The Best Advice I Received

The Indian Optician, June, 2009

The Oxford dictionary meaning of advice is ‘opinion given about what to do and how to behave’. At a simple level, this is clearly what advice is. However, there are three things that I would generally consider while evaluating advice :

a) the source/giver of advice (his/her credibility, motivation/incentive, experience),

b) basis of advice (time testedness, observations/outcomes validating what is being stated) and

c) personal experience of the receiver on acting upon, subsequent to receiving the advice.

In view of the above, considering a) wisdom, neutrality & experience of sources b) centuries of observed outcomes & c) my personal experience post using the advice, I believe that the following advice given by elders/teachers is one of The Best that I ever received :

‘If Wealth is lost, NOTHING is lost; if Health is lost, SOMETHING is lost; if Character is lost, EVERYTHING is lost’.


In school, when given these statements, one would tend to take them lightly, not realizing the full significance. These were merely a list of quotations one had to memorise and repeat in class or exams; scores depended on the accuracy of replication. As I moved through experiences/situations in life, the eternal truth behind this statement emerged more & more clearly for me. Needless to say, Truth itself & one’s Karma are important ingredients at play here.

The beauty of this statement is that it is applicable not only to an individual, but equally well to organizations, businesses and society. Brand Equity captures The Character that enables long term sustainability & resilience of organizations ….. the ability to bounce back everytime they hit a roadblock or stormy weather. This is not built by ‘advertising’ alone, as many would tend to believe, but is an accumulation of ‘conduct’ over long periods of time ….. of the way people behave and carry themselves within and with the outside world, of the Values & Culture that prevail.  Finance experts would even monetize Character as Goodwill !!

Health is determined by the fundamentals and soundness of Business Processes ….. in Disciplined Thought & Disciplined Action ….. Customer Satisfaction Processes, People Development Processes, Performance Measurement and Rewards …..

With Character & Health intact, True Wealth is always in place ….. these give the ability to get up and bounce back even after hitting tough times or to rebuild Financial Wealth and Profitability if needed. Those who look at financial measures alone should change their outlook. The assets side of the balance sheet can get strong support if one looks at not only financially measurable assets, but also at these strong determinants of performance capability & fitness.

Even the current global turmoil could have been avoided if the financial wizards of the world had read and internalized this advice. If they did not earlier, I hope better sense prevails and they digest it now. In today’s modern world, this Golden Advice handed over through generations by ‘Elders’, passes all the above three tests and would  sail through smoothly on the requirements of the now much talked about SOX & Ethical Corporate Governance touchstone also !!


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