That’s Life – Play the cards well

By: Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC                              Date Published: November 16, 2023

Note from the author: If you don’t read the article, at least consider viewing the video at the end of the article. It may teach you some things you need to know.

Dear Reader;

I’ve often wondered why Life is different for so many people. I mean after all people say we were created in God’s image. Our own documents in the United States say that all men (and that includes the female gender) were created equal. If that is the case, why are we not equal now? And what is all this talk about Equity and Equality?

Why is it that some of seem to make “gold” out of everything they touch while others seem to be just one paycheck from poverty – or worse? Why are some so healthy and live very long lives while other get sick often or even die at a very early age? Why do some of us go out of our way to help other’s while some go out of their way to harm other’s? Why do some “thrive” on education while others “despise” education?

The Declaration of Independence:

Thomas Jefferson wrote these words many, many years ago …

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Why is it that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness is so hard for some people and seemingly so easy for other people?

While the Declaration of Independence is not a legally binding document, it has had a profound impact on American history and culture. It has been used to justify the abolition of slavery, the expansion of women’s rights, and the civil rights movement. The phrase “all men are created equal” continues to be a powerful symbol of the American ideal of equality.

But if it is true that ALL men were created equal … then why don’t ALL men have it equal today?

Why does some seem to have it all when it comes to finances and others barely seem to make ends meet – or worse – are living on the streets?

There is a complex interplay of factors that contribute to the wide disparity in income levels and wealth levels among individuals. While there is no single answer that can fully explain this phenomenon, a combination of individual choices, societal factors, and structural inequalities plays a significant role.

Let’s start looking at these backwards from the last one mentioned …

Structural Inequalities:

Discrimination Bias –

Discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, or other factors can limit access to education, employment opportunities, and fair wages. Systemic biases in hiring practices, pay scales, and promotions can perpetuate income disparities and hinder upward mobility.

It is sad when we live in a country with so many opportunities, and have people that are discriminatory when it comes to people with differences as compared to theirs. It is also sad that many of the people that feel discriminated against learn to live in what I call a “state of victimhood” and refuse to fight their way out of it.

In today’s world when you call a person a name, they feel offended or bullied. Back when I was a child name calling was part of the game we played and no one felt offended or bullied by it … or if they did, they certainly did not let it show. Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I think we have too many psychologists and sociologists telling us we are supposed to feel offended or bullied so we do.

Labor Market Conditions and Wage Inequality:

The overall structure of the labor market, including the demand for certain skills and occupations, can significantly impact earning potential. Some industries and professions are inherently higher-paying, while others offer lower wages and fewer opportunities for advancement.

Personally, in my opinion, I see nothing wrong here. I mean let’s face it … some jobs are worth greater than other jobs. Take the airline industry as an example. Should the aircraft mechanic make less than the baggage handler … or on the other side … should the aircraft mechanic make the same or greater than the aircraft pilot. Job levels should demand different pay. That’s why we have some occupations that pay more than others … so there is no Duh here!

That’s kind of like paying a cook at McDonalds (or a cashier) $15 per hour rather than minimum wage set by the government or the state. If they want a $15 per hour job, they should get the education and skills that would demand $15 per hour or more and get out of the jobs paying less because the skills and education demand less. If they want a job paying $45 per hour …then go get the skills and education that will allow that. Don’t blame others because you are not getting paid what you think you are worth. As I used to tell my employees … you are paid exactly what you are worth. If you are not, you are either in the wrong line of work or in the wrong location.

Think of a bottle of water (since many drinks bottled water nowadays):

At the store, it my cost you $1.00. At the Gas Station, it may cost you $2.00. At the golf course, it may cost you $4.00 and at a fine dining establishment it may cost you $8.00. The water and the bottle are the same. The only thing that changed is the location. It could be the same with individuals who are working a job they like but may not be getting paid what they think they are worth.

Inheritance and Wealth Transfer:

The accumulation of wealth through inheritance can create generational advantages, perpetuating income inequality (if there is really such a thing). Individuals who inherit significant wealth may have access to better education, investment opportunities, and social networks, further widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

While this may be true, as human beings with knowledge we must remember that somewhere along the line someone in the family tree worked hard to build up that wealth and income stream. When they die, they can’t take it with them so they leave it to those that follow them in life. What is so wrong with that. Is it really necessary for a wealthy person to leave all their wealth to charities or to split in among the people who don’t have it rather than their own loved ones.

