“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”
Now those aren’t my words, they are Abraham Lincoln’s. They are still very true and often disregarded.
My adaptation to this would be “People are about as successful as they make up their minds to be.”
People may disagree, find fault with that statement or plain call me names. I don’t care because I have made it up in my mind that I would be successful. The first time I said it out loud, I was about 10 years old. I actually said it as a way to torture my younger brother. I told him that he would be a homeless person and that I would be a millionaire. Now I am not exactly proud of telling him that, but we were young and that’s what boys do – they terrorize each other.
What was remarkable about that situation was that he asked me how I was going to do it. See, he was also the first person to not believe I could do it. That was the first time anyone had asked me how. It was the first time that I had actually tried to answer it. It was the first time I had actually wondered myself – how will I become a millionaire?
At that time the only rich people I knew were doctors. I thought that was the sure path to riches. So that was plan #1 – go to medical school and become a doctor. Then, as I was learning from television, real estate is the source of riches. But you needed money to buy real estate. So I was going to roll my doctor’s earnings into real estate. That’s how I was going to do it. That was my plan.
Well, I went to college. And I was taking all the science classes I needed to prepare for life as a doctor. Since I had no money, no scholarship and parents that couldn’t afford a fancy medical school, I had to come up with another plan – how to pay for medical school. I thought that I could become a Registered Nurse first. The J.C. I was going to had one of the best R.N. programs in the country. I also heard that R.Ns were pulling in $35 an hour. That was crazy, insane money to me at the time. At the time I was making $5 an hour at the gas station.
Well I had to go to the junior college and nursing school. To do this I did three things:
- Work graveyard at a Shell Gas Station
- Groom dogs in the morning and afternoons
- Sell weed at all times in-between.
Yeah I did it. I needed the cash and it was an easy thing to get in the neighborhood I lived in. The funny thing was that I wasn’t smoking it. I had a partner that I would pay to test it, let me know the quality (what I couldn’t ascertain from the physical appearance) and I would make the buy. I had to stay clean. I was also selling urine to people I was selling the weed to. I will tell you more about that operation later. I learned a lot about people and business by selling dope.
Anyway, these jobs paid for college but left me little time for anything else. Then one night I was at a party on the university campus (not the JC I was attending) and I got arrested for possession of a weapon on school campus. One minute I am minding my own business and the next I was eating a brick wall with my arm between my shoulder blades. Where I am from, possession on a school campus is an automatic felony. Luckily it was the first time I was ever busted for anything like that and after about 10 days in jail, I was out on probation. That was good because life inside was not for me. Plus I think one of the guards had a crush on me – I got strip searched a lot.
But while I was inside I had the opportunity to look around. What I saw was that the people inside didn’t seem as surprised with their situation as I was. I was convinced that even until I got into the booking area, that I was going to walk away clean. I always got away with whatever I was doing. I never got pinched. I woke up quick, fast and in a hurry. I was not the “Teflon Don”. I was a stupid 18 year old who got busted and was looking at 3 years inside.
So there I was sitting on my rack and thinking about where I screwed up. I was thinking about my goals and my plans to be a millionaire. Seeing yourself as a millionaire while dressed in county blues is about as hard as growing wings and flying away.
I sat down and started doing some math. I realized that my path to becoming a doctor was so expensive that, by my estimates, I would be 45 years old before I graduated and paid off my student debt.
If I were a patient man, I would not have been in jail in the first place. My plan had flaws that I didn’t see in my youthful ignorance. It was time for a new strategy.
As I sat there, my dreams like so many shards of broken glass at my feet, I realized that what I was good at was making money. I was making about $50 a day at the gas station. I was making about $150 a day at the dog parlor and about $75 a day with my other projects. I had no bills but food and school. If I stopped paying for school, I would be flush with cash. What if I invested it? That was the day I stopped being hustled and became a millionaire in mind. That’s when I stopped getting pimped by my own ignorance and took my first step as a Hustler.
Now, my one biggest regret is that I didn’t finish college. I may still go back. It haunts me almost every day. However, my purpose in going to college was to become a millionaire. Well I did that. But nothing makes up for ignorance. And by not going to school I made mistakes that I could have avoided. I also took risks that paid off, that an education may have prevented me from making. If given the option, I suggest going.
Either way, I decided I was going to be a millionaire. It wasn’t easy. I slept in cars, I ate from garbage cans, I slept on couches. You name it, I did it. I know how bad it can get and I know how good it can get. But when I decided that it is what I wanted, I had to put everything else down. I had to put down the dope. I had to put down the drink. I had to put down the crimes I was committing. I had to put down the emotional baggage. I had to put down everything that prevented me from reaching that goal. I had to put down everything that took money out of my pocket and pick up every dollar I could put my hands on.
I accomplished that goal. My next goal is 10,000,000.00. I will let you know when (not if, when) I reach it.
One more thing that Lincoln said was…
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Stay strong hustlers. If I can do it, you can do it.