Learn How to Earn… and Actually Keep Your Earnings
In the U.S. we are obsessed with football—the American kind.
Every year, each of the 32 professional teams perform a draft where they pick the best player from college teams across the country and pay them extraordinary amounts of money. The National Football League Commissioner stands at the podium in front of a live and nationally televised audience and announces their name along with the team they will call home. For some, this is the culmination of a life-long dream.
For these young men in their 20’s, getting signed to a multimillion-dollar contract is also a part of that dream. For most, they will receive more money over the next four or five years than they could ever imagine. Families and friends, and shady advisors, have been waiting for this payday since the moment they started playing the game.
The worst part of this fairytale is that 78 percent of NFL players will go bankrupt within two years of retirement according to Sports Illustrated.
Whether it’s football, the lottery, an inheritance—when people suddenly come into money, more often than not, they are unprepared for how to deal with the windfall.
NFL cornerback Richard Sherman credits Rich Dad Poor Dad for his success with money after receiving a $57.4 million-dollar contract.
“None of us really grew up with… financial literacy,” Sherman told CNBC Make It.
Sherman says he sees players taking more control of their financial future: “People in my sport, in my field, are definitely becoming more educated and trying to be more intelligent with how they play for the money and understanding where their money is going.”
Two Mindsets About Work
My poor dad said, “Job security is the most important thing.”
My rich dad said, “Learning is the most important thing.”
These two statements represent two fundamentally different mindsets about work. When you look at work as simply a way to make money, so you can then do other things, it is impossible to think of it as a means to any other end.
But there are also those who will have a light turn on, realizing that work can be a path to something greater, even if you aren’t paid or are paid very little. In order to be successful, you have to work to learn, not to earn.
It’s all about what your goals actually are, as you put work into something…
In fact, mindset most often is the dividing line between those who are successful in life and those who are not. In the NFL there are many players who do not have the natural skills and talents, but they thrive. They show up, put in the work, and continually learn and grow. They listen to their coaches. They surround themselves with smart people who lift them up instead of pulling them down. They have a mindset of success—the mindset of a pro.
If only players put in as much work to learn about money as they do on the field, more players would be prepared to handle their new-found fame and fortune.
The Learning Mindset
In the movie Jerry Maguire, there are many great one-liners. But there is one that I found particularly truthful. Tom Cruise’s character is leaving his high-paying job to start his own agency after being fired, and he says, “Who wants to come with me?” The whole place is frozen and silent, looking down at him. Finally, one woman pipes up and says, “I’d like to, but I’m due for a promotion in three months.”
Sadly, as mentioned above, this is the mindset of most people when it comes to work. Rather than look at work as an opportunity to grow and learn, they look at work as a necessary evil and try to get as much money from their job as possible.
As a young man, I faced the same decision as the woman in Jerry Maguire. After graduation from the Merchant Marine Academy, I had a good career ahead of me. My first job was on a Standard Oil of California oil-tanker fleet as third-mate. I made a lot of money for the time, $42,000 a year, including overtime, and only had to work seven months of the year. My poor dad was very happy.
After six months, however, I resigned my position with Standard Oil and joined the Marine Corps. My poor dad was devastated, but my rich dad congratulated me.
The reason I joined the Marine Corps was to learn new skills. I wanted to learn how to be a pilot and to learn how to lead others into difficult situations. I knew that the leadership skills I learned in the Corps would benefit me greatly in life and business.
After my tour of duty, I had the opportunity to get a steady paying job as a commercial airline pilot. Instead, however, I took a job with Xerox as a salesman. Again, my poor dad was devastated, and my rich dad was happy. Though I could have had a comfortable life as a pilot, I wanted to learn the skill of sales. I knew that skill, coupled with the leadership skills I learned in the Marine Corps, would make me rich.
Work to Learn Not to Earn
The NFL has a dark and clever nickname: “Not for Long.”
Careers are short-lived. They never know when they’ll get cut or get injured. They can do nothing but hope for a long career.
Luckily the NFL is working hard to educate these young players and prepare them for life after football. They learn about finances, insurance, and how to handle their new lifestyle.
Some take it more seriously than others.
Will you work to earn, holding onto security over opportunity? Or, will you work to learn (and get a financial education), giving up some security to embrace greater opportunity?
Most people will follow the conventional wisdom and choose to work to earn. But if you want to be rich, I recommend that you work for what you want to learn rather than what you want to earn. Figure out what skills you want to acquire before choosing a specific profession and before getting trapped in the rat race.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily