8 Reasons Why We’re Not Part of the One-Percent Club

November 15, 2011  |  
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The Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the nation, with new factions popping up in new cities as we speak. Though specific agendas vary, there is one very clear purpose behind this leaderless coalition: spread the wealth. And, while some have found refuge in the movement, others have been inspired by their exclusion from the one-percent club. However, it is not the sort of inspiration that marches through the streets or chants in the cold rain. It is the reality-check that comes with self-made economic success stories, such as GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain, telling them, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, it’s your fault;” it is the inspiration that cultivates ideas, creates and innovates.

Rich is a subjective term, but perhaps, there is some truth to the aforementioned. Economic success rarely comes to the faint of heart and those resistant to sacrifice. Although many of us would like to be wealthy, few are willing to do what it takes to get there; and, for reasons such as those listed below, we are not part of the $350,000 (roughly the amount of income it takes to be among the nation’s wealthiest) and up crowd:

Limited sacrifice
Since most of us don’t come from a legacy of CEOs, we are tasked with staking claim to our piece of pie. Building private businesses and running corporations requires a significant amount of sacrifice. Executives often struggle to balance work and life. As a result, many end up divorced and overworked. In the beginning, financial sacrifices are usually made also. Engulfed by hyper-consumerism and materialism, a good chunk of Americans care more about what designer shoes they are wearing today than where investments can and will take them tomorrow.

The desire for instant gratification
For every rule, there is at least one exception. And, we like to base our lives on being exceptions to the rules. Optimism is good when approached in a realistic manner. Overnight successes like Facebook are few and far between. Most companies take a few years to become profitable and even longer to become really profitable. Some never get there at all. In fact, many of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs have failed multiple times.

Inability to commit long-term
Commitment is something we have begun to struggle with, especially the younger generation of Americans known as the Millenials (myself included) who are known for “moving on” whenever they don’t like something. The path to wealth is not an easy one, and it entails dedication and full commitment. You can’t half-a** your way to the top and their will definitely be some bumpy roads before you can smooth sail.

A parasitic mentality
Essentially, the wealthiest individuals are leaders in their own right. And, leaders look for what they can do for others not what others can do for them. Whether it is through business services, product development or charitable contributions, they are more preoccupied with being in the position to be providers of some service or essential rather than consumers of these things.

Low expectations
There are people who unknowingly live under a glass ceiling, and others who willfully see the sky as the limit. One can only soar as high as their expectations. Most of us will fall short for a variety of reasons, but based on personal limitations, “failure” takes on various faces.

Absence of doggedness
Economic success involves a certain amount of tenacity and resolve. Ten no’s and 20 slammed doors can’t break your spirit of confidence if you’ve got huge aspirations. Great financial gains frequently entail risk-taking. Few are as bold as they think or would like to believe.

Missing spirit of excellence by any means
Steve Jobs is a beloved figure in America, and he will be highly regarded as one of the most brilliant men of the millennium. But, he was also a jerk. He expected a great deal of work from his employees and, more importantly, he expected the same excellence from himself. A true desire for success doesn’t leave room for excuses or half-heartedness. Instead, it consistently pursues perfection.

Not knowing something about a particular subject does not hinder the individual relentlessly pursuing the “American Dream.” Successful people are typically well-read. They are constantly educating themselves. It doesn’t take an MIT degree in computer engineering to start a software company if you are willing to do the necessary research. Too often, we 99-percenters limit ourselves to what we have studied in school or by trade. Once we covet diplomas, that’s about it.

It is important to remember, ultimately, everyone in this country began at the bottom. And, in many ways, it is our approach to life that separates the haves from the have-nots. Be part of the inspired “99 Percent,” because the only one who can change your circumstances is you.

LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio. Visit her blog Politically Unapologetic for more on love, life and culture, or follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.

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