“The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” -Albert Einstein
Stated in a neutral way: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Stated in a positive way: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Stated in a negative way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
You might be familiar with each of these statements, but have you really considered their implications?
Financial freedom for each person individually and collectively as a nation, is rooted in having vision. Poverty and its related social problems, for each person individually and collectively as a nation, is rooted in lack of vision. Although the name of our organization is the Financial Freedom Foundation (F3), we find our greatest success when we first help someone develop their vision, because the financial elements then follow almost naturally.
As mentioned before, at F3, we believe that poverty, hunger, homelessness, and most of the world’s social problems are the result of the lack of vision. Our goal is to fundamentally transform our society by finding innovators and early adopters who can lift their visions and impact others for good, in the ways that they deem best. Their becoming personally financially independent is just a mechanism for liberating their time and talents and helping them create the resources they will need to implement their visions. We believe that if we can reach a critical mass of people, then we can cause a “social epidemic” of generous people helping others. In fact, this is already starting to occur.
Personal vision is a concept that might be difficult to grasp. Others refer to it as your income thermostat… if you want to become a millionaire, you must first develop a millionaire mind. What we have found is that once you develop your vision, something you are really passionate about, then the financial portion of the equation will change as well. Stated another way, people live paycheck to paycheck because they can only see ’til the next paycheck. This might be better understood by contrasting the Poverty Mindset with the Prosperity Mindset.
Poverty Mindset vs. Prosperity Mindset
Poverty Mindset is seeing money as a prize or a goal to be pursued, resulting in choosing to be a slave to money. Prosperity Mindset is choosing to see money as a tool, to serve you as its master. Poverty Mindset is rooted in only thinking of now, not using a personal budget, resulting in expenses being higher than income and slavery to consumer debt. Prosperity Mindset is rooted in planning for tomorrow, using a personal budget, resulting in expenses being lower than income, thus having excess money to pay down any existing consumer debt.
Poverty Mindset is rooted in selfishness, usually manifested as excess personal consumption. People anchored in Poverty Mindset will get all that they can, can all they get, and sit on their can. They seek money primarily for fame, fortune, power over others, and for fulfilling the lustful desires of the flesh.
Prosperity Mindset is rooted in thinking of others, usually manifested as investing in and helping others. Businesses that primarily focus on their bottom line will shrink. Businesses that primarily focus on delighting their customers will grow. The low paid employee thinks, “How much do I get for doing this job?” The prosperous entrepreneur thinks, “How can I create more value and attract more customers?” Their intent and focus is on lifting up the other, not to lift up themselves. At the same time, they know that if they lift up others, they themselves will be lifted up in the process, because as they create value, they capture some of that value.
Ironically, sometimes people who appear to be rich actually have the Poverty Mindset. This can be described as being “ghetto fabulous” or perhaps as constantly having to “keep up with the Joneses.” Consider the surgeon who is just one surgery away from missing the next car payment on his Ferrari. In fact, a large percentage of the top 1% of income earners in the United States are doctors and lawyers who are cash poor. These “rich” people constantly live beyond their means because their attitude toward money is rooted in selfishness. For them, their personal self worth is measured by their perceived net worth. Therefore, the solution to their insecurities lies in amassing more and more status symbols: fancy cars, mansions, membership in the most exclusive country clubs, yachts, and even a trophy wife.
The “Lottery Syndrome”
Kissing cousin to this is what some people call “The Lottery Syndrome.” A person wins the lottery or lands a contract that pays out similar amounts, like happens with young pro athletes. They blow their millions on fancy houses, fast cars, and fast women. They replace their real friends with fake friends. A couple of years later, they are broke, and the fast cars and fast women are gone. They are poorer and more miserable than they were before they won the lottery because now, all of their friends have left them and they have likely soured their family relationships in the process.
