According to a report published in January 2015 by Marketdata Enterprises Inc, the global personal development industry is worth a staggering US$9.6 billion. This figure supports the fact that today, in 2016, in spite of how far we may have come in relation to advancements in technology and business, there has never been a more relevant time in modern history for each of us to take responsibility for our own success and happiness.
Self-help appears to have pervaded every level of society. Even some of the highest-paid international celebrities are well-documented fans of the personal and professional development industry. Oprah Winfrey is very vocal in her support of all self-development and Will Smith often talks up the pearls of financial wisdom he gleaned from Robert T. Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, explaining how he has shared this knowledge with his children. Cynics may argue that only those with money can afford to invest in themselves but I would disagree. You can invest in yourself with money and time, there is plenty of free education available.
My journey in financial education started the hard way, with a serious wake-up call. I was a qualified Pharmacist with an MBA, and I had a steady job and a regular income. But it meant that I was spending all my time working. My life was put into perspective when one night my own daughter didn’t recognise me. I was away from home so much, thinking I was doing the best for my family by working hard and bringing home a regular pay cheque, that I forgot what was most important to me: quality time with my family.
I decided something had to shift. I began to read many books on self-development, starting with Unleash The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. As I read more, I grew increasing committed to becoming “financially free”. It was also during that period that I met John Lee, who was already a highly respected property entrepreneur. He seemed to be on a parallel path to me, and we fast became friends and business partners. We shared a vision: we were both hungry for success, the kind of success that would give us more personal freedom and help us drive our own destiny, rather than being carried along on a tide that was out of our control.
The biggest mistake I see many people make is that they don’t realize how much hard work it takes. Reading self-development books and becoming inspired is not enough. Even if you shift your attitude and change your aspirations, you can’t just sit back and expect everything to fall into place. You have to take action! If you want to achieve success in any area of life, you have to commit to a plan, take risks, make sacrifices and have the right people around you to help shape your dream. Ask any professional athlete and they will say the same. And the journey never stops; you can’t afford to be complacent even when you achieve some success. John and I both continue to learn and try to better ourselves, each and every day.
Financial literacy—the understanding of wealth creation, which I believe falls under both personal and professional development—is not generally taught in schools. Most people leave school without understanding net worth (the difference between our assets and liabilities) or the difference between an appreciating asset (such as a house or piece of art) and a depreciating asset (such as a car). They are not taught the importance of building passive income streams that generate a cash flow while you sleep or of making a “financial blueprint”, as explained by T. Harv Eker in his #1 best-selling book, The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
Many of us were raised to have a negative relationship with wealth; we listened to our parents say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “Money is the root of all evil.” In our Amazon best-selling book, The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, The When & The How To Become Infinitely Wealthy, John Lee and I explain how “money solves the problems that not having money creates.” It really is that simple, and a case of rejecting the negative notions and self-limiting beliefs that may have been imposed upon you.
Success and financial freedom allows us more choice as to how we spend our time. Most of us are too busy trading all of our time for a limited amount of money. Our mental space gets filled with other people’s agendas and we forget what’s important to us, and why we are doing what we are doing. When I realized why I wanted success and financial freedom— because I wanted to spend more time with the people I loved the most, as well as giving back to those less fortunate than me—it wasn’t hard to make the sacrifices and do the work to achieve my goals. In this respect I believe that we all have a “moral responsibility” to become truly wealthy. Creating wealth has allowed me to help others, both financially and through education.
So many people dream of a life they believe they can’t have. I am so grateful I go to bed each night knowing that I will never have to look back and ask myself “I wish I’d done more”. I just did it and will keep on doing so, and will keep inspiring others to do the same.
Vincent Wong, Co-Founder of Wealth Dragons Limited and Co-Author of The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, The When & How To Become Infinitely Wealthy, writes exclusively for CEO Blog Nation on the power of self-education for all.