Now if they choose to do that (and some have) … it should solely be their choice and if they choose to leave it to their relatives, the rest of us should not have a problem with it. Trust me, if the relatives that receive it have not been trained on how to maintain and multiply it … they, too, will not have it long.

I once had a very rich friend in school. Well, he was not rich but his dad sure was. I have no idea how much his dad had in terms of wealth but I do know he got a new Cadillac every year, lived in a big fancy mansion and took some wonderful international vacations. I lived on the southside of Chicago and they lived in a southern suburb of Chicago. I once heard his dad tell another man, “I could give everything I own to people on the southside of Chicago and within about one year I’d have it all back again.”

That seemed to me to be a raunchy statement to make … but what did it mean? It simply meant that some people know how to “attract wealth” and others simply know how to lose wealth. It has been estimated that between 70% and 90% of lottery winners eventually go broke within a few years of winning their jackpot, regardless of how many millions of dollars it is. To attract wealth, one must know how to build and maintain it. Winning the lottery is not building and maintaining wealth. It is getting super lucky.

Someday I may write about attracting wealth but for now let’s look at the next area that blocks income and wealth accumulation for some …

Societal Factors:

Access to Education and Opportunities:

The availability and quality of education can vary significantly across different regions, socioeconomic classes, and cultural groups. Socioeconomic disparities often limit access to quality education, perpetuating a cycle of lower wages and limited opportunities.

Now this may be true if one equates a quality education to a piece of paper from a college or university that specifies, they have majored in one area or another. If this is the case than one should blame the college and universities of America and not anything else. More could get into college (if they feel that is what is needed) if the colleges did not hoard donor money and would reduce their tuitions to zero for those in need.

But I am not certain a college degree really does matter now (or it should not). Like Sylvester Stallone says as Dwight Manfredi on “Tulsa King” …

“Do you think anyone really gives a (expletive) about what your major is, English Literature, Biology, whatever. The whole point of a college degree is to show a potential employer that you showed up someplace 4 years in a row, completed a series of tasks reasonably well and on time; so, if he hires you, there’s a semi decent chance that you’ll show up there every day and not (expletive) his business up.”

That is about the value of a college degree for most jobs today. Grant it … you’re not going to become a lawyer or doctor without one. I was even told I would never be a Field Vice President when I was a financial advisor during my work life without a college degree … but I proved them wrong (it just took longer than I anticipated). As for being a doctor or lawyer – I still feel if you can pass the Medical Boards and show that you can perform the tasks … or the Bar Exam and can speak clearly enough for people to understand you … you should be allowed to be a doctor or lawyer without a medical degree or a law degree – and you probably can in some countries. There was a time when you could in this country.

I have four children. Three did not finish college and one made it all the way to her PhD. They all have good paying jobs and are successful in generating a decent wage for what they do. But I taught them all at a very young age … the only thing I cared about as far as their education was the ability to read and comprehend what they are reading. Today with the internet if a person can read and make sense of what they are reading then there is absolutely nothing that is impossible to them in terms of creating a nice income and some solid wealth. Is it easy … No … but it is possible.

Social Networks and Connections:

Social networks and connections can provide valuable access to information, opportunities, and mentorship. Individuals with strong social capital may have an advantage in navigating the job market and securing higher-paying positions.

There is simply an abundance of social networking sites out there today. The top three appear to be X (previously Twitter), Facebook and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, many people have not been educated on proper networking skills for it to do them any good. All they seem to want to do is repost things they read or jokes that make them laugh. This again is a failing of the educational powers here in America. Teaching kid’s things they needed 50 years ago and things they don’t need today (such as CRT, various Gender Identities, and pronouns that for some reason will be less offensive to some). Most kids today cannot even write out a check properly. But, of course, as one of my son’s says, “Who needs to write a check if we have electronic payments by phone, computer or plastic.” And he may have a point. However, the writing of a check can teach other need to know skills as well.

Cultural Norms and Attitudes:

Cultural norms and attitudes towards work, entrepreneurship, and wealth can influence individual choices and aspirations. Societies that value hard work, innovation, and financial success may foster a more entrepreneurial spirit and encourage individuals to pursue opportunities that lead to higher income levels.

Again, we can’t expect today’s young person to pick up any of these traits at school – though that is exactly what we should expect. It’s also hard for a mother and father who have never been an entrepreneur to foster such incentives in their children. I came from a family of factory workers. When my brother and I decided to go into business for ourselves the entire family (immediate and distant such as aunts and uncles) all thought we’d lost our ever-loving minds. Perhaps we did … but we succeeded in spite of them. My brother had a college degree in political science and I have no college degree at all. He used his G. I. Bill to get his degree and I used mine to study Airframe and Powerplants at a vocational school. Neither of us – like many – worked in a field that we had trained for. He ran a janitorial cleaning service company and I ran a financial planning practice.

