Why Are the People Who Work the Hardest Still Poor? (Or Are They?)

Hard work has never been a guarantee for success. I mean, grit has certainly been a key element in a lot of success stories, but the hardest working people we know are often the least “successful”.

We are talking about hard workers here. Not the people that can’t stand any work. You know who I am talking about. The people that exceed expectations for a task given without being supervised. Why is it that many of them don’t have money?

Before you are tempted to go on a tangent about what the proper definition for success should be, hear me out a bit…

Poverty is not success. Let’s be clear about that. I have never met a hard working person that aspired to be poor.

You cannot have peace while scrounging around for money all the time.

There’s a reason I am using wealth, success and peace interchangeably. Stick around till the end and feel free to leave a comment so we learn together.

The Race is not for the swift

I am going to use the Bible today. Whether you are a Christian or not, you will find deep insights into wealth and success in what you are about to read.

Pay special attention to the bold phrases:

“9 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

11 I returned and saw under the sun that — 

The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.

12 For man also does not know his time
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.

(Ecclesiastes 9:9–12, NKJV)

So, let’s get the rich kids that are born into wealth out of the way. We aren’t talking about them today. While we’re at it, let’s get the criminals that make money by stealing out of the way too.

I suppose some of you out there believe that all rich people are criminals. Whether that’s true or not is up to you, but what we know is that they have a lot more money than you do.

Notice what Solomon wrote in the Bible verse we just read: he tells us to work hard. He instructs us to give our very best in everything we decide to do

You missed it. He is not telling us just to do our best at everything. No! Read it again:

Whatever your hand finds to do…

Here’s the deal- every human being has a particular talent they must use to fulfill their life mission. Everyone on this planet has something within them that solves a particular problem.

There is a problem that you are built to solve

We often decide to find work that our hands are not fit for. That’s the lesson we are getting from the preacher.

There are swift men that can outrun champions, but they never get in the race. There are strong men that never enter the battle. There are wise men that have no bread. There are men of understanding, but they have no wealth.

Sometimes parents can destroy a child’s entire career path. Sometimes the person has no passion, at least initially, for the gift they possess. A lot of times, the person has no idea what they carry. Sometimes there is just no exposure to great opportunities.

There is a simple way to know what it is that can generate wealth for you. It’s so dead simple people miss it: TRY OUT STUFF!!

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Wayne Gretzky

The key is to just try out stuff.


You can take all the career aptitude tests available to you on the internet. You can google the highest paying jobs, but it’s only as you try out different kinds of work that you discover what will make money for you.

Wealth Comes With Opportunity

The “favor” that gives success is not given to “men of skill”. Instead, “time and chance” happens to us all.

There is no entrepreneur alive that doesn’t regret missing out on a business opportunity that was within their reach. Seth Godin, the godfather of modern marketing, missed the opportunity to launch a search engine company because he believed the internet was a fad. His software company, Yoyodine, was bought by Yahoo for $30 million.

Seth became the Vice President of Yahoo for direct marketing, but he had missed the opportunity to launch a search engine, and he knew it.

Time and chance. They were ready for it, and you must be ready for yours.

Luck and Prosperity Are The Same Thing

The age-old (honest) answer to the success question, for most entrepreneurs, is this right here:

“I got lucky.”

That’s the key.

Yes, they worked hard (most of the time); and yes, there was reasonable diligence in the equation, but they got lucky. Well, as Solomon puts it, they got “favor”.

Favor is luck, and luck is prosperity.

Let me explain.

The adjective “lucky” originates in the 1500s, and it meant “occurring by chance”.

By the seventeenth century, however, it had lost dignity to the point that the translators of the King James Bible would not use it, even when it was an appropriate translation. They used “prosperous man” instead.

A great example is an early translation of Joseph’s story in the Bible. It reads:

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a luekie felowe.” (Lucky Fellow) Genesis 39:2

How did Joseph gain the favor he had as a slave? God was him, and he was a “lucky fellow”. He worked hard. He tried out stuff, though it seemed his dreams had been crushed. When the opportunity came, he was ready.

God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.

E.G. White

Don’t be caught unaware

Do you still remember the last verse from Ecclesiastes that we looked at? Here it is:

“12 For man also does not know his time
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:12)

The “unfortunate” thing about the success equation is that we don’t know the time that the opportunity comes. It’s even more unfortunate if you decide to just wait for the opportunity without trying out stuff. It will come and go.

It’s kinda like Western Union and Alexander Graham bell. Ever heard of the guy?

Source: Wikipedia

Alexander is credited for inventing and patenting the first functional and practical telephone. We don’t know who invented it for sure, of course, but he had the patent.

Western Union had a good shot at being part of the action. You see, in 1876, Bell offered Western Union a patent for his invention for $100.000.

They thought his invention was “idiotic”.

Sometimes it’s a lack of preparation. Frankly, a lot of times it’s just bad judgment. How do we prepare for the opportunity? Favor is not for skilled men. Time and chance happen to us all, but “”Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do with all your might”.


It’s not every hard worker that is poor. Sometimes their wealth is only appreciated by the generation that comes after them. It’s not every lucky person that is rich either. Some lucky people can’t keep the wealth they obtain.


We all must find stuff to do, and do it with all our hearts. Opportunity will come. We don’t want to be caught unaware.

Do you agree? What else would you include in the success equation for all your business and marketing campaigns?

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