Words of Wisdom for the Would-Be Wealthy
Dictionary.com defines “wisdom” as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment”, but I have a better definition: Knowing that you don’t know anything. And the sooner you (yes, you—the person reading this right now) realize that you, despite all of your schooling and apparent life experience, still don’t know anything, the better off you will be.
It doesn’t matter how much schooling you have, how many books you’ve read, or how many seminars you’ve attended, because while those things may make you more knowledgeable, or what I like to call “book smart”, they will not make you wise. Being wise entails the knowledge that no matter how much you think you know, you do not—nor will you ever—know everything, or anything even remotely close to it. It entails the knowledge that, in a cosmic/Universal sense, you could learn every material fact about this planet and the physical world we live in ten times over and you still will not have scratched the surface of the infinite storehouse of wisdom that surrounds us. And wisdom—rather than “book smarts”—is what you really need to be successful in this world.
When I look at out at the world around me, I see a lot of people who you might call “know-it-alls”—men, women, and children of all walks of life who think they’ve got this whole world “figured out” (and trust me, I’d know them when I see them, because I used to be one of them)—and I think to myself, Wow, I can’t believe I used to sleep-walk through life like that…how did I ever survive?
But then I remember that there’s a big difference between simply surviving and what I would call truly living, and suddenly, I no longer find it so hard to believe that I made to adulthood relatively unscathed. Simply surviving, it turns out, is easy to do—so easy, in fact, that any idiot can do it. And not surprisingly, 100% of idiots do.
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Before my freshman year of college, I wasn’t alive—not even after 9/11 happened less than a month into my first semester and snapped me out of my 18-year-old apathy (I hadn’t even known what the World Trade Center was until the pair of planes hit it). I was, like most of my classmates, an automaton, pre-programmed as much by the public school system as I was by my upbringing to stumble mindlessly through each and every day of my life, like an extra on AMC’s The Walking Dead. And to think of it: I was actually dumb enough to think I knew everything back then—or at least everything I thought I needed to know to be successful.
I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG, OR MORE NAÏVE.
Turns out I didn’t even know what success was. Yet there I was, “chasing” after it—or whatever I thought “it” was, mostly based on what I’d seen in music videos on MTV. Had I known then what I know now, which is that “success” is entirely subjective (as in, we need to define what it means for ourselves), rather than objective (as in, defined by others for us), I’m sure I would have done things very differently in my younger years. But, alas, I thought I “knew it all”, and so I dove headfirst into both marriage and a “music career” at the ripe, old age of 21, without the slightest clue as to what it would take to make either of the two work.
Back then, I thought that as long as my heart was in the right place I would be successful—that as long as I loved my wife (which I did) and loved making music (which I did) that I would find not only happiness but wealth as well. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet gotten the memo (which I wouldn’t get until my 30’s) that happiness is an “inside job” (as in, a choice we make for ourselves, and not just something that happens to us) and that wealth is a state of mind, rather than a physical state achieved through the accumulation of money and/or material possessions, and so it came as a complete shock to me when both my marriage and my “music career” came crashing down less than three years later.
For someone who’d “had it all figured out”, I sure didn’t feel very smart as I was circling the drain during my divorce proceedings, drinking to excess, picking up multiple DUI’s within a three month period in the summer of 2007, falling out with my family, and blaming everyone and everything other than me for my “problems”. And sadly, it wasn’t until I became suicidal following my second DUI and I died in a dream (as an apparent consequence of my alcoholism) that I realized I didn’t know shit—not about marriage, not about a “music career”, and not about life, in general—and that I needed a radical change in my life.
A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
For me, radical change came in the form of me discovering the field of personal growth and development and YouTube videos of lectures and seminars done by the likes of Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and Jack Canfield, and me realizing that there was, out there in the world, a type of person I’d never been exposed to or aware of to that point: Lifelong learners.
These lifelong learners were unlike anyone I’d ever met before. They didn’t sit around waiting for life to hand them their success on some kind of a silver platter, didn’t blame others for their problems, failures, or shortcomings and, most importantly (I thought), didn’t think they “knew it all”—or even half of it all, like the losers I’d been associating with for years. Instead, they were self-starters/go-getters who if they didn’t like their circumstances would actively act to change them, took full and complete responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, words, and actions, and subscribed to the idea that we are here on this earth to learn and to grow and to expand into “bigger” versions of ourselves every day. They were the kind of people I actually wanted to be like!
Suddenly, I realized that me not knowing everything (or anything, really, in the grand scheme of things) was not the weakness I’d imagined it to be, but rather my greatest strength, as by admitting to myself and that I didn’t, in fact, know anything, I was, in reality, opening the door to everything—health, wealth, and success…happiness and prosperity…a life full of love and laughter; a life full of beauty and brilliance; a life—as I’d later define it—worth dying for.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since that life-changing moment is that the minute we believe we know everything, even if it’s only in one particular field or area of our lives, we resign ourselves to never reaching our full potential, and the moment we stop growing, we start dying. So the next time you’re tempted to throw in the proverbial towel and say to yourself “I’m done here—I’ve seen it all and done it all”, just remember that you haven’t even scratched the surface of this thing called life yet, and until you’ve done that, you haven’t done anything, let alone known it.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet someone new, pick up a new skill, try that new restaurant you’ve never been to, or read that new book you’ve been putting off. As a wise man once said, it’s never too late to be who you could’ve been. And as an older and much wiser version of my 18-year-old self can tell you, the rest of your life is out there waiting for you—even if you don’t know it yet.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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