In order to have genuine, authentic relationships, people must judge you based on your character, your capabilities, and your kindness, not the size of your checkbook. Status symbols are meant to convey the perceived size of your checkbook. Sadly, in our society, if people think you have money they treat you with undue, artificial respect. Many people, at some level or another, manifest the behavior of “gold diggers.” If they think you have money they become “fake nice” to you. By definition, you CANNOT have a genuine, loving relationship if the other person is being FAKE towards you. Ironically, it is the ostentatious display of wealth that cheapens that which is most valuable, your personal relationships. In prison, the worst punishment is solitary confinement. In parallel, the saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” means that people who display ostentatious wealth put themselves in their only type of voluntary solitary confinement, because they’ve distanced themselves from everyone around them and are surrounded by people who are “fake nice” to them. In our opinion, one of the best ways to maintain genuine loving relationships is to avoid such status symbols and to keep private finances private, so that people are forced to look at your character, your capabilities, and your kindness as they get to know you.
The attitude typified by Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” became mainstream through shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and is perpetuated through shows like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the constant media coverage of celebrity “A listers,” and the farcical portrayal of reality in movies and rap songs. The list could go on and on…
Looking at it from a different angle, consider the person who bought into the above story line and ran the gauntlet of having a successful career and making it successfully into a comfortable retirement… the fresh retiree whose health suddenly takes a nosedive because they no longer feel needed, feel like they no longer have any valuable purpose. Traveling gets old after a little while, so does golf. They find that they have too much time on their hands. Sometimes they do what they did before, but now as a consultant, as a way to stay busy. Why, because have no vision. Their life long vision has only focused on themselves… they are being selfish with their time and their talents… they have no vision for how they can put their time and talents to their highest and best use for helping others, as many people as possible. As the story goes, their golden years feel more like fools gold, their health deteriorates and their lack of vision ends up killing them early. It happens time and time again.
Now, taking things a step further, the ultimate manifestation of Poverty Mindset is crime, where the intent is to hurt others for personal gain, be it through theft, kidnapping, getting people addicted to harmful substances, or even murder. This is why slums remain slums. The ultimate manifestation of Prosperity Mindset is when people look out for each other, help each other, and in this environment of peace, prosperity follows. Looking at the history of world civilizations, this pattern can be recognized again and again. Yet this is also true on an individual level, not just an international level.
If you have a Poverty Mindset, then no matter how hard you try, your sub-conscience will always sabotage your efforts, and you will find yourself continually spinning your wheels and perhaps moving backwards. If you develop a Prosperity Mindset, as described above, with a compelling vision that you are truly passionate about, then your sub-conscience will constantly be looking for ways to help you accomplish your vision, and you will be unstoppable. Roadblocks will seem like road-bumps. Obstacles become opportunities. You will recognize the narrow windows of opportunity when they present themselves and you will have the courage to take action (did you download our Free Report yet?).
America became a great nation in large part because the people had vision… even the most recent immigrant had the vision of being productive, creating excess, and being able to control the fruits of their labor. They formed communities where they helped each other and looked out for each other. They were primarily small entrepreneurs, not employees. They had the vision that they could create value and prosper, helping themselves and helping others in the process. In fact, the entire nation grew in wealth because of it.
Leverage, Innovation, and Efficiency
Unfortunately, the system currently in place actually discourages entrepreneurship and inadvertently creates a Poverty Mindset. The ultimate goal of the current educational system is to make you an employee. However, having a job is the riskiest source of income, because it stops when you stop working, even if it is beyond your control, such as if you get injured or when you hear the words “You’re Fired!” As an employee, you are only leveraging your own time. You can increase the value of each hour you personally worked, by getting a raise, but there is a limit to how many hours you can work in a day. This is also true of people who are self-employed. If you want to increase the numbers of hours per day that create income for you, the way to do that is through leveraging other people’s time, by having them work for you as your employees.
Entrepreneurs leverage other people’s time, and therefore have the ability to create significantly more wealth than employees can. Instead of having a company that only gets paid for providing a service, entrepreneurs can also leverage products as a way to create additional wealth, because they have a margin of profit on every product sold. For example, a hair stylist can only do so many hairdos in a day, but they can sell massive amounts of hair care products, even to people who do not visit their salon.
