Data Has No Power Over You

Here’s a 6-minute infographic video on wealth distribution in the USA (I suggest you watch it first before reading the rest of this short post):

I know this video is imbued with a fear-based mentality, but looking beyond the attitude, I find the stats inspiring. It shows that each individual has a tremendous potential for growth.

Sure, humans can be greedy and unfair at times, but we can also be very creative and giving. Instead of viewing the top 1% like a bunch of Ferengis lusting after latinum, and instead of worrying about what wealth percentile you fall into, think instead of how you could deliver 10x, 100x, or 1000x the value you do now. How could you become one of the top creative contributors on earth?

Also realize that the top 1% is a huge group. Planet-wide that’s about 70 million people (and still 3+ million if we’re just talking about Americans). If you start over-generalizing about the motives of millions of people you’ve never even met, that’s getting pretty silly, isn’t it?

How many people even want to enter the top 1% of value contributors? How many are willing to do what it takes to build the skills necessary to have such a lifetime impact? It’s a lot of work, and you’ll be subjected to plenty of criticism along the way. Most people can’t stomach the consequences. Many try and give up before they get very far, often blaming their circumstances.

Do you actually want to have billions of dollars of assets at your disposal right now like some people do, especially in a world that’s changing so quickly that a misstep could cause those assets to become worthless within just a few years, thereby pissing off anyone else who was invested with you? Are you prepared to accept that kind of responsibility, including all the critical attention that comes with it?

What do you think about that kind of concentration of power? Would you rather that no individuals have control over that many resources (which would make certain types of creative projects nearly impossible)?

Do you fret about the wealthy people that you perceive didn’t do enough to earn their money (even though you’ve probably never met them and don’t have any real understanding of their financial details)? Or do you pay more attention to the people who overcame great obstacles to contribute far more than their fair share?

Did you create and contribute more than your fair share today?

You can view raw data through the lens of fear, and you’ll likely feel small, dominated, and disconnected. Or you can choose to view it through the lens of growth and allow it to inspire you.

The data itself is neutral. It’s just a bunch of numbers and has no inherent meaning. If you have an emotional reaction to any sort of data, including your personal financial data, it’s not the data itself that’s causing that — it’s your interpretation. Interpretations are inherently subjective, so if you’re going to assign any interpretation to raw data, choose to assign an empowering one. You can do that even if you’re deep in debt. Debt is just another teacher.

Don’t fuss over what strangers are doing or not doing with their assets. Focus on your own path. Make sure you’re living in a way that inspires you and challenges you to keep growing. If you do a good job of that, you’ll be less inclined to fret and worry over the inequities of life.