So, you see … it is not the education that counts as much as it is the “want to.”

Finally, this brings us to …

Individual Choices:

Education and Skills:

The level of education and the acquisition of marketable skills are crucial determinants of earning potential. Individuals with higher educational attainment and specialized skills tend to command higher salaries and have greater access to higher-paying jobs.

That being said … as I’ve pointed out above … that education or marketable skills does not necessarily have to come from an “institute of higher learning” (aka College, University or even Trade School). It all starts in the grey matter than lies in the head between our ears.

Entrepreneurial Spirit and Risk-Taking:

Some individuals possess a natural inclination towards entrepreneurship and risk-taking, which can lead to significant financial gains. However, entrepreneurship also involves a high degree of uncertainty and the potential for failure.

You know I can’t for the life of me figure out why when people talk about entrepreneurship they have to also talk about “risk-taking” in the same breath. When it comes to “risk-taking” I personally cannot think of any risk greater than that of working for someone else and having that someone else pull the carpet out from under you at any time they so desire or when their business dictates they cut back on expenses (employees) in order to stay in business.

Sure working “for the man” guarantees and income stream as long as you have a job with “the man.” But what happens when you don’t? Is that not a risk. People have been trained to think that certain federal and state laws protect their jobs or that labor unions protect their jobs … but that just isn’t the case. While some states require a reason a person can be fired … not all states do. And no state that I know of can stop an employer from “laying off” or “furloughing” and employee for business reasons.

Yes, we have an “unemployment insurance system” in this country that will protect a portion of income for a while – and it is really being abused by the Federal Government as I write this – but even so, there is a risk that a person will not find a job again if they have to use this system. If they do it is likely that they will be starting at the bottom of the new employer with no or little seniority. This means if cuts have to happen, they will again be the first to go. Just how is this not risk-taking?

People also talk about how entrepreneurship can give one the “potential for failure.” This is very true … but a true entrepreneur understands that failure is the best teacher that leads to success. Thomas Edison’s invention of the practical incandescent light bulb was the result of a long and arduous process involving numerous experiments and trials and failures. The exact number of attempts he made is not precisely known, but it is estimated that he conducted over 1,000 experiments before finally achieving a successful and commercially viable design in 1879. I’m sure he used his failures to learn and that, dear reader, is education at its best.

Financial Literacy and Personal Habits:

Financial literacy, including budgeting, saving, and investing, can play a significant role in accumulating wealth over time. Individuals who make informed financial decisions and manage their finances prudently are more likely to achieve financial stability and prosperity. But all of this, of course, goes without saying.

What does need to be said is that this, again, is not being taught in the schools or in the homes of our future generations. Heck, even our government officials could use a lot of training when it comes to these skills.

Now I must tell you, as a retired entrepreneur, it is a lot easier to budget when a person knows in advance what their income is going to be week from week than when they don’t know. Most entrepreneurs (especially those just getting started) have no idea if they are going to earn a profit week from week or how much it will be. On the other hand, hourly and salaried employees know in advance what they are going to earn – yet few of them will budget their earnings in an attempt to get ahead. It’s the entrepreneurs who have no guarantees that seem to get more out of life. Why is that? They do not have a guaranteed income yet they tend to retire with more money than those that do.

Work Ethic and Motivation:

A strong work ethic, dedication, and motivation can contribute to career advancement and increased earning potential. Individuals who consistently demonstrate a high level of performance and commitment are often rewarded with promotions, raises, and additional opportunities.

Now you will hear some “neigh sayers” tell you that work ethic and motivation cannot be taught. I beg to disagree with this. Both can certainly be taught … but they cannot be taught out of a text book. These traits are more taught by observation that anything else.

Work ethic, especially, is taught by observation. I like to tell people that I did not give my kids much in life while they were growing up. I didn’t buy them anything and everything they wanted. I didn’t pay their college tuitions. I didn’t even pay for any part of their weddings. What they did get from me – other than my last name – is their work ethic. And a very strong work ethic I might add. Every person I knew in my family before me had a strong work ethic. My grandfather was a part-time minister and a part-time farmer. He plowed the fields of his very small farm with a mule and a plow. He told me once, and I will never forget it, that farmers do not work by the hour. They don’t work by the job to be done. They work only by the acre and the weather. I took that into my work life when I worked on the rail road and when I later became a financial planner.