If you can do something or make something more efficiently than someone else, then you can sell it to them for a profit and both parties are better off. Wealth was created and the size of the pie increased. Wealth creation is tied to innovation and efficiency; innovation and efficiency are tied to vision. When you can sell something (income) for more than it costs you to make it (expenses), then you have extra money left over (profit). Than money can then be used to re-invest into another innovative or efficient product or service and thus continue to create more wealth… this is called capital reinvestment, and it has the effect of compounding wealth, making it grow even faster.
Efficiency, innovation, and capital reinvestment are the life blood of our economy. Each of them are rooted in having vision. Poor economic conditions and the resulting poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc. are the result of inefficiency, lack of capital reinvestment, lack of innovation… lack of vision. People say the bursting of the housing bubble in the US was the cause of the current recession in the US. Actually, it was the Poverty Mindset of millions of home owners who took the excess equity in their homes and spent it on personal consumption instead of capital reinvestment into more efficient and innovative resources that could create more wealth. All this, because of selfishness and lack of vision.
One key to solving poverty and its related social ills is addressing the Poverty Mindset and helping people have hope and a higher vision for themselves, while providing them some functional mechanism whereby their labor can provide excess, so that they can sell the excess for income and lift themselves out of poverty, permanently. You might be familiar with the “give a man a fish… teach a man to fish…” saying, but consider expanding that to “teach a man how to start a fish farm” and you’ll see where we’re heading with this.
Good, Better, Best
Even if you never join us in our Mastermind Group, we still encourage you to develop your vision and find ways to help others. Dedicate your time, talents and resources to it. Ask yourself, “Am I making the highest and best use of my time, talents, and resources?” If the answer is “no”, then you are leaving that more important thing undone. Think along the lines of good, better, best. This is a simple, yet innovative way to apply efficiency thinking to personal decisions. The opposite of “bad” is “good”, but “good” is also the enemy of “better”, and “better” is the enemy of the “best”. Even if you are doing something “good,” you are wasting something “better”, and if you are only doing something “better”, then you are wasting that which is “best.” If you want to have the most enriching, most fulfilling life possible, always focus on doing that which is “best” (this is a way to implement the 80/20 principle in your thinking).
For example, when making an entertainment choice, it is “bad” to vandalize things for fun, and it might be “good” go to the movies instead, but it might be “better” to go to a sporting event, so that you can actually talk to your friends, yet it might be “best” to actually play a sport with your friends so that you get the health benefit of vigorous exercise in addition to the mere entertainment value, and you develop strength and character in the process.
Applied to helping others, it is “bad” to spit on a homeless person as you walk past them on your way to lunch, and it might be “good” to give toss them some spare change instead, but it might be “better” to bring them your leftovers in a doggie bag, yet it might be “best” to actually invite them to join you for lunch and ask them “Knowing what you know about homelessness, what could be done, from your perspective, to help the homeless people that want to be helped?” and then shut up and listen.
Or, let’s say you want to help a local food bank or soup kitchen. It might be “good” to volunteer an hour or two on Thanksgiving or Christmas to be a server or to donate some cans of food. But it might be “better” to donate some money to them. Yet it might be “best” to donate an Aquaponics system to them, financed by you, but built and run by the people that use the services of the food bank or soup-kitchen. The latter choice can help provide themselves with fresh fish and vegetables, perpetually.
You might think,“I have a good job that is very time consuming and therefore don’t have time to really focus on helping others.” Ask yourself, “Would I do what I currently do, even if I didn’t get paid for it?” If the answer is “no”, then your job is not the highest and best use of your time, talents, and resources. There is something better that you should be doing, so you need to replace your job income with passive income and get crackin’ on what is better and best.
