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One day I was asked: “If You’re So Smart, How Come You’re Not Rich?”
I had followed all the rules. I went to school; I studied hard, went to college, got good grades, even got my MBA (as well as a MA in Christian Philosophy!). I landed an OK job with a livable salary.
But, in the work force I had to work my tail off, usually up to 12 hours a day (6 am to 6 pm for heavens sake!) And of course the job was never even close to being finished, never good enough, and the guys I worked for were earning huge salaries and bonuses off of my hard work. My job had become simply ‘work’ – it was definitely not enjoyable. Corporate politics were rampant; without being one of the chosen few there was no real opportunity for advancement (do I really want that anyway? Do I even know what that means?)
Mortgages, car payments, 2 children, private school, braces, vacations…WHY WAS I BROKE AND WORRIED???
Here I was, making a decent salary, but never ‘getting ahead.’ In fact the more salary I made, the more I seemed to get behind! “I don’t like my job, but please don’t lay me off!” Despite being ‘successful’, why do I feel like a failure? But don’t ever complain! No one cares! What a successful failure!
Here’s the part that REALLY irritated me – I actually know a few losers who are very wealthy. One of them happened to be a college roommate of mine who dropped out of school! Great guy, he just couldn’t cut it there. The early classes, the homework, and frankly the mental aptitude just were not his forte. But there he is – working this ‘job’ of his 2-3 days a week and golfing the rest (and smirking at me when I couldn’t join him for 18 holes!)
I always thought that doing all these things I was taught would eventually make me financially free – isn’t that the American Dream? Why does it seem to get further and further away? Am I just ‘whining’ and need to ‘get over it?’ Do I just need to suck it up and realize that most of life is destined to hard work and dissatisfaction? But this question kept bugging me.. “Could it be that the path I was taught and worked so hard to accomplish was in fact NOT the path to real wealth?”
Something Just Wasn’t Right!
“Did You Want To Be A YES Man?”
Do you remember the Super Bowl 1999 Monster.com commercial, which portrayed children talking about their ‘dream jobs’? If you don’t remember or didn’t see it, click on this link below and be ready for some serious reflection about what you ‘should be doing with your life…’
This commercial really hit me… Time for a big change…
I BEGAN A QUEST
Many questions started forming in my mind. There MUST be a way – I still do believe in the Dream! So I decided to pursue the answers to these questions.
Here’s a summary of what I did know (from experience!):
- Hard work (alone) does not create Wealth. I’ve seen people sweat their tails off and remain impoverished
- Schooling won’t get you there – I’ve met PhD’s who are dirt poor!
- Many folks I’ve met who have accumulated many things are by no means Wealthy (they’re usually in tremendous debt!) So, Wealth is not found in ‘things’
- Wealth is NOT just about ‘making lots of money’ (What’s the point of being ‘rich’ if you’re not happy? And have you noticed that ‘rich people are never ‘rich’ enough?)
So here’s some of the questions I had during my quest…
To whom does one turn to in order to learn how to become Wealthy? It makes no sense to learn how to be Wealthy from someone who is not Wealthy (although, we can certainly learn what NOT to do from them!)
Where does one even learn how to define Wealthy? I certainly didn’t learn it in school – and I had an MBA!
Is Wealth just the ability to accumulate money? That doesn’t seem right, since we’ve all seen many miserable ‘rich’ celebrities, or kooky lottery winners that squander it all ending up worse then before they started (of course, that would never happen to me or you, right? )
Sometimes we associate Wealth with the accumulation of things. We see folks with big houses, lots of fancy cars, expensive watches and such, and assume that they are Wealthy. However, many studies have concluded that most (~80%!) millionaires actually are very unassuming! You’d likely never know that they had money! These are the people who seem to have contentment (certainly not the rich but crazy celebrities!)
We’ve all heard that money ‘cannot buy you happiness’. Is it possible to be Wealthy if not content? That doesn’t seem right. Most of us have money problem induced anxiety; so most of us have experienced that money (or its mismanagement) ‘CAN cost you misery!’ So contentment must factor in the definition of Wealth somehow…
|All of these goals (and good intentions) aim to balance: Money with Lifestyle and Contentment.|
Most of us would like to have contentment AND money. Some might want to retire early and just sit on the beach…but they usually get ‘bored’.
