Sunday, May 8, 2016

Not Yet

"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."—Carol Dweck

Most of you know the story. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player in history was cut from his high school basketball team. Instead of quitting, he played on the junior varsity squad for a year developing his skills and his legendary work ethic. Instead of saying, “I failed,” when the world asked him about basketball, he instinctively gave Carol Dweck’s answer, “Not yet.” The following year he made the basketball team. The year after that, he was named to McDonalds All American Team. The year after that, he had a basketball scholarship at the University of North Carolina, playing for Dean Smith, the most famous college basketball coach of that time.

When actually working to help real live people learn how to overcome their personal finance problems (as opposed to writing these blog articles) I have discovered the biggest problem they face is an “I can’t” mindset. They view other people who have reached success as luckier and more talented. They can’t seem to get past a shame based relationship with money. Carol Dweck observes that children who have been shamed react in one of two ways. Either they hide or they lash out. Sound familiar?

I can’t make a monthly budget.
I can’t live on a budget.
I can’t get out of debt.
I can’t find a better job.
I can’t build an emergency fund.
I can’t pay cash for a car.
I can’t save for retirement.

Believe me. At one time or another I have heard them all. I am not going to tell you that it will be easy or that if you follow a path that will lead you to a successful relationship with the money equation that you will end up a billionaire:

Money In = Money Stored + Money Out

I will tell you that no matter who you are or what your situation you can do something—today that will make your life better. The NBA is not loaded with overweight 65 year old white men with arthritic knees (such as this humble author) but if I wanted to improve my basketball game, I could make decisions that would improve my physical conditioning and begin to practice foul shots. I could get better. Basketball isn’t important to me, but my health is becoming a more important issue as I age. I am working and I am getting better, except in the area of diet.

Food In = Fat Stored + Calories Out (Exercise)

I can’t improve my diet.

It is too expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient to eat nutritious food. Besides that, food that is good for you tastes like medicine. As you can see, we all have a way to go in some area of our lives.

What you think you can’t do isn’t going to help you or anybody else. Instead, find something you can do. Instead of saying, “I’ve failed,” choose to say, “Not yet.”

Then, maybe someday in someway you will be able to look back on your life and say.

“I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.” Michael Jordan

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