Those struggling with poverty share some common traits.
I call them the Poor Habits.
I’ve written extensively about these Poor Habits.
But, Poor Habits alone only tell part of the story.
There are certain Pillars of Poverty that make poverty possible.
Some are self-imposed, others external.
In their order of relevance, below are the Pillars of Poverty.
- Bad Parents – When your parents are bad human beings, you are literally screwed right out of the gate. Bad Parents, for various reasons, simply do not do their job. Drugs, alcohol, gambling and a host of other character flaws pulls the rug out from underneath their kids.
- Ignorant Parents – Sometimes parents don’t know what they don’t know. Ignorant Parents have Poor Habits that spread like a virus to their children. If their children are not rescued by well-intentioned mentors, they will struggle with poverty as adults. Ignorant Parenting is the primary cause of Generational Poverty.
- Broken Families – If you are raised in a broken family unit, life can be very difficult. Divorce, incarceration, abandonment are common denominators among the poor that fracture the family unit.
- Illness – Sometimes life just writes families a bad check. Medical expenses associated with cancer, disabilities, mental disorders and other grave illnesses can force families to incur medical costs that take a lifetime to overcome.
- Bad Environment – If you are born and raised in a very poor neighborhood, that neighborhood will infect everyone living in it with Poor Habits. In Bad Environments, danger lurks around every corner. Obstacles are omnipresent, acting like an anchor around the necks of everyone living in that Bad Environment. Bad role models within the Bad Environment can lure innocent children into a life of crime, drugs, prostitution and lawlessness. The saviors in a Bad Environment are good parents, good teachers or other mentors emanating from community-based organizations residing in that Bad Environment. Covenant House, is an example. Big Brothers and Sisters is another example. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, too.
- Bad Money Habits – If you are raised in a household in which parents are financially illiterate, those parents will lack smart money habits to teach their kids, putting them behind the eight ball. Those who have bad money habits spend their money as quickly as it comes. They don’t save. They don’t invest. Thus, they are unable to accumulate wealth.
- Poverty Ideology – When you are raised in a poor household, it’s easy to forge a Poverty Ideology. When you have a Poverty Ideology you see poverty as way of life. Those with a Poverty Ideology believe they will be poor their entire lives. They are without hope, feel helpless and, thus, they lack the motivation to escape poverty.
- Uneducated/Unskilled – Being uneducated or without marketable skills invites poverty. Lack of education or skills is a common plight among the poor. Self-improvement is often the only escape hatch. But self-improvement depends wholly on self-motivation. When you are raised in a Bad Neighborhood or Bad Environment, it’s hard not to adopt a Poverty Ideology, which imbues you with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Poor Habits – When you are raised in poverty, you are exposed to Poor Habits. Since habits spread like a virus throughout your social network, those raised in Poor Neighborhoods or Bad Environments pick up the Poor Habits of those around them.
- Victim Ideology – When you are stuck in poverty, generation after generation, you begin to see the world through a different lens. At the end of that lens, those stuck in a cycle of Generational Poverty, see themselves as pawns in a game of chess being played by Wall Street, banks, big corporations, the wealthy and corrupt politicians. This Victim Ideology fosters an Entitlement Mindset, in which the poor desperately look to the government to remedy their poverty, through policies that force the redistribution of wealth.
Success isn’t easy, even in an ideal environment.
Building wealth isn’t easy, even in an ideal environment.
In a Bad Environment, it becomes infinitely harder.
Many who are poor are poor for reasons outside their control.
The key to breaking out of poverty is forging Rich Habits that will weaken the chains of poverty and eliminating Poor Habits which further weakens those chains.
But learning what to do (Rich Habits) and what not to do (Poor Habits), requires education.
Education, either formal or informal (self-study), pulls the curtain, exposing the Rich Habits, which lift you up, and the Poor Habits, which drag you down.
My Wizard of Oz mission in life, is to be the person who pulls that curtain back, in the hopes of lifting millions up and freeing them from the chains of poverty.
But I can’t do it on my own.
It requires a team effort.
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