The Greatest Asset in Life

August 4, 2023

What truly holds the most value in life? To those less aware, it might be material wealth, such as diamonds or gold. Yet, those with a deeper understanding often pinpoint health. In all four languages I speak, any discussion about personal troubles eventually leads to a reminder to calm down and value health above all. Toasts at social gatherings echo the sentiment with wishes for 'good health' or 'long life,' emphasizing that without health, life loses its value.

Is health enough?

A friend of mine once embarked on an ambitious journey. He sold his company and invested all his proceeds into the U.S. infrastructure real estate business. However, the real estate market crashed, and he lost everything. Years later, I found him prospering, owning a network of warehouses along the U.S.-Mexico border, facilitating import-export businesses. Intrigued, I asked him about his recovery.

He shared that the most vital assets a human can possess and should protect at all costs are health, family, and friendships. As long as you have them you will overcome the crisis in life.

The common thread running through these assets is integration: physical and mental well-being, familial harmony, and friendship bonds. With your health intact, family supporting you and friends ready to give a hand, you can overcome problems in life. Without any of them, it will not be easy because with a broken family, no friends, and no health you have no energy to overcome obstacles.

Upon reflection, I realized that health, family, and friendships, integration, all depend on a fundamental resource, the most valuable asset we have: Time.

Time is precious because it is finite. Each person has a limited number of days to live. Poor health or strained relationships within the family or with friends lead to wasted time, depriving us of the ability to enjoy life fully.

This realization has an interesting implication for management. Managers often hire people who are less costly, trying to get the best deal possible, not realizing the extra supervisory time these employees require. Once you add the cost of your time to their salary, you might discover they are more expensive than you thought. Similarly, high maintenance, a cheap, often-repaired car may end up costing more than you think when you consider the time investment.

Some might allocate time to health, family, and friendship only if any time is left from dedicating it to work. So, those most valuable assets get second priority. It should be the opposite. First comes health, family, and friends. Then all the rest.

Health, integrated family and strong friendships, and integration (with love being the pinnacle) are all invaluable assets that can't be bought or sold. They need to be cultivated and nourished. They may not appear on your balance sheet or P&L statement, but they profoundly impact both. Therefore, their preservation is crucial and unfortunately often ignored.

It is scary to think that life has a limited time span. That we will die. It is easier to live assuming it is endless. Whoever wakes up to reality has a better chance to enjoy life more fully.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes