Monday, October 5, 2015
To what extent are thoughts and decisions dependent on the past?
The question in the title is easy to answer: all our thoughts and decisions are dependent on the past! Otherwise they would be totally random. But here is the real issue of the question: how often are we limited by our past in ways that we should not be? Has "wisdom" passed down from parents limited us unnecessarily or might it even be just wrong? Have our experiences in the passed created limitations that are harmful?
What and how much do we need to unlearn in order to function more effectively? And is the focus on the past a distraction? Perhaps the more appropriate focus is simply on our beliefs and actions with little regard to where they came from.
The question came up in a book I recently read about getting rich. The author maintained that many of us have opinions about being rich that subconciously hold us back. Do you feel that being rich is unfair to those who aren't rich? Or does the prospect of getting rich somehow divert you from making important contributions?
It certainly can. I saw many examples of that during the dot com bubble in the late 1990s. Startup companies, particularly in times of an investment bubble, often put together a good story rather than put together a good product or a good business. A company with a good story can often sell for millions or billions of dollars. As evidence look at the many dot com billionaires whose businesses no longer exist. The reality didn't match the story. Many if not most of the investors who created these stories that would never come true knew exactly what they were doing.
For many of the dot com billionaires, the lure of wealth did lead them to run a sort of legal scam on their buyers. They typically don't admit that that's what they did. They excuse themselves by saying that the buyers paid high prices because they (the buyers) thought they would be able to profit from the transaction. And many companies did go on to provide valuable and profitable goods and services.
To get back to our question...some people do get rich through deception and other unethical means. Should we then fear or avoid getting rich? Certainly not! Many people have gotten rich by delivering on their promises. Steve Jobs and many others around Apple got rich by providing people with products that they seem to love. Bill Gates and many others at Microsoft have gotten rich by providing products that people want (even if they may not love them.) Many people have gotten rich from the Google products that millions of people use every day.
Getting rich is neutral. One can get rich and be a hero or get rich and be a crook. Getting rich doesn't automatically make you one or the other.
How were you beought up to think about being rich? Are the rich heroes? Or do you believe that behind every great fortune is a great crime? My guess is that most people are biased toward one or the other of those two extreme views. Fewer think of wealth as morally or ethically neutral.
Whichever opinion you hold of getting rich, is it affecting what you do and your ability to create a fortune?
Ask yourself how you feel about the question of being rich? I imagine that you think of being healthy as purely a good thing. Is being rich similarly a purely good thing? If not, why not? Is your opinion holding you back from being rich?
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