We must avoid this specific mindset.
On our Christmas trip last month, while in Zurich, Switzerland, and riding in an Uber with my daughters, we engaged in an interesting conversation with the driver.
The immediate neighborhood where our hotel was located had many grand and beautiful homes. As we drove by, my older daughter, Reni, asked the driver, “Are these private homes or just more hotels?”
The driver answered, “They are private homes—very expensive.”
Reni responded, “I’d love to own one of these one day,”
The driver and I responded to her simultaneously! I said, “Great, dear. Just dream it, work hard, and you can have it.”
The driver said, “No, no, you don’t want to own a home here. Once you do, the government assumes you have lots of millions, and you don’t get anything for free anymore. Your children won’t have any benefits. You won’t get anything for free again. So it’s better not to have money to buy these kinds of homes.”
I was obviously shocked, disappointed, and saddened by his outlook on life. He was a young guy in his 20s.
This is what I refer to as “poverty mentality.” I have encountered many people with those beliefs. Younger and older people who limit themselves by rationing their successes in life. People who plan their lives around what they can gain from the government instead of dreaming big, soaring high, and then finding ways to contribute what they’ve earned to great causes.
I have encountered people with the poverty mentality in every country I’ve lived in—they exist in my birth country of Nigeria, there were many in England, and a high number in the US. I encounter many youngsters in my medical practice who already have that mentality and are only teenagers. Obviously, these beliefs have been passed down from the adults and influences around them.
The belief that you can conveniently and consciously avoid getting a good enough education or a good enough job so that you can enjoy all the perks of the government—free or subsidized housing, food stamps, free health insurance, free education, and so on—is poverty mentality.
I have encountered numerous patients in my office who have Medicaid and who obtain food stamps but drive flashy cars like Land Rovers and Range Rovers and wear the latest and flashiest sneakers. It’s a mindset I’ll never understand, because I wasn’t raised in that mindset.
The Uber driver was opinionated and passionate about his advice to my daughter. However, I’m so glad I could be there as a positive role model for her. After we exited the car, she was obviously taken aback by his response also, so I didn’t even have to do much explaining. She had already understood what was really wrong with his reaction.
I’m all for helping people who truly don’t have enough money or resources. I contribute to these causes through my church and even outside church. People who are truly living in poverty for genuine reasons—such as they work hard for low wages, or they’re removing themselves from domestic abuse situations and still finding their footing, among others reasons—will garner my help and aid. Disabled people will receive my help any day. It’s actually sad that some disabled kids can’t even get all the services they need anymore because the Medicaid system is overburdened by so many people who really shouldn’t be receiving these services.
The poverty mentality leads to a stuck and static life. It’s a mentality that gets no one anywhere. It’s a comfortably static nonrevolving life. Those with a poverty mentality mindset will never fully realize their dreams, life purposes, and real contributions to the universe.
It’s OK for the government to lift and aid you up during difficult times, but not forever and certainly not indefinitely.
We must all, within our power, do what we can to get a good education—academic or technical—graduate, get a job, open a business, and make our own contribution to society. We will never end poverty in the world or cure all diseases if a substantial number of people still hold this mentality to heart, limit their personal success, and look to governments for so much help.
I know this is a controversial topic. People get very passionate about their own views with this subject. However, I respectfully stand by my views on this.
If it helps only a handful of people out there to reevaluate the role of government help in their everyday sustenance, then I’ve made the necessary impact.
These people will implement changes in their lives, then will see the growth and freedom it brings and go on to spread the truth to others.
Be financially free starting in 2018.