Thomas J. Stanley, the best selling author of THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR was interviewed about what common traits decamillionaires (for those of you who didn't grow up in the seventies and experience the metric system that means people with at least ten million dollars) have. The number one trait of really rich, self-made people?
Which is apparently rich person lingo for the word "nice."
I was so excited when I heard this that I had to call my producing partner and tell her that Thomas J. Stanley, who is like the Jane Goodall of rich people, has shown in his expert research that people get really rich because they are really nice.
Nice guys do finish first!
At least the ones outside of Hollywood do.
I am thinking about my future integrity-driven wealth today in an effort to be less angry with one of my friends.
My friend, whose initials are Tom, is currently on unemployment. He divides his time lying on his sofa watching the Hitler, I mean History Channel and the Starbucks around the corner from his apartment where he has been writing the Great American Short Story that is sure to be published in McSweeneys whenever he gets around to finishing it. I've been able to look beyond his pretentious writing asperations, along with his propensity to bow and say, "Namaste" instead of "Thank you," and not think he sucks until now.
I have an annoying document that needs to be signed by a city employee whose office is 30 miles from my house. The city office is, however, conveniently located in the same building as Tom's Starbucks. I called Tom and asked him if I could mail him the document and would he then be so kind as to run upstairs and get the document signed by the city employee the next time he's over at Starbucks.
He said no.
Yep. He's that lazy *cough* busy. So busy that he can't take ten minutes out of his day to save me a two-hour drive.
As I write this I realize that I'm really mad at him. And disappointed.
I'm not disappointed in him, I'm disappointed in me. The niceness experiment has had an unintended side effect: it's forced me to realize that I chosen some lousy people to be friends with. Tom being a prime example of the self-involved twittery of many of the members of my social group. He has no problem asking me for favors all the time, often citing his extreme poverty. Can I loan him my car while his is in the shop? Can I bring an extra bottle of wine to his party?
For the last five minutes I've been thinking of all the favors I will deny him in the future because of his refusal to help me today, but I just now realize that Tom has another thing in common with a lot of my friends: Tom has ridiculous credit card debt. Tom is really poor.
Tom's need for immediate gratification has left him with so much credit debt that he's actually considering going home to England, so he can walk away from a $70,000 debt...which means that if Tom were a subject of Dr. Stanley's studies, Dr. Stanley would discover that Tom is part of the no integrity control group.
We are all the architects of our own destruction.
I am struggling not to think of ways to punish Tom, because he's already in Hell. He lives a hideous, boring, debt-ridden existence. And wishing bad things on people who I am angry at isn't, well, nice.
My nice act of today will be letting go of my anger toward Tom as I drive through traffic across town to deal with city bureaucracy. Believe me, this is proving to be much harder than playing not-so-secret Santa.