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TRIGGER ALERT, I’M WARNING YOU: This article refers back to past days (“days of yore” for the literate) with fondness, not condemnation.

I grew up poor. We literally didn’t always have the rent money ($40) and we had collection agencies calling us on a very sturdy landline phone—I say “sturdy” because my father would slam down the receiver with a vengeance. But almost all of us in the neighborhood were poor. All the parents drove used cars (at one time we had a DeSoto with no working reverse gear) and, all of us kids, somehow knew that we could have a better life. Not one of us talked about living like our parents lived, in small apartments in crowded buildings. We all assumed one day we’d have a car, a house, a family, and a vacation at the Jersey Shore. (New Jersey, alone among coastal states, does not have “beaches,” it has a “shore.”)

My observation of subsequent generations, growing up in those houses we actually did buy, and borrowing those cars, and going to the shore (until they were too old and felt it was beneath them) is that they expected things to continually get better naturally, as if by some law of inevitability. Then we started hearing (repeatedly) from breathless news people, “This generation is in danger of not living as good a life as their parents for the first time in history!!” (huffing and puffing here).

You have to hunger for something, not merely expect it. You have to really want something, not believe you can merely wait for it. I realized early that I could never make my kids poor, never put them in the place that I was once in. But we could provide them with values and a sense of having to earn, to invest time and energy, and to work.

A lot of people believe that they’re arisen in the morning, gotten themselves dressed, and had breakfast, so now: What’s the world going to do for me, I’m ready for my entrance. Well, the world doesn’t care. Maybe you need to contribute something, create something, do some hard work. I know, you weren’t expecting that. Well, good luck.

Don’t kill the messenger. Check up above. I warned you. Just like they do in the schools in what passes for education today.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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