Why Do the Rich Get Richer and You Still Don't Make It To a Fortnight?

The parable of the candles explains it.
Why Do the Rich Get Richer and You Still Don't Make It To a Fortnight?
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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

* This passage is part of the book "Why the rich get richer (and you still do not reach a fortnight)", by Francisco García Pimentel and Salvador Manzano, Panorama editorial, which is published in November 2020.

Go with this unfair world.

This is the image I want you to have in your head: this world is an ocean.

You are in the ocean working hard. You have a little boat with oars. You have decided that you want to go to a certain distant island. That is your goal.

Since you have prepared yourself in rowing school, that's what you know how to do: row. Every day, every week, you row and row. And yes, little by little you see how that island that seemed distant appears closer and closer. You are doing it very well.

Since you want to get there faster, you decide to row not eight, but ten hours a day. It's what you do best… and your rowboat starts to go faster. When you have a thousand meters to go (it seems so close!) You are a little exhausted, but you keep rowing.

Suddenly, without warning or asking for permission, another boat approaches and begins to catch up with you.

That boat is so much faster! Not necessarily bigger than yours, but definitely faster. That is not possible! You tell yourself. Surely the man who paddles in that boat has arms of steel; maybe it's Schwarzenegger. As it passes you by, you stop rowing a bit to see who is coming in the boat.

But it is not Schwarzenegger. He's a much younger boy than you ... and he doesn't seem any stronger. If anything, you could use a return to the gym.

But that's not the worst. You can barely get a good look at him (he's going too fast) but it seems like this boy… he's not rowing! He is apparently reading the newspaper while having a Martini.

  • The boy is a millionaire.
  • He's not smarter than you.
  • It is not stronger than you.
  • He does not row more than you.
  • He does not row with better technique than you.
  • His boat isn't even that big.

In less than three minutes it reaches you and leaves you behind. It is clear that he will reach the island before you. And without sweating a drop.

How is this possible? He is surely cheating.

First change. Row more.

That can't stay like this! You tell yourself. The world is unfair and I want to get to the island.

“My parents told me that I could get to the island that I wanted. I know I can do it. And why shouldn't it? I deserve success and wealth. That boy is no better than me. "

So you are determined: to the island!

Now you are going to put all the meat on the grill. Row faster! And not just ten, but twelve hours. Stronger, more decisively, with more concentration. You can do it. Your boat starts walking a little faster. But now (what time did this happen?) You are not alone in the boat. Now there is a family. You also have two children. Your boat weighs a little more.

Well, what else can you do? You have to row more! Not twelve, but fourteen hours . I already know it! You tell yourself You have to work smart and take advantage of my full potential.

So you tie two oars to your feet. Now you are rowing with hands and feet, with all your effort and dedication. You do it out of love, you do it out of conviction, you do it because you can do it!

But what happens now brings you down. There come your childhood friends, in their respective boats. They catch up with you and leave you behind. They go like flying. Now they are all about to reach the island… and you realize that you have been rowing in circles.

You are exhausted, destroyed. You cannot move a muscle. And that's not the worst.

Something has happened to your boat. It is letting water in. It is urgent to get to the island! Your children's feet are wet. With one foot you try to cover the hole while with both hands (and your remaining foot) you continue to paddle furiously.

Eventually you realize that you will never make it to the island. There is only one option left. Keep the hole just covered, and keep rowing with the strength you have left.

Because that's the only thing you know how to do. Row.

Every day, every day, other boats catch up with you and leave you behind. Eventually your children grow up and take some boards from your boat to make other boats. And they start to row too. Where? It doesn't matter anymore. What matters is to keep rowing. That is your destiny.

Along the way, you realize that some people in the ocean don't even have a boat. They barely float on a life preserver.

“At least I'm better than them. I have my boat and I know how to row. What more can I ask for? "

The Sailor's Council

One morning when you row with your head down, you see a boat approaching out of the corner of your eye. "One more, what does it matter now?"

But this boat stops by your side, and greets you.

- Hi friend! How are you?
- Okay, here, paddling. You see how everything is. It's very difficult.
- But… don't you want to get to the island? I see you lost.
- Maybe someday. If I keep rowing, I'll get there eventually, won't I?
"Not with that boat, my friend," says the mysterious sailor.
- It's the boat that touched me. It's the one they gave me ... - you say.
- Yes, but you can change that boat, if you want.
- For a bigger one? For what? It would be even more tiring to row.
- But haven't you noticed?
- Account of what?
- Look up!

With work, you look up, and finally see the sailor's boat. It is a large boat, made of fine woods and carved in gold. It is a beautiful boat.

- Ha! –You say- are you making fun of me? I can never have a boat like that. Also, I don't need those luxuries.
- Friend, says the sailor, you are not lifting as high as you should. You are seeing only what is seen from below. Look above!

With an even greater effort, you lift your gaze as high as you can, until you almost flipped onto your back.

Oh God. This you did not expect.

