

Rather than ensuring his son knew how to lead with humility, responsibility and generosity; Rehoboam was instead filled with pride and a sense of entitlement and he forgot the God of his forefathers.

That failing came from his father, and it was his downfall.

A Lesson From The Wise

And while Solomon is regarded as the wisest man to ever have lived, like having only good intentions, wisdom alone is not enough.

We also need to put in practice what will lead us to where we want to go and where we want others to follow.

Solomon’s great wealth is all gone now. That wasn’t it.

If only Solomon hadn’t been blinded by wanting “Just a little bit more”!

Perhaps he would have had a better balance across his life accounts.

And perhaps his eulogy and legacy would be a whole lot different today.

And perhaps his wealth would live on even now.

What about you – will your wealth outlive you?

I hope so.







Originally published on RealMen24/7. Image by Nate Johnston on Unsplash.

About the Author: Guy Mullon

Guy is a former corporate manager, then funds manager, financial services responsible manager and company director turned entrepreneur. These days Guy is a busy husband and father of 9 children, online author, speaker and coach. Guy is the founder and one of the main contributors to Real Men 24/7, through which he seeks to help men who are 'stuck' get moving again to a life with a plan and purpose.

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