My final post over this over-generalized but discussion-generating list of things that rich people do. The items on the list that seemed to me to be the most important:
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
9. 67% of the wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor.
16. 74 % of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.
And the key ones to me:
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.
The majority of wealthy people believe that what they do now makes a difference in their future -- they feel some personal power over their fate. Apparently very few of the poor believe this.
I remember becoming aware of this when I taught high school. I spent half of my day with honors students and half of my day in the at-risk student program. I was always amazed at how similar the two groups could be in actual ability -- the differences in their success rate at school had little to do with intelligence.
Three factors seemed to play into their school failure the most: 1) lack of parental support, 2) an unwillingness or inability to play the "school game", and 3) a lack of real belief that any effort on their part would make a difference in their grades anyway--often because it hadn't seemed to in the past.
How is it that people come to believe that their position in life is completely a matter of fate, that nothing they do will make a difference? Well, for some people, it's because they are in situations where there are genuine forces in the "system" that hold them back, no matter how hard they try, and the belief comes legitimately. I've never contended that there weren't "undeserving poor", people who struggle to get by because of no fault of their own. And these people need our help. Many Christians forget that this is a clear Biblical mandate to help the vulnerable. You can't be a genuine Christian and not do so.
But there are others who could make a life for themselves if they put some effort into it, but they seem to have picked up the fateful thinking of their fellows. And we all know some of them, too.
I had a student named Aisha once who wanted to be a doctor. At least that's what she said. She seemed to have no other "goals" in life -- other than to graduate from high school. which was a profound enough goal at that point seeing she'd be the first in her family to do so. But when she talked about being a doctor, even she seemed to think it was nothing but a pipe dream. She didn't display any of the behaviors that she would need to do to make this dream come about: working her butt off for excellent grades, taking higher level math classes, looking for college financing and scholarships - or even looking at colleges at all. She muddled along through life very casually, just hoping that her wish of being a doctor would somehow fall upon her magically.
Now, honestly, I don't know if she could've been a doctor. But she certainly could have been more than the minimum-wage worker she probably ended up being (or the "fat, poor stay-at-home Mexican mama" her friend Armando teased that she was going to be). But she had picked up the mental mindset of her peers ("success is not a matter of work -- it is a matter of luck or privilege"), and so she went no further.
And maybe God had great plans for her as a fat, poor stay-at-home Mexican mama. Maybe that's exactly where he wanted her to be -- praying for and nurturing the next generation. But I hate to think that her options were so limited to her because we were unable to convince her that even if she had to work harder than Suzy Honors-kid in my other class, she could have a very different future if she tried.