Last Christmas, my brother bought me this booked called The Richest Man Who Ever Lived. The premise of the book is simple: everything you need for success and happiness in your life is contained in the Bible, specifically in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is said to be written primarily by King Solomon, builder of the first temple in Jerusalem and regarded as the ultimate ruler. Solomon, who appears in the Old Testament, is described as being widely respected for his wisdom. He also was quite wealthy and powerful. The book of Proverbs, it's said, contains the rules that Solomon lived by to attain and keep success.
I was a bit skeptical about the book when I started; I'm always concerned when the Bible is cited as the only source of information necessary to achieve some goal. I had to say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised. I may even pick up a Bible to more thoroughly read Proverbs, as it seems that there really is some great and insightful information there.
The author, Steven K. Scott, isn't a great writer by any stretch of the imagination. I can't say that I enjoy his writing style in the least, but it was decent enough to continue reading the entire book. The chapters are crammed with examples of what happens when following Solomon's advice, and also what happens when the advice isn't heeded. Many of these examples lack evidence and there are a lot of generalities. His points would have been better served by hypothetical examples rather than trying to align well-known events with his viewpoints.
Perhaps the most ironic part of the book was reading about humility. Scott points out that Proverbs indicates the importance of humility in happiness and success. He says this in a book where he mentions how wealthy he is literally in every chapter. It seems that whenever possible, Scott wishes to remind you of his wealth, alternating between stories of how great a marketer he is because he made millions or explaining a bad investment where he lost millions. To be honest, his personal examples could have been completely dropped and the book's points would have still easily been made. Scott comes across as an arrogant know-it-all rather than a guide, which is what I think he should have tried to be. Perhaps some humility would have helped.
Aside from the overarching preachy, "I know best" attitude that pervades the entire book, the advice actually is quite solid. I was particularly impressed with the chapter entitled, "Overcoming the Most Destructive Force in Relationships," which is all about anger. I've read several other books on dealing with emotions such as anger (the best, by the way, is Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh) and I thought that the advice given here fell inline with a lot of the best advice I've read.
Overall, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived is a worth a read. If you can get past the tone of the book and the frequent references to how rich the author is, you'll find a significant amount of really good advice. The advice spans all parts of life, including business endeavors and relationships. Does Solomon have all the answers? Probably not, especially since he became a victim of his own pride later in life and lost all the power and wealth he had attained. Still, the book of Proverbs contains practical advice that we'd all be better off following. And I never would have known that without this book.
In honor of Valentine's Day and somewhat inspired by Mike's post about his cheesy romantic idea, I figured I'd do a romance-themed post for a change. I, like Mike, am a romantic...perhaps not as cheesy as Mike, but a romantic nonetheless. I'll admit to doing some cheesy things for girls, and I do so shamelessly. Since I'm flying solo this year, I thought I'd share my perspective on gifts for Valentine's Day so that others may benefit.
Typically when Valentine's Day comes along, guys get scared. It's not just about buying a gift for her, like Christmas, it's about buying the perfect romantic gift. And if you mess that up, well, might as well be thinking about what you can do to make it up to her. Girls, on the other hand, live for this holiday and are always coming up with great ideas. There's nothing that girls do that we guys can't, it just takes looking at things a little differently.
If you think you need to spend a ton of money on her, you don't (and if you really do, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate the relationship). The perfect romantic gift is not about money, it's about being unique, being thoughtful, and being personal. It should be something that shows you understand her. How do you show that? She's your girl, I hope you listen when she talks! She's telling you all about herself all the time. This doesn't mean you have to get her exactly what she mentioned, it could be something mildly related. For instance, suppose she's always dreamed of going to Paris, a great gift for her could be flowers coupled with a snowglobe of the Eifel Tower. Does she like a particular sports team? How about a customized jersey with her name on the back? If you can figure out how to give her a small part of her dream, you've got a great gift. It shows that you're paying attention to her and that you understand what she wants out of life.
The uniqueness of the gift is important as well. Anything you've ever given to any other girl in your entire dating history needs to be removed from consideration. Seriously. This isn't a fill-in-the-blank holiday, this is your chance to shine so don't ruin it by rerunning a previous Valentine's Day. Your girl deserves something as unique as she is.
Now let's talk about flowers. Flowers are good, understand? No matter what you give her, you should accompany it with flowers. They don't have to be given at the exact same time as other gifts, but they do need to be given. Just be sure you understand the effect flowers have on a girl, not just any flowers will do. A good rule of thumb is the longer the relationship, the more powerful the flowers can be. A new relationship (just a few months) calls for something simple. Skip over the dozen roses and go for a bouquet with tulips, or if you know her favorite flower, mix in some of those. Red roses should be reserved for longer relationships that have experienced at least one or two Valentine's Days together. If by the third Valentine's Day you haven't pulled out the red roses, make sure you do it!
Another note about flowers: send them to her work. This is an absolute must (assuming she has a job, of course). You can save other gifts or dinner or whatnot for after work, but the flowers must be delivered to work on Valentine's Day. This is important for a couple reasons. First, all the other guys will be doing it and you don't want to be the unthoughtful guy of the bunch. There's some poor girl whose guy inevitably forgets and she spends all day feeling lousy. Second, she wants to brag about what a wonderful guy you are to her co-workers. She wants people to wonder who the thoughtful person was that sent the beautiful flowers. Give her that.
A simple, thoughtful, unique gift makes the perfect Valentine's Day present and its effect can last for far longer than that day. In closing, I'd like to share a personal story. I believe it was around 2004 and my girlfriend at the time was a first grade teacher. We had exchanged gifts when she said that she had something else for me. She disappeared into another room and then reappeared with something.
"We made Valentines today in school with the kids," she said, " and I made this for you."
She revealed a red piece of construction paper, liberally sprinkled with glitter. There were white and pink cutout hearts that had obviously been afixed using a glue stick and sparkly lettering spelling out, "I love you." I was completely taken aback by this gift, its simplicity only enhanced the sweetness and authenticity of the message it delivered. I honestly can't remember having received a more pure gift in my life. I don't remember anything I gave her that year or anything else that she gave me, that's the impact that this gift made.
Simplicity and thoughtfulness go along way on Valentine's Day. Don't overthink it, but make sure it's unique to her and you'll be fine. I hope that everyone spends Valentine's Day with someone special. And guys, don't forget to send your mother a little something.