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Some people have it hard and some people have it easy.
Of the 233 millionaires in my Rich Habits Study fifty-six were raised in wealthy households and 177 were self-made (41% came from poverty and 59% from the middle-class). The differences in the habits, thinking and decision-making between those who inherited their wealth and those who created their own wealth was very significant.
One of the glaring things I discovered was that the majority of those who inherited their wealth seemed much more arrogant and entitled. Because they were born into money, they took for granted their wealth and they took for granted their amazing life. I got the distinct impression that they felt superior to me. There was a hubris in the way they conducted themselves that seemed to ooze out in conversation. And it made me uncomfortable talking to them.
I did not enjoy interviewing these millionaires. Plus, I did not learn as much from them as I expected.
Millionaires who inherit their wealth are shielded from adversity – they have a large safety net to rescue them when things go wrong in life. When you are constantly rescued from your mistakes and failures, you don’t learn from them – the pain is removed along with the painful lessons failures/mistakes cause.
The self-made millionaires, on the other hand, were not only a joy to interview, they were a real-life education in what it takes to become successful. What I found most endearing was their humility. Unlike the inherited millionaires, the self-made’s were a humble lot. And I now know why. Success came hard for them. They suffered constant rejection, endured costly mistakes, overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and nearly 1/3 of them suffered humiliating failures that almost destroyed their families. Their pursuit of success humbled them.
Despite their success, they remained humble. And they remained humble because they understood all too well that the difference between success and failure was a very fine line. One separated only by persistence and a never quit on your dreams attitude.
I don’t think you can learn much from inherited millionaires. They don’t have the scars and battle wounds that often teach valuable lessons. The real teachers are the self-made millionaires. Their struggles humble them and that humility makes them great teachers.
Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”