Getting Rich Doesn't Have to Change Successful Entrepreneurs for the Worse
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The same story prevails in thousands of Hollywood films. A broke student turns an idea into a multi-million dollar business. They party hard, travel on private jets and live the life they always dreamed of.
Their wealth may have grown, but at what price? Relationships broken, vision blinded and their attitudes transformed into the people they once judged.
About 70 percent of people who receive sudden wealth lose it within a few years. Don McNay, a financial consultant to lottery winners said, “People commit suicide. People run through their money. Easy come, easy go. They go through divorce or people die.”
The truth is, money changes people.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with mass wealth, fancy cars, luxurious homes or indulging in fine foods, the attitudes that drive us can determine how we choose to lead our lives.
Warren Buffet lives in the same home he bought for $30,000. Sarah Michelle Gellar still clips coupons after years of practice with her mother. Coming from an impoverished family, Sarah Jessica Parker still dresses her children in hand-me-downs.
They practice life-long lessons and stay firmly rooted in their values despite high net worth.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Success is a journey, not a destination.
Bill Gate’s statement is perhaps the most profound. During a joint speaking engagement at University of Washington, Gates says (13:23 – 14:02):
“I think that the key point there is that you’ve got to enjoy what you do every day and for me, that’s working with very smart people, it’s working on new problems. And every time we think, ‘hey, we’ve had a little bit of success’, we’re pretty careful not to dwell on it too much because the bar gets raised.”
People’s expectations change and new problems arise. The moment you dwell on success, your journey takes a detour in an incomplete quest.
Related: 8 Habits of Wildly Successful People
Remember why you chose entrepreneurship.
We all have personal reasons for choosing entrepreneurship. It may have been your natural knack for business, your desire to help others or the inability to find an employer willing to give you a shot.
I chose it to spend more time with a family I didn’t have.
Now that I’m married with a child, I have admittedly let other goals and ambitions overtake the reason why I chose the greatest game of patience.
Before you know it, time has passed and the purpose of my entrepreneurial journey has disappeared into thin air.
When you reflect on the purpose behind working 18 hour days with no guarantee of a paycheck, remember why you chose your path. No one said entrepreneurship would be easy and if you’re in the first three years of business, then you know that easy doesn’t exist.
If you have time to watch eight hours of House of Cards, then you have time to live out why you chose your line of work.
Share your success. Don’t flaunt it.
Many of us come from humble beginnings where every penny counts. Others have billions of dollars they can use to benefit others.
In 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet recruited 139 wealthy individuals to donate the majority of their net worth to philanthropy. In total, $365 billion was pledged by names like Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk.
But sharing doesn’t have to be in the form of monetary donations and pledges.
Whichever area you have built success, share it with others who can benefit from your experience.
Many entrepreneurs and celebrities have amassed great wealth. While the reasons for humble lifestyle choices may differ, possessing deep roots in your values, beliefs and identity will prevent pitfalls that may sway you from your journey to success.
Life as an entrepreneur is a valiant vocational choice and building wealth through it is a goal worth pursuing. But once you reach your goals, then what?
Remember who you are, why you began your journey and pay it forward for the benefit of others.