The Myth of Being Poor

Armstrong Williams

9/6/2011 2:20:00 PM - Armstrong Williams

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood minorities today is not racial or ethnic. In fact, the minority I'm referring to comes with people of every race, color, creed and religion - the wealthy. Make no mistake about it. Building wealth is one of the most difficult things someone can do, which is why so few people do it. How few?

Wealth estimates derived from 1998 Federal estate tax return data show that about 6.5 million individuals in the United States had gross assets of $625,000 or more and represented about 3.4 percent of the U.S. adult population. As a group, they owned more than $11.1 trillion in total assets or 32.6 percent of the total U.S. personal asset holdings. That's 3.4 percent of the population representing 32.6 percent of the country's wealth!

The wealthy are a true minority in the world and are often criticized and ridiculed for their success in spite of the fact that everyone, given the choice, would rather try it rich than continue being poor. I don't know where it originated, but the cliché "the poor get poorer and the rich get richer" has been in use for sometime, implying that the poor will never rise out of poverty. Is this true? Why do people stay mired in poverty while others can pass on generational wealth?

The first myth that keeps people poor—in my opinion—is the myth of easy money, or more appropriately, “get rich quick” (without effort). Lotteries, gambling, hot stock tips, music videos all fuel the myth that money comes easy. While it may be easy to make money, keeping it and building wealth is a whole different story. Industries are built around people's ignorance of building wealth. Like a miracle diet pill that lets you eat whatever you want without exercising, beware of wealth promised without effort. Why do people continue to go to these "quick fixes"? I believe one of the reasons is a victim mentality. In other words, there is a sense that wealth is something owed to them; that by their existence wealth and ease of living is guaranteed.

It is someone else's fault, or something someone did to them, or a past failure: that’s the reason why they don't have what they are entitled to in life. Another hindrance to building wealth is negative thinking. Constantly dwelling on why things won't work or why you're not deserving of success will sap anyone's confidence or motivation to perform.

Another hindrance to building wealth is living beyond your means. The simplest way to build wealth is to simply live below your means and govern your finances as if you're always in a recession. Save enough money so that you're spending last year's income instead of next year's income, and you can enjoy less stress financially.

If we look at the first cause of poverty, which is basically a want of wealth without effort—better known as a wish—we can correctly guess that the first step towards building wealth is desire.

Napoleon Hill describes this type of desire as a burning desire. What is that? Something you cannot live without. Something you would rather die trying to attain than to live without. Now that sounds intimidating doesn't it? The burning desire is what will sustain you and allow you to grow inside when you encounter failure after failure. The desire will cause you to examine yourself and ask, what could you do better, so that next time you encounter a similar situation, you will succeed?

In this process you'll realize that all success is built on failure, and that is the way you learn. When you fail, you'll be forced to plan out your next moves so that you can apply what you've learned. A burning desire prevents you from making excuses for your failures. You also realize that you don't want a handout. Your independence is vital, because if you are given $10 million and you lose it, you are left with nothing. But if you learn to make $10 million and you lose it, could you make it again? Of course.

So we realize that anyone can make a lot of money or build wealth but not everyone can multiply it. There are, however, some benefits of applying the principles of building wealth, even if one's goal is not to pursue making a lot of money.

I'd like to end with the story of an old widow who lived in Texas at the turn of the 19th century. She owned a 1000 acre farm that had been in her family for many years, and several times people had come by to search for oil, but with no luck. Then, in 1930, a geologist and oil prospector approached her and asked permission to search the land for oil by drilling wells, promising royalties for any finds. She said the property had already been searched and there was nothing to be found, but agreed to lease her land and allow some wells to be drilled. On the third attempt, oil pressure in the field below was so great it blew up the oil derrick, and the pair discovered the largest oil field in the world at that time. The widow became an instant millionaire. The question is, when was she rich? Her family had owned the farm for a long time, but she did not have money then. The answer is, she was always rich. She just needed the resources to tap into her wealth.

You are already rich. You were endowed this way by your creator. Use your resources and tap into the wealth that's waiting for you to unearth it.