One of the paradoxes of wealth is that you have to have a bit of fight in you, even though there’s nothing to fight. Being nice can be a trap if you’re always pushing things away…
You’ve got to get a bit of c#&t in ya’s.
That was my junior footy coach. It was half time, and that was pretty much his half time speech.
It was only the U/16s, local league, but you could tell he secretly dreamed of coaching Australia to World Cup victory. And he let a bemused bunch of teenage boys help him live out that fantasy.
You’re too soft. They’re running all over ya’s. You’ve got to get a bit of c#&t in ya’s.
“You mean, play dirty?” said Tim, who wouldn’t hurt a fly let alone step on someone’s toes with his spikes.
Nah! You’ve got to want it. And you’ve got to want it more than the other mob.
I don’t think any of us knew what he was talking about, and so we ate our oranges and went out and played pretty much exactly the same game in the second half as we played in the first, and lost.
But his message stuck with me. I don’t know why. Just one of those seeds that gets stuck in your mind, like a prickle in a sock, and I reckon it took me 10 years to figure out what he was trying to say.
And now it’s one of my key pieces of wealth advice.
“You’ve got to have a bit of c#&t in you.”
The natural world is a competitive place. I don’t know why. I don’t know what God was thinking. It’s just the way it is.
Pine trees drop needles that poison the ground for other plants. Palm trees break through the canopy and gobble all the sunlight. Stop moving for a second and mould starts growing on you.
Likewise, cats eat the birds, birds eat the insects, insects eat each other. A wasp injects her eggs into caterpillars. When the larvae hatch they eat the caterpillar from the inside out. It’s horrifying.
The peaceful harmony of nature is a Disney fantasy. It’s a gruesome place out there. Those fairy wrens look cute but if you’re a little insect they’re a killing machine.
That’s the natural world. But the human world is a nice place. Or at least we try to make it that way.
We have a whole bunch of social structures – from the soft (manners, social norms) to the hard (police, military) to stop it descending into an insect-eat-insect orgy.
And generally, you’ve got to admit, we’re doing a pretty good job of it. Not perfect, by any means, but we’re getting by. Horrible things happen, regularly, but we manage to keep it from descending into a free for all.
And I’ve got to say that when you’re a team player in team humanity, it feels pretty good. It’s good to be caring towards others. To be generous, understanding…
Virtues are virtues in their own right.
And at the centre of this is the human (and I guess other advanced animals) ability to put another’s needs ahead of our own. To be able to recognise that that old lady probably needs this bus seat more than I do, and the world will be a better place if I give it to her.
And so we’re schooled from a young age to be considerate – to be able to think about others’ needs. And we are taught to that it’s virtuous and honourable to put others’ needs ahead of our own.
But there’s a trap here.
And that’s when we take this deferential mindset and apply it to situations where it isn’t appropriate.
A soccer match is one of them. As the couch was trying to tell us, in his own misguided way, we had become too ‘nice’ out there. We weren’t putting up enough fight for the ball. We weren’t claiming it as ours.
The investment sphere is another one, but for a different reason. The financial world is an abundant, not a scarce space. On a bus, there’s a limited number of bus seats. If I take one, an old lady misses out.
But in finance, there are an endless number of ways to make money. And if I become rich, that doesn’t in any way mean that anyone else won’t be able to.
I just don’t believe it works that way.
And so the ones I see having the hardest time with wealth practices are the ones who took the “nice” lessons deepest to heart. The selfless, generous and beautiful ones (yes it’s a cruel irony).
They bring the ‘putting-others-first’ mindset to their investments, but since it’s an abundant space and there are no ‘others’, all they do is end up pushing opportunity and wealth away – saying no thanks, after you – for no good reason.
So you’ve got to get a bit of c#&t in you. Claim what you want. If you want to retire at 40, claim it! Why shouldn’t you have it? You working less doesn’t mean others are working more.
In some ways, you’ve got to be your own champion. You’ve got to be the one that stands up for yourself. You have to be willing to fight for yourself.
It’s an odd one. There’s no scarcity so there’s no actual fighting to be done, but you’ve sill got to take that stance. Welcome it in, call it down. Turn no thanks into yes please.
And you’ll still be as beautiful and as generous and as nice as you always were.