An interesting thing happened last year. Our economic scale took a tilt in the wrong direction. SA now has more people on social grants than earning incomes. Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other people's money to spend. (video)
Is our thinking keeping us poor? The verse says, 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' If that's true, then believing yourself to be a poor person will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And believing yourself to be wealthy will work the same way.
I've been on both sides of the scale. I've experienced what it's like to have a local church deliver food baskets to my family, and I've experienced what it's like to take delivery of a new 5-series BMW. I recommend the latter. But I also firmly believe that the difference between wealth and poverty is not the presence or absence of coins. It's about mindset. And our national mindset needs to change. We need to stop creating dependency, and start creating entrepreneurs.
How successful is your current mindset? Here are five ways to think like a prosperous person this year:
Choose not to believe in recessions
2009 hits, and the world screams 'Recession!' People who heard these cries and took them to heart immediately began offering excuses for not acting in money-generating ways. They sang the same song until they believed it themselves: "No one's buying; there's too much competition; there's no money available." Their self-fulfilling prophecies came true, because they ceased to act in money-generating ways. Their attitude created their reality. Every step they took (or failed to take) confirmed their original premise.
Wealthy people do not believe, for one second, that there is not enough money to be had, and consequently, they practice money-generating behaviour regardless of the moods and vicissitudes of the world around them. They continue to see clients, sell products, do deals, carry out initiatives, make calls, move forward, and act and behave in ways that generate wealth, even as others throw up their hands and declare: "Times are tough."
Next time you feel that times are hard, go out onto the streets and count the Range Rovers. Then make the choice to change your beliefs.
Don't blame the jeans; own the bum
"The wash-machine shrank my jeans again." We've all done it - chosen to blame the jeans rather than own the expanding bum - but when we do it with our careers and financial lives, we surrender our God-given right to fight.
Jeans come in many shapes and sizes. So do the mental jeans we like to select and blame for the size of our problems: It's the economy; the old government; the new government; the state of the industry; the excellence of my competition; the area in which I live, etc, etc, etc.
Blaming the jeans doesn't help your situation. It merely burns up mental energy that you could have used on enterprising endeavours. You can spend the next thirty years blaming the jeans. And you can die in poverty. But why would you want to? Rather, choose to ruthlessly own the bum. Your success is down to you, not external scenarios. Until you take that idea to heart, you are unlikely to fight hard enough to move forward.
Don't fall for the Finite Pool Fallacy
A great many of us believe that one person having money means another must be poor. This is the Finite Pool Fallacy, which says that there is only so much money to go around. I don't believe it. I believe that money is a wellspring, which is constantly refreshed and regenerated through the growth of new businesses and by the rise of entrepreneurs.
Finite Pool thinking is dangerous. If we believe that there is only so much to go around, then the only way in which we will act to get money is to...? Yes, you guessed it! To take it from others. Our government thinks this way.
In places like Korea, economic empowerment goes like this: 'We need to grow our wealth, so let's create an automobile industry and take on Europe and America!'
In South Africa, economic empowerment goes like this: 'We need to grow our wealth, so let's take it away from those who have it.'
That's very small thinking. It's the 'less for everyone' approach. I believe in wealth creation. I believe in building, growing and generating, not simply taking away from those who have.
Let go of the pathological need for a job
We are still telling our children that they need to grow up and get a job. Job, job, job! We are pathologically hung up on jobs. It's like we're desperate to sell our energy to make someone else rich.
Firstly, you can't manufacture jobs falsely. If they don't exist, you can't create them out of thin air. And the worst thing we can do is to invent more token jobs in already bloated government departments. But I like to ask: why on earth would you want a job anyway? Why would you want to work incredibly hard to make someone else wealthy?
Publications like Forbes, and pretty much every book ever written on becoming truly wealthy, consistently point out that it's almost impossible to become wealthy through traditional employment.
Most people are happy to trade that possibility for what they perceive as security. But is that security real? I have a friend - a director - who often says, 'My security only extends to the next 25 working days and no further.' That's how quickly work-place contracts can be terminated. And he happens to work for a bank that recently laid off thousands of people, which proves his point.
So in essence, we trade the prospect of growing our own wealth for a form of stability that is largely an illusion.
We also argue, 'Well, someone has to do the work.' True. Let me put it to you this way: Someone has to be a street-sweeper. Do you want to be that person? You can. Or you can choose a mindset that will create prosperity for your family.
Focus on the top-line, not the bottom line
When we discuss sound financial behavior, for businesses or families, we tend to put the emphasis on the wrong thing. We tell people that goal number one is to save. And it's a good goal, but it's not the most important goal. This is a mindset of watching the bottom line. I believe it's more important to attend to the top-line: your income.
If you are not earning enough, no amount of saving will get you through. That's why I advocate using only an incidental amount of energy toward saving. The majority of your energy should go toward generating more. That means selling, or building, or doing deals, or raising your value through further study or promotion or positioning within your market. We need to put much more emphasis on increasing income than we do on limiting expenditure.
'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' That's the original verse. The modern interpretation is: 'If you think it, you will become it.'
So ask yourself, at this moment in your life: Is your thinking keeping you poor?
Douglas Kruger has won the SA Championships in both a sporting pursuit and an intellectual one. He is a three-time winner of the SA National Skateboarding Championships, and a five-time winner of the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking. He is also the author of three books. See him in action, or review his books and articles, at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Follow @DouglasKruger; email .
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