If you ask the wrong question – the answer doesn’t matter.
Or is actually dangerous. Just reflect on that a sec. Because there are so many crazy, negative mind viruses circulating in the world today. And when you get infected by them, they distort your thinking and cause you to ask the wrong questions. Or as my good buddy Bob Burg likes to say frequently, check your premise.
This issue became very apparent with a post I made on my FB fan page last night. Here’s what I wrote:
There are so many mind viruses about poverty circulating the world today. And when you’re struggling, you’re very susceptible to them. You want to believe that being poor is somehow noble, spiritual, or virtuous.
But there is nothing inherently righteous about poverty…
It often causes people to lie, cheat, steal and even kill. (Just as money does.) There is nothing spiritual about poverty. Money itself is not inherently righteous either. But it gives you more opportunity to do righteous things!
So Debbie asked, “But seriously how many rich do righteous things with money?”
So let me ask you…
You could say that’s a fair question. But is it the right question to ask? Does it empower you or limit you? Is it really relevant to the point that being rich allows you the opportunity to do righteous things? Or is it a red herring that takes you off course, and reinforces a limiting belief that rich people are greedy, selfish and only help others if they’re getting a tax credit? It's worth thinking about...
Ruth said, “Randy, poor people do not think their situation is noble. Maybe some religious Christian monks think so.”
Okay, let’s check the premise…
I would suggest that MILLIONS of poor people actually do believe it is noble to be poor. And the Christian church is just one of many institutions that perpetuate that limiting belief.
Ruth also adds, “Poverty exist, now days, because of a system that promotes exploitation of everything necessary in order to make profit, including human beings, animals and nature resources. The system tells you in many ways and forms that something is wrong with you, and if you will have this and that you will feel better, safer, prettier, and so on. As a matter of fact, we don't really need that much in order to be happy and have a great interesting, contributing, creative and big life.
“Your brain has been washed since your birth and even before, with stuff called the American Dream. How many cars are enough for you? How many houses are enough? How many boats? Diamonds? The American Dream is a lie, so you will buy a lot of things that you don't really need, however, someone is being exploited in order that you will have things that you don't need.”
Where do I begin? There are enough premises here that if I believed in them all I would stick my head in the oven.
Let’s start with, “because of a system that promotes exploitation of everything necessary in order to make profit.” Is that really true? I believe it is in some cases. Some companies exploit things for an immediate profit. But do they survive long-term in the marketplace? Not usually. True prosperity is always a value-for-value exchange. The more value a company provides to its customers, the better they do.
Ruth is talking about the media viruses when she say we get programmed to want things to feel “better, safer, prettier, and so on.” I’d agree with that. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of those things offered actually can make you better, safer and prettier, and as an individual, I want the freedom to do my own critical thinking and choices. But obviously Ruth is right that this is a factor and we need to be aware of it.
But want to hear how crazy dangerous this can get?
Yesterday, Israel passed a law making it illegal for advertisements to use models who are too skinny. Seriously. If their body fat percentage is too low, they don’t work. The government feels skinny models promote eating disorders, so they simply made it illegal to be a model and be skinny!
I thought the politicians in the U.S. were getting out of control, but this new law by the Israeli government is the most over-reaching craziness I’ve seen in a long time. Somebody asked the wrong question…
Let’s look at some of the other questions Ruth asked: “How many cars are enough for you? How many houses are enough? How many boats? Diamonds?”
Fair questions I guess. But are they the right questions? Are they serving us and taking us to more prosperous place, or pandering to limiting beliefs we have?
I like sports cars. And when I go out for dinner, I like to make sure my car matches my shoes. I like having homes in different spots in the world. Couldn’t care less for boats, since I get seasick. But I look fabulous in diamonds. So I can make the argument that having larger quantities of some of these things enhance and enrich my life, so therefor are prosperous.
So what’s the real reason for those questions?
I would suggest they are a reactive, knee-jerk reaction created by limiting beliefs. When someone asks, “how much is enough,” I believe it is a prejudicial question - designed to affirm that people who desire more of something are somehow greedy and uncaring. Obviously not consciously, but subconsciously.
Finally, I can’t let the last statement go unquestioned: She says,” The American Dream is a lie, so you will buy a lot of things that you don't really need, however, someone is being exploited in order that you will have things that you don't need.”
Let’s check the premise again…
First of all, I’m living the American Dream, and it is no lie to me. I was fortunate enough to be born in the only country ever founded on the principles of free enterprise and I have worked hard to realize the potential it offers me. I am blessed and grateful to live in a place where one really can achieve their dreams. I respect anyone else’s opinion if they believe the American dream is a lie. But I’m not buying that.
I buy lots of things I don’t need. I don’t “need” massages, Jimmy Buffet albums, or the hot new softball bat I just ordered. I buy them because I want them and they bring joy to my life. And if we check the premise, we’d have a hard time making the case that my masseuse, Jimmy Buffet or the bat company were exploited because I decided to purchase their wares. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite: Both parties prosperity was enriched, because we negotiated a fair exchange of value. And we haven’t even looked at the spin inherent in the question – that things we “want” and don’t “need” are somehow evil.
I respect anyone’s right to live as an ascetic and if that brings them happiness, I am happy for them. But that’s not my definition of happiness and I don't want anyone trying to force it on me.
So what have we learned?
Well it’s pretty fascinating that from three short paragraphs I have taken five pages of type just to question the underlying premises of those statements. And that is a very important lesson in how accepting things as fact and operating your life by them can be very dangerous to your health, wellness and prosperity.