How can three words be so simple in definition yet so misunderstood? Interestingly, your attitude toward their meaning will make a tremendous difference in the results you achieve. Entrepreneurs tend to “get it” in this regard, and they set an example for others to achieve happiness in their own lives, whether they are opening a business or not.

Rick Warren once stated, “We are a product of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” This is so true.

Yet many people never leave the bondage of their past because they are trapped by purpose. The first problem with “purpose” is we do not understand the world’s most valuable commodity. When asked the question, “What is the most valuable commodity?” people will say oxygen, money, water, etc. But the most precious and valuable commodity is TIME.

You can make more money, but you will never make more time. Where you put your time is where your purpose or heart is; if that time does not align with your inner drive or soul, you will not be happy. You can’t fake this one. You must find happiness in your work and your work must be your joy.

And just to be very clear, you must work. Quit being tempted by the concept of having enough money that you don’t have to work. In other words, don’t quit pursuing and quit being tempted by the concept of not pursuing, because freedom comes from work which is in alignment with our inner drive, not in endless leisure.

Broke Versus Poor

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad commented, “Broke is temporary, but poor is eternal.” One is a condition, often temporary; the other is a mindset. When you can’t escape your past and your time is not in alignment with your primary goals, your thoughts will drift to poverty. Politicians argue over poverty and “transferring wealth from the rich to the poor.”

You can give all day to the poor, but you will never change the poor if the mindset of poverty is not changed first. However, you can teach someone how to not be poor. Like the old adage, “GIVE a man a fish and you feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Toxic Charity, by Robert Lupton, focuses on this exact point. “Well intentioned people actually hurt those they are intending to help by creating a system of judgment and dependency instead of offering empowerment.” The concept of wealth redistribution sounds right, but like so many policies, the unintended consequence is the further creation of poverty to the point of hopelessness or civil rebellion.

Poverty is a condition brought on by a lack of education, hard work and opportunity. The disenfranchised can break the barriers of poverty with a true purpose, hard work and seeing opportunities. The entrepreneurial spirit is about providing and creating opportunity through solutions. Entrepreneurial creativity breaks the poverty cycle.

The Protector of Principle

Back when I was coaching, one of my players came to me from the streets of Atlanta. He was 19 and didn’t know how to shake a person’s hand or how to use, “Yes, sir” or “No, sir.” His mother, who lived in the inner city ghetto, was driven by one single purpose: she wanted him out of there and to not be bound by the restrictive conditions of that project. In her mind, she was successful and rich beyond imagination, as she watched her son grow into a prosperous, contributing individual in society. He used the game of basketball as an opportunity to attend college and to excel as a four-time All-American. He and his mother had a purpose and that purpose had actions.

Prosperity is not about obtaining things. Prosperity is a state of mind that attracts opportunity and positive things to your life. The struggle with prosperity is that it is a journey that is full of potholes, bumps, struggles, victories and successes.

The biggest hindrance to prosperity is the “comparison syndrome” and TV really promotes this. People don’t pursue their dreams; they live them through others or it appears as though prosperity is a stroke of “luck.” Both of these promote a mindset of poverty. There is nothing “lucky” about prosperity, and material items are not the measure of a prosperous life. Happiness, peace and freedom are found in hard work that matches your inner drive with a positive attitude.

Why is prosperity so important in our society? Mark Twain said it best: “Prosperity is the best protector of principle.”

Jeff Piersall is CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes SpaceCoast Business and i4 Business magazines. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or