An Inquiry: What is the Most Valuable Resource?

I think everyone agrees that we need resources in order to make it, to be on top, or even to survive. Most people would also accept the notion of not wasting resources. However, there are so many resources with many different functions. Which one is the best resource? What is the most valuable resource?

I want to explore this inquiry because I believe when we realize the value and limitation, we will treasure and manage it more wisely.

So, let’s dig in.


I think money is the most common answer from the simplest to the most sophisticated person, when we talk about valuable resources. It’s undeniable that we could buy many things with money. Arguably, we could even buy love with money – as long as we know how and who the seller is.

In a report from Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), “Born to Win, Schooled to Lose,” being born wealthy is a better indicator of adult success in the U.S. Surely, money is a valuable resource that can’t be underestimated. Although, most people usually just lie about the value of money – to others or themselves.

It’s the most common resource that you can exchange with most people. IMO, it’s also the easiest to gather compared to other resources in this list. However, because of those two aspects, it’s also the easiest to slip through your fingers. With money, we could buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

Compared to other resources, not everyone would appreciate/value your skills of doing dad jokes in inappropriate moments. However, you could just easily exchange your money for many things almost every time.


Speaking of skills, it’s riveting to perceive it as a valuable resource. I mean, some people still believe that you could be successful if you work hard and learn so many things tirelessly. However, some experts such as Michael Kinsley would argue that meritocracy will always remain a myth.

My perspective? I still believe knowledge and skill (information or data, for companies) could help tremendously in determining our success and survival. I, for one, would prefer to work with someone who knows what he’s doing. I think many people prefer this too.

The tricky part is that knowledge or skill could not be exchanged as easily as money – just as I stated previously. You need to find the correct person or company who will value your skills and knowledge. Another thing, every knowledge has a different value because of its demand in society or business.

Let’s say one of my main skills, writing. I could write in two languages, English and Bahasa (Indonesia’s language). If I have to measure my own writing skills, I would say that my writing skill in Bahasa is 10x better than my English. However, I know that the demand for English writing skills is so much bigger. Because of that, I could get paid so much higher for my English even though it’s not as good as my Bahasa.

Another sample, I also know that writing skill in human language isn’t really in a high-demand in this era. People with good skill in machine/programming languages, like Python, almost always could get a better salary compared to those who are expert in human language. It doesn’t help too when expertise in human language could also only be recognized by another expert or at least professional. I mean, you need to be a good writer to recognize others. That’s why the demand is also shrinking because I think fewer people learn language and writing intensely nowadays.

However, the good thing about knowledge as a resource is that it couldn’t be wasted. It’s not like money which could easily be blown away. Sure, as I said, different skills have different values and it’s not that easy to find someone who will value your skills. Yet, I truly believe that every knowledge and skill that we have could improve our value in general and could find its relevance if we know how.

People who could crack an inappropriate joke at any given time could secure a big deal easier when facing people who have the same taste.


Talking about people, this is also another resource that could help us survive or reach a higher level. Some people don’t realize this and some others are in denial about this. Yet, the fact is, no matter how smart and great you are, you won’t survive in this world without other people.

As I mentioned previously, you need certain people who will value your skill and knowledge. The more people you know, the bigger your chance of finding those people. Besides, from my experience, most of the time, business is so much heavier on the social skills spectrum – rather than cognitive skills.

The problem with this resource? For some people, it’s not easy to make so many friends. Another thing? People are just human. Meaning, humans are not always reliable. People lie too.

Sometimes, you won’t know whether your relationship with certain people is useful or not. It’s not necessarily useless – the relationship with certain people – even with those who’re intentionally doing harm. However, it’s undeniable that the value of certain people is surely different for each person. It’s just that it’s too abstract and absurd to measure that.


I used to believe that time is universal – as a resource – for everyone. It’s not necessarily the case anymore. As Einstein put it, time is relative.

Of course, every human has 24 hours in a day. Most people could also convert time into another resource – to money, relation, or knowledge. However, the effectiveness of us in utilizing the time is certainly different for each person.

For example, I may need an hour just to read a page on Derrida’s book – to truly understand it. Other people may need 5 minutes. Some others may never understand him even though they spend their whole life.

The effectiveness could be different too on different conversions for the same person. For example, people who are good at social skills could use their hours more effectively when making friends – rather than learning super complex things like rocket science or quantum computing.

However, one thing for sure, time is the only resource that can’t be added. You could only use time. So, it’s certainly the rarest resource we have. This concept is simple and most people know it. However, most people don’t realize the implication of time as the rarest resource.

Many people work just for the sake of working – without reevaluating previous strategy or trying new ideas. Sure, it’s definitely better than other people who are just doing nothing or just pretending to do something in the office – since there is no real result whatsoever.

However, personally, working just for the sake of working is not just wasting company’s resources but also wasting time for everyone involved – some people call it opportunity cost.

Meanwhile, on the other side, most people will think that playing games, spending time with friends with no clear agenda, just sitting while listening to some music, or anything unproductive are wasting time. No, it’s not. I truly believe this, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

We lived on borrowed time. So, I believe we need to divide our use of time. First part is the time to do something productive – not just do it aimlessly – but do it deliberately, with plans and calculations. Then, the second part is to use it to enjoy our life doing something we love or with some people we love.


So, to answer the question, “what is the most valuable resource?” Well, it depends. It truly depends on our situation currently. Sure, you can convert time into money but it requires process. You have a lot of friends but you feel like you’re going nowhere? Maybe it’s time for you to invest your time gathering some new knowledge or new skills. Or, maybe you’re confident with your skills but it seems your company don’t appreciate it as much as you like? It could be time to gather some new contacts and expand your network.

In the end, I don’t think there is no single answer on what is the most valuable resource for every person, in every situation. We need to evaluate it from time to time — while making our use of time more effectively.

Feat Image: Brett Sayles via Pexels

Yabes Elia

Yabes Elia

An empath, a jolly writer, a patient reader & listener, a data observer, and a stoic mentor

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