Lifting Your Vision
Most people could live a very comfortable lifestyle on $10,000 per month, especially if their house, car, and credit cards were paid off. But ask yourself, what would you do if you had an extra $20,000 per month or an extra $50,000 per month in passive income on top of what you need for your living expenses. What would you do with it? Would you use it to supersize your lifestyle, or would you use it to help others? If you say, “to help others,” how would you help others? Most people have only vague ideas or they have no idea at all. They have limited vision, because they’ve “never had enough time and money” to really think about it … they’ve never really envisioned what it would be like to finally be out of the rat race… and therefore, they remain in the rat race.
Your first stewardship is to provide for your family, but your primary stewardship is to lift up others. Providing for your family is just the precursor to what you should really be doing with your life. It is important that you create massive amounts of value and that you have excess, so that can accomplish both your first stewardship and your primary stewardship. With that said, unless you are content with what you have, you cannot afford to focus on lifting up others, because personal “needs” can expand indefinitely to fit and exceed any size of income. And as you focus on your primary stewardship of lifting up other… if you give to get, that’s wrong, but if you get to give, that’s right. It is critical that you give with a heart of love. Your intent and focus has to be on lifting up the other, not to lift up yourself. And as the Law of the Harvest would have it, you will be lifted up in the process, but way beyond your natural capability and through mechanisms that you would not expect. This is one of the greatest lessons of life that so many people miss, because they are anchored in selfishness and pride, not selflessness and love.
Here is a way to lift and clarify your vision…
First, to unleash your ability to dream and develop your vision, ask yourself, “If I had unlimited time and unlimited money, what would I do?” Get a feel for what you are most passionate about, something that would be the highest and best use of your time, talents, and resources, to make the most personally fulfilling and meaningful impact you can imagine. Some areas to consider are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the captive, and administering relief to the sick and afflicted. This will help you clarify your vision. Start somewhere, start now. We have several examples of other people’s vision on our “Helping Others” page. You can piggy back on what someone else is doing, or you can create something new yourself.
Don’t expect to start at the end. Start small and grow from there. You’ve heard they saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step.” Notice, it does not begin at mile marker 100, it begins with the very first step, and then the next one, and the next one…
While we should begin with the end in mind, we don’t actually begin at the end. Instead, we start at the beginning, at Day Zero, with zero passive income, and we grow from there, going one step at a time. Likewise, your efforts to help others begin one person at a time. This is how you lay the groundwork for something much larger.
Now, to lift your vision, when you think of giving back, figure out a way to systematize it, such that you can scale it up 1,000 times bigger. Then, think of a way to scale it up 1,000 times bigger yet again. This might mean starting individually then expanding locally or regionally, followed by expanding nationally and then internationally. Or, this might mean adding on different components or adding different resources, such as education and housing in addition to just food. As you do this, you’ll find that the amount of resources needed to fuel your vision increases dramatically. At first you may not need any money to execute your vision, just your own time and talents. When you begin to scale it up, involving more people and more resources, you might get to the point where you need an extra $20k to $50k per month to run things. When your vision is such that you have scaled it up 1,000 times, then 1,000 times again, you’ll find that you actually need $20 million to $50 million per month. Interestingly enough, as your vision grows, so does your ability to develop the wealth necessary to build out your vision, if you are truly passionate about it.
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men..” -Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
The goal is to reach a critical mass, at which point you have started an “epidemic” of sorts, and your vision takes on a life of its own, in terms of the number of people involved and the resources that they are willing to contribute. This critical mass is called the tipping point. If you have created systems that are sustainable, whereby the people you help actually become more efficient and more productive, therefore being able create excess that is converted into income… once you reach the tipping point, you can then extricate yourself from this humanitarian project and actually start another one. In business circles, when someone builds and sells multiple companies, they call it “serial entrepreneurship”. Let’s call this other model “serial socialpreneurship”.
The best way to sum up what we are describing here is that we want people to subscribe to the philosophy of “Love Your Neighbor” in the best way they can envision.
If our philosophy resonates with you, then join our Mastermind Group. Here are your next steps: