Wealth without Risk
Promises too good to be true
The thought of getting everything we want titillates the senses—all our dreams come true. Advertisers know we respond to these messages, they quietly whisper and then reel us in. When we hear grand promises—wealth beyond our wildest dreams; power to command thousands; and, of course, the perfect relationship—we can’t help but investigate. “Yea, I want that.”
A few years ago, I received a letter promising all these gifts. The letter pronounced, they selected me to join their elite secret organization. The organization was an ancient organization catering to the rich and powerful. Leaders, innovators, and the wealthy belonged to this exclusive group and now they wanted me. Because of the sensitive nature of the group, they were unable to provide names but guaranteed I would know most of the past and current members. I, they proclaimed, was exactly who they desired to carry on the magnificent traditions.
I was entertained and flattered but tossed the letter. Chance of a life time—gone.
I chased a few dreams in my younger years. Along with the grey hairs, I also have gathered wisdom. I skeptically examine wild promises and with a little prudence pass on most. My impulsive past, chasing easy money has permanently placed me on a few sucker lists. The chance for securing millions sparkles drawing attention from the bland promises of working hard, budgeting, and saving for the future. Outlandish promises attract; by the sweat of your brow, doesn’t. Instead of the puritan work ethic, we seek the easy dollar, the easy relationship and the easy life. We are not too far removed from agricultural societies, where survival required hard work. My father was raised on a dairy farm. He worked several hours before breakfast; and then off to school. He instilled the work ethic in his children. Survival (shelter, food, transportation) requires work—some enjoyable and some necessary.
Is the promise of ease, this secret, really a secret or is it a hoax? Our human inheritance always demanded work—except for a few nobles living off the blood sweat and tears of the majority. This dream of a life of ease, where money quickly fills our coffers, often is no more than an attractive scheme to rob the tired, underprivileged, and gullible of their hard earned money.
Overwhelmed and tired, we need positive messages nurturing hope. Beaten down long enough, we give up, lying helpless even when an avenue of escape is available. In despair, we need messages of hope. We must grasp the “yes I can” attitude; or we won’t even bother to try. If we lack hope, we won’t have sufficient confidence to succeed. We just keep doing what we have been doing. But believing in our ability isn’t sufficient. Believing you’re the fastest gun in town, and being wrong, get’s you dead. We also need skills.
The universe doesn’t give a darn what we believe; it is our motivations that are either heightened or hindered by beliefs. Success culminates from varying blends of beliefs, opportunity, effort and skills—and timing.
Complexity—because of ambiguity—isn’t attractive; the tempting promises, on the other hand, attract the weary. The poor overwhelmingly support government lotteries. “You never know,” marketers casually encourage, “unless you try.” But this advice, with disdain for caution, suggests we ignore warning signs, neglect due diligence, closing our eyes to shoot into the night, hoping to hit an unseen target. Success requires restraint and caution; a path seldom intriguing enough to provide the drama of the big screen. We hear numerous success stories of those who took tremendous risk and were rewarded; but rarely hear about the millions who squandered precious money investing in failing ventures.
A few miles from here, a person bought the winning lotto ticket. “What are they going to do with that money?” The California State Lotto jingle playing—Dream a little dream! The win inspired a media frenzy, interview of the gas station patrons, owner, and the clerk. But along with the hype, not a single mention of the millions of losing tickets sold. I have a few close friends who continually fight financial demons; but they are the ones who always have a few lottery tickets in their wallet, waiting for the big one. Unfortunately, too many consumers purchased more than they can afford with hopes of striking it rich. The lottery—a single example—prays on the get rich mindset. The mindset isn’t limited to organized-gambling. The mindset pushes many into fruitless endeavors, while simultaneously ignoring proven paths to financial stability.
Success requires balance. We must take risks; but those risks must be measured. We move forward with hope, wisdom and courage. When faced with life changing choices, we must carefully investigate. Speak with others, check the promises, and make informed decisions, transcending simple internally driven desires. We can’t afford to squander precious resources on unsubstantiated hopes.
When mesmerized by a dream of riches, we jump at the flimsy promises of faulty schemes without prudent skepticism. We enjoy our dreams, holding the ticket of lucky numbers provides a momentary escape from the reality of work. But the momentary excitement of the dream fades when the pot of gold is missing. Many take the-lottery-ticket-approach to their futures. We still should invest in dreams; but do so in wisdom, continuing to invest in time honored principles of success. When our lucky numbers fail, our careful prudent living continues to pay dividends to overall well-being, providing hope in a very attainable future. Most profitable ventures require consistent time, funds, skills, and effort. But sacrifice and dreams aren’t guarantees of success. Some ventures continually scrape away our money; bottomless pits of empty promises; no matter how much energy, money and positive energy we invest, they fail—not because of lack of vision, or negative focus but because the idea is unworkable.
Slow down! Build character through prudence first. Build skills expanding your overall knowledge, improving critical thinking, and fine tuning self-discipline. As we gather skills, knowledge and relationships, our wider base creates opportunities, blessing the future. Be courageous to take occasional risks, following opportunities but wise enough to recognize blind promises, designed to snare the greedy.
Great risk doesn’t guarantee a great reward; inherent in a risk is potential for loss. Fantastic presentation of risk free opportunities abound, marketing products that promise what we desire, not necessarily the products that achieve what we desire—a subtle but sometimes devastating difference. Move courageously forward in prudence, coupled with hard work and success will be yours. This advice doesn’t sparkle, leaping to our inner hopes of immediate riches; but slow and steady progress diminishes a need for a lottery ticket bail out. I have let go of waiting for the big one, forgiving myself for lost years chasing unobtainable dreams. I now enjoy the pleasure of a slow and steady path to a modest but relaxing retirement.