The Biggest Lie We Tell Our Kids

Posted By on April 18, 2009

Have you ever said to your child or to a loved one, “You can be anything you want to be, anything you dream of being”? If you have, you are not alone, but I’m sorry to tell you that you lied. Not deliberately, of course, but it is a blatant falsehood. Shocked? Don’t be. Instead, it’s time to stop the madness and get real. That’s hard to do, because our culture has inculcated this belief in our unlimited potential in most every one of us, just as we have all been taught to believe that money doesn’t bring happiness—which is also untrue.

W. Clement Stone, the insurance man and author of numerous books on success, who in the last century was the richest man in Chicago, was famous for saying, “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” This ultimate optimist had the best of intentions, I’m sure. And it’s a message that we all want to hear: Sure, I want to be Warren Buffet, or at least have his billions. I wouldn’t mind looking like Brad Pitt while I’m at it, and I would love to play tennis like Roger Federer, but those qualities are simply not in my genetic code.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have other intrinsic strengths that have fueled or enhanced my success, however. What we should help our children to do is find those innate qualities and make the most of them. What’s more, we should be doing this exercise ourselves if we haven’t yet realized our own fullest potential. (Watch for future posts on how to do that.) We all have unique strengths and talents—understanding them and maximizing them is critical to success—indeed, to happiness.

The most important thing I learned while researching my book and interviewing the richest self-made person in each of the 100 largest American cities is that we can’t be just anything we want to be. The good news, however, is that we can be so much more of what we innately are. We all come into this world with certain gifts, abilities, and inclinations. The key to success, and ultimately to wealth creation, is understanding what our own unique strengths are and then building a career or a business around them. There is real power in optimism, but there is even greater power in finding what I call your perfect pitch. Want examples? There are precisely 100 of them in The Richest Man in Town. Read it and reap.

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About The Author

W. Randall Jones is the author of The Richest Man in Town. Visit the About W. Randall Jones and About The Richest Man in Town pages to learn more.