Guest Authored by Tim Johnson
“If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
President Obama raised hackles recently when he said: “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Everyone, from radio talk hosts to strangers in elevators, had opinions about his claims, many not so complimentary. The social networks are buzzing with comments, and many a dinner party was no doubt spoiled by arguments that rose from the claim. It’s even spawned a Facebook “meme” which promises to play a large role in the campaign. Most people fall into the trap of defending the importance of the efforts that business owners have put into creating their success, rather than challenging the more subtle mischaracterization of entrepreneurs hidden in another part of that same speech.
We’re not interested in rehashing that argument, or dissecting the political implications, but we do want to address this entirely false and unfair depiction, and discuss it in a dispassionate way, that hopefully will be understood equally by folks inclined to give him a pass and those who are taking him to task.
Perhaps the more pertinent part of the President’s address was this sentence: “I’m always struck by people who think, ‘well, it must be because I was just so smart… It must be because I worked harder than everybody else’.”
Stop and think about this a moment. You’re in business. You know successful people. You are more than likely pretty successful yourself. Have you ever heard any such people say anything like that? I haven’t. In fact, in my experience, successful people almost universally say the exact opposite. Ask someone at the top of his field what he attributes his success to, and it is almost guaranteed he will attribute some large measure of his good fortune and achievement to mentors, employees, customers, investors – in other words, people who believed in him and took a chance on him. And he will most likely express a high degree of gratitude. Not only is it tacky to claim sole credit for one’s accomplishments; but more importantly, most leaders espouse a fundamental truth about achievement that does not contradict the truth of the individual initiative and drive that fueled their growth:
Applied gratitude is a powerful generator of wealth, and a very practical tool for success.
If we look at the major classes of life assets that comprise a complete and fully integrated “life portfolio,” which equals total life wealth, it’s easy to see that one of the currencies that drives the acquisition of these assets is gratitude. We develop our careers, our social lives, our families and our spiritual lives in much the same way: By living and operating from a state of gratitude for what we have. Most people who enjoy any success in life or in business are not selfish with their praise and appreciation (or with other gifts, for that matter). And while they know their own efforts play the central role in their success, they continually give credit where it is due.
We all know it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well. It’s easy to be thankful when we are feeling prosperous, when our bank accounts are full, when the economy is steaming ahead, when we’re healthy, when we’re growing, when the future looks bright.
Successful people know how to remain grateful even when things look bleak.
However, successful people know how to remain grateful even when things look bleak. They know how to express their gratitude by focusing on and taking good care of what they already possess. They know to pause and seek the gifts hidden in difficulties, whether they are opportunities that others are overlooking, or lessons that will gird them to win future victories. When life challenges them, people who have built wealthy lives know to draw on their assets. Their social wealth includes the people who care about them – not only family and friends, but also teams, peers, strategic allies, teachers and the important communities in their lives.
The power of applied gratitude is so important to success that the converse is also an axiom: There is a strong correlation between failure and ingratitude.
One of history’s most powerful political forces is the resentment that “less fortunate” people feel towards people they perceive to be exempt from the suffering they experience. It’s the classic conflict between the ”haves” and the “have-nots.” We’ll leave the question of whether Mr. Obama intended to exploit that sentiment for others to debate. Our aim is to reinforce the promise that gratitude is directly proportional to success, and that ingratitude is one of the most dangerous liabilities one can have in the quest to become wealthy and successful. More importantly, gratitude is the antidote to the cycle of envy and dependence that places people at the mercy of “the system.” People who believe their destinies are controlled by those who are more successful and wealthy have made themselves victims and voluntarily ceded the future without anyone ever having to take it from them.
theWealthSource® has developed specific technologies for capturing and leveraging applied gratitude in the development of personal and business success. We know its power. Our clients and peers have benefited from the cultivation of gratitude as a form of currency with which they build a portfolio of life assets and investments.
Hopefully, we can influence not only the individuals we serve, but society at large, to understand and appreciate the impact that gratitude has on creating a culture of success that includes everyone. We would love to hear your feedback on your experience with gratitude and how you have pushed through hard times by remaining grateful and open to the gifts within every event of your life.
About Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson is a Realtor® with Keller Williams Memorial Office in Houston. Before moving into real estate, he had a 25-year career as a designer and writer in the marketing business. He is also a fine artist and a musician and writes poetry and fiction.