You Only Think You Want to Be Rich
If you’re not prepared, you’ll lose everything. Money is the least of it.
“Treasure what you have, not what you don’t.” — Dad
I’ve always wanted to be wealthy, but I never looked at wealth as an end goal. I looked at doing good work, and raising brows with my writing. I wanted to make a difference and leave the world a better place than the one I entered.
To meet my ambitions, I realized early I needed to be unconventional in my thinking, and nimble in my perspective.
Let me share three lessons on the power of a nimble perspective, also known as “thinking outside the box”:
A stay-at-home husband spends hours preparing a fine dinner for his wife. She works hard, and after a particularly long day he wants her to enjoy a nice meal. She comes home, the baby is sleeping … it’s the perfect scene. He has made her favorite meal and done so with extra care. The wine has been poured. Everything is set. She sits, and begins eating. “Oh, this is exactly what I needed today!” she exults. “This is the delicious. It’s the best meal you ever made! Thank you!” Her husband, in response, is now very upset. Why? His response: “What, my other meals weren’t any good?”
Two girls were born to the same mother, on the same day, at the same time, in the same month and year and yet they’re not twins. How? They are two of a set of triplets.
Poor people have it. Rich people need it. It can make you or break you. Answer: Adversity.
We’ve all heard about the downfall of lottery winners who were not prepared for their windfalls. See here for a reminder:
I personally have several high-profile friends who have become inordinately wealthy very fast, and they all agree money does not buy happiness. With a bigger bank account comes bigger bills and additional responsibilities, they tell me. Or, and this is perhaps the most commonly shared admission, they find it nearly impossible to trust anyone. “Everyone wants something,” I hear over and over.
One of those friends is a shut-in, a prominent filmmaker who only leaves home when he works. His first film was a big hit, and he hasn’t been able to relax since. “I have no privacy anymore,” he laments. “I didn’t buy into this.”
Sharing all of the above is not to agree that money is the root of all evil — not at all, as you will find innumerable examples of wealthy individuals who are wholly content and happy with their lot — but to stress that if you truly strive for wealth, preparation is more important than attainment.
The Other Side
Working in the film and TV businesses as I do, I speak to any number of creatives who have “made it” gradually, who have reached the dream and earned their way to multi-millions of dollars after years of work.
Many of them are very happy. They paid their dues and did what they could to make it in a tough industry. The riches followed, and have become convenient.
“It sure beats the alternative,” is a familiar refrain.
They deal with the same issues as those who have difficulty managing their status. Trust issues are prevalent. “Everyone asks to borrow money,” is a shared sentiment.
Because many of these people spent a long time being unable to meet their bills, or dealing with foreclosure or worse, they once wrote off being rich as an impossibility. Their focus, they’ve explained, was more on career than money.
They focused on their passion and the money followed, in other words.
Too Much is Never Enough
Donald Trump, Mike Tyson, 50 Cent, Kim Basinger, Larry King, Marvin Gaye, Tom Petty, Gary Coleman, Toni Braxton, Sinbad, Mark Twain, Aaron Carter, MC Hammer, Isaac Hayes, Walt Disney, Willie Nelson, Stan Lee (Stan Lee Media), Jerry Lee Lewis, Burt Reynolds, Elton John, Gary Busey, Dionne Warwick, La Toya Jackson, Debbie Reynolds, and other celebrities have filed for bankruptcy over the years.
The reasons varied. Some over-spended like unprepared lottery winners. Some made bad investments. Some were sued … some suffered expensive divorces.
Money can be temporary, is the lesson here.
On the other side, public figures like Floyd Mayweather and Justin Bieber have earned and grew their money from an early age. How many sycophants, however, do you think tell them “yes” on a daily basis? How many tell them “no?” This has been a whole other cross to bear, one that is not typically covered in the press. Several years ago, I briefly worked with Floyd on a proposed reality project. An associate of his, who was also involved in the project, told me, “He’s done everything already. There’s no challenge anymore.”
The project did not move forward.
Wealth and the Unprepared Couple
If divorce is costly to begin with, Hollywood divorces are insanely expensive. But how many of us are in a “Hollywood business” and insanely wealthy? Not many (the former for me).
Still, on a general basis, wealth has been equated to a higher marriage dissolution rate. This explains, in part, why so many high-profile marriages end in divorce.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for either attaining or managing wealth. What I’ve attempted to do with this piece is to open some eyes as to the importance of preparation. Likely, some of you reading this will become quite financially successful.
In that event, I hope some of these words have resonated, and you do not take your wealth for granted.
Thank you, as ever, for reading.
“Work for your lot and strive for your goals, but never forget the value of life itself. It goes far, far too fast.” — Dad
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