Of course, we all get to decide how to spend our leisure time — if you love the show I’m not kicking you out of my community! I know folks who love it, and I know other folks who think the early episodes feel cringe-y and stereotypical in its portrayals of all the characters, rich and poor.
Today I want to share a thing about Schitt’s Creek that bothers me because it relates to how I see a lot of business owners limiting themselves. (Remember: A lot of limiting money beliefs don’t even have the word “money” in them!)
So let’s talk about stereotypes about the super-rich and what those stereotypes do for us and to us, the not-super-rich people. By the end of this post, you’ll understand why I challenge you to examine your money mindset for these limiting beliefs and why it might be time to let them go.
Stereotypes In General
Our brains are nature’s category-making machines. We like to categorize and put things in boxes because it makes the world simpler and easier to deal with — especially when a thing’s category means we can just ignore the thing completely. Close the lid on that box, set it aside — it’s someone else’s problem.
When we put a label on something, that’s called getting a “handle” on it. But when we get a particular handle on someone, that often involves making certain decisions without being aware what we’ve decided, and that’s the tricky part.
Believing “Rich Folks Are Jerks” Feels Good Because…
(1) It’s normal to have some feelings of fear and helplessness about the economy sometimes. It’s normal to worry about your own financial situation and whether you can make it better. Rather than internalize self-blame about these worries, it feels better to get angry. Let’s resent billionaires — they’re a great target for this anger, aren’t they?
And that’s okay! All of your feelings are okay, as long as you accept them as information, take them into account, and don’t let them stop you from doing what you genuinely need to do.
(2) So if we go around declaring, “Eat the rich,” we get to bond with other people, the people who see our anger as shared values and struggles, and that bonding process feels pretty good, too.
(3) Resenting the super-rich may help us keep our mind on the big picture of wanting systemic social change. That’s good, right? On the other hand, it’s not the only way we connect to that bigger picture, is it?
(1) Believing “Rich Folks Are Jerks” Harms Us When…
So we got a handle on our financial worries by hating the super-rich. Where does that get us?
When we put people in negative, stereotyped boxes, we cut ourselves off from understanding them. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to play a violin for Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos! This isn’t about politics or the things Those Guys do. This is about how empathy is part of being able to envision your own future, what it would be like to go down different paths. And you need to envision those futures to prepare yourself for the challenges that lie on those paths.
The belief that the super-rich are always terrible humans breaks down into two theories about how wealth interacts with values. Maybe you believe them both. One theory is that in order to get so much wealth that you become super-rich, you have to be a monster willing to do monstrous things. The other theory is that wealth itself corrupts, that becoming super-rich makes you into a monster.
Either way, we’re rejecting that path — we’re closing that box. We don’t want to become monsters. And that means we can’t let ourselves make too much money, whatever “too much” feels like to us. By refusing to let our business grow, we prove that we’re committed to being good people.
See, we’re not helpless, we’re virtuous.
(2) Who’s in Your Community and How Does that Relate to Having an Impact?
There are a lot of different and valuable ways to have an impact and it’s important for us all to have clarity about which way we’re choosing.
If you want to spend your whole life as a social worker, community organizer, or labor organizer, maybe that means your community is only with people who have the same amount of money as you (or less). You never meet someone who has a whole lot more money than you do. So grousing, “Eat the rich!” and forming social bonds with people who agree with you might work really well.
On the other hand, if you’re running a values-centered business with a vision of lifting up your community, your community will include people who do vary widely from you in terms of wealth. Sometimes you are going to interact with people who have TONS AND TONS of money.
In the entrepreneur’s model of impact-creation, one of the things you want to do is get money from these richer folks and distribute it to less rich folks, including yourself and your employees — you also want to hold that ladder steady for other disadvantaged folks in the community, for example by providing value for free or on a sliding scale.
This model of impact-creation doesn’t work if you hate people who have more money than you do. They’ll notice it — they might not be able to put their finger on what the problem is, but they’ll know they feel uncomfortable with you, and they’re a lot less likely to do business with you if they feel uncomfortable.
As a result, your whole vision of making an impact becomes pointless.
Again: There are a lot of different and valuable ways to have an impact, but if you want to do it through entrepreneurship, you have to accept that it works how it works.
(3) Money Mindset and the Bigger Picture
We were told that to be good we have to make ourselves small, metaphorically and perhaps literally cutting out vital parts of ourselves:
You’re a girl, so you aren’t allowed to take up space. You’re a lesbian, but we can accept you if you don’t rub our noses in it. You’re African-American, but maybe we’ll be nicer to you if you straighten your hair. You’re genderqueer, but don’t ask me to remember your pronouns.
You learned that your moral value rests on not being too much trouble to people who have more social capital than you do. Does… does that sound at all similar to “I have to be poor to be virtuous”?
Are you sure your dislike of the super-wealthy is serving you more than it’s harming you?
The truth is that money is an amplifier. It can amplify both your values and your weaknesses, but if you lead with your ideals, your self-awareness, your openness to feedback, and your willingness to always learn more, then you CAN have an enormous positive impact, enjoy the abundance that you aspire to, and not become a monster.
But you’re never going to get there if you believe that getting money always turns people into jerks.
The Challenge for You
If you really want to support your community through your entrepreneurship, I don’t want to see you walking away from money to prove your virtue! I want to see you let yourself have money and I want to see you use it well. You’re allowed to take care of yourself. You believe human beings are valuable and deserve care, right? That means you deserve care, too.
What would it look like if you trusted yourself to keep doing good things and caring about other people? What would it look like if you trusted yourself enough to let your business grow?
Friends, if you haven’t done Determining Your Values within the last 6 months, go over to this blog post and do the exercises described there. This will help you get in touch with how your values show up in your budget.