I grew up believing wealth was a matter of money.
Either you had it, which made you rich.
Or you didn’t have it, which made you a worker bee.
The only difference between rich folk and the rest of us was the size of our bank accounts.
Man, I was so wrong.
Since then, I’ve lived all over the world.
I’ve worked alongside peasant farmers in the Andes and internet entrepreneurs in the Southern Alps.
I’ve assembled widgets in factories and networked with self-made millionaires.
What wasn’t obvious to me back then has never been clearer:
Wealth is an attitude.
It has a lot less to do with what’s in the bank…
As it has to do with what’s in your mind.
Let me back up a minute.
I grew up in the sticks. There really were only 3 futures for my high school classmates and me:
- Working for someone else
- Having your own small business, supplying goods or services to the local community
- Becoming a highly-educated professional, like a doctor or lawyer
I aspired to the third option. I really, really wanted to stuff my brain with knowledge and make a living off it.
But I was weighed down by the beliefs I was brought up with. These included:
- Hard labor is something to be proud of. Sitting at a desk all day is a lazy man’s job.
- You don’t need to know what’s going on in the rest of this world. Here is the only place that matters.
- You have a moral obligation to love your country, your family, and where you came from. Criticism is treason.
- It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than small fish in a big ocean.
- Everything that’s wrong in the world can be blamed on those who don’t believe the same way you do.
- What other people think of you defines you. Set a foot wrong, and that mistake will be attached to your name for the rest of your life.
- The world is fair, and anyone asking for special treatment—unless it’s you—is a whiner.
Imagine my surprise when I left home and found out things weren’t so black and white!
I discovered that it was easy to spot the most successful (or soon-to-be successful) people in any walk of life, whether it was a dairy farm, a bustling factory, or an internet start-up.
These people shared a different set of beliefs.
A set of beliefs I found rather strange at first.
They set themselves apart. They knew they weren’t like most of the people in their hometown, school or job. And they were okay with that. People could talk all they wanted. They weren’t going to waste the energy to fit in. Not if it was going to detract from their mission.
They had role models. They actively sought out other successful people to look up to. They didn’t have time for gossip. They were too busy talking about what was possible to waste time talking down other people.
They knew the power of an idea. Trade an hour’s labor for wages, and you’re stuck on the hamster wheel for the rest of your life. Spend all your spare time thinking, imagining, tinkering and creating … and you might just happen on an idea that changes the world.
They questioned EVERYTHING. They loved asking why. Why does it have to be this way? What if it were that way?
They didn’t wait for anyone else. They knew it was 100% up to them. Maybe they didn’t have the resources or profile or experience they knew they needed, but they weren’t going to wait for those things to fall into their lap. They were going to take that first step regardless.
They didn’t keep track of hours. They didn’t see what they did as work. They saw it as a stepping stone on the way to achieving their goals. No job was beneath them. You’d never find them saying, “That’s not my job.”
They stayed humble. They kept a learner’s mind. No matter how much they knew, they listened carefully to others. They believed everyone has some insight to offer.
They saw their work as service. They weren’t doing it for the money or the prestige. They were doing it because their vision had a life of its own. They could see how their vision tied into improving the environment or people’s lives. It was never “just business.”
They respected other people. They even respected disgruntled customers and cut-throat competitors. They never made anyone feel stupid. When mistakes were made, they didn’t assume people were the problem. They assumed systems were the problem.
And it was then that I began to realize that wealthy people don’t always have a lot of money…
But they have a lot of energy. A lot of joy. A lot of satisfaction in what they were creating.
Wealth is an attitude. It’s a way of looking at the world that focuses on the possibilities … and all the ways YOU can create something that’s never existed before.
What vision is waiting for you?