On both jobs it was nothing for me to put in 16-hour days 6 days per week and sometimes 7, if that is what it took to get the job done. My children observed this in me and now none of them – to my knowledge – work just 40 hours per week. Some say people that work more than 40 hours per week are “workaholics” a phrase I’ve personally never believed in. People that work like this do not consider themselves as workaholics because they are not working, really. They are doing what they enjoy. And, if they enjoy it … it is not work.

As I said, work-ethic is not picked up in a text book at college … it is picked up by observation.

When I was in a position to hire financial advisors, I would not even look at a resume that was mailed or emailed to me. I would delete the email or through the resume in the garbage without calling the person who’d sent it to me. I would only glance at a resume that was hand delivered to me but would not really study it. I found that most of them are lies or embellished truths – and I was not looking for either.

However, I would interview everyone that brought me a resume or came into fill out a job application. Many of these I would simply thank them for their time … but rest assured I would give them time for them to sell me on hiring them.

Now my kids tell me, “Daddy they will not allow a person to hand deliver a resume or fill out an application anymore. Everything is done online or through email.” To that I say, “The person doing the hiring has no work-ethic and you need to find a person that does,” and they have managed all their lives to do just that. To my knowledge I don’t know of one of my children who have ever collected unemployment for being unemployed because when they are, they are on the streets looking for work and not sitting at home on the computer hoping that work will find them.

This brings us to the next step … Motivation. Now I will admit that motivation can be started or helped with a book, movie or tape … but only started or helped. Real motivation comes from within the person. In sports some refer to this as “heart.”

I’m sure you have seen boxing matches where the “underdog” wins the battle. Not because he/she is better, technically, than the person they oppose … but rather because he/she has more heart. In other words, they are more motivated to win than the person they are opposing.

To succeed where others fail a person needs to be motivated by something. This could be a short-term or long-term goal. It could be family. It could simply be a feeling to do better for themselves – or in some cases it could even be a nagging spouse. But motivation, whatever it is, is the key to long-term success … especially financial success.

Your cards have been dealt:

Whatever hand you were dealt you must play it to the best of your ability.

If you were born into a family of wealth … learn how they acquired that wealth and learn to maintain and continue to grow it because someday it may be yours.

If you were born into a poverty-stricken family … find out why they are so poverty stricken and learn from their mistakes. Learn what it will take to break the chain of poverty and do it. Read about people that have come from “rags to riches” and replicate what they did. It does not have to be in the same field of work or art … you just need to learn how they thought, what they thought and get the same thoughts in your heart and mind. Muhammed Ali said it best …

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”

Before him Napolean Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich” (which I’ve read no less than 10 times and recommend it to all) said …

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve!”

Contrary to some beliefs, the mind is very powerful. Mind power is composed of your attention, your mental images, and your thoughts. Thoughts are energy. Though subtle and invisible, they can affect reality. Just like the wind, which is invisible but can be powerful, so are your mind and thoughts.

The same is true if you are feeling sick or perhaps are sick. Now I am not saying that some will not die of sickness before others who were born very healthy … but again it is how they play the cards they are dealt. When I am feeling a little down or a little sick, I tell myself (in my mind) just how good I do feel. Eventually, if you do this and believe it, you wills start to feel better.

My company once sent me to a psychologist for my so-called “compulsive lying.” That is a story I will not get into today. However, while talking to him in a “group setting” I told him and his other patients that I was rarely sick because I refuse to let myself get there. I simply tell myself how good I feel and I believe how good I feel. Well, to make a long story short … he sent a letter to my company saying, “You are right. He is a compulsive liar. He tells himself lies and believes them.”

Well, whatever it takes. If you say it to yourself and believe it with faith that it will happen … is that really a lie? Even Romans 4:17 says …

“I have made thee a father of many nations”, in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which are not, as though they were.

As one preacher told me … “Faith is calling those things that are not as though they were … not as they will be.”

Don’t tell yourself you will feel better or that you will be wealthy. Tell yourself that you already feel better and that you are already wealthy. “Call those things that are not as though they were.”

I can’t say any more about hitting bottom and reaching for the top … so I will let Nick Vujicic tell you about his life on 60 minutes Australia. Nick, though born without arms or legs … he’s never let it slow him down. If anyone should have an excuse for failure it should be Nick – but it’s not. He plays well the cards he was dealt.

Just click on the link above to view this powerful message.

Have a great day,

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

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