Aug 02, 2015


Awakening the Millionaire Within

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No.  A millionaire mind has nothing to do with money.  In fact, focusing on money is the wrong mentality.

When my father was 10 years old, he lost one of his only pair of shoes.  Since his parents were not able to afford a new pair at the time, he went to school with one shoe on and the other foot bare for the remaining of the school year.

I heard this story numerous times growing up, especially during joyful moments when my sister and I were enjoying new toys or new clothes.  In his mind, sharing his personal story of poverty was his way of teaching us to appreciate all that we had.  That was a powerful story.

Despite everything life had given him as an adult (i.e., good health, a good education, a family, businesses), he couldn’t let go of what he didn’t have.

The Poverty Mentality

At the core of the poverty mindset is a constant focus on the lack of: what we don’t have; what we can’t achieve; and what we can’t be.  People with a poverty mentality often see themselves stuck, or as victims of their circumstances.  They fail to see themselves as having a powerful role in the outcome of their life events, opportunities, or success.

The poverty mentality is a state of mind that limits your thinking, attitude, decisions and actions.  Like a perfect self-fulfilling prophecy, individuals with this mindset remain stuck in poverty — financially, socially, relationship-wise, spiritually and emotionally.  Deep down, they see themselves as powerless, poor, having nothing, or not having enough.   When richness (financial, opportunities, relationship) comes their way, they end up throwing it away, spending it away, or giving it away because they still see themselves as poor, not good enough, or undeserving.

Investing On the Wrong Things

When I lived in the city, my next door neighbor used to walk a mile and a half, going from supermarket to supermarket, looking for the best sales.  If five pounds of sugar was 29 cents less in supermarket A, ten blocks away from his home, he would gladly walk the half mile.  Grocery shopping often took several hours, some of it was spent closely reviewing and comparing prices on the weekly circular of the three local supermarkets.

At the end of his shopping journey, he felt triumphant because he had managed to save $9-$12 on his groceries for the week.  But what he perpetually failed to take into account was the value of his time and effort on seeking those more discounted items.  His mistake was to focus on what how much he could save, rather than on how much he could make during that time.  Certainly, investing two or three hours on earning additional income (or working on a business idea) would have been a smarter time investment.

Some may argue that perhaps my neighbor enjoyed the thrill of finding good sales and saving money.  I argue that this is the rationalization of someone with a poverty mentality.

Ditching Big Dreams for Small Reality

I cannot count the number of times I have met individuals who are underemployed for their intelligence, talent and skills.  I meet them everywhere — as sales clerks in department stores; receptionists at medical offices; as teacher assistants in elementary schools — all the time.   I often strike a conversation with them, and if they are young adults, I venture to ask about their plans for college.  In these conversations, I hear the same excuses:

I can’t afford to go to college right now…and I definitely don’t want to take out loans…I don’t want to owe money when I graduate…

I would like to finish my college degree, but I’d rather work and make some money now.  If I stop working, I’ll loose the income from all those years in school…

While a college degree is not a fail-proof promise for financial or personal success, and college is certainly not for everyone, there are plenty of people who really want go to go to college, or complete their education, or get an advanced degree.  What these two excuses have in common is a poverty mentality, the failure to think as an investor. Instead, they focus on the small reality:  how much, how expensive and how long. If they continue to focus on avoiding college loans, that’s exactly where they’ll end up — with no school loans, but also with no future.  They ditch big dreams for small reality.

The Millionaire Mind

Thomas J. Stanley, wrote an insightful book titled The Millionaire Mind, an an analysis and summary of a study focused on individuals with a net worth of at least $1 million.  Through interviews and focus groups,  Stanley studied the characteristics of those in this economic situation.

Surprisingly, high IQ, high SAT scores, academic average or attendance at top universities were not factors associated with their success.  In fact, the average millionaire had a 2.92 GPA (B minus) and SAT scores between 1100 and 1190.  Drive, tenacity and discipline were among the main personal qualities that made them rich.  They also had a millionaire mind.

Those who have a millionaire mentality feel and believe they are in control of what happens to them.  “Life happens to me…” is their mantra.  They think big, and focus on opportunities, not obstacles.  They also associate with positive and successful people.  And most importantly, they value themselves and feel very comfortable promoting themselves.  They are willing to take risks, and act in spite of fear.  Failure is often perceived as a learning opportunity and as an important part of achieving success.

At a spiritual level, individuals with a millionaire mind appreciate what they have, and focus their energy on abundance.  In relationships, they value the positive qualities of others, and often find mates that complement and enhance their lives. In general, life is experienced as a series of opportunities and challenges that are worth facing.

On Part II of this post, we’ll discuss the essential steps to ditching a poverty mentality and awakening the millionaire within.

Graphic source: m-c

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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  1. Great post, especially as I’m thinking about goals for 2011.

  2. I love this! My father tells the story of when he was growing up how he and his brothers had nothing for Christmas one year (he was 9). A neighbor (without knowing) gave them a fruit cake. They survived on that fruit cake for two weeks.

    Every time he tells the story I cry on the inside, but I believe that is why I have such an entrepreneur mindset because of him. Even though his dreams have come true and it was just having his own family that he could love and support. It was a far-fetched dream when he was a child.

    I love my father and all that he has shown me. And I truly appreciate his vision for me letting me know that if I take control over the things I love doing in my life – I can achieve anything I want.

    Love love love this article!

  3. Good post. The Millionaire Next Door is also a great read (same author?)

  4. Hector Morales says:

    “Thoughts Become Things”


  1. […] I of the Awakening the Millionaire Mind post defined the poverty mindset and described how it limits us in all areas of our lives.  It […]

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