Oh yes, Hollywood’s version of success! Either the wealthy are portrayed as evil or as an overnight success story. How many movies have you seen that make a business person the antagonist, or the bad guy? What about movies that have homeless people or kids switching places with someone who seems to have it all or experiencing a windfall of cash? Let’s put a real version up on the screen and see how the movies get it wrong.
1. Wealthy and successful people are not synonymous with evil people. In fact, looking over crime rate statistics one can see a correlation between lower income and failure as leading to crime. Who gives more to charity, funds more scholarships, and contribute more to the economy? The successful do.
2. Overnight success stories just don’t happen. Yes, there are some people who gain instant fame (it’s the 15 minutes Andy Warhol spoke of), but that doesn’t make them a success. In the 1960s Beatlemania swept through several countries, and they may have seemed like an overnight success. They were anything but. The Beatles spent years playing for hours on end, rehearsing, and working together. It was no accident that they were so good – they earned it. Of course, you could argue about the sheer level of their success (which still remains decades after they broke up), but don’t confuse that with their being an overnight success story.
3. Those who contribute most to society get the biggest rewards. This isn’t meant to sound politically incorrect, but one of the reasons kids and homeless people aren’t wealthy is that they don’t contribute as much. Now, with kids there are exceptions, and history gives us examples of kids that make a positive difference (music prodigies, inventors, and athletes for example). The youngsters portrayed in the movies we’re talking about are normal, suburban kids.
4. Success doesn’t change who you are. So, why does Hollywood turn wealthy businesspeople into villains? One of the main reasons is so they can be redeemed, usually by someone who appears to be a failure. The antithesis of this is the rags to riches story where instant wealth and success corrupts the protagonist. In both cases, the movies get it wrong. Wealth and success don’t change who we are, but it can amplify it.
5. Windfalls do not equal financial security. There are several cases of people who won millions of dollars in the lottery only to end up broke a short time later. How could someone go from such a windfall back to where they were (or worse)? To figure that out, we need to consider why they were in a poor financial situation in the first place. In other words, they were not good managers of the money they had, and that mismanagement was multiplied after they came into the easy money.
Let’s not fault Hollywood for making such movies. After all, they are there to entertain, and fiction and fantasy are the tools of their trade. Remember, though, that these are just stories and don’t reflect real life. I will tell you what they won’t: Wealth and success are worthwhile pursuits with worthwhile rewards.
Michael Oksa is the publisher of the Income Success Journal. Get your free subscription which includes frequent updates of success tips, techniques, and methods used by the world’s most successful people. Plus, you get the monthly newsletter at no additional charge.
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