Nothing Wrong with a Fat Pocketbook

Hillary Clinton recently went to great lengths to save herself from the embarrassment of being financially successful. Her problems started when, in an effort to appeal to the masses, she said that she was “dead broke” when she left the security of the White House. Apparently, poverty polls well.

At one time, I was on pretty shaky financial ground myself, owing much more than I had in assets and earning very little from my fledging business. It’s a story common to many entrepreneurs. You sacrifice and risk comfort, because you believe in your enterprise, but I don’t think that I was ever “dead broke.” I saw true poverty in Africa – people crammed into tiny tin shacks and scavenging along the roadside. That’s “dead broke,” and it’s a far cry from being a former First Lady who can command hundreds of thousands from a speech.

Senator Clinton’s missteps really don’t bother me, but her shying away from success does. Success should be celebrated, especially in a country that was the setting for Senator Clinton’s rise from the Chicago middle class to United States Secretary of State or President Clinton’s rise from a broken home to United States President.

Imagine if Senator Clinton had pointed out that success can be fleeting, but can be recaptured with concentrated effort, instead of trying to sell the idea that two very successful people were destitute. She could have inspired others whose financial success had ebbed. She could have given us hope.

Hope

Dr. Shane Lopez of the Gallup Organization wrote a thoroughly researched and critical book, Making Hope Happen, based on his research on hope. Lopez defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances, and he champions hope as an extremely powerful tool that everyone can use in response to life’s challenges, such as losing a job or receiving a dire health prognosis.

When we have hope, we see the challenges before us as temporary and beatable. Hope inspires us to push on when life gets difficult. Hope provides a powerful psychological benefit that lifts our spirits, increases our self-esteem and provides us energy. Without it, we’re almost destined to struggle.

One of my greatest sources of hope is the success of others. Seeing others succeed affirms my faith that exceptional things can be accomplished with exceptional effort by exceptional people. It’s a belief that my parents instilled in me at a young age.

My fourth grade year was filled with challenges. It was the year that my parents decided that my physical condition wasn’t something that I would grow out of, like we hoped. That meant frequent three-hour trips from Loup City to Omaha, to see the state’s top neurologists and orthopedists at the Nebraska Medical Center. These trips were never fun, because they invariably entailed painful tests, like muscle biopsies and nerve conduction tests, and a lot of anxiety about my future. To that point, I was a kid with a slight limp. Now, there was talk of brain tumors and muscular dystrophy. Through it all, my parents never allowed me to lose hope.

In spite of the uncertainty and anxiety, they helped me imagine a bright future for myself. They encouraged me to initiate conversations with my doctors and to imagine myself as a physician. When we saw the big houses on the bluffs of the Elkhorn River on the drive in, they told me that I could have a similar home, if I worked hard. They never allowed me to feel sorry for myself or unworthy of success. They never told me that life would be easy or that I should expect anything that I didn’t work for, but they gave me hope for a promising future.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have close friendships with many high achievers who earned their success through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I admire their accomplishments and approach toward their work, and they inspire me to higher standards.

I wish that we saw more messages like that from our leaders and that success would return to high esteem. Imagine what could happen if we valued hope over pity and jealousy.

Related reading:

http://www.hopemonger.com/

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  1. #1 by tdawson55 on July 14, 2014 - 8:22 am

    It seems the only accomplishments our society wants to embrace are those of professional athletes. Any success in business is ridiculed by the left as “no one got there by themselves!” There are many more accomplishments that don’t have anything to do with earning more money than the person down the street. We’ve gotten in the habit of rewarding and recognizing mediocraty in this county. It all begins with “participation trophies, medals and ribbons.” People, especially our young people, learn more when they fail to achieve a goal than they do when they win. There is a certain degree of satisfaction one derives from achieving a goal. Unfortunately, in this age of “selfie” photography, everyone feels they get celebrity status without accomplishing anything at all and we continue to feed into that philosophy with Facebook and all the other online boards.

    I wish we could get back to celebrating excellence and holding excellence in high esteem and recognize achievement for what it is. Neither of those have a monetary value in and of itself, but the rewards are often monetary and there is nothing wrong with that. But the emphasis has been put on money versus reaching for excellence and along the way building self esteem knowing you’ve done the best you can. Everyone particpates in life….not everyone is as successful in reaching their full potential. If we could change the focus to recognizing not everyone has the same talents and abilities, that it doesn’t mean a person can’t be successful. Give thanks for the gifts you have and recognize the responsibility each of us has to use those gifts to the best of our ability knowing the prize isn’t a dollar amount. It’s the personal satisfaction of knowing you did your best with what you have or had. Money has nothing to do with it…

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