Others may want the freedom to do what they desire to do…but they run out of things to do pretty fast.
Others enjoy their jobs, but just don’t want to worry about money issues and be able to help their families and favorite charities…but there’s never really enough to go around.
Some want to be able to retire and ‘make a difference’… Hmmm – ‘make a difference’… What does that mean??
What is it about those who really are able to accumulate real wealth?
Are they smarter than us ‘regular’ folk? Did they take different classes in school? Is there a ‘secret’ that they keep to themselves? There’s got to be a secret formula that keeps the rich rich and the poor poor, right? All I have to do is buy the right book since there’s so many of them out there promising to have the silver bullet?
Is accumulating Wealth then just luck?
What’s the difference between the guy who studies hard, gets good grades, finds a good job, works a hard 10 – 12 hours a day for a paycheck to pay the bills and the hope of a pension someday, and the gal who drops out of school and finds a way to make millions of dollars? Is one ‘fair’ and another ‘just lucky’?
I REFUSED to believe that it was just dumb luck – that is simply unacceptable (and hopeless!) But it also obviously wasn’t just the result of hard work – so many of us work ourselves to death yet fall behind every year.
But what is it? What is the secret? How could one find it?
Studying the Guru’s
I began to read every book and attend every seminar I could about how to build Wealth. I spent a LOT of time at the bookstore (my wife can attest to that!)
A trip there can be quite humorous. What you can find is row after row of books from the “guru’s” willing to show us “How to Get Rich”. Some of the titles are quite interesting:
- The Complete Idiots Guide To Day Trading
- The Real Estate Money Machine
- From $0 to $100 Million in No Time!
- Buy My Book So That I Can Get Rich! (Ok I made that up, but you get the idea!)
I studied the personal stories of the ‘wealthy and successful’ to try to find their secrets. Ironically, I spent a small fortune on this pursuit! Some of them want us to budget ruthlessly and save all our “Latte” money in order to be wealthy in 20 years or so. Others recommend we quit our jobs right away and start investing in Real Estate (without telling us exactly how!) Instead of learning the ‘secrets’ that were promised, I grew more frustrated! And certainly more irritated!
There are Thousands of books offering advice, each supposedly having the key to Wealth! You’d think that everyone could get Wealthy just by going to the local bookstore!
One thing is certain; these folks appear successful in what they do. But a lot of their hype is pure marketing – many are designed to get us fired up with minimal information so we’ll get hooked and buy MORE of their services! In fact, many of these ‘books’ are simply ‘brochures’ with 50,000 foot explanations of concepts or they are simply the same story rehashed over and over under a new title.
I found that there are things we can learn from them and piece together to build knowledge. Some ‘gems’ are discovered by analyzing common themes, matched with common sense and new perspectives. Once you get past the hype and marketing set-up, you can begin to put together a comprehensive structure to build plans and begin testing.
And that is the purpose of this site: To distil away the hype and leave us with new insights and actionable lessons learned towards achieving REAL WEALTH.
After distilling away all the garbage, I figured it out!
Since that quest began just a few years ago, I have been well on my way! My investment income is now more than my salary. I have no debt. I have supplemental income coming in each month whether I wake up or not. My assets are approaching $1M. I now have time to devote to my personal ministry and teaching! I can now ‘make a difference’!
But here’s the most surprising realization I learned: Wealth is a journey; not a destination (I’ll explain what that means in a bit). Most importantly, I truly believe that ANYONE can do what I’ve done! In fact, I believe, on spiritual grounds, that everyone SHOULD!
It’s all about our understanding of the definition and purpose of Wealth!
Let’s Begin With The Education…
A MAJOR Problem: We are never taught HOW to create Wealth.
To the contrary, we are, in fact, unknowingly taught to DESTROY Wealth.
To make it worse, most of our culture encourages this destruction!
