America’s growing wealth gap, the great divide between the rich and poor, is a reflection of how America’s haves and have-nots were raised by their parents.
How do I know?
I spent five years interviewing 177 self-made millionaires and 128 poor people and documented what I learned in something I call my Rich Habits Study.
What I learned from my five-year study was that habits are contagious.
Almost all of these self-made millionaires picked up specific habits from their parents that gave them a leg up and enabled them to accumulate millions of dollars.
Nicolas Christakis, a Yale University professor and leading researcher on socially contagious behaviors, supports my findings in his own research.
He also found that habits are contagious; passed from parents to children, good or bad.
Here are some of the discoveries he made in his own studies regarding habits:
- Habits spread like a virus through your social networks.
- Parents pass good and bad habits down to their children.
- If your family is obese, your risk of obesity increases by 25%.
- If your family smokes cigarettes, you are more likely to smoke.
- If your family exercises, you are more likely to exercise.
- If your family does not value education, you will not, either.
- If your family has a negative outlook, you are more likely to be negative.
- The habits you learn from your parents shape the life you lead.
Here are some of the habits I found the self-made millionaires in my study picked up from their parents:
You create your life.
Self-mades were taught that they were the architects of their lives.
You and you alone create the circumstances that make you rich or poor.
Take individual responsibility when things go wrong.
Self-mades were not allowed to play the victim.
They were taught to take personal responsibility for the good and bad in life and were not allowed to blame anyone but themselves when things went wrong — because things always go wrong in life.
Respect the law.
They learned from their parents to respect police and law enforcement officials.
If they broke the law, their parents punished them severely.
Seek your main purpose.
They were exposed to numerous novel activities.
The purpose of this was to help their kids discover their in-born talents.
Most parents don’t do this.
Most lock their kids into one or two activities for ten years or more.
As a result, kids never have an opportunity to explore different activities.
There’s just not enough time to learn something new when you spend most of that time on travel teams.
Ultimately, 93% of respondents raised this way either liked or loved their jobs as adults.
When you find and use your innate talents to make money, that leads to happiness and financial success because you will want to devote more time to anything you love doing.
When you can make money doing what you love, this leads you to your true calling in life.
Pursue your dreams and goals.
Sixty-one percent were required to dream-set. Dream-setting is the process of writing out a script of your ideal perfect life.
This script then becomes a blueprint for your life.
Many people fail at achieving goals because they were taught the wrong definition of a goal: that goals are broad objectives, like making $100,000 a year.
That’s a dream, not a goal.
Ninety-seven percent of these self-made millionaires were taught a very different definition of a goal: All goals require physical action and all goals must be 100% achievable, meaning you have the knowledge and skills to pursue the goal.
Eighty percent were taught to focus on one stretch goal (long-term goal) until they achieved it.
Goals and dreams are not the same thing.
You create goals around each dream, and when you realize all of the goals, you realize your dream.
Acquiring wealth is a good thing.
Ninety-seven percent were taught that wealthy people are good, honest, and hardworking.
They are not evil or greedy.
Work hard for what you want.
The self-mades were not given things by their parents.
They were required to work for the things they wanted.
At an early age (9 or 10) the had to work to buy things they wanted.
Fifty-five percent were forced to work 10 or more hours per month.
Respect other people’s property.
They were taught by their parents to respect the hard-earned property of others.
Improve yourself daily.
Eighty-eight percent were required to read educational books a minimum of 30 minutes or more every day.
Fifty-four percent were required to learn new words to expand their vocabulary.
Sixty-eight percent were programmed for college — they were indoctrinated with the idea at an early age that they would be going to college.
Use time productively.
The parents of self-made millionaires didn’t allow their kids to waste time on TV, video games, social media, or the Internet.