Can Anyone Become Rich? Yes, and Here’s How

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Unscripted" by MJ DeMarco. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Can anyone become rich? Do you need any special talents to acquire serious wealth?

Many people believe that to get rich, they need special talents. This belief implies that you have fixed skills that influence how much money you can earn. While that’s true to some extent, this belief is unproductive because it holds you back from proactively looking for money-making opportunities.

Here’s why wealth isn’t a prerogative of special talents or intrinsic skills.

Everyone Can Get Rich

Can anyone become rich? According to MJ DeMarco, the author of Unscripted, everyone can get rich: You don’t need to have any special talents or skills. The idea that acquiring wealth requires special talents discourages people from improving their chances of achieving financial success in two ways:

1) Convincing those who’ve easily achieved success before that they’re talented and that acquiring wealth will be equally easy: For example, as a child, you got perfect grades without applying effort. You grew up assuming that you’d acquire wealth just as easily and you don’t see the need to improve your skill set.

(Shortform note: Psychologists expand on why assuming you’re already talented enough to acquire wealth hinders your chances of success. While positive expectations are beneficial—because they encourage you to rise above challenges—unrealistic positive expectations, such as believing that you’ll achieve your goals without applying effort, set you up for failure. This is because they don’t prepare you to take proactive steps to counter the inevitable obstacles that you’ll face. On the other hand, realistic positive expectations acknowledge that the road to success requires effort and persistence—thereby encouraging you to take a proactive approach toward achieving your financial goals.)

2) Convincing those who’ve struggled to achieve success that they aren’t talented enough to acquire wealth and never will be: For example, you lost money due to a poor investment decision. Instead of educating yourself on making more profitable decisions, you assume that you’ll always make unprofitable decisions and give up on your plan to invest.

(Shortform note: Tony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within) clarifies why believing that you aren’t talented enough discourages you from moving toward your financial goals: It causes you to focus on your limitations and blocks your ability to find solutions. As a result, you resign yourself to living with less than you want. Robbins suggests that you can overcome this self-defeating tendency by asking yourself positive and empowering questions that lead to solutions. For example: How can you take advantage of compound interest and safeguard your money at the same time?)

Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Mindset: Make Incremental Improvements

Overcome this belief and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset by making daily incremental improvements to your skill set. DeMarco argues that even the tiniest amount of progress will dispel the myth that your capabilities are fixed and cannot be improved. As a result, you’ll feel more empowered to hone the necessary skills to achieve your financial goals. For example, if you think you’re incapable of coming up with profitable business ideas, look to business books for inspiration and set a goal of coming up with at least one profitable idea each week, eventually progressing to one new idea each day.

Improve Your Skills by Focusing on One Component at a Time

Angela Duckworth (Grit) offers practical advice on making incremental improvements to your skill set. She argues that you’re more likely to make progress if you break each skill you want to improve down into different components and focus on mastering one component at a time. She provides a four-step process to achieve this: 

1) Focus on a specific component of the skill you want to improve or learn. For example, if your goal is to learn how to write marketing copy for your business, focus on mastering headlines. Give that specific component your undivided attention.

2) Once you think you’ve mastered that component, ask others to evaluate your progress. Pay more attention to what you did wrong than what you did right.

3) Reflect on the feedback you received and continue to give that single component your undivided attention until you master it.

4) Repeat the process until you’ve mastered all of the different components of your chosen skill.
Can Anyone Become Rich? Yes, and Here’s How

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  • Why the only way to achieve financial success is to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Eight beliefs about money that prevent you from achieving wealth
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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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