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Old 02-02-2011, 09:00 AM   #81
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I often hear successful (and happy) people talk about their success, and mentioning how lucky they are. In reality, when folk talk about being lucky, they are talking about being aware enough to take advantage of some of the many opportunities that present themselves to us every day.
As the old saying goes, "luck" is where preparation meets opportunity.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:28 AM   #82
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The Ant vs. Grasshopper Scenario.
My concern is the fable will continue to morph into something ugly. The initial one was the ant working hard to have a good life and the grasshopper having to live with his less-than-stellar choices (the whole moral of the story thing). The second iteration was the grasshopper complaining to the government that the ant had everything and he had nothing, so the government gave the lazy grasshopper everything the ant owned.

Aesop should be turning over in his grave.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:35 AM   #83
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As the old saying goes, "luck" is where preparation meets opportunity.
I knew that I had picked up that idea from somewhere else and surreptitiously tried to make it my own
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:31 PM   #84
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I was lucky in where & who I was born to, & in ability to get education; I was smart enough to save as a result of all said luck.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:03 PM   #85
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I worked for a mega-corp for a whole lot of years before retirement. All employees had excellent opportunities to be educated at the company's expense, save in a 401K that had generous matching, career opportunities, health insurance, and a wealth of information at their fingertips to be financially independent. There really wasn't a whole lot of luck needed to be financially independent. All it took was some effort on the part of the employee. You'd be surprised at the number of employees who didn't participate AT ALL in the 401K (and lost the matching) and didn't think the benefits were all that great.

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As the old saying goes, "luck" is where preparation meets opportunity.
It's the choices we make that define us.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:18 PM   #86
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I can totally relate to most of the remarks on this thread. The one that ticks me off the most is the friends who are having trouble making payments on <whatever> but have the coolest electronic gadgets as soon as they come out. One of those friends with the coolest gadgets took out a 401K loan to fix the roof because they had no money to do it. I have a hard time feeling bad for them.
This sounds like the BIL except, three years later after the tree hit the roof, the roof is still not fixed. But he has a great computer and cell phone.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:20 PM   #87
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The Ant vs. Grasshopper Scenario.
We have friends who were self aware enough to tell us that they (grasshoppers) would be coming to live with us ants. Fortunately, they inherited enough so they didn't have to.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:41 PM   #88
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I often hear successful (and happy) people talk about their success, and mentioning how lucky they are. In reality, when folk talk about being lucky, they are talking about being aware enough to take advantage of some of the many opportunities that present themselves to us every day. Life is full of opportunities - all you have to do is be aware of them, reach out, and grab them as they pass you by.
I have often been tempted to ascribe any success I have known to my own merit or some inherent superior qualities that I possess. When I really think about it, though, I realize that merit has had little to do with anything.

For a start, I'm fairly certain that before I ever existed I didn't do anything to merit the particular combination of ovum and sperm that allowed me to be born white and male in a world that values both traits. And it surely was not my own diligence that allowed me to be born healthy. I could have been born with a cleft palate like my one brother who died of asphyxia when he was ten days old or with hydrocephalus like my other brother who spent the first year of his life in the hospital and had 20% of his brain removed.

When I was just a tot, my 20 year old mother left her home and family and everything she had ever known to cross the ocean to a new country where she thought I would have a better life (she was right). I benefited immensely, but I had done nothing to deserve her sacrifice.

I was not killed or maimed by a childhood disease or an accident (despite my best efforts to engage in risky and stupid behavior). Again, I did nothing to deserve that stroke of good luck. And I was born with sufficient intelligence and the ability to concentrate and work hard that I did well in school and was able to gain admittance to the U.S. Naval Academy, so that I could go to college even though my family had zero money.

Later, I was lucky to meet and marry a wife whose common sense and hard work have allowed us to live below our means and save money, a wife who was willing to work while I went to the famous law school and who then put up with my long hours when I got the big law firm job.

Did I work hard, defer gratification and make sound decisions along the way? Most certainly, but it is my firm belief that I was born with the ability to do all those things. With so many blessings, it would have been abject failure to have ended up anywhere but where I have. As the Bible has it, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48)
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:47 PM   #89
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With so many blessings, it would have been abject failure to have ended up anywhere but where I have.
And yet, there is no shortage of healthy, white males, from good families, who amount to nothing.

Gumby, don't sell yourself short. Yes, you're right, you were born with a lot of favourable traits. But lots of us were. It still took skill and character to shape those into a life you can be proud of. Lots of your cohorts had the same intrinsic advantages, yet made poor choices and squandered their advantages.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:50 PM   #90
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That's what I wonder about. How much of the ability to make good choices is determined from birth? I know of families where the children were all raised the same and yet had vastly different life outcomes as a consequence of their choices.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:59 PM   #91
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The old "nurture or nature" debate rages on...
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:14 PM   #92
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The old "nurture or nature" debate rages on...
It will rage on for decades. My sister and I have the same biological parents. We were raised in the same household with the same rules and went to the same school - everything in the environment was the same.

