Essays

How Personal Productivity and Personal Development Are Connected To Personal Finance

Recently, I’ve been reading the book The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley. It’s a pseudo-sequel to the mega-popular personal finance book The Millionaire Next Door (which I reviewed a while back) and it focuses on psychological and personal aspects of people with a net worth of one million dollars or more. As I was reading The Millionaire Mind, one specific piece stuck out at me. I was going to include it in an eventual review of the book itself (which is forthcoming), but I felt it was compelling enough to discuss it on its own.

The second chapter of the book describes in detail a survey conducted by Stanley in which he asked 733 millionaires what factors were highly important in their success. Stanley generated a list of thirty factors that cover the gamut of traits, from high intelligence to investing skill and touching on pretty much everything else you can think of, and had the millionaires indicate which ones were “very important” in determining their success. From that, Stanley produced a ranked list of these factors, with the most popular trait at the top and the least popular at the bottom.

Here are the top ten traits from that survey, straight out of The Millionaire Mind:

Being honest with all people
Being well-disciplined
Getting along with people
Having a supportive spouse
Working harder than most people
Loving my career/business
Having strong leadership qualities
Having a very competitive spirit/personality
Being very well organized
Having an ability to sell my ideas/products

If we eliminate the factors that are either intensely personal (a supportive spouse, passion for a specific business), we are left with eight factors:

Being well-disciplined
Getting along with people
Working harder than most people
Loving my career/business
Having strong leadership qualities
Having a very competitive spirit/personality
Being very well organized
Having an ability to sell my ideas/products

These eight factors are all addressed within the areas of personal productivity and personal development. In fact, it’s a trivial task to find numerous books that will help you develop each of these eight areas. In other words, rather than valuing investment advice or intelligence or any number of things, people who have built a strong financial base point to personal development and a productive lifestyle as keys.

For me, the connection between the area of personal finance and that of personal development and productivity has always been intuitive, but I had never seen it laid out in such a clear fashion. If you follow the results of this study, the best way to become a millionaire isn’t to dive into investment materials, it’s to dive into materials on how to develop yourself and become more productive.

On The Simple Dollar, I review a productivity or development book each week and I regularly brush on those topics in other posts. I’m quite aware that some readers enjoy this material and others aren’t quite such a big fan of it, and I don’t plan on really changing the volume that I write on productivity or development. However, it is fascinating to see a study that demonstrates that people with financial success see the connection between the two areas, and thus reaffirms to me that personal development and productivity have some role on a personal finance site.