The Hundred Ruble Fallacy

Better a hundred friends than a hundred rubles — Russian Proverb

How do you respond on hearing this? Perhaps you accept it as obvious, perhaps you see it as profound. In my view, it represents flawed thinking. You may as well compare barometric pressure to hockey scores. 

On the surface, the proverb places more value on friendship than money, which in turn suggests that an exchange rate is possible. As I write this, the ruble is worth about 3 cents, so a hundred rubles would be worth a few dollars. If you dig back in history, a hundred rubles was worth several hundred dollars. Either way, putting a price on friendship makes no sense. 

Let’s step back from the literal meaning of the proverb, back from the idea that you could create a graph comparing friendship to finances. Shouldn’t we value friendship more than money? Won’t our lives be better and richer with a big address book than with a big bank account? Isn’t that what the proverb is trying to teach us?

Perhaps, but even then you are making a choice. If such choices are inevitable, it is easy to choose your friends over your bank book. But is it necessary to choose one over the other? If not, shouldn’t you plan to have both?  

In Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker points out that while poor people choose one thing or another, successful people look for ways to have both. Why should we choose between financial success and friendship? Shouldn’t our goal be both?

In a broader sense, perhaps the real measure of success is the number of different things we are successful at. Eker is correct and shows us the hundred ruble fallacy. Don’t settle for one or the other. Don’t even settle for both. When facing a choice, look for the way to have it all.  

Next Action

Look at the decisions you make with this mindset: how can I achieve all my goals, not choose between them? 

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