The concept of “net worth” is an interesting one. Most people, if asked, will do a quick mental tally of their personal assets and liabilities and come up with a $ figure. Others will grab their bank statements and mortgage documents, thump away on their calculator for a few minutes, frown and consider whether they could actually sell their house for that much and then arrive at a number that they quietly hope isn’t too over-inflated.

This is a simple view of defining net worth. Net worth isn’t the mathematical sum of assets less liabilities, in my view. Not by a long shot. Maybe I’m wrong but I have come to believe that it actually has little to do with how much you have made and is much more about what you are made of.

The seemingly simple question ‘what is most important to you’ is usually a good pointer to what people are made of. Most will answer automatically, blurting out ‘my family’ and for some that might be true. But the cut through to reality is always achieved when you look at where they ACTUALLY spend their discretionary time and money. Does the family really get a fair allocation or is the time and money spent elsewhere? Words can lie but behaviour never does.

But how do you increase your true net worth?

The key is to increase the number and strength of the value accretive relationships that you have. This will allow you to get more things done more quickly and contribute more to the important things in your life.

In business these are the relationships that help you solve problems, exploit opportunities and ultimately get the job done. In your personal life they are the people that matter to you and have got your back 100% even in the darkest possible days.

In both situations you can’t do without them and the more you have of them the better your life will ultimately be and the more you will be able to achieve. Just remember that relationships like these are a two-way street.  You don’t build them by sinking the boot in when people are down or by running for the hills when things get uncomfortable. Nor by finger pointing. Or by claiming credit for the work of others.

Relationships like these are built by putting others first. By joining hands and fighting battles together. By being honest and transparent.  By unequivocally having the back of the people that matter to you. And by understanding that your family (and friends) are the most precious assets you will ever have.

Like I said above the concept of net worth has little to do with how much you have made and is more about what you are made of.  It’s a more complicated calculation than just adding up your assets and liabilities but ultimately I think it’s what net worth is REALLY about. What do you think?

Featured image by Veronica Patrick