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97 Helpless, clever, enlightened – which are you?

Just like you

A woman approached a stranger in a narrow hallway. Just as she swerved right the oncoming woman swerved left. They simultaneously switched directions, putting them again on a collision course. The teller of this tale spontaneously blurted out “I wonder how Emily Post would feel in a situation like this,” whereupon the stranger replied, “She would feel exactly as you do. I know because I’m Emily Post.”

Sometimes in this blog we have a zig-or-zag dance where neither of us knows quite where the other party is going. When that happens, I feel exactly as you do. Even though I am the writer here, we are equals as we try to navigate politely. I welcome the tough questions and value your answers. The comment field remains open and respectful.

The familiar

Her parents worried when a little Jewish girl repeatedly buried her doll in the back yard. A large spoon was her other toy. They wondered why she didn’t play some other game with her doll. Then they realized that she was playing out what she experienced of the ghetto. She hadn’t gone to sporting events at a stadium. She lived without television and action figures. Conversations were at home. Her most frequent gathering with other people was at funerals. Her play was what she knew.

The other end of the wealth spectrum has the same story. People who have grown up looking at portfolios, profit-loss statements, and GDP play with those toys. They realize they are playing a game, the only one they know. They are as awkward on my modest turf as I would be on their financial cushion.

Success coaches teach us about the internal financial thermostat. Lottery winners suddenly burdened with a fortune continue to manage assets as they always have. That brings them right back to their familiar level. Not realizing the opportunities that have opened to them, they play out their self-limiting beliefs.

Self-limiting abundance

The overly wealthy do not realize what they can do without money. Lack of vision contributes to their misuse of the plenty they have. If they solve problems by throwing money at them, they fail to develop the creativity of those who must make the most of every asset. A rich man who does not look at the price in a restaurant might not realize that he could instead build a hospital. Lack of that awareness is the wealthy man’s self-limiting belief.

Unlimited thinkers aim their efforts at solving problems, not purposeless accumulation of wealth. Article 96 taught that business is people. Skill is knowing what people need as well as knowing how to fulfill those needs. Limiting our vision is to limit our achievements.


One ignorance is illustrated by the “helpless” spouse who claimed in the divorce proceedings “I can’t live on $20,000 per month.” That is as self-limiting as the “thinking poor” that keeps lottery winners from constructively applying their funds.

Another ignorance is illustrated by the corporate executive who published a paper explaining how to survive on minimum wage. He would have been much more convincing if he had demonstrated his point by experiencing it—and no fair using the company phone for personal calls. Someone from either extreme is paralyzed if thrust into the opposite situation. Rich or poor, people are limited by unawareness of what they have not experienced. We have disparity because we are clueless.


We return to the theme of the prior two articles. People are out of touch when they lack understanding. “Filthy rich” and “not knowing what to do with all that money” are labels for a mental condition. Those affected do not maliciously wish harm on others. They simply lack vision of what constitutes abundance and its function. Disconnected from the common world, they do not realize their own power to change reality. It is a helpless feeling, a self-limiting belief, to be stuck in either poverty or wealth with no path out.

On the other hand, many wealthy people have humble beginnings. They manage well because frugality was necessary. They do not condition people to remain poor. Instead they spread their experience to help others prosper. They can communicate with the masses using a common language of determination. They have the ability and the generosity to share.


Joyful sharing is within the reach of anyone. It opens fresh perspective that explores new methods and possibilities. Lack of imagination is curable articles 59 and 71).

We do not reject any idea out of hand—it might be useful somewhere. It is all too common for us to condemn an idea because of what it is called. Name-calling and branding are harmful attacks. Applying understanding, we will not assume someone is wrong who has merely chosen a clumsy expression. The list in article 95 names further ingredients to be understood. Rich or poor, we have much to study before declaring our public interest goal.

We can expect some failures (success precursors, according to
article 63). We will not be unanimous. Disagreement is not necessarily competition; it can be comparison. We are trying out which idea works better, and we cut each other some slack.

We will give credit generously and not demand recognition.
Building successful people relationships is as essential as any other ingredient. It uses steppingstones and avoids pitfalls.


Today’s article primarily concentrates on those who do not realize they have the power to build the school or hospital. Right thinking begins to remove that self-limiting belief.

For good reason, our country does not compel our charitable deeds. A homogeneous, usually smaller, group can reach agreement flexibly, while a larger, widely diverse group has a smaller footprint of unanimity.

Therefore, I address the disparate audience, particularly those who do not appreciate their own strength. We hope gridlock will not cripple our government forever, but it is unlikely that the entire country will settle on one monolithic safety net that will equalize our possessions. In fact, we do not even want to be completely alike. Let us merely meet Humans’ Needs.

This does not excuse you from building the school and the hospital. You choose to own the good that you can do—preferably not alone. Here is the key: what counts more than money is vision. If you do not have copious resources, you can point the way forward for a group. It is socially advantageous to have progress come from more than one person. You are the visionary, the starter.

You collect friends who share your ideals and make a start. High quality planning and coalition building generate the funding that follows the vision. A few people could build a hospital alone, but they do well to challenge the community for participation so the hospital will be appreciated. Starting the vision is the primary requirement, to be followed by managerial skill. When that resonates, the project will follow.

I ask you to begin something. Before or after that, bring somebody with you.

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