James asked…“What do you think is the wealth of an apple tree? Don’t worry. This is not a trick question. Just tell me the first answer that comes to your mind.”
“The apples…?” I answered uncertainly. I knew I’d probably be wrong.
“Good answer there, but contrary to what most people believed, apples are not the wealth of the tree. The true source of wealth of an apple tree is … …”
Before I show you the epic revelation I got from James. Let me bring you back one hour earlier to the beginning of our meetup that changed my money game.
James walked into the cafe.
He looked like a Hollywood star with his slicked-back Beckham-esque hairstyle, Ray-Bans, and denim jacket.
James spotted me sitting in a corner, shot me a Leonardo Decaprio smile that’d smitten any lady while striding over like a top model owning the runway.
This guy is what every man wishes to be.
He is a successful restauranteur with one cafe and an Italian restaurant under his ownership. He drives a Merc, lives in a penthouse, and has a beautiful family with two girls and a gorgeous wife.
To me, James is the guy who has the golden ticket…
…and I was jealous of him.
I had to meet him.
Part of me wanted to find out what makes him successful so I could learn from him. And yet the other part of me wanted to destroy his perfect image in my mind.
Maybe he just has wealthy parents to help him kickstart his business.
“Mike Chen Yu Heng! Wow! How long has it been!” James called out my full name grinning from ear to ear.
I was taken aback. First, few people remember my Chinese name. People just call me Mike. Second, was he sizing me up with his over the top enthusiasm?
“Hey James! I don’t know man. 10 years… maybe?” I replied.
James stretched out his hand and I shook his hand with a tight sturdy grip as though I needed to win this handshake tug-o-war.
That wasn’t the case. He gave me a pat and a gentle squeeze on my shoulder with his other hand and released his grip, “Cool! Nice to see you after a while.”
There was no tug-o-war. He was not here to make an impression as a successful rich young man. He was sincerely glad to see me and that was the same James I remembered 10 years ago.
We chatted over our high school days where we’d climb over the side gates to skip school.
Not once did he ask about the purpose of the meetup.
In this age of selfishness, if you’re suddenly contacted by “friends” who have not bothered to catch up for years, get ready to be peddled with products like insurance, MLM, health products, etc.
Throughout our conversation, James was really humble and nice, like what I remembered during our school days. He was the school counselor, and captain of the volleyball team, and friends surrounded him everywhere he went.
Then, we touched on our current lives and I shared with him on my recent condominium purchase.
“This is awesome news, Mike. Glad to know you’re doing well! And you’re gonna invite me to your wedding right?” James asked.
I was shocked for a few seconds as I was suddenly reminded of the costs of a wedding and it made my heart sank a little.
I decided to put down my ego and asked James for his advice, “Sure. I’ll certainly send you an invite when the time comes. But James, can I ask you something?”
I tried to sound as calm as I could as I muttered those words.
“Of course. How can I help?” James replied with a big enthusiastic smile.
I wasn’t someone who’d pour out my worries to people, but I got this positive feeling that James could help me.
Being a huge self-improvement junkie, I already knew that the number one rule to become successful is to hang out with the people who have been there.
I went on to tell James about my worries about financing the condominium and other concerns about money.
James’ eyes lit up after hearing me:
“You know. I was the exact replica of you a few years back. When I first ventured into the F&B industry, I was worried about the smallest thing. I was worried about my servers not turning up, the menu, competitors, revenue… Everything!
And it was also through this entrepreneur journey that I learned one important thing. Do you read self-help books like The Power Of Positive Thinking? Or Think And Grow Rich?”
I was confident of impressing James, “Yes. I do! I’m a huge fan of self-help.”
“That’s good to hear. Let me ask you a question. What do you think is the wealth of an apple tree?” James asked.
“What? Apple tree…?” I thought I heard wrongly.
“Yup. What do you think is the wealth of an apple tree? Don’t worry. This is not a trick question. Just tell me the first answer that comes to your mind.” James followed up after a few seconds of silence from me.
“The apples…?” I answered uncertainly. I knew I’d probably be wrong.
(The following answer from James is so revolutionary that I’m highlighting it.)
“Good answer there, but contrary to what most people believed, apples are not the wealth of the tree.
The true wealth of an apple tree happens inside…
…which can be explained as the INVISIBLE PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION inside the tree transforming the seed into a sprout, then a seedling growing into a juvenile tree, and finally an adult tree that bears fruits.
You see, the apples are a result of this process of abundance.
An expression of the wealth of the tree. A symbol of abundance.
When you reverse the entire situation, it becomes clear.
There cannot be fruits without trees, and likewise, the trees cannot exist if there are no seeds. And the seeds wouldn’t grow if the process of abundance isn’t already planted inside the seed from the start.
You don’t see the farmers uprooting the trees and planting new ones after a harvest.
They still see abundance.
They know that as long as they take care of these trees, they will bear fruits for another round of bountiful harvest.”
James paused and took a sip of his coffee.
My eyes were wide open with excitement. I have not seen people talk about money, or rather, abundance in such a way before.
I was expecting some tips on investing in the stock market, but this was on an entirely new level.
I tried to suppress my excitement and took a sip of my lemon tea.
But deep inside, I was burning with excitement, hoping James could quickly continue his story.
“Heard of the proverb ‘kill not the goose that lays golden eggs’? It’s a story about a couple who grew tired of waiting for their goose to lay golden eggs. They thought it’d be faster to cut up the goose and get the eggs inside, but all they got, in the end, was a dead goose.”
“So, you mean I killed my goose?” I interrupted.
“No, you’re not a goose murderer. But when you focus on the eggs and neglect the goose, you’ll eventually destroy the process of abundance. And you know what happens next?”
James finished his story and looked at me intently, hoping to hear an answer.
I replied with my brows frowning unknowingly, “The goose dies?”
“Not really. The goose is still there. Only that it stops laying golden eggs, and in no time, you’ll stop believing your goose can lay golden eggs.” James answered and took another sip of coffee.
I could feel the atmosphere getting heavier, James’ words weighing down on my shoulders.
We were approaching the part where I was starting to hear the painful things.
Not everybody likes to hear painful things and James knew it.
“Do you want to hear more?” James asked.
“Yes, please…” I knew I have to get to the end.
Sometimes pain is the best way to move forward.