William Henry Gates III (a.k.a Bill Gates) is once more the richest person on the planet. According to the report released on Monday Bill Gates regained his top spot on the Forbes rich list with an estimated $76bn net-worth. Gates has now been the richest man in the world for 15 out of the last 20 years.
In 2010 (when his wealth was estimated to be about $50bn) Bill gates pledged to give away at least a 50% of his wealth to charitable causes. Bill and his wife Melinda had since put together Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. As of 2007 Bill and Melinda Gates were the second-most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity (more than a half of their wealth at the time they started giving).
What is so astonishing about Bill Gates is that, despite his enormous wealth, he is still working as hard as ever. More than twenty years after becoming a billionaire, He remains at Microsoft as Technology Advisor. He also works full-time at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the charity he co-founded with his wife Melinda.
What drives Bill Gates is serving people not the buzz to be the richest person. “I’m certainly well looked after in terms of food and clothes,” Bill Gates says. “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out of the poorest in the world.”
Think about this; even after giving away literally tons of money away Bill Gates’ wealth does not appear to fade away, if anything it keeps on piling. The Gates, though not self professed Christians have found the way to be living a prosperous life, no wonder the couple are now planning to eventually give away 95% of their wealth to charity before they die. His main goal now is to exert the same passion he put to build Microsoft in eradicating diseases and starvation.
It is possible to gain material wealth through other means such as inheritance, luck or criminality. Nonetheless, true prosperity – a life filled with joy, peace and love that results from a total fulfilment of material, spiritual and emotional needs – can only be attained by working hard serving others. The secret to prosperity is to serve well those that can pay you well and to pay well those that serve you well. The secret to great living, however, is to serve well those that cannot pay you directly.
According to Jesus, submission to God’s purpose for our life is the highest virtue. To discover our perfect business and setting our minds to excel at it is the core measure of obedience to God (Mathew 7:21). So true prosperity (which includes, but not limited to material wealth) is God’s reward for fulfilling His will for our life. Jesus said that if we do well what we were made to do, all of our needs – food, clothes, accommodation and indeed prosperous success – would eventually be ours. In other words, good progress is one clear indication that we are fulfilling our divine life purpose. (Mathew 6: 28-33)
Great people realize that a good business/ career must serve personal needs and do even greater good to others. They truly believe that an achievement that does not meet their needs and those of another human being is not worthy. High achievers do realize that service is the price of greatness. They appreciate the fact that success is the prize we get by meeting needs and solving other people’s problems. They also recognise that the value of success is determined by the value added in to peoples’ lives.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” This is how ordinary businesses become great; by making supper profit by delivering exceptional service at an affordable price to as many customers as possible. People who become wealthy in a proper approach typically do not set out to become fabulously wealthy in the first place. More often, they see a problem that they could fix or a market that was poorly served and decided that they will do it better than everybody else. In the process, inevitably, they generate enormous wealth. And because they love doing what they are best at they keep on working even after becoming extremely wealthy.
Oprah Winfrey is a self-made billionaire. She became extremely wealthy and successful in her career because she believes doing what you really like to serve people. She once said, “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance. I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint… and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe (God) to lead you”.
I have been studying and writing about the lives of genuinely affluent people like Bill Gates for sometime now. The more I read and write the more challenged I become, this article is nothing short. I’m greatly challenged once more, not to become the richest person on earth, but to do more within my sphere of influence to make the lives of others better.