Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
It is the beginning of June; in a month we will celebrate our nation's two hundred thirty-sixth birthday. This week's edition of TIME magazine ends with an editorial opinion that few people in he United States actually rise from humble beginnings to become members of the ultra-rich one percent. The article further observes that many dwellers in the golden one percent inherited their wealth.
It seems that the author feels that too many people are denied access to the big money. This may be true, but too often it is by their own choices. This author chose love instead of money. Alfred Land pursued new and far superior photography. Bill Gates worked tirelessly to develop computer programs. Inspiration is the key to success. Many people consider themselves successful even if they aren't among the top half of earners in the United States.
Men and women who have worked hard to prepare themselves for high earning positions or have worked hard consistently to move up in the large firm where they work have often reached a comfortable life style by middle age. There are several hallmarks which increase the odds of achieving social and economic success. The following paragraphs contain a partial list of suggestions this author has too often learned from omission, but intended to supply the reader with facts not often mentioned or advocated in school or family.
Family can provide a child with many, many assets and liabilities. This author's mother became seriously inebriated on Thanksgiving Day in 1941. The gravity of this was not associated with the act for fifty years although mother had complained about a few of the symptoms all of her life. His father failed in the patience department to his own disappointment. Because of Dad's impatience I was seriously handicapped in hand-eye coordination, and Dad's dream of my prowess in sports never materialized. When I became able to beat him at chess, he was no longer interested in playing.
J. Squier had an effective and nurturing meal program. Evening meals were shared by all of the family at home. Breakfasts were prepared to order by J. She would sit with a cup of coffee and chat with the family member. It was a great way to build and maintain open and relaxed family relations.
Tiger Woods learned and was inspired to love golf by his father.
Among the forty-three Presidents of the United States, eight of these men were blood relatives.
Money is only a moderate predictor of success. R. E. P. expressed his philosophy of life in this sentence: "Money may not be everything in life, but it sure beats whatever is in second place." Obviously, money and family often go together, but among the super wealthy I have known, not one person reached and stayed in the golden one percent as a result of inheritance.
Education is a strong predictor. Alfred Land was a college graduate as are George Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and William Hecht. There are also countless millions of other college graduates who are living comfortable lives, and there are plenty of people of great distinction without a college degree even though they may have attended college. Among these are Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Rush Limbaugh, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, William deFleurville, Booker T. Washington, Elvis Presley, and so many others. These people cultivated their abilities to make our world and our nation a better place.
Study the lives and successes of the winners in life. Those who fixate on losers often join them.
Personal drive is an important part of success in life. If you want a nice lawn, you must cut the grass. If you truly want to leave this world a better place for your having been here, try to live, work, and grow within the laws and social contracts of life.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow left us with these instructions:
"Lives of great men all remind us
At Christmas 1960 I gave my brother an electronics catalogue. It cost me nothing to get, but I was pleased that it was such a springboard to get him involved. As a young man, Joe Biden discovered that he had a talent to warm up to people, and now he is Vice President. It is an old adage that "If you love what you do, then you will never have to work a day in your life."
When Lyndon B. Johnson was President, a woman in Torrington, Connecticut suffered from a chronic disease. Her husband turned down a promotion at work to spend more time with her. His decision was wise, but it still cost him a few dollars. Will Durant married his wife, Ariel, when she was fourteen and he was twenty-seven. His work and their beautiful story can be found in many libraries. They never rose to the pinnacle of financial success, but joy isn't always measured in dollars and cents.
One day my daughter Abby complained to me that her sister Allison was frequently giving her grief. I answered, "Abby, you're a smart girl, and I know that if you think about it, you will realize that you also do things that irritate her. If you can stop irritating Allison, then she will stop irritating you." I never heard another word about this problem.
Not all success is measured in money. Not every person is born with the same intellect, the same good looks, or the same physical abilities. Some people are born with great desire, and some develop it. Successful entrepreneurs all possess an abundance of desire. Success is built on detail. Detail allows the individual to repeat the success. Even the pet dog may sit by the door to ask to go out to do his business. Then he returns to the door where he expects to be let back into the warm house.
Upward mobility is built on the existing system. Pocahontas learned to speak English better that three quarters of the people in London, but Capt. John Smith began by greeting her in her native tongue. She decided she wanted to learn to speak English, and she studied and practiced with desire and dedication so well that she was introduced to the Queen of England.
If someone wants to have money, he should seek to learn how to earn it. If he can't read very well, he should spend more time reading. If he has nothing to read, he should borrow books or magazines to read, and he can ask neighbors, friends, or the library to lend the books or magazines or yesterday's newspapers.
The very first lesson every person needs to learn in life is RESPECT. Before someone can follow the advice in the preceding paragraph, he must first learn RESPECT. Pocahontas was impressed by the respect Capt. John Smith accorded to her and her father, Powhatan. It is always easiest to learn respect from your parents, but if they have no respect, it is still possible for a young person to learn respect. It is just far more difficult.
So - Upward Mobility is built on steps. These steps are selectively provided by government employees. Not everyone gets the right steps given automatically, but with enough dedication, hard work, and desire he can succeed. Consult your Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Recruiter for requirements and opportunities.
© L. Henry Platt, Jr.