When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The rich are different from you and me,” Ernest Hemingway supposedly responded sarcastically, “Yes, they have more money.”
But Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, might have been on to something. The rich may indeed be different from you and me in a critical aspect – how they think about money. Steve Siebold interviewed hundreds of millionaires for his book How Rich People Think, and identified six thought patterns that help separate the rich from you and me.
They set crazy high goals. Middle-class folks typically set their financial sights on making a decent living – having enough with a little cushion and the occasional luxury. Not rich folk. They set very aggressive goals, internalize those objectives and start looking for ways to achieve them.
They see no shortage of money. The wealthy have no problem using other people’s money to chase their own dreams. If a successful entrepreneur sees a good opportunity but lack the funds to pursue it, he simply finds someone who believes in the idea – and the entrepreneur – enough to pony up the necessary bucks.
They see money as a friend. Middle-class people tend to view money as kind of a drag. There’s never enough, no matter how hard they chase it. The rich, however, see money as an ally – something with the ability to make life easier and better. They enjoy their relationship with money.
They see making money as a game. No surprise, given the above. While they like what money brings them, they love the process of earning that money.
They are fearless. To achieve those crazy aggressive goals, you have to leave your comfort zone and learn to operate in a state of constant uncertainty. Successful entrepreneurs have the nerve to do exactly that. Without fear, anything and everything looks possible.
They see getting rich as natural. This might be the most important trait identified by Siebold’s research. Wealthy people believe they are supposed to be successful; that amassing wealth is the way of the world, at least for them. Conversely, many middle-class folks believe they can’t get rich; that they lack the tools to rise above their paycheck-to-paycheck lives.
As a financial planner, I’ve had the opportunity work with people at all different levels of income and wealth. Based on my experience, I have to agree with Siebold (and Fitzgerald), the rich are indeed different from you and me. They truly do see money and the world in a different light, with fewer self-imposed obstacles and limits on what they can achieve. We’re all wired differently. But I do believe we can all adopt at least some of these powerful mindsets, and thus change our financial lives.