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I remember hearing a story as a child called the Farmer’s Donkey. One day, a farmer’s donkey fell into an abandoned well. The farmer, fond of his faithful animal, tried and tried to figure out a way to raise the donkey from the well. Tearfully, he decided the animal was impossible to retrieve and the well must be felled before other animals also slipped into the hole. He asked his neighbors to help him, and as the men grabbed shovels and began to throw dirt into the well, the donkey realized he had to save himself. As more and more shoveled dirt landed on the donkey’s back, he shook it off and took a step up. The farmer, realizing the donkey’s plan, encouraged the men to continue throwing dirt down the hole on top of the animal. Each time, the donkey would shake it off and take another step up. Eventually, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted to the grateful farmer.
Each person controls their future
Blaming someone or something for one’s circumstances is common in our society, perhaps because we continuously face circumstances that we cannot control.
The consequences of being a victim are heavy – hopelessness, anger, frustration, stress, and depression – and self-inflicted. But you don’t have to cede control of your life to your circumstances. Helen Keller overcame the limitations of being blind, deaf, and mute. Stephen Hawking became the world’s most famous physicist despite contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at age 21. Oprah Winfrey’s childhood in a broken home did not stop her from becoming one of the first African American billionaires. Each person has the power and ability within to take control of their destiny and successfully realize their dreams.
The path to riches
If wealth is your goal, complaining will not add to your bank account. Attitude, associations and action are the ingredients necessary to acquire a significant net worth and are available to everyone, despite their beginnings or current circumstances. People who begin with little advantage can achieve great prosperity.
Rafael Badziag and Jack Canfield interviewed self-made billionaires around the world to learn the secrets of their success. Some credited a willingness to take intelligent risks. Some credited the self-determination spirit of “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” Others credited relentless self-improvement, ignoring naysayers and embracing an appetite for hard work.
People tend to conform to common behaviors around them, even when they do not personally agree with the behavior. They justify their conformity by rationalizing it; if everyone else is choosing to do one thing, it is probably a good thing to do. A group of victims and complainers feed on each other. T. Harvey Eker, a self-made millionaire, notes that “Like attracts like. When you are complaining, you are actually attracting ‘nonsense’ into your life.” In other words, get rid of the complainers, the excuse-givers, and discontent and add people to your life that inspire and teach. Stay positive and immerse yourself with similar thinkers. If you go there in mind, you are much more likely to go there in real life, too.
Newton’s first law of motion states that “An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by force.” In other words, changing your circumstances requires an infusion of personal energy, also known as work.
If wealth is your goal, your tasks include:
- Selecting an occupation with the most significant exposure to financial success. Wall Street, finance and entrepreneurship are popular destinations to make large sums of money.
- Developing the skills necessary to excel in the occupation. Aside from the required degrees (BBA or MBA), knowing the path and relationships of money flowing through a business is valuable. Understanding and managing risk is essential, as is familiarity with human behavior.
- Identifying the proper mentors and associates. Successful people never stop learning or asking for information. Building on top of another’s experience is a map for your progress and a source of potential shortcuts.
- Work your tail off. Winning the financial competition requires total dedication to achieving the goal, often involving long hours, weekend work and personal sacrifice of other activities. Remember that many are called to wealth, but few are chosen.
Being captain of one’s ship, whether sailing to the golden city of El Dorado or the paradise of Shangri-La, is a powerful motive to reject the limitations imposed by friends or society. Each person can rise above their circumstances: A poor man can become rich, a fool educated, or a woman elected to the Presidency of the United States. Our futures are determined by the choices we make, so make the right ones.