Can being Grateful Hold You Back?
Can being grateful hurt your ambitions or ability to think big? Being grateful is a very a good thing. The Bible and every religious text will tell you to be grateful, your parents told you to be grateful, there are complete books about being grateful. Plus there is scientific evidence that being grateful is good for your mental and physical health. Here is a very good article at today.com: Be thankful science says gratitude good for your health.
Story of Gratitude Holding a Man Back
Hispanic Man Ignores Us
I was in a restaurant’s small pickup area for “to go”. There were two young servers, a Hispanic man about 40, and me. I was telling the two young women about my book, starting their own business and having a chance at being a millionaire. They listened intently and asked questions. One young lady was trying to start her own business and was very excited with my message. The Hispanic man was seated in the only chair in the cramped waiting area, with working clothes and rough hands. He ignored us. He had his head down and was writing what seemed to be a long text on his phone.
Wakes Up Angry
After a while and quite surprising to us all, he looked up and started talking a little aggressively and defensively. “Being a millionaire is not important. Working hard and being grateful for what you have and taking care of your family is what is important. I had $9,000 cash stolen out of my truck. I was going to the bank to make a deposit and just stopped for a second to run into the grocery store. When I came out and it was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I was very angry. Immediately, I called and told my father. He tried to calm me down and told me to relax. He said it is only money and I could make it back. But then he told me something that really changed how I look at life.”
His Father’s Advice
The man was in his forties, but he was quick to quote his father. My father told me, “Ninety-nine percent of people in the world will never even have $500, so be grateful for what you have.”
I don’t know where he got that, but many people are extremely poor, with 80% of the people in the world living on less than $10 a day by some reports. The Hispanic man at the restaurant went on to tell us that he owned a business and it was not easy. He said he started as a boy with nothing. His parents were poor and his dad supported his family with 6 kids by fixing motorcycles. He started by sweeping the floor of his Dad’s business. Now he has a business doing motorcycle repair and he’ll buy and resell a car occasionally.
He said that he is sure he has earned $1,000,000 or more, but the hard part is holding onto it. “ I don’t have much money,” he explained,” but I have a nice car and I care for my family. It is important to enjoy the money you have and get a few nice things.” He went on to say that he was very grateful for everything. He said everybody should stop being unhappy and wanting more. Everyone should be happy for what they have. Everyone should be grateful, and probably most people in the world don’t even have $300. He came down from most people never having $500 earlier.
It Was Not Open To Discussion
This was not a conversation at all. He had a firm point of view. This was a lecture, not open to interruption. The two young women glanced at me often and rolled their eyes while he talked. The both found an excuse and left as soon as they could. The Hispanic business owner never took a breath, he just kept going. It all felt very negative.
Our food finally came out, we both got our “to go” order and walked out together. He kept talking. I stopped for a minute to listen politely and finally I extended my hand and said, “It has been nice talking to you and I wish you lots of luck, but I really have to go.”
He abruptly stopped lecturing, shook my hand, and said, ”Thanks.” He walked to his big red pickup truck, I got in my car and that was that. But he had made an impression on me. I regretted not getting his name and contact information. If I had then I would like to have followed up and learned more.
What I think happened?
I think I unintentionally insulted this man who obviously was proud of what he had accomplished. He even mentioned he loved and respected his father, but it was hard for his father to care for his family. He told me he felt proud that he is a business owner and he knows his father is proud of him. He also told me, “I like to have nice stuff, like my new truck. And I have always provided for my family.”
This man must have had a profitable business, so he had a right to be proud. He also told me, “I don’t have $1,000,000 or anything close, but I work hard.” I had hit a nerve for sure.
What can be learned?
I didn’t have the time or energy to get into a meaningful discussion with this man. Plus he really didn’t seem like he wanted my opinion anyway. He didn’t seem open minded at all about this topic. Less than 4% of all business owners are millionaires.
This man seems like a classic example. I am sure he had no business plan; he told me that he learned the trade from his dad, and he stumbled into business. I tried to tell him about SCORE and the SBDC, but he barely paused to tell me he had never heard of them. But I don’t think he cared, he just ran over my conversation. He is paying his bills I suppose, but I think his idea of being grateful is either his reason for not trying to grow or an excuse. I honestly don’t know everything going on with this small business owner, but I’ll never forget this brief encounter.
Is Being Grateful an Excuse?
I don’t mean that a person shouldn’t be grateful for all the wonders that we have been blessed with in life. This includes being a human being in the world. But people should guard against being so grateful they are complacent. Complacency will definitely keep a person from trying to reach their full potential. Part of that potential, if a person wants it, is financial security.
Millionaires-80% Business Owners
If you take out the retirees, 80% of millionaire households are headed by a business owner. So if you are happy, and have no desire to have more money, that is fine. But if you would like to be a millionaire, just be grateful for what you have and also strive to reach your full potential. You can and should be grateful for everything, but just don’t let complacency kill your drive. You have a right to be everything you can be. I guarantee you can do more than you think you can do. Good luck!
Read the book:
Michael L.F. Slavin author of 7-time award-winning One Million in the Bank: How To Make $1,000,000 With Your Own Business, Even If You Have No Money Or Experience (on Amazon)
PS: If you like the book please write me a review on Amazon to help spread the word and he