One of the allures of America is not only that anyone can get rich and live the American dream, but that it can be done quickly and in some cases, even overnight. And while some have achieved this, of course – otherwise the notion might not exist – in most cases those seeking overnight success die – physically or at least financially – trying. And it can be a slow and painful death at that!
The good news of course, is that the opportunity in the western world still generally includes the chance at wealth, either great, moderate, and certainly more than the previous generation.
The little trick in the phrase get-rich-quick is it does not specify who. Usually it is the purveyor of the scheme: the real estate course, the stock market hack, the tax-deed scheme, the pyramid, the chain-letter program, and one of the most recent – gifting. So a more consumer-oriented statement might read, Get Broke Quick!
In fact, the term get-rich-quick has been around most likely a hundred years. Not long after its initial use Charles Ponzi made a notorious name for himself with his very own brand of get-rich-quick, the Ponzi scheme. He did in fact get rich quick, first in New York and later selling swampland in Florida, but after using investor’s money and replacing it with that of new investors’, he also got quickly into multiple prison sentences and deportation.
As Charles Ponzi himself put it, “I went looking for trouble, and I found it.” (Wikipedia.org)
The Brooklyn Bridge
The history of get-rich-quick schemes is varied and amazing. The Eifel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge have been “sold,” and fiction has been passed off as non-fiction. Probably anything that sounds too good to be true… You are probably not the long-lost relative of a Nigerian prince, for example, just discovered and connected now by email to a royal disbursement.
This isn’t to write off all late-night television wealth-building programs as worthless or as scams – not by any means. In fact, this type of education is usually much more user-friendly and immediately applicable than true academic fare. It’s that way on purpose.
Many not only do produce results when applied but can make a significant difference in one’s life. They fall into the education category, wherein all offerings should be carefully discriminated before any investments of time or treasure are made.
Yet people do win the lotteries in their various states, and become millionaires overnight. The administrators of lotteries would have us believe all the dreams have now come true for these random benefactors, but the underbelly of the narrative is filled with divorce and illness.
People faced with sudden fortune or fame are seldom prepared to deal with it and the effects it can have on those around them. The annals of rock and roll are filled with such tragedies – too much too soon.
Famous American humorist Steve Martin once joked that he’d written a financial course himself, titled,
“How I Turned a Million in Real Estate into Twenty Five Dollars Cash.”
When another businessman became disenchanted with his get-rich-quick efforts that did not work, he decided to switch to get-rich-slow methods that did.
This overnight phenomenon appears in other arenas, too. Bonnie Raitt became an instant, overnight success in the US with her hit single Something to Talk About in the 1990’s. What most people didn’t realize is she had been writing and performing music at a hectic pace for the past twenty years.
We notice when people hit it big because it is in fact notable. Often we are unaware of the years of hard work that led to the success.
But the ride can be most of the fun! When many highly successful people are discussing their pasts, they often slide into a fond reverie recalling the “crappy apartment we started out in.” This is evidence not that one should remain there, but that the journey is part of the experience of our lives, and therefore the cloth from which we are sown. Having a sweater is great, but sewing is more fun.
We can be journey or life-rich.
An elder businessman looks at the neglected car of a younger man and urges him to care for it better. If he’s wise, the younger man realizes part of the path to having nicer cars is learning how to take care of this one.
The point is not to dissuade anyone from the ambition they might have, but perhaps to temper it, in the sincere hopes of helping them avert failure. An eye on a mountain is the first step. If you run at it without a real plan, however, there may be pitfalls that ruin the journey completely.
The young bull on the mountain-top says to his father bull, “Let’s run down the mountain, dad, and kiss a cow!” The father bull says, “No. Let’s walk down son, and kiss them all.”
The three best courses to wealth seem to irrefutably be
- investing, and
or a combination of those. And if well chosen, all three can be fulfilling journies.
“Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” ~ Epictetus
In some exciting news, it does seem to hold that once you’ve got some, it’s easier to make more – sort of a convex upward curve of increasing rewards, helping you, as you go, get-rich-quicker. Whether this is because money makes money, or the law of attraction, or simply the education that comes from the accomplishing makes the accomplishing even more possible, you can decide.
In a survey of wealthy American millionaires it was found that they came from a surprising variety of professions and backgrounds. What they did have in common was having achieved a very high level of proficiency in their chosen field or profession.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it very, very well. Some would say “Do what you love, and be the best there is at it,” as the single most important formula for success.
At least that’s what many mothers and fathers, having learned that lesson at great expense, tell their sons and daughters.