99% of Us Are the Donkey… Be the Driver Instead
When we left off, rich dad had just told Mike and I something that didn’t quite make sense to us.
He’d said we can’t work for money. And we can’t let the fear of no money, or the desire for money, drive our work ethic.
“So what do we do?” I asked. “Not work for money until all traces of fear and greed are gone?”
“No, that would be a waste of time,” said rich dad. “Emotions are what make us human. The word ‘emotion’ stands for ‘energy in motion.’ Be truthful about your emotions and use your mind and emotions in your favor, not against yourself.”
“Whoa!” said Mike.
“Don’t worry about what I just said. It will make more sense in years to come. Just be an observer, not a reactor, to your emotions. Most people do not know that it’s their emotions that are doing the thinking. Your emotions are your emotions, but you have got to learn to do your own thinking.”
“Can you give me an example?” I asked.
“Sure,” replied rich dad. “When a person says, ‘I need to find a job,’ it’s most likely an emotion doing the thinking. Fear of not having money generates that thought.”
“But people do need money if they have bills to pay,” I said.
“Sure they do,” smiled rich dad. “All I’m saying is that it’s fear that is all too often doing the thinking.”
“I don’t understand,” said Mike.
“For example,” said rich dad. “If the fear of not having enough money arises, instead of immediately running out to get a job, they instead might ask themselves this question: ‘Will a job be the best solution to this fear over the long run?’ In my opinion, the answer is no. A job is really a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”
“But my dad is always saying, ‘Stay in school and get good grades, so you can find a safe, secure job,’” I interjected, somewhat confused.
“Yes, I understand he says that,” said rich dad, smiling. “Most people recommend that, and it’s a good path for most people. But people make that recommendation primarily out of fear.”
“You mean my dad says that because he’s afraid?”
“Yes,” said rich dad. “He’s terrified that you won’t earn enough money and won’t fit into society. Don’t get me wrong. He loves you and wants the best for you. I too believe an education and a job are important, but it won’t handle the fear. You see, that same fear that makes him get up in the morning to earn a few bucks is the fear that is causing him to be so fanatical about your going to school.”
“So what do you recommend?” I asked.
“I want to teach you to master the power of money, instead of being afraid of it. They don’t teach that in school and, if you don’t learn it, you become a slave to money.”
It was finally making sense. He wanted us to widen our views and to see what the employees of this world couldn’t see. He used examples that sounded cruel at the time, but I’ve never forgotten them.
My Vision Widened That Day
I began to see the trap that lay ahead for most people.
“You see, we’re all employees ultimately. We just work at different levels,” said rich dad.
“I just want you boys to have a chance to avoid the trap caused by those two emotions, fear and desire. Use them in your favor, not against you. That’s what I want to teach you. I’m not interested in just teaching you to make a pile of money. That won’t handle the fear or desire. If you don’t first handle fear and desire, and you get rich, you’ll only be a highly paid slave.”
I asked him,
“So how do we avoid the trap?”
“The main cause of poverty or financial struggle is fear and ignorance, not the economy or the government or the rich. It’s self-inflicted fear and ignorance that keep people trapped. So you boys go to school and get your college degrees, and I’ll teach you how to stay out of the trap.”
The pieces of the puzzle were appearing.
My highly educated dad had a great education and a great career, but school never told him how to handle money or his fear of it. It became clear that I could learn different and important things from two fathers.
“So you’ve been talking about the fear of not having money. How does the desire for money affect our thinking?” Mike asked.
“How did you feel when I tempted you with a pay raise? Did you notice your desires rising?”
We nodded our heads.
“By not giving in to your emotions, you were able to delay your reactions and think. That is important. We will always have emotions of fear and greed. From here on in, it’s imperative for you to use those emotions to your advantage, and for the long term to not let your emotions control your thinking. Most people use fear and greed against themselves. That’s the start of ignorance. Most people live their lives chasing paychecks, pay raises and job security because of the emotions of desire and fear, not really questioning where those emotion-driven thoughts are leading them. It’s just like the picture of a donkey dragging a cart with its owner dangling a carrot in front of its nose. The donkey’s owner may be going where he wants to, but the donkey is chasing an illusion. Tomorrow there will only be another carrot for the donkey.”
“You mean the moment I picture a new baseball glove, candy and toys, that’s like a carrot to a donkey?” Mike asked.
“Yes, and as you get older, your toys get more expensive—a new car, a boat, and a big house to impress your friends,” said rich dad with a smile. “Fear pushes you out the door, and desire calls to you. That’s the trap.”
“So what’s the answer,” Mike asked.
“What intensifies fear and desire is ignorance. That is why rich people with lots of money often have more fear the richer they get. Money is the carrot, the illusion. If the donkey could see the whole picture, it might rethink its choice to chase the carrot.”
The Struggle Between Ignorance and Illumination
Rich dad explained that once a person stops searching for information and self-knowledge, ignorance sets in. That struggle is a moment-to-moment decision—to learn to open or close one’s mind.
“Look, school is very important. You go to school to learn a skill or profession to become a contributing member of society. Every culture needs teachers, doctors, mechanics, artists, cooks, businesspeople, police officers, firefighters, and soldiers. Schools train them so society can thrive and flourish,” said rich dad. “Unfortunately, for many people school is the end, not the beginning.”
There was a long silence. Rich dad was smiling.
I didn’t comprehend everything he said that day.
But as with most great teachers, his words continued to teach for years.
“I’ve been a little cruel today,” said rich dad. “But I want you to always remember this talk. And I want you always to remember that donkey.
“Never forget that fear and desire can lead you into life’s biggest trap if you’re not aware of them controlling your thinking.
“To spend your life living in fear, never exploring your dreams, is cruel. To work hard for money, thinking that it will buy you things that will make you happy is also cruel. To wake up in the middle of the night terrified about paying bills is a horrible way to live. To live a life dictated by the size of a paycheck is not really living a life.”
He’d taught us something else about the human condition that causes people to live a life unfulfilled and poor.
“Thinking that a job makes you secure is lying to yourself. That’s cruel, and that’s the trap I want you to avoid. I’ve seen how money runs people’s lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Please don’t let money run your life.”
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily