An Excerpt from The Difference
Chapter 1: Meet the Neighbors
Finally, working with Duke's David Robinson, I analyzed the data in another way.
Of the five thousand individuals in the sample, there was a significant group who were at one time falling deeper into debt but who have since climbed up into the top two categories. I call these 620 individuals the "movers."
From this analysis, we were able to confirm the importance of the Top Twenty. For example, we saw that individuals who said the word "confident" described them at least "slightly" were significantly more likely to move into comfort or wealth than those who said it did not describe them at all. But we also saw, using this analysis, the emergence of several other important characteristics: gratitude, popularity (connectedness), and the willingness to work hard and take appropriate risks.
We also—quite importantly—learned that several things can hold you back. You won't be surprised to hear that stubbornness is on this list. But how about creativity? Robinson and I spent many hours mulling that one and came away believing it's a particular type of creativity that is the problem. It is not conceiving ideas and following through. People who can do that are likely to have said the word "creative" described them "slightly" or "well," and you'll see it helps rather than hurts them. But believing oneself too creative to play in the world of the mundane—these are the people likely to have said "creative" describes them "very well" or "completely"—that is problematic. "If your stubbornness or creativity consumes you," Robinson noted, "those traits become a detriment." Which leads me to a word on moderation.
As you read through these facts and figures, you will no doubt notice that whether we're talking about being happy, hardworking, grateful, or creative, their presence in your makeup is beneficial ... to a point. If they describe you "slightly," you get a small bump. "Well," a bigger bump. "Very well," the biggest bump. But "completely"? You fall back a bit.
In moderation, all of these attributes are positive and lead to wealth. In full, perhaps not so much. Consider happiness. You'll read more about this in chapter 5, but research has shown that the most blissful individuals don't have enough drive to go for the big job, the big paycheck, the brass ring. They're too satiated, too complacent. That same pattern is mirrored throughout.
As you read through The Difference, in particular the profiles of individuals who embody The Difference traits, you'll see that they are— by and large—a balanced group. They are not consumed by one attribute or another but pay attention to many aspects of their lives. They are happy. They are socially connected. They vote. They exercise. They are glowing examples of moderation. I enjoyed spending time with them—and hope you will as well.