The Sleeping Fox Catches No Poultry

I love reading essays, and I have a collection of essays that have truly inspired me and made me think. Among these is Benjamin Franklin’s classic The Way to Wealth – something I often read when I need a piece of financial inspiration. If the circa-1750 language is rough on your eyes, here are the principles summarized well by Art of Manliness.

Just a few days ago, I read The Way to Wealth again. I was inspired to read it by our survival of the “summer of low income” – I made a tough choice to switch my advertising revenues for The Simple Dollar that resulted in basically no income during the summer, but we made it through to the other side with little problem.

As I was reading through The Way to Wealth, one phrase really stood out at me this time:

The sleeping fox catches no poultry.

What exactly does that little phrase mean in terms of our modern lives? I see it as a call to five things.

It’s a call to be alert. Our world is full of opportunities. Sales. Small investment opportunities. People trying to get rid of things. New jobs. New careers. Love interests. Friendships. Ideas. Purely lucky events, like finding fifty dollars in a parking lot. Every day, we’re brushed with many of these things. If we’re alert, we can see them – and if we choose to, we can take advantage of them, jumping in with abandon. You’ve got to keep your eyes open and see the world as a field of blossoming opportunities.

It’s a call to have resources in reserve. Of course, many of those opportunities are hard to pluck if you don’t have anything to pluck them with. It’s incredibly useful to have some money in reserve. However, money is just one of many resources that’s useful to have in reserve. Do you have relationships you can tap for advice or other things? Do you have time – are you not booked to the maximum with no flexibility in your schedule? Do you have patience to wait for good things to come? Do you have skills and talents that you can apply and share? Resources mean more than just money – much more.

It’s a call to know what you want. The fox sleeps outside the henhouse because he has a hunger for chickens. What are you hungry for? What are your passions? Figure them out and follow them, because when you’re chasing your passions, you’re showing others – and yourself – that this is a life direction that you want. You see more opportunities because you’re passionate, and you’re able to follow up more often because of the knowledge and insight you’ve picked up chasing your passions.

It’s a call to be aggressive. If you’re sleeping, you’re letting the world pass you by. Instead, seek out the opportunities in life. Instead of glancing at that yard sale, stop there. Instead of debating whether to pay $35 for that oak desk, offer $20 for it. Instead of thinking how fantastic that job would be, ask for it. Learn how to be assertive and go after the things you want.

It’s a call to get out there and DO something. Today.

Are you the sleeping fox? Or are you out there, alert, aware, drawing on all of your resources, and catching those hens that you hunger for?

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