In Ken Blanchard’s bell-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese?, he uses the analogy of a ladder against a wall. Imagine the wall is the obstacle you need to climb to reach your goal, which is at the top of the wall.
So, you grab your ladder and place it against the wall and diligently begin climbing. After much focus and effort, you finally get to the top of the wall only to discover you’ve placed your ladder on the wrong wall!
You look around you and realize you should’ve placed your ladder on the wall over there.
You were so close and yet so far. All that time, energy, and effort expended, and you’re not even in the right spot—what a waste.
Placing your ladder on the wrong wall is an easy way to visualize making an honest, well-intended mistake. You deliberately chose the wall to place your ladder on. Then you diligently climbed every rung of the ladder. You finally got to the top of the ladder, expecting to be rewarded for your efforts, and quickly realized you made a mistake, your ladder’s on the wrong wall.
This is a good analogy for people and money.
We often think we’re using our money in the right way, only to discover we’re not being rewarded adequately for our efforts. We’ve placed our ladder on the wrong wall.
So, what am I getting at here? I’m talking about our consumption-driven society. More specifically, I’m talking about the societal pressures that come with a ‘More is Better” or a “Bigger is Better” mentality.
Now, no one comes right out and says, “yeah, I’m a materialistic person; that’s just who I am, and you should be one, too.”
Does anyone do that? No, no one does that. It’s just the opposite. They say things like, “yeah, we don’t really spend that much money, we don’t go anywhere, we don’t buy anything; we’re pretty frugal.” And then I look at what they’re actually spending, and I’m like (head explodes), what?
That’s how twisted it gets.
No one admits to being materialistic or driven by money or status. They don’t vocalize it. It’s subtle. But boy, they sure tell you all the same, don’t they?
They primarily “tell” you through social media, through their perfect IG and FB posts. They show you this ostentatious life as the pathway to happiness and success. They dine at the best restaurants, have flawless skin, take luxurious vacations, live in 6 bedroom homes, and so forth.
We’ve been taught we need a lot of money to be happy. We equate financial success with how big our house is or the type of luxury cars we drive. We tie our self worth to the suburbs we live in, and Heaven help us if we don’t live in a ritzy zip code.
We’ve been duped into thinking the American Dream is about having “more,” that “bigger is better,” and what we already have is never enough.
We’ve placed our ladder on the wrong wall.
Not only is now the right time to reassess and create a new money mindset for ourselves, but it’s also the time to help our kids create the proper money mindset right out of the gate.
Instead of trying to change bad financial habits, we have the opportunity to instill the proper financial habits right from the start and help them avoid the costs associated with placing their ladders on the wrong walls.
The best way to do this? Be a good example.
Show them what it means to be content with what you have instead of always wanting more (save the “always wanting more” stuff for personal development). Give your excess to those in greater need of it. Turn your focus inward on what truly drives your happiness. Have a grateful heart and live that life.
Don’t wait for others to lower a rope and pull you up to the top of their wall.
Grab your ladder, find your wall, and get to climbing!