The sailor's boat has a small mast, and on that mast ... a sail ... a sail. A candle!

- Now you see, my friend. I wish you all the luck in the world. See you later!

While saying this, the sailor pulls a rope, hoists the sail again and disappears over the horizon in a few seconds.

Now it is clear what you have to do.

Second change: Build the sail

The day feels cooler. For the first time, you feel the wind blowing hard. Until now the air did not drive you; it was just a need to breathe. From now on, the wind will set you free.

For the first time in decades, you stop rowing. It is time to change the strategy .

With a log from your boat and your own shirt, you spend most of the morning building a small sail. The candle drops several times, breaks and you are left without a shirt . But you keep trying.

That day even the rowboats leave you behind. They greet you and go straight ahead, and they feel sorry for you, because you are not rowing. What will become of your life if you don't row every moment?
Not one, but three days it takes you to install a first –and very rudimentary- sail for your boat. You have almost run out of wood, no shirt and no pants . But that does not matter.

You feel what you have never felt before: your boat is moving without you rowing. First timidly, then gently, your boat moves, yes sir!

Now you have time and your hands free. You start to figure out how to make a bigger candle . You stop to chat with other sailors and exchange your shoes for more fabric. Now your boat walks faster. Much faster.

Before you know it ... you've reached the island you dreamed of.

Yesterday seemed impossible. Now you did it in record time. On the island you rest, enjoy yourself and get a new shirt. And more fabric.

Beyond the island

It is only until you have reached the island that you realize that if you go up the mountain, the ocean is vast and there are many more distant and larger islands.

On the island you meet more sailors! All of them have discovered the secret. Their boats have sails and they can go wherever they want.

In a few days you are back in your boat. You now have a much larger candle and you are thinking of putting two in it. It has stronger wood, larger size and even some comforts.

You still spend a week building a better boat; But you don't have to row all day, and you can spend time with your kids.

At last you jump into the sea, in search of a new island. Your boat is so big that you even employ several people. Surely you have to steer the wheel, and sometimes row if necessary. But you know that day and night, at any moment, your boat keeps walking because it does not depend on your arms, but on something much more powerful, and that it is there for everyone: the wind .

You don't push your boat. The wind does it. You just take the helm. You are not breaking any rules. On the contrary: now you know the other rule: that of the rich.

One morning when you float to a new island, you find a dying man in the middle of the ocean in a small rowboat. He is rowing with all his might, but it is evident that he cannot do it anymore.

- Friend! –You say - you can change that boat if you want!

The rules of the rich

The parable is clear.
The poor don't have boats.
The middle class has rowboats.
The rich have sailing boats.

That's the sailor's rule.

In order to get rich, the sailor in the story had to abandon what he had been taught - work, work, work! - and use his creativity to build a boat with sails strong enough to take it around the world.

The poor are desperate trying to stay afloat; they cannot see the sails of the boats; and they only suffer when they pass by.

The middle class has their own rowboats, and with downcast eyes they row without stopping, certain that this is the way to the island. They are lost and exhausted in a race they can never win.

The middle class is adept at rowing. They take courses to row better; they look for bigger oars. They exercise their arms constantly. And they row until they literally die of exhaustion .

In this parable the ocean is the world; air is money.

Everyone needs air to live. But while some use it just for that - to survive, others use it to push themselves and go further.

Those who do not have a boat - even if it is a rowboat - cannot decide where to go. They are people without freedom who cannot see beyond a few meters, who are carried away by waves, tides, currents, eddies. Sometimes they dive in, out of exhaustion, and stick their heads out just to breathe a little.

Those who do have a rowboat - the middle class - have a certain freedom, security and autonomy. Without a doubt, they are better than those who float without a boat. But this boat has serious limitations, since it can only move through the direct work of its owner.

If the owner rests. If the owner sleeps. If the owner takes a vacation. If the owner gets sick ... the boat stops and begins to drift.

Debts - the water that enters the boat - only make it heavier, slower, and distract the person pushing the boat; who has to cover the hole with one hand and keep rowing with the other. Furthermore, if they are not controlled or eliminated, they end up sinking the boat.

The people who have sailboats, meanwhile, are on another level. They move faster; they can go further; they have more free time and greater decision-making capacity. They can also take risks and change course if necessary. They have tranquility and, more than anything ... they have a wind that always pushes them. They are not rowers; They are captains and have taken the helm of their boat.

The boat continues to walk towards the island. Although the captain rests; sleep or be sick. Even if the captain plays golf or chess; the boat goes on.

The captain cannot disappear entirely. It is he who is at the helm; the one who directs the sails; the one who gives the orders and the strategy to keep the boat in good condition. The captain takes care of his boat, because the boat takes care of him.

In the world of boat owners, there are boats of all sizes. There are small and discreet sailing boats. There are gigantic sailboats, ocean liners. Some are made of wood and some are bathed in gold. There are boats that are nowhere near looking like planes.

In any case, a sailboat, no matter how small, will always go further than a rowboat.


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