We’ve all heard the phrase “you can do anything you want if you work hard and put your mind to it.“ We’ve heard countless stories of people who started from nothing and became millionaires, prodigies, record breakers, and successful entrepreneurs. 

As a child of immigrants, I’ve seen first hand what it looks like to overcome. My father was born in a village in Nigeria where they didn’t even have shoes to wear. He’d tell me stories about fishing in the river with his hands and running through the woods to find bananas. 

The day he left Nigeria, he didn’t have enough money to pay for his school fees in order to get his VISA. He found a way, paid the money and never looked back.  Now, he’s a successful businessman with several businesses, A 15,000 sq foot home, and a wealth of knowledge. Everyday, he wakes up with the same mind he had the day he left, poverty is not an option. 

‘Poverty mindset’ is the belief that life will always be limited and resources will always be scarce. When we believe in the reality of circumstance versus possibility, we find ourselves stuck in lack; constantly repeating the same patterns over and over again. When we believe the opposite, we find new ways and new opportunities to break barriers. 

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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is one of the most respected names in hip hop culture. Most of us know him to be the guy who signed Biggie, or the guy who created Sean John, or just, that guy. But what many don’t know is that he grew up in the projects with his mother. In an interview with CNNMoney, Diddy says, “When I was growing up, I really felt that I would be somebody, I really wasn’t surprised when I had reached a certain amount of success through hard work.” 

His father was a drug dealer and though he was killed when Diddy was three years old, he carries the same hustler spirit – he just found a different way to do it. “One day I asked my mother for a pair of sneakers and she almost started to cry. The moment I saw that look on her face, I made a decision that I never wanted to see her look like that again.” 

By the time Diddy was 14, he had franchised a paper route and his mother “didn’t have that look on her face anymore.”

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Chris Gardner inspired the movie The Pursuit Of Happyness, the story about a single father who spent the night in the bathroom of a train station so that he and his child had a place to stay for the night. 

Chris Gardner tells his story around the world in various ways and has said he “consciously chose to break every cycle” he was born into. He made a decision. He decided he would be the best at everything he did. He mastered a mindset that deleted the past, disregarded his circumstances, and even when he was sitting with his son on the floor of a public bathroom, he got up the next day and kept hustling. 

New mindsets influence behavior. Once you change your mindset, you change your behavior. 

People like Chris Gardner, Diddy, and even my father, show us something in their stories. It’s not about who you are or even where you come from, it’s about what you think about possibility

If you think there is nothing you can do to enhance your life and move forward, you will stay stuck. If you focus your attention on what you can do to be successful and invite abundance, you will find it every time. 

There are many ways to change our minds about poverty and how to come out of it. Reading new material. Learning more about financial literacy. Surrounding yourself with people who think like you. But the biggest first step you can take out of poverty is to decide that you want out.