I will always believe, in the nurture versus nature discussion, it is our choices that define us.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:33 PM   #93
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It will rage on for decades. My sister and I have the same biological parents. We were raised in the same household with the same rules and went to the same school - everything in the environment was the same.

I will always believe, in the nurture versus nature discussion, it is our choices that define us.
Ditto for my brother and I.

And Gumby, your story is inspiring and humbling. Thank you for sharing it and for remembering your mother's awesome sacrifice for your future. You honor her so much by doing so.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:06 PM   #94
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That's what I wonder about. How much of the ability to make good choices is determined from birth? I know of families where the children were all raised the same and yet had vastly different life outcomes as a consequence of their choices.
The chances of making good choices is greatly improved based on the family and circumstances you were born into. I've lived long enough to observe that the odds are generally on your side if you were raised with the right values. Here's an example - I spent a little while working with inner city youths and I can tell you from first hand experience that about 95% of the young men I came accross all had prior convictions which would make it impossible for them to gain employment and live productive lives. This experience was an eye opener and to this day I am very troubled by what I found but given the circumstances of their lives, the values they saw displayed and the low expectations set for them, it was very understandable. I also met some who turned their lives around but had a hard time making ends meet. Some of them that turned their lives around told me that they were simple products of their environment who were just not mature enough to make good choices. It's easy to blame people for their failures or their lack of planning but it's often not so clear cut.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:18 PM   #95
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The chances of making good choices is greatly improved based on the family and circumstances you were born into.
This should be a poll. If it were, I'd vote that it's all just luck. Probably.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:45 AM   #96
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Same for my brother and I. Exactly the same childhood environment, same upbringing. And both of us are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

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It will rage on for decades. My sister and I have the same biological parents. We were raised in the same household with the same rules and went to the same school - everything in the environment was the same.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:08 AM   #97
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Some people are teachable,some don"t want to be teachable.Some people are in their comfort zone being miserable,angry and refuse to change.If your grateful for something you can"t be angry all the time.
Like East Texas wrote.I went to college later in life because the job payed for it.Anyone could go,if you cleaned toilets or whatever.Yes their were folks who passed up the company match on the 401k.If I tryed to reason with them they"ed go off in a rage.
Today its live and let live.I choose to pick who I want to hang around with.Let folks make their own choice,cause they know everything anyway.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:06 AM   #98
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Same for my brother and I. Exactly the same childhood environment, same upbringing. And both of us are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Judith Harris wrote excellent books on the conundrum:
Amazon.com: The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and Updated (9781439101650): Judith Rich Harris: Books
Amazon.com: No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality (9780393329711): Judith Rich Harris: Books

In the first, she says that essentially the most that a parent can do is to influence the child's peer group... or eliminate their peer group completely (good luck with that).

The second book is a real slog, but she claims that siblings deliberately differentiate themselves to avoid competing for the same resources in family, school, & peer group.

To put it politely, she rightfully has a huge chip on her shoulder and her writings are outside of what would be considered the mainstream of sociological consensus. However it appears to explain the observations and even better, it has practical applications in parenting.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:49 AM   #99
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I worked for a mega-corp for a whole lot of years before retirement. All employees had excellent opportunities to be educated at the company's expense, save in a 401K that had generous matching, career opportunities, health insurance, and a wealth of information at their fingertips to be financially independent. There really wasn't a whole lot of luck needed to be financially independent. All it took was some effort on the part of the employee. You'd be surprised at the number of employees who didn't participate AT ALL in the 401K (and lost the matching) and didn't think the benefits were all that great.

It's the choices we make that define us.
I have kids in their early thirties, all of whom despise debt and are funding their work retirement plans, at least to get the match. Recently we were together with their spouses and one of our DIL's told us we were her financial heroes. She never knew anyone who had paid off a house early, and she asked us early on in their relationship for help signing up with her 401K plan. Now after 5 years she is thrilled to show us the balance in their accounts and is amazed at the amount of their peers who have zero for retirement- and they all have good jobs- they could save something, at least enough to get a match. Now these 30 somethings have to know that social security as we know it will not be there for them. Can you imagine not taking advantage of a 401 or similar plan these days?
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:34 AM   #100
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It will rage on for decades. My sister and I have the same biological parents. We were raised in the same household with the same rules and went to the same school - everything in the environment was the same.

I will always believe, in the nurture versus nature discussion, it is our choices that define us.
My sister still lives paycheck to paycheck. I ask my mother if she had any missing time experiences since it is my firm belief that my sister was implanted by aliens from a UFO (explaining the nature versus nurture).
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