By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
America’s Wealthiest Man
It may come as a shock to you to hear that I am America's Wealthiest Man. After all, you won’t find my name on any list of "America’s Big Money Moguls" or "America's Richest Men."
When the stock market soars and Bill Gates adds millions of dollars to his portfolio just by getting out of bed in the morning, my portfolio is barely affected. When the market stumbles and Warren Buffet’s wealth shrinks by millions, my assets may decline by only a few dollars.
How can it be, you may wonder, that I am not rich but I am wealthy — in fact, the wealthiest man in America?
Just where do I get off calling myself America’s Wealthiest Man?
The key to understanding the answer to these questions lies in understanding the difference between riches and wealth.
Many people appear to be rich but in fact they are just big spenders. People who spend what they make — no matter how much they make — may live well so long as their income is plentiful. But they do not become rich. And their lifestyles are sustainable only so long as their incomes continue.
People who spend less than they make and save the difference can become rich. How rich? It depends on how much they make, how much they spend — and most important, on what they do with the surplus.
The term “rich” — as we use it here and in the book The Secret of Wealth — refers to the dollar value of the assets one has accumulated. It can be measured in the absolute terms of dollars and cents.
In our society many people earn large incomes. Some of them spend more than they make and are only a paycheck or two away from disaster. Some spend all that they make and have no riches. Some make more than they spend, invest the surplus wisely and are rich or becoming so. Even when we set a high standard for being rich — say at $1 million in net worth — many thousands of people in our society are rich.
But because “rich” can be measured in absolute terms, there can be only one “richest man in America.” He is the person whose assets have the most dollar value, and the last time I looked that was Bill Gates, a founder and principal owner of Microsoft. Someday it will be someone else. But only one person at a time can be America’s richest man.
Wealth is another matter. Wealth, as we use that term here and in The Secret of Wealth, refers to the abundance one experiences in life. For most people the point of getting rich is to be wealthy and to experience abundance. But sadly, often it doesn’t work that way.
There are many people who make a lot of money who are not wealthy and have no experience of abundance. Yet, there are other people with only modest incomes who know the deep peace and satisfaction of a wealthy life overflowing with abundance.
Why is that so?
- Rich is a quantitative measure of something that you have but which exists outside of you.
- Wealth is a qualitative measure of something that grows up deep inside of you and makes your life different — in fact, much better.
Many people seek to become rich so that they can have the experience of being wealthy. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There is no path that leads directly from being rich to being wealthy.
And yet, the path to wealth is wide and easily accessible to all who seek to walk it — without regard to how rich you may be. In fact, while there are many people who have accumulated great riches and yet have not found wealth, the world also is teeming with people who are not materially rich and yet know the joy of living wealthy, abundance-filled lives.
These people have discovered the Secret of Wealth. And you could be one of them — if you are not already.
After I discovered the secret, I had to decide what to do with it. Two things came to mind: I should live the secret and I should share the secret.
- Because I am living the secret I can say without fear of contradiction that I am America’s Wealthiest Man.
- Because I am sharing the secret you too can become America’s Wealthiest man or woman.
You see, while there can be only one “richest” man, woman or person in any one time and place, the title of “wealthiest” can be shared by all. In fact, it is meant to be held in common. Why? Because abundance is an abundant resource. We are all meant to have it, to share it and to enjoy it.
As your sense of wealth grows, my world — the world we share — is enriched. The wealthier you become the wealthier we all are. So I wish you great and ever growing wealth...today and everyday for as long as you enjoy the greatest gift of all: Life!