Nathan Bedford Forrest was a conflicted man, and a brutal general for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He was a ruthless tactician and a racist. Federalist William Tecumseh Sherman (another infamous general from the Civil War) famously dubbed him ‘that Devil Forrest.’ Erwin Rommel, the Nazis top general, studied Forrest’s battle tactics decades later, successfully applying them during World War II.
By most historical accounts, growing up, Forrest only really ever wanted to be a successful and wealthy businessman. The problem was, his wealth model was perverted. And his pursuit of wealth, via the slave trade, is what ended up ruining much of his life, and corrupting his character.
Context of the times and region aside, Forrest grew up poor. He was tough and desperately wanted to improve his plight in life. However, the only means he was exposed to (or paid attention to) for generating wealth was the lucrative slave trade. That became his wealth model.
As a youngster, Forrest witnessed so-called businessmen in the community making a lot of money in the grotesquely inhumane industry. Forrest wanted wealth so badly that he eventually pursued slave trading as a business and ended up becoming monetarily wealthy but morally bankrupt from it.
We can all recognize Forrest’s pursuit of money via the slave trade as evil… but Forrest just saw dollar signs — justifying it in his own mind. In some twisted way, he thought it was okay — and many others around him did as well.
Although Nathan Bedford Forrest provides an exceedingly terrible example of a wealth model, extremes help drive home points. It is important to review your wealth model and examine it to make sure it is aligned with what you really want.
I’m certainly not insinuating our wealth models are evil, not by a long shot, but they should be thoroughly examined. Do they align with our values? Are our wealth models solely about money? Dissect your wealth model unbiasedly and ask yourself if it should be tweaked. Are the entrepreneurs you look up to really what/who you want to be in life?
One of the most critical components of a wealth model (at least a healthy one) is how it enriches others. For you to feel good about your success as an entrepreneur, it requires making others feel good. Full stop. That may come off as idealistic, but it’s not.
You will feel amazing when making a profit positively impacts others. It’s unfulfilling to generate wealth if others do not benefit from your wealth. For peak returns on your entrepreneurial efforts — in other words, for you to really feel accomplished — your family, customers, employees, and those in need within your community, need to feel the win too.
A close friend of mine recently became a multi-millionaire. He grew up lower middle class in a loving family that never really had much in the way of material possessions. After many years of building his business, he finally broke through a couple years back — in a big way. Now, he has more money than he knows that to do with…
We recently chatted about his entrepreneurial success, and he told me the best part of it to date was being able to pay off his mother’s mortgage (she is a widow). He also bought his sister a house for her young family. What’s more, he’s now pursuing the launch of a not-for-profit — intended to fund children who want to pursue sports but whose families can not afford them.
My friend remembers the challenges his family went through to pay for sports he competed in. So, he wants to help others in the same way. I asked him what his idea of success was, and he told me he would feel successful once he puts 1,000 kids through his not-for-profit sports funding program. That is a beautiful wealth model.
PS – There is much more to entrepreneurship than merely making a lot of money. Subscribe to my newsletter below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.