CHARACTER, DRIVE AND POVERTY

#character
To paraphrase an old adage: give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
We’ve developed a culture in which the poor receive aid without conditions. We believe that they are poor because of bad luck or circumstances, or because their parents or other family was poor.
We, as a society, believe some are poor because they are lazy, resentful or don’t have the skills to hold a job. The poor believe they are poor because they have been discriminated against, treated badly by employers or, they believe the government somehow owes them.
How we would love to change the thought process of poverty. On Aug. 4, 2014, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran two columns – one by the New York Times’ David Brooks, and the other by engineer and former Atlanta Falcon William White – that discussed the thought process of the poor.
Brooks talked about character development among the poor. He quotes Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution as saying that both progressive and conservative orthodoxies in dealing with poverty do so in the abstract. He believes the orthodoxies view the poor as a species of “hollow man,” whose destiny is shaped by economic structures alone.
White, on the other hand, grew up poor in Lima, Ohio. His father worked in a foundry, in which the only air-conditioned place was the engineer’s office. He was determined to succeed in school and become an engineer. As it happened, he also had a successful 11-year career in the National Football League, after graduating with an engineering degree from The Ohio State University.
What both Brooks and White are saying is that circumstances shouldn’t define a person. They also say that fewer people would be in dire circumstances if they just had the belief that they could get out of them.
We, as a society, can’t want success for anyone more than he wants it for himself, as White has shown. We hate to see anyone live in poverty, but we can’t give anyone the desire to get out. If you have the desire to get out, you WILL get out. You will fight through your circumstances and become successful.
Brooks says we should teach people in dire circumstances several things to help them out of their own situations. First, we teach good habits. If you change behavior, you will change disposition eventually, Brooks writes. He cites many government programs that help poor parents and students to observe basic etiquette and practice small, but regular, acts of self-restraint.
Then, we have to show them opportunity. Most of us, Brooks writes, can only deny short-term pleasures because we see the path between self-denial now and something better down the road.
Third, exemplars. Character is not developed individually. It is instilled by communities and transmitted by elders, Brooks writes. That brings to mind another adage: if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.
Fourth, standards. People can only practice restraint after they determine the sort of person they want to be, Brooks writes.
In other words, give people something to shoot for, instill in them the belief that they can get it and show them what they need to do to get it.
If your circumstances aren’t what you want them to be, there are many vehicles out there that could help the person who wants to change his life, and has a vision of what he wants his life to be. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
So if you don’t like your circumstances, don’t wallow and blame. Dream that life can be better, believe that YOU can make it better, then step up and do what you need to do.
Peter

CHARACTER, DRIVE AND POVERTY

To paraphrase an old adage: give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
We’ve developed a culture in which the poor receive aid without conditions. We believe that they are poor because of bad luck or circumstances, or because their parents or other family was poor.
We, as a society, believe some are poor because they are lazy, resentful or don’t have the skills to hold a job. The poor believe they are poor because they have been discriminated against, treated badly by employers or, they believe the government somehow owes them.
How we would love to change the thought process of poverty. On Aug. 4, 2014, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran two columns – one by the New York Times’ David Brooks, and the other by engineer and former Atlanta Falcon William White – that discussed the thought process of the poor.
Brooks talked about character development among the poor. He quotes Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution as saying that both progressive and conservative orthodoxies in dealing with poverty do so in the abstract. He believes the orthodoxies view the poor as a species of “hollow man” whose destiny is shaped by economic structures alone.
White, on the other hand, grew up poor in Lima, Ohio. His father worked in a foundry, in which the only air-conditioned place was the engineer’s office. He was determined to succeed in school and become an engineer. As it happened, he also had a successful 11-year career in the National Football League, after graduating with an engineering degree from The Ohio State University.
What both Brooks and White are saying is that circumstances shouldn’t define a person. They also say that fewer people would be in dire circumstances if they just had the belief that they could get out of them.
We, as a society, can’t want success for anyone more than he wants it for himself, as White has shown. We hate to see anyone live in poverty, but we can’t give anyone the desire to get out. If you have the desire to get out, you WILL get out. You will fight through your circumstances and become successful.
Brooks says we should teach people in dire circumstances several things to help them out of their own situations. First, we teach good habits. If you change behavior, you will change disposition eventually, Brooks writes. He cites many government programs that help poor parents and students to observe basic etiquette and practice small, but regular, acts of self-restraint.
Then, we have to show them opportunity. Most of us, Brooks writes, can only deny short-term pleasures because we see the path between self-denial now and something better down the road.
Third, exemplars. Character is not developed individually. It is instilled by communities and transmitted by elders, Brooks writes. That brings to mind another adage: if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.
Fourth, standards. People can only practice restraint after they determine the sort of person they want to be, Brooks writes.
In other words, give people something to shoot for, instill in them the belief that they can get it and show them what they need to do to get it.
If your circumstances aren’t what you want them to be, there are many vehicles out there that could help the person who wants to change his life, and has a vision of what he wants his life to be. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
So if you don’t like your circumstances, don’t wallow and blame. Dream that life can be better, believe that YOU can make it better, then step up and do what you need to do.
Peter

