This is Omar E. – born in Rome from Egyptian muslim father and Italian catholic mum.
I just recently discovered your material and I quickly became addicted to it. I would like to ask you something – what’ s your views on destiny? And more in detail – are some people destined to be failures?
I am 36 years old and I have always been a passionate learner. Throughout my life I have been involved in various different fields – I have a Jazz drums degree, been cooking in some of the most prestigious kitchen in the world, got a Sommelier certification, I have been trading stocks for 4 years while studying various types of technical analysis (TPO, Market Profile, Point and Figure, Fundamentals and more).
While I am very proud of all the things I have learnt, I have never been able to monetize as much as I wanted. Once I felt I started to master a certain profession – I quickly began to lose interest and my attention and focus went somewhere else… But now I am struggling to provide money for my family, and this is very frustrating. It seems to me that for some folks success just come easy, while all my efforts for some reason don’t produce the wanted outcome.
I have a great wife and daughter – and I am very grateful for that – but now I am just wondering whether I should just accept that I am a great fast-learning person, but making money is not in my destiny.
Hope to hear from you, thanks for your time.
We are intrigued by your unusual background and are so happy you wrote to us. Your letter spoke to our hearts , especially since your decisions greatly impact the lives of two other people, your wife and daughter. However, we did say to ourselves, “Surely we’ve discussed this before?”
Our quick search of Ask the Rabbi questions and answers over the past ten years revealed a number of people who wrote with similar questions (a sample of which we will link to at the bottom). But here’s our not-surprising conclusion: each individual faces his or her own background, challenges, rationalization of behavior and life-path. As such, we hope that each time we answer a similar question, we hope that we can add something additional to whatever we said before.
Here is one paragraph we previously wrote that you will find that in general summarizes our responses:
Leaving aside luck, acts of God and genetics, 90% of everything that happens in your life is the result of things you have done or not done. This is particularly true in our business and financial lives. Now is a really good time to stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right ones.
Here is the new information we would like to add.
There are many myths that abound in society. If you and your wife have been married for any length of time, you know that the words with which so many fairy-tales close, “and they lived happily ever after,” are misleading. More accurate phrases would be, “and they worked on themselves and their marriage to live happily ever after,” or, “and they faced challenges but were committed to facing them together and overcoming them, leading to living happily ever after.”
Now let’s examine your situation as you’ve described it. (And we admire your self-awareness and honesty. It bodes well for the changes you must make.) Here are about 30 words from a book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Do they remind you of you?
“Alf was a jack-of-all-trades, carpenter, tinsmith, blacksmith, electrician, plasterer, scissors grinder, and cobbler. Alf could do anything, and as a result he was a financial failure although he worked all the time.”
You see, Omar, God built a world in which He wants His children to connect with one another and need one another. We can most help other people when we become supremely competent specialists in some chosen field rather than being a little good at a lot of things.
Omar, how would you answer someone who wrote to us saying, “Successful marriage seems to elude me. Each time I’m happy with someone, I begin to lose interest and focus and my attention moves on to someone else. Am I just destined to have bad marriages?” You get the point, we are certain.
Financial prosperity operates under the same rules. One of the enduring economic myths is the idea of “striking it rich.” That implies a rapid change in circumstance. The odds of that happening are incredibly low. In general, financial stability and wealth result from building a reputation and acquiring skills by accumulating experience and connections in the specific field in which you’ve chosen to labor. For this reason, any professional who works five to six long days a week for a number of years will usually earn considerably more per hour than another who dabbles at the same profession, choosing to work only three days a week.
You have yourself accurately identified the very probable cause of your lack of prosperity. You seem to be confusing your love of eclectic learning with the work you do to serve others. By all means, keep growing and learning. Develop and maintain hobbies and interests. But direct a large portion of your effort to one field so that you build a continuous trajectory of accomplishment and service. You will undoubtedly need to work through difficult times at work. Those challenges are no excuses to quit and start over at entry level doing something entirely different. .
Do we think there is such a thing as being destined to be poor? God is in ultimate control of our lives, but He most often leads us on the path in which we set out. Your self-chosen path is a tragic path to poverty and we want to see you dramatically changing your own direction. We feel sure you can.
Here are two previous Ask the Rabbi columns you might find applicable:
We are happy to welcome you to our teachings, and we look forward to hearing from you again with happy accounts of great success and prosperity,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
P.S. Would you like to discuss your thoughts on this Ask the Rabbi with other interested readers? We always welcome and almost always respond to comments left on this page. But if you would like to enter into discussion with like-minded-people on this or other topics, head over to the Friends of Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin group on Facebook and chat away. See you there!