3 min read

Nobody Else's Circumstances Matter at All

Nobody Else's Circumstances Matter at All
Photo by Marcin Ciszewski / Unsplash

One form of self-limiting refrain that I'm particularly prone to is the thought that anyone else's story or circumstances matter at all relative to what I'm trying to accomplish. The comparison to others is an extremely self-limiting, ungrateful trap that is way too easy to fall into over and over again.

If this trap is easy for you to avoid, and, by your nature, you never think about this stuff then this is going to be a short read for you! You can stop right here and move along with your day.

But, if you're a highly sensitive over-thinker like me, you may need to beat this concept into the ground a bit so here we go:

The "Financial Underdog" fallacy

The most common observational trip-up I'll make is feeling like a disadvantaged underdog because I'm not rich and/or did not come from wealth. There's a lot to unpack there but growing up in my family we were taught to worship material wealth since it surrounded us but we did not have it. As a result of that experience I'll commonly catch myself saying: "well that person is already rich, of course they can start a company." "Well that person was raised in an entrepreneurial household, of course they have a head start." "That person simply inherited their father's business, how hard is that to do?" And so on.

Any observational thought regarding "the Jones'" or anyone else in general is a complete waste of time and focus. However, here's a metaphor that has helped me squash the "but they are rich and I'm not, poor me" story in particular:

The Craps Table Metaphor

Say you're generationally wealthy and I'm not. We both go to the ATM and withdraw $100. Then we walk over to the craps table in a casino and start betting.

The dice are the same for both of us, as are the rules of the game. If we play the exact same bets, we will win or lose identical sums of money. However, if I play aggressively and get the right breaks from the dice, I could come away from the table with more than the other guy. Likewise if I hold back in fear, feeling like I'm disadvantaged in the first place, I could make less or lose more depending on how the game goes. Nothing that happened before the trip to the craps table makes any difference on that table. It's a closed ecosystem.

Yes, the initial $100 was a lot more to me than it was to the wealthy guy, but what we both chose to do with that same amount is on an equal playing field.

Rich People Screw Up All the Time

The same holds true for starting a business. History tells us that billions of dollars have been squandered by people with wealth and/or financial backing doing stupid things with their businesses. People inherit businesses and drive them into the ground. Angel-backed startups get run by insufferable bosses and repel talent. Families piss away fortunes (hey Vanderbilts!) and dissolve dynasties. Heck, look what happens to many lotto winners or professional sports players coming into big money for the first time. Financial head starts are very often irrelevant.

Running a Business is Really Tough Regardless

Starting and running a successful business is INSANELY HARD. For anyone. In fact, if someone is already rich and chooses a business, that's an incredibly bold and admirable choice. They are choosing to do one of the most difficult things in human existence, even though they don't have to financially! Amazing!

No matter how much money you start out with:

  • You're always going to deal with tough clients and complaints
  • You'll always have to deal with employee and vendor issues
  • You're always going to have to work hard to serve a market with the right product(s)

And so on. It's going to be a tough road no matter what.

Be Grateful And Enjoy the Challenge Most of All

As humans, we thrive on constant challenge and subsequent achievements. It's literally the most important factor driving our daily fulfillment. Tapping into this source every day is what will guarantee success over anything else including financial head starts.

Be grateful for what we have and how far we've come, and push forward without looking left and right constantly. This the way.

Again, maybe this thinking comes naturally to you already– and if so that is fantastic. Logical stoicism and unwavering focus don't come easily to me. Letting go of distractions like "observational comparisons" is real, active work for people like us.

Perhaps this article will help you throw those thoughts away when they distract you on your journey.