I didn't tell my poor dad I wasn't being paid. He would not have understood, and I did not want to try to explain something that I did not yet understand myself.
For three more weeks, Mike and I worked for three hours, every Saturday, for nothing. The work didn't bother me, and the routin
e got easier. It was the missed baseball games and not being able to afford to buy a few comic books that got to me.
Rich dad stopped by at noon on the third week. We heard his truck pull up in the parking lot and sputter when the engine was turned off. He entered the store and greeted Mrs. Martin with a hug. After finding out how things were going in the store, he reached into the ice-cream freezer, pulled out two bars, paid for them, and signalled to Mike and me.
"Let's go for a walk boys."
We crossed the street, dodging a few cars, and walked across a large grassy field, where a few adults were playing softball. Sitting down at a remote picnic table, he handed Mike and me the ice-cream bars.
"How's it going boys?"
"OK," Mike said.
I nodded in agreement.
"Learn anything yet?" rich dad asked.
Mike and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and shook our heads in unison.
"Well, you boys had better start thinking. You're staring at one of life's biggest lessons. If you learn the lesson, you'll enjoy a life of great freedom and security. If you don't learn the lesson, you'll wind up like Mrs. Martin and most of the people playing softball in this park. They work very hard, for little money, clinging to the illusion of job security, looking forward to a three-week vacation each year and a skimpy pension after forty-five years of work. Now that excites you, I'll give you a raise to 25 cents an hour."
"But these are good hard-working people. Are you making fun of them?" I demanded.
A smile came over rich dad's face.
"Mrs. Martin is like a mother to me. And I would never be that cruel. I may sound cruel because I'm doing my best to point something out to the two of you. I want to expand your point of view so you can see something. Something most people never have the benefit of seeing because their vision is too narrow. Most people never see the trap they are in."
Mike and I sat there uncertain of his message. He sounded cruel, yet we could sense he was desperately wanting us to know something.
With a smile, rich dad said, "Doesn't that 25 cents an hour sound good? Doesn't it make your heart beat a little faster."
I shook my head "no," but it really did. Twenty five cents an hour would be big bucks to me.
"OK, I'll pay you a dollar an hour," rich dad said, with a sly grin.
Now my heart was beginning to race. My brain was screaming,"Take it. Take it." I could not believe what I was hearing. Still, I said nothing.
"OK, $2 an hour."
My little 9-year-old brain and heart nearly exploded. After all, it was 1956 and being paid $2 an hour would have made me the richest kid in the world. I couldn't imagine earning that kind of money. I wanted to say "yes." But somehow my mouth stayed silent.
Maybe my brain had overheated and blown a fuse. But deep down, I badly wanted that $2 an hour.
The ice cream had melted and was running down my hand. Rich dad was looking at two boys staring back at him, eyes wide open and brains empty. He knew he was testing us, and he knew there was a part of our emotions that wanted to take the deal.
"OK," he said." $5 an hour."
Suddenly there was a silence from inside me. Something had changed. The offer was too big and had gotten ridiculous. Not too many grownups in 1956 made more than $5 an hour. The temptation disappeared, and a calm set in. Slowly I turned to my left to look at Mike. He looked back at me. The part of my soul that was weak and needy was silenced. The part of me that had no price took over. There was a calm and a certainty about money that entered my brain and my soul. I knew Mike had gotten to that point also.
"Good," rich dad said softly. "Most people have a price. And they have a price because of human emotions named fear and greed. First, the fear of being without money motivates us to work hard, and then once we get that paycheck, greed or desire starts us thinking about all the wonderful things money can buy. The pattern is then set."
"What pattern?" I asked.
"The pattern of get up, go to work, pay bills, get up, go to work, pay bills... Their lives are then run forever by two emotions, fear and greed. Offer them more money, and they continue the cycle by also increasing their spending. This is what I call the Rat Race."
"There is another way?" Mike asked.
"Yes," said rich dad slowly. "But only a few people find it."
"And what is that way?" Mike asked.
"That's what I hope you boys will find out as you work and study with me. That is why I took away all forms of pay."
"Any hints?" Mike asked. "We're kind of tired of working hard, especially for nothing."
"Well, the first step is telling the truth," said rich dad.
"We haven't been lying." I said.
"I did not say you were lying. I said to tell the truth," rich dad came back.
"The truth about what?" I asked.
"How you're feeling," rich dad said. "You are not to say it to anyone else. Just yourself."
"You mean the people in this park, the people who work for you, Mrs. Martin, they don't do that?" I asked.
"I doubt it," rich dad said. "Instead, they feel the fear of not having money. Instead of confronting the fear, they react instead of think. They react emotionally instead of using their heads," rich dad said, tapping us on our heads. "'Then, they get a few bucks in their hands, and again the emotion of joy and desire and greed take over, and again they react, instead of think."
"So their emotions do their thinking," Mike said.
"That's correct," said rich dad. "Money is running their lives, and they refuse to tell the truth about that. Money is in control of their emotions and hence their souls."
Rich dad sat quietly, letting his words sink in.
Realizing we had absorbed as much as possible of what he was talking about, rich dad said, "I want you boys to avoid that trap. That is really what I want to teach you. Not just to be rich, because being rich does not solve the problem."
"It doesn't?" I asked, surprised.
"No, it doesn't. Let me finish with the other emotion, which is desire. Some call it greed, but I prefer desire. It is perfectly normal to desire something better, prettier, more fun or exciting. So people also work for money because of desire. They desire money for the joy they think it can buy. But the joy that money brings is often short lived, and they soon need more money for more joy, more pleasure, more comfort, more security. So they keep working, thinking money will soothe their souls that is troubled by fear and desire. But money cannot do that."
"Even for rich people?" Mike asked.
"Rich people included," said rich dad. "In fact, the reason many rich people are rich is not because of desire but because of fear. They actually think that money can eliminate that fear of not having money, of being poor, so they amass tons of it only to find out the fear gets worse. They now fear losing it. I have friends who keep on working even though they have plenty. I know people who have millions who are more afraid now than when they were poor. They're terrified of losing all their money. I want to teach you to master the power of money. Not be afraid of it. And they don't teach that in school. If you don't learn it, you can become a slave to money."
It was finally making sense. He did want us to widen our views. To see what Mrs. Martin could not see, his employees could not see, or my dad for that matter. He used examples that sounded cruel at the time, but I've never forgotten them. My vision widened that day, and I could begin to see the trap that lay ahead for most people.
"You see, we're all employees ultimately. We just work at different levels," said rich dad. "I just want you boys to have a chance to avoid the trap. The trap caused by those two emotions, fear and desire. Use them in your favor, not against you. That's what I want to teach you. I'm not interested in just teaching you to make a pile of money. That won't handle the fear or desire. If you don't first handle fear and desire, and you get rich, you'll only be a high-paid slave."
"So how do we avoid the trap?" I asked.
"The main cause of poverty or financial struggle is fear and ignorance, not the economy or the government or the rich. It's selfinflicted fear and ignorance that keeps people trapped. So you boys go to school and get your college degrees. I'll teach you how to stay out of the trap."