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“What does it profit a man, if he gains the world and lose his life?”
....Holy Bible

In 1923, an important meeting was held at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. In attendance were eight of the world’s most powerful financiers:

  • The President of the largest independence steel company
  • The president of the largest gas company
  • The greatest wheat speculator
  • The president of the New York stock exchange
  • A member of the president’s cabinet
  • The greatest “bear” on Wall Street
  • The head of the world’s greatest monopoly
  • The president of the bank of International Settlement

By all account, these men have all ascended to the highest reaches of success. They has discovered the secret of making money. As they left the Hotel life took them in different directions. What happened to them? 25 years later….

  • The president of the largest independence steel company, Charles Schwab dead bankrupt, having lived on borrowed money for the last five years before his death;
  • The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, became insane
  • The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cotton, died abroad insolvent;
  • The President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, went to Sing Sing penitentiary
  • The member of the president’s cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison so that he could die at home
  • The greatest ”bear” on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, died a suicide
  • The head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivan Krueger, died a suicide
  • The President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon Fraser, died a suicide.

I ponders upon these people and the life the lived. I realized hat these are some of the wealthiest men in history. They are among the greatest men of their generation. I started looking for what could have happened to them. Why did they all end badly? Was a coincidence that all of them were doomed? Even today, I can still count some new generation of wealthy and powerful who have ended likewise. One example worthy of being mentioned in recent time is Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff who was sentenced to 150 years in prison this year for financial fraud.

To my generation, that has made acquisition of money the major priority in life; I think this is a great opportunity to have a change of value system and to redefine our goals. Each time I listen to youths and their motivation for working, I sometimes develop goose pimples. Money is important, but the extent to which we are getting it is alarming- Crime, deception, and foolish risks- Most of our generation goes through live and act as if Newton’s Third Law of Motion can’t apply to them.

Today’s youths more than ever are ready to sacrifice their lives toward acquisition of material substance while neglecting their mental, physical and spiritual growth. The result is that we have more people visiting mental homes and some dying early as a result of illness associated with fast living.

What is more, the family is fast losing it significant. More children are being raised without impartation of values and essential principles of healthy living. Little wonder we spend a whole part of our parental lives trying to correct the imbalance our neglect of them created when they started becoming a nuisance to us.

And many worked with great zeal for money and attained the level of opulence they did not even imagined possible only to fall from grace and shattered like they have never been there before.

With money being the power behind most of our activities nowadays, too much emphasis has been placed on money without equivalence investment in character and soul. The result is a body that is completely detached from its purpose, drifting with the fast moving tide in a stormy sea while blindly assuming that it is moving forward only to be thrown by the violent nature into an unknown Island where all he gains are lost as if he never has any before. Sadly, most of them returned to penury worse than those they left in the lowest social level.

Money is good as my good friend Ayobami Oladejo pointed out to me while quoting Wallace Wattles “whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich. No man can rise to his greatest possible height in talent or soul development unless he has plenty of money; for to unfold the soul and to develop talent he must have many things to use, and he cannot have these things unless he has the money to buy them.”

With this, it is doubly clear that money is important in life, but just as it is important, we must not lose the sight of the fact that we are created to be the master. The craze for “quantity” is driving a lot of people into self-destruction. Successful young men and women are dying young because they could hardly create time to manage their health while running after money. It is even more palpable to note that some of them go through insincere routes toward accomplishing those ends.

As we match forth in life using the past experiences as the compass to navigate the future, we must take note that it is not how much we earn but how well we live; it is not how high we rise to the top but how firm our grips of our positions and how many people we drag along with us to the top; it is not how long we live but how well we expend the years nature has gifted us. Let us therefore resolve to use our time on earth and the resources available to us to fulfill the destiny apportioned to us by the creator while also remembering that below us are the millions of people who are either waiting for us to fall while they rise or waiting for us drag them up along with us as we climb the pathway of progress.

To my readers, I want you to remember the story of the above great men and ponder on their end while we learn from their mistakes and pave the way for future generation to live a healthy and prosperous life that God has destined for us. Remember, it is not how we start but how we end. Money and power in themselves cannot bring happiness, there is need to balance these two with something more. Make the money, but don’t let the money make you!

To your success!

Isqil Najim

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  1. It is a great lesson for me as well..

    It just show that money is not happiness...

    we must endeavour to balance everything to reap everything!