Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
As you sit there in meetings, on planes, and in fine airport bathrooms, wondering why you’re not yet truly wealthy, what reasons do you give yourself?
Do you tell yourself that you occasionally allow negative thoughts to invade you? Do you think that’s the reason why millions of dollars haven’t flown your way?
I don’t want to be negative, but that may not be the case. There’s quite some evidence that being negative is a terribly positive trait in the most successful. So do you worry that you don’t have enough drive, enough aggression, enough Trump-like joie-de-vivre in order to climb the highest piles of money?
I don’t think it’s that either.
Do you imagine that you haven’t sucked up enough to the right network? Do you worry that you weren’t born with enough money already on a plate (also a touch Trump-like)?
I fear it may be none of these things. I fear, instead, that you are prone to a mindset that the fabulously wealthy don’t allow themselves.
I have, you see, just had the work of Steve Siebold thrust before me. He’s the author of “How the Rich Think.”
To me, this is an odd title for a book. I know quite a few very wealthy people who last thought something around 2004.
Still, Siebold--a wealthy man himself--studied 1,200 of the more-than-comfortably off and noticed something that he thinks they all had in common.
They resisted nostalgia.
Not for them dreamy thoughts of when life was a delight, as they frolicked through sunflower-filled fields, clutching a strawberry ice-cream and holding the hand of a loved one.
Not for them the notion that their college days were a time of heady freedom, where each day brimmed with more excitement, more hope and more upfliting substances bought from a hairy man on a street corner than the last.
Instead, the really rich always believe that tomorrow will be better than today and that The Day After Tomorrow wasn’t a climate change disaster movie, but rather a forward-looking movie about our glorious future life in space.
It’s a terrible, self-defeating temptation, Siebold says, to believe that your best days are behind you. Instead: “Self-made millionaires get rich because they’re willing to bet on themselves and project their dreams, goals, and ideas into an unknown future.”
The past, he says, is only there for them to learn from.
The really rich are also masochists. No, not like that. Although, I’m sure one or two are exactly like that.
In this case, they’re masochists because they believe in the future so much that they know it comes with some pain. Pain, indeed, is something they’re very comfortable with.
For them, suffering isn’t about atonement as it is, say, in The DaVinci Code. For the truly money-laden, the pain of uncertainty is a comfort zone.
Where nostalgia might allow them to look back and place pink tints on the past, they prefer to imagine blue skies in some fantastical future that it’ll hurt to get to.
“The great ones know there’s a price to pay for getting rich, but if they have the mental toughness to endure temporary pain, they can reap the harvest of abundant wealth for the rest of their lives,” Siebold says.
Ah, but can they?
There they’ll be, reaping the harvest of abundant wealth and, suddenly disarmed and human, they’ll come over all nostalgic for pain and uncertainty.
Before they know it, they’ve cast another wild money-making idea into the future, with the fulsome hope that it’ll make them suffer a little before it makes them even more fantastically, obscenely wealthy.
Then they’ll go back to reaping.
Soon, the past will grab them again. It never, ever finally lets go. Just ask Freud.