One problem is in our definition of safety. We are taught that a good job is a source of security. We pursue good grades etc. in order to compete and win that ‘good job’. The problem is that this job becomes, at best, a pair of ‘golden handcuffs’. Even making a decent salary (God help those people who don’t – their problems are even worse!) you find that your job OWNS you! There’s a big mortgage payment to make, a new car needed soon, orthodontist bills and hopefully a vacation (maybe next year?!) You want something different, but you are chained to that salary, and to perpetuating the problem!
Here’s what happens – Most of us have received this familiar advice when we were young:
– Go to College
– Get good grades
– Work hard at a job so you can pay the bills
– Save your money
– Retire and get a pension to fund retirement
– Don’t play the Stock Market because it’s rigged against the ‘little guy’
– Your house is your greatest asset
– Real Estate investment equates to landlording which means you’ll be fixing toilets in the middle of the night
– The rich folks keep getting richer off of the backs of the poor
– Hard work will pay off for you in the end
– The government will support you when you retire if you need it
Then, we get blasted daily by the ‘need’ to accumulate things, in order to ‘be happy’ and possibly to ‘feel’ Wealthy even if we may not be:
– Get lots of ‘stuff’
– Get it all now
– “He who dies with the most toys wins!”
But, most of us end up with the same dilemmas:
– Too much month at the end of the money
– Working hard but not getting ahead
– Everyone seems to want my money (always bills to pay!)
– The more I make, the more I owe
– I can’t quit working; I have so many bills to pay!
– I get the stuff I thought I wanted, only to find I want more, or something else
– Getting the ‘stuff’ I wanted never seems to satisfy, like I thought it would!
Turning this Life Around
— Becoming a Student of the Creation of Wealth —
It appears then that the definition of wealth may have to do with the spiritual aspect of money, driven by a lifestyle of proper focus on both.
So here we are! Let’s study the definition of Wealth:
Wealth is the ability to apply yourself to a goal larger than yourself!
OK – now before I get a lot of hate mail reminding me that Mother Teresa did more for the impoverished by being poor than I could ever do, or that you don’t really care about all that woo-woo spiritual garbage, let me remind you that, as we’ve discussed, most people are failing MISERABLY with the prevalent understandings of Wealth.
With this understanding of Wealth Creation Mother Teresa was able to utilize millions of dollars to support the down-trodden – she was most definitely Wealthy (to this definition.) To the other extreme, we’ve already discussed the mis-adventures of the ‘supposedly Wealthy’, who seem to perpetuate loneliness and unhappiness.
Now you can see why I CAPITALIZE Wealth, and I refer to the Creation of Wealth. It is emphasizing our role as Creators, as well as the respect (but not central focus) we must put on Wealth. This is in stark contrast to the normal view of Wealth, which is to consume and use up for one’s selfish purposes – this usually always brings grief. Instead we are to see ourselves as Creators of Wealth, and responsible servants called upon to properly manage it, to the benefit of mankind.
So, unless you have been completely successful with the old definition,
give my definition a try just for a little bit…
OK – enough preaching – let’s continue on…
Wealth is a Journey
If you’ve ever lost weight and kept it off, you realize it was a lifestyle change. We’ve heard that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same things over and over but expecting different results each time – the same is true with Creating Wealth!
And, like we’ve mentioned, the poor suckers who have come about Wealth the ‘easy’ way, whether by inheritance, lottery, or whatever, tend to lose it. This is because they do not have the appropriate attitude toward it; they have not changed their lifestyle to ‘earn’ it. It is said that Keeping your Wealth is harder that Creating your Wealth. This is a truly scary thought!
Those who understand the real meaning and significance of Wealth (our ability to enable others) treat it as an entrusted Treasure; continually nurturing it and caring for it so that its benefit can be perpetuated. Those who see Wealth as an ‘end’ usually end up squandering it.
So Let’s See What The Guru’s Say!
Looking back on all that studying I did, I found that many of these guru’s were right on track, but not in the way you might think!
I went back and re-read many of the books in a new light. With this new insight, I was able to confirm the pieces of the puzzle! And most importantly, I was able to separate the gems of insight from the hype simply designed to sell more books and expensive consulting sessions.