Think like the rich to become rich
by Kevin Pezzi, MD
Want to become rich? Learn to think the way they do. An interesting and provocative article (21 Ways Rich People Think Differently) described how. Some of its points are especially noteworthy:
- “Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality. 'While the masses are waiting to pick the right numbers and praying for prosperity, the great ones are solving problems.'”
- “Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge. 'Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge. […] Meanwhile, the masses are convinced that master's degrees and doctorates are the way to wealth.'”
- “Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.”
Comment: Formal education leaves most people too ignorant to solve problems that haven't already been solved.
- “Average people earn money doing things they don't love. Rich people follow their passion. 'One of the smartest strategies of the world class is doing what they love and finding a way to get paid for it.'”
- “Average people set low expectations so they're never disappointed. Rich people are up for the challenge. 'No one would ever strike it rich and live their dreams without huge expectations.'”
That's why I spent Labor Day applying specific knowledge and skills to solve a big problem, and I loved every minute of it. I often set my sights on lofty and seemingly insurmountable goals, and I've succeeded. You'll see proof of that in coming years.
The advice above comes from Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think and 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class: The Thought Processes, Habits and Philosophies of the Great Ones.
I strongly disagree with the advice that “selfishness is a virtue.” One can be very charitable and otherwise giving without significantly impairing the steps that lead to success, such as acquiring specific knowledge, setting high goals, and ultimately solving problems. I've given free firewood, food, eggs, clothing, medical care, and lots of advice on becoming a doctor (on this site and ERbook.net). I offered to give away some of my inventions and microhomes, shoveled countless tons of snow, and am selling my Sea-doo, Ski-doo, and shed to help a deported person reenter the United States. I paid a programmer in India twice as much as we contractually agreed upon.
Interestingly, most of that giving came after I did things that amplified my creativity.
Don't toss that college app without reading this
The following comment will blow fuses in the minds of people who have difficulty processing nuanced thoughts: While I agree with some of Mr. Siebold's above comments, I also disagree with them, too. In fact, I think some are misleading. For example, he lauds the “acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge” in preference to formal education that culminates in master's degrees and doctorates. Many rich people have indeed made their fortunes selling specific knowledge such as inventions (a form of intellectual property), but most inventors make no net profit from their inventions even if they are patented. In fact, most lose money. Lots of it.
One could similarly mislead young people planning their futures by saying, “Hey, kids! Want to become rich? Look at all the millions made by top professional athletes. Just do what they do and you'll be wealthy, too.”
The problem is obvious: Without a crystal ball, no one knows what he or she will do in the future, but statistics tells us that only a tiny fraction of the kids who play sports will ever excel at them well enough to become one of the top professionals—or any professional, for that matter. Ditto for inventing.
There's the rub: Most people who pursue wealth by playing sports or inventing never make it. Figuratively and sometimes literally, they strike out. Formal education is a much surer path to success as defined by a nice home, car, and toys (e.g., a boat or snowmobile), not a mansion in Vail and a jet to fly you there.
Of course, a formal education and the “acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge” are not mutually exclusive. You can do both, as I did. If the inventing doesn't pan out, you can still live well from the money you make from medicine.
My inventing boss said that one needs to be a doctor to do what I do. That's true, because anyone who isn't a physician would likely not even know of the problems that need inventions to solve them. An inventor without a medical license working on ideas directly or indirectly pertaining to medicine might come up with a technical solution but totally miss golden opportunities to amplify the value of the invention and its benefit to users. Years from now, when I'm free to discuss some of my current inventions, I will be able to give examples of how I did exactly that. Thus my formal education wasn't wasted. Almost certainly, nor will yours.
Something else to keep in mind
The happiest people in the world are not the richest. Above a certain level of income and assets, there is no correlation between money and happiness. To the limited extent that money can facilitate happiness, the nexus is tenuous. Ultimately, what we all want is happiness and other pleasure. As I discussed in my blog, there are much more direct ways to get pleasure, fun, happiness, and that “feeling great” emotion that most millionaires would give a million dollars to regularly experience. Now that is some “specific knowledge” worth acquiring! :-)
- 78 years ago, a journalist studied 500 rich men and boiled down their success into 13 steps
- How the Richest 400 People in America Got So Rich
- Book: Outliers: The Story of Success
- Eight Things Remarkably Successful People Do
- The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day
- 14 Things Successful People Do On Weekends
- Teacher Makes $1 Million Selling Lesson Plans Online
- What musical taste tells us about social class
- High levels of moral reasoning correspond with increased gray matter in brain