HOW TO THINK ABOUT MONEY: PART 1

If you had all the money in the world, how would you feel?
There are all kinds of answers, and there are many books out there that try to teach us how to think about money.
Steve Siebold has written one called, “How Rich People Think.” It teaches, much the way Napoleon Hill teaches in “Think and Grow Rich,” or Robert Kiyosaki in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” that we have to look at how we think before we can get rich.
Sure, you can inherit a bunch of money from your late great aunt, or you can win a big lottery jackpot. But, chances are, if you have what Siebold calls “middle class thoughts” about money, you probably won’t have your fortune for very long.
Most of us have been taught that hard work, a good education and keeping your nose to the grindstone for, say, 40 years will help you retire comfortably.
But if you think like a rich person, you are not thinking about having enough money to retire, as Siebold writes. You are thinking about having enough money to make an impact on the world.
In other words, to be rich, you have to think of solutions to problems, and invent them.
Most of us were taught that if we had a job, or something else that was paying us, we had to worry about holding onto it. Rich people will try things, fail numerous times, and try something else. They don’t fear failure or loss. In fact, they don’t fear much of anything. Even if they lose their fortunes, they know they will find a way to make them back.
That may be why it’s difficult to really punish white-collar criminals. They used their genius for evil, and most of us would like nothing more than to see them lose everything. Even if they lost everything, they would find a way to make it back – hopefully in an ethical, law-abiding way this time.
Yes, we all would like to have a lot of money. Some of us believe it is not possible for us to get a lot of money. It’s possible for anyone to get a lot of money, just by thinking the right thoughts. You don’t think about who would give it to you. You think about how you can come up with the idea that people will pay you for.
Then, you think about how you can use and grow that money. As Siebold writes, middle-class people think about how to spend money. Rich people think about how to invest money.
Most of us have been taught to get a good education – get through high school, go to college, get a degree in something that will get you a good job. Rich people, Siebold says, don’t think of education in terms of degrees. They think of education as learning anything that will make them money. Some of the richest people in the world have relatively little formal education. They’ve just thought about ways to make money, learned what they needed to pull it off and gotten rich.
Do you think like a rich person? Do you think like a middle-class person? Do you think of making money via a job, or making money via an idea? Once you get money, do you think more of ways to spend it, or more of ways to invest it?
As you ponder these questions, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You will see how some ordinary, middle-class folks got wealthy, and how you could do the same. The only difference between them and you is how they think. It’s difficult to become rich, until you first learn to think like a rich person.
Give it a shot. Think what you would do to make a lot of money, and to not just preserve it, but use it to help others. Don’t be jealous or envious of the rich. If you feel that way, remember the best way you can help the poor is not to be one of them.
Peter