Posted by Tommy Runfola | August 11, 2016
LET’S GET REAL…
Let’s get real: Apart from sex, money is perhaps the most taboo topic there is! It makes people very uncomfortable, whether rich or poor, to speak about wealth. The poor and the middle-class don’t like to talk about it because they are embarrassed that they don’t have enough. The rich don’t like to talk about it because they fear jealousy, envy, even reprisal from those who have less.
In America today we have assigned honor to being without and look with suspicion on people who have abundance in terms of money. The more money they have, or are perceived to have, the more suspect they are. As if being filthy rich is, well, filthy! I have known many people over the years who claim “money” is not their primary motivation for work – whether they are in a job or own a business. In fact, most people would say that. The truth is, however, if you are not working for money, then why are you working? Is it for achievement? Can you pay your bills with achievement? Is it for the good you do for mankind? Can you not do good for mankind and still make a profit? This is a subject where either people are very confused or very dishonest about their motivation.
The American Dream and the prospect of “being rich” many feel is all but dead, some believe evil, right along with American Exceptionalism and Patriotism. This message, directly and indirectly, is communicated in our schools – particularly in higher education — but also from our pulpits, in our factories, offices and workplaces, and spread and perpetuated at the dinner table in middle-class America.
In the 1980’s the movie Wall Street depicted the stereotype of the greedy businessman, played by Michael Douglas, in which he unabashedly proclaimed, “Greed is good!” Since that time, forces in our economy and even our government have somehow connected the maniacal message of “greed is good” with the traditional American message of “anyone who is willing to work hard enough can be a millionaire/billionaire.” Result: People think you have to be a greedy S.O.B. to get rich, and nobody wants to think of themselves as a greedy S.O.B.! Even though nothing could be further from the truth.
When I wrote the book, The Way of the Rich, (www.tommyrunfola.com) I observed and talked with hundreds of wealthy people, many millionaires, and even some billionaires. What I found was astounding: They were nothing like the stereotypical greedy, selfish, self-absorbed rich person that media and the public would have you believe is their trademark. By and large, they were good, decent, smart, hard-working, ambitious people who fought their way to the top, did it by themselves or with little help, and just kept punching!
People are in a malaise about having money: Everybody would like to have it, but few want people to know they have it or even do the work to get it! As a culture we bemoan the loss of the middle-class, but rebel at the idea of working night and day to escape the middle-class to the upper middle-class and wealthy class. So the inevitable happens to so many, instead of moving up in the economic world, they move down. And they ask why? Well, here is why:
4 REASONS WHY YOU AREN’T RICH…YET!
- Because life is more competitive than it has ever been. If you want to advance economically anywhere in the world today, you must compete for it against people who just may want the victory of wealth more than you, who are willing to work harder for it, whose self-belief and self-motivation are greater than yours. Wealth is not a birthright, even in the greatest nation in the world, the USA.
- Politicians and government have robbed people of their motivation. They have made it okay to drop out and check out. Whether this was a purposeful plot to make people beholden to them or just a good idea gone wrong, I will leave to history and political pundits to decide, but no more do we hear the stories of poor, single mothers scrubbing floors to put their financially disadvantaged son or daughter through medical school. We just hear about student loans that never get paid back and were never intended to be paid back.
- Somewhere along the line our government decided that all Americans are entitled to all of life’s advantages and creature comforts whether they are willing to work for them or not. Everybody should have cable TV and a cell phone as a basic necessity of life – as if it’s as important to our existence as food and shelter. A college education? Of course, somebody should provide that as well. God forbid any 16 year old should be without their own wheels – how about driving mom or dad’s used vehicle? That was a privilege a couple of decades ago.
- We are not responsible for our circumstances – you’ve heard it over and over – some rich guy is responsible for every economic woe in the nation. Some Hedge Fund President is responsible or some Building Developer who had union problems and declared bankruptcy is responsible for the loss of jobs in America and, therefore, people absolve themselves of personal responsibility over their lives.
Well, go down to the local Walmart or McDonalds, I guarantee they’re hiring. Oh, but I’m above a lower paying job! Now, are you starting to see the problem? America has been robbed of its incentive, its pride, its will to succeed, its will to overcome, its will to get back up after being knocked down. But I guarantee you if you examine every millionaire in the U.S., 90% of them have done just that, gotten back up after being knocked down, overcome, and succeed in spite of their circumstances.
We want to shame the wealthy into picking up the tab for the lazy & unmotivated; politicians seek out the wealthy to finance their thirst for power but are the first to vilify them to the electorate; and wealth shaming by the media depicts the rich as spoiled, overly self-indulging, and without morality or character.
The truth is that the “wealthy” didn’t get “wealthy” by accident! They are the doers, the job creators, the givers and philanthropists who built America and keep it going through hard work, innovation and generosity. Let’s not bash them, instead let’s thank our lucky stars that America has been blessed to have such a concentration of smart, motivated people who are willing to make a difference, and by all means, let’s teach our kids to be just like them.
Hear these and more ideas for successful living every week on my weekly radio show: Makin It! (www.makinitnow.com)