Humility Makes Great Teachers


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Some people have it hard and some people have it easy.

Of the 233 millionaires in my Rich Habits study, fifty-six were raised in wealthy households and 177 were self-made (41% came from poverty and 59% from the middle-class). The differences in the habits, thinking and decision-making between those who inherited their wealth and those who created their own wealth was, in many instances, very significant.

One of the glaring things I discovered, was that the majority of those who inherited their wealth seemed much more arrogant. Because they were born into money, they took for granted their wealth and they took for granted their amazing life. I got the distinct impression that they felt superior to me and, I suppose, to many others in society who were not born rich. There was a hubris in the way they conducted themselves that seemed to ooze out of them in conversation. And it made me uncomfortable talking to them. I did not enjoy interviewing those millionaires. Plus, I did not learn as much from them as I thought I would. Arrogant people, I learned, make very poor teachers.

The self-made millionaires, on the other hand, were not only a joy to interview, they were a real-life education in what it takes to become successful. What I found most endearing was their humility. Unlike the inherited millionaires, the self-made’s were a humble lot. And I now know why. Success came hard for them. They suffered constant rejection, endured costly mistakes, overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and nearly 1/3 of them suffered humiliating failures that almost destroyed their families. Their pursuit of success humbled them.

Despite their success, they remained humble. And they remained humble because they understood all too well that the difference between success and failure was often a very fine line. One separated only by persistence and a never quit on your dreams attitude.

I don’t think you can learn much from inherited millionaires. They don’t have the scars and battle wounds that often teach valuable lessons. The real teachers were the self-made millionaires. Their struggles humbled them and made them great teachers.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. I share the same sentiment. This is because there was not a “process” for these millionaires whom inherited their wealth. The mentality that you’ve so expertly observed and studied is cultivated over an extended period of time. These individuals will never have the opportunity to experience that.

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