There are six words that I think are most responsible for keeping people stuck in the middle class. Six little words that hold more people back. Six words that have the power to keep people right where they are…for life.
It’s not “I did not have any opportunities.” Hardly.
It’s not “I did not have the time.” Please.
Those words are nothing compared to the real words that constrain people to the middle class. You see, the real limiting words are clever phrases of self-deception. They are lies that are conveniently worded to make them sound good, but that cover up the real truth.
And what are those six bad words?
It’s this – “I just want to be comfortable.” Or their evil twin, “I just want to have balance.”
These are the pet phrases of the middle class. But what they really are is code for an inconvenient truth. The real truth behind those phrases is this – “I want more out of life, but I’m not willing to put in any additional effort to get it. I would rather stay where I’m at and be less that I’m capable of, if it means that I have to endure even the slightest discomfort to get ahead.”
The myth of “just being comfortable” gets shattered
Well, today I’m going to shatter the myth of “just wanting to be comfortable” and expose it for the white lie that it truly is.
To get started, I have a few questions for you:
Does it feel comfortable, when you don’t go after your true desires? Do you feel comfortable knowing that you are capable of more and just aren’t doing it? Does it feel comfortable when you feel that pang of jealousy when you see someone else doing what you know you should, and could, be doing? Do you say to yourself, “When I feel that biting pang of jealousy, I feel so comfortable!” The answer is obviously no.
You see, there’s a popular belief that we live in a moment where many ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. That’s simply not true. The real truth, and greater tragedy, is this – we live in a moment where extraordinary people are just doing ordinary things.
What’s going on here? Let me explain.
Many people that are in the middle class today were either born directly into the middle class or within close proximity of it. That’s a function of the prosperity of this great country – the middle class has swelled to become the largest income class.
But there’s a problem that plagues many in the middle class and it’s this – settling. It happens like this –they start off in a comfortable middle class environment, they go to a comfortable school and get a comfortable degree that earns them a comfortable living. And then they just… settle.
That comfortable six figure salary affords them all the comforts of life – a decent house, two cars, college educations for their children, and a maybe a hobby or two. Life is good. But is it?
The middle class has been taken over
Here’s the problem – the middle class has not grown so much as that it has been taken over. It’s been combined with the lower income class to form one larger class. You see, real (adjusted for inflation) middle class income has been on a steady decline since peaking in 1999.
If it feels like you are not getting ahead, it’s because you are not getting ahead. Those paltry 3% annual raises that companies give in the good years, are offset with no raises or layoffs in the slow years. The result is no net gain, or worse, declines in real net income.
The problem is this – There’s nothing like a six figure salary to lull people into thinking they have the good life. After all, they aren’t living under a bridge and their children aren’t going hungry. So, they are doing alright…they think.
But Bill Gates said it best when he said “a little bit of success is a terrible teacher.” He’s right. Complacency is a killer to success. It can make a person want to do just enough to stay where they are, but not so much as to cause any discomfort.
T. Harv Eaker, said it best in his great book “The Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind.” He explained this middle class malady perfectly using a cake analogy:
Poor people don’t believe they deserve cake, so they order a doughnut, focus on the hole, and wonder why they have “nothing.”
Rich people believe “You can have your cake and eat it too.”
And what about the middle class?
Middle class people believe “Cake is too rich, so I’ll only have a little piece.”
You see, just enough cake to be comfortable, but not one bite more of the good life.
So, they tell themselves a lie – that they just want to stay right where they are – comfortable. When in reality, they want more but they’re not willing to do the extra work to get there.
But the problem is this – “being comfortable” isn’t as safe and rewarding as they thought it might be. The downsizing, the layoffs, and the re-leveling exercises shake them out of their cocoon. The cost of living keeps going up but their income stays the same. They look at their bank balance after all these years and realize that they’ve went exactly nowhere.
So here’s the point of today’s essay – life doesn’t stand still. It’s a constantly moving parade. You are either in it, or your getting left behind. You weren’t designed to be complacent.
Your willingness to be a little uncomfortable in order to achieve all that you are capable of, is directly related to how you end up in life. You see, the uncomfortableness is there to accelerate your progress, not to hold you back.
“I have news for you: Your pride will lie to you. It will tell you that you are doing just fine in life and that you should just relax. But know this – the bank account never lies.”
I have news for you: Your pride will lie to you. It will tell you that you are doing just fine in life and that you should just relax. But know this – the bank account never lies.
If you are not where you need to be financially, where you know that are capable of being, then my advice to you is to drop the “comfortable” and “balance” talk and do this…
Get hungry again.
You see, it is hunger for the life that you deserve, that will drive you to find new answers. New ways. New opportunities for success. As Roosevelt said, it is the man in the arena that is truly living, not the spectators. And to be in the arena, you must be hungry.
Remember, great conquest demands uncomfortableness and imbalance. The truth about success is that you’re going to have to do quite a few uncomfortable things that other people just won’t consider doing. But isn’t that the hallmark of those that have achieved greatness? – They were willing to do what others would not do, so that they could get what others do not have.
To get the better life, you have to put yourself in a position where the idea of a better life and your audacious dreams bring you to your feet and stir an unrest in you. You have to sign up for something so out of reach that you are forced to take your abilities to the next level.
Don’t avoid the things that you know you must do.
Don’t remain underdeveloped. Under-evolved. Stale. Stuck.
Greatness for those that just want to be comfortable is but a fantasy. They’ve been blinded by their own lies.
But not you.
You are willing to do what you need to do.
You are willing to do the work for greatness.
You are willing to do the things that hurt until you realize your full potential and get to the place where you can celebrate being the best you can be!
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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