This is the second installment in my latest series, “Ten Commandments For Making Money- What You Can Learn From The Jewish People About Money and Business” (read the first post here). In this second post, I’ll cover commandments 3, 4, and 5 where you’ll learn
- Why it’s important to know yourself well.
- How to keep from falling into the trap of believing that a perfect system of business is possible, and why imperfection is ok.
- The basics of being a great leader.
Of course, these commandments are based on the incredible book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin “Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments For Making Money”, which is one of the books that has had the greatest influence on how I think and teach about money.
So without further ado, let’s get this thing rockin’!
Commandment #3- Get to Know Yourself
“To Change the way others see you, first you have to learn to see yourself as others see you”.
When you’re in business, as all of us are in one form or another, it’s extremely important that you know how to relate well to others. So relating well to others means you have to first know yourself well.
Why is that important? It’s because in order to be effective at whatever you do, whether it’s raising kids or being a CEO of a large company, people must want to do business with you because they can relate well with you.
People Want Trust
No one wants to do business with a smarmy car salesman who just wants to make a quick sale, or a surgeon who is obviously more about making money than taking good care of his patients. We all want to do business with people who we feel we can trust and even connect with on a somewhat spiritual level.
The Rider and the Donkey
Rabbi Lapin writes about the need to understand that you are a spiritual creature in charge of a material body, and that your soul is the one that should be in command. Jewish teaching likens this dual nature to a man riding a donkey. The donkey (your material self) wants to go in one direction, while your spiritual nature wants to go in another.
You have to decide who’s going to run the show, you or the donkey.
Follow Your Head
It’s all about overcoming the material self and developing the good things within you that make you worthy of doing business with others.
Knowing yourself is about:
- Teaching yourself to overcome short term gratification in order to achieve greater things
- Acknowledging and overcoming your negative attributes
- Understanding what motivates yourself and others
- Knowing your enemy well, because he is you
- Following your head (spiritual self) and not the heart (material self)
Become a Person of Character
The ultimate goal of knowing yourself is that when you continue working on developing your spiritual man and overcoming your material man, you will become a person of character. When you become a person of character, you become someone that people want to admire, get to know, and do business with.
“You will truly be amazed at how quickly your associates perceive character strength, or its absence”, says Rabbi Lapin.
Takeaway From the Third Commandment of Making Money– Develop your character and others will want to do business with you. Learn to master your material urges by developing good judgment through spiritual growth.
Commandment #4- Do Not Pursue Perfection
Maybe a better title for this commandment should be “Don’t Blame Imperfection For Your Problems” Life and business are never perfect or fair. Nor does government, the socioeconomic system, or anything else function perfectly all the time. Because of that fact of life, you can’t worry about perfection. You should never expect any human run enterprise to be all things to all people.
Poverty Will Always Be With Us
Due to that imperfection, there will always be poverty and inequity in the world. There will always be crooked business people trying to make money in an unethical manner. There will always be people who may not get rewarded for their effort equally. But believing that business or capitalism is to blame for these problems is the wrong answer, because it strives for a perfection that doesn’t exist.
This is why socialism has never worked well. It strives to achieve economic equity for all, which is a level of perfection that isn’t attainable. This eventually kills human creativity and any incentive to achieve.
Making Money Through Ethical Capitalism
Rabbi Lapin writes that “Ethical Capitalism”, even though it’s imperfect, ultimately works best because it allows for everyone to achieve at their own level, allowing for personal growth, a sense of purpose, and faith in a better future.
Ethical Capitalism, imperfect as it may be, rewards those who are driven by cooperation and obligation to others. Even though dishonesty and greed exist in the system, we have the faith that eventually those traits don’t stand, and the businesses that employ them will fail.
He argues that Ethical Capitalism is the best man made system available because it relies on faith that good will be rewarded, and evil will eventually fail.
Success in business is a natural outcome to widespread moral integrity.
Jews have thrived with money and business because they have been taught to see this type of system as the best available option here on earth. They were making money doing capitalism before capitalism even had a name.
Takeaways From The 4th Commandment For Making Money- Don’t blame the socioeconomic system, government, or business for your problems or the inequities you see around you. Every system is imperfect, but Ethical Capitalism is the best way to grow and prosper people to make a better world. The system’s imperfection is its ultimate strength.
Commandment #5- Lead Consistently and Constantly
Just as the Jewish tradition teaches that we are all in business in some way, it also teaches that we are leaders. According to Jewish tradition, a leader is simply someone who has followers. You can’t be a leader without followers.
So that leads to the simple question of how do you become a leader? You become a leader by acquiring followers.
Which leads to the next question; how do you acquire followers? The answer is that you develop the character traits of a leader within yourself, and then you step up when the opportunity arises.
An opportunity to lead could be becoming a spouse or a parent. Or it could be becoming a boss or business owner. Or even a cool head in the crowd during a time of crisis.
Leadership Is Action
“Leadership is not a noun; it’s a verb. It is not an identity; it’s an action. Don’t try to become a leader, just do it. Just lead.”
According to Jewish teachings, there are several things you’ll need to do to become an effective leader.
- Learn to Follow- There is always a hierarchy, you must be a good follower of those that lead you if you expect others to follow you.
- Have a Vision- Have goals to work toward. Keep your eye on the big picture while taking care of the details that will achieve the ultimate goal.
- Confrontation Is Necessary- You must have the courage to present and maintain the vision, even in the face of opposition. You can’t be afraid to correct followers who are straying from the vision.
Being a leader also requires a mastery of facts and faith.
- Facts- You have to know what it will take to reach the goals you’re working toward. Master the knowledge of how to get there and show others how to get there too. Not mastering the facts results in aimless and ineffective leadership.
- Faith- Working with something as if it were a present reality. You have to see the desired outcome of your vision before it’s achieved, and inspire others to see it too. You have to believe in what you’re doing.
Spread The Vision
Once you have the basic traits above in place as a leader, then you have to be able to spread the vision to your followers so they can catch the vision and achieve the ultimate goal. The way to make sure that you keep others working toward the vision are:
- Induct your followers into the culture of your organization
- Be clear on what you expect
- Make sure no one gets left out
- Provide training that allows each person to contribute
- Equip your followers to remain afloat in turbulent times
Look and Sound Like a Leader
The last part of this commandment is about looking and sounding like a leader. It’s highly important that you look like a leader by the way you dress, your body language, and making your actions consistent with the vision your putting forth. Sounding like a leader means honing your message, speaking well, and projecting confidence in the vision to those who are depending on you to lead.
Want The Intimate Details?
Of course, in the book “Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments For Making Money”, these commandments and the details they contain are covered in a huge amount of detail that really bring the material to life. The concepts are taught through ancient Jewish principles and stories of great biblical icons such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses and others.
I truly believe this is one of the best books ever written on business and money. If you really want to dive deep into the Ten Commandments of Making Money, I highly recommend you get the book. You will not be disappointed!