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The Difference Between the ‘Haves’ & the ‘Have Nots’ Article by: Earl Nightingale

I once had occasion to visit Charleston, South Carolina. I had never been there before, so I hired a taxi to drive me around the historic old town. I particularly wanted to see the Battery, where the famous shot was fired on Fort Sumpter. Along this beautiful drive, some of Charleston’s oldest and finest homes look out over the bay. I commented to my cab driver on what lovely homes they were, and he said, “Yeah, some of those homes have 40 rooms.” Then he thought for a moment and said, “And every one of them is owned by a crook.”

The truth was those homes were built by the men and women who made the largest contribution to the city of Charleston. But that is how the Have Nots of the world justify themselves and their lot in life. They think people who earn the big money that allows them to enjoy luxurious lifestyles are crooks, lucky, endowed with more brains or talents, privy to occult secrets, or born into wealth. Yet these are only excuses.

People who fail to make the grade financially are seldom honest enough to admit that they really didn’t try and keep trying. So in order to justify their failure or mediocre lives, they dream up and pass along these excuses.

I’ve discovered that the only difference between the people who earn big incomes and those who earn small incomes is that those earning big incomes decided to earn more. Without the decision to earn more, you can’t possibly think of ways to increase your income.

This decision is the simple, yet elusive, difference between the Haves and the Have Nots. The moment you decide to go after wealth, success, or anything you desire in life, that is when you will start thinking about ways to accomplish it.

What’s more, you cannot simply make the decision once and then relax. You must make the commitment again and again, and continually overcome your fears to turn back toward safety.

The Have Nots do not want to do more than they have to — and that is why they continue to “have not.”

Growth can feel uncomfortable, as it pushes us to step out of our comfort zone — to do more than what’s required of us. This is the trap of the Have Nots, and it is why so few people commit to the decision to become Haves.

I remember reading that the employees at Macy’s department store in New York had grumbled because the company had been hiring executives and managers from outside the company. So Macy’s management put in a free management training program for its employees so that it could promote from within the organization. However, only about 3 percent took advantage of the training, even though it was free. All they had to do was stay after work for a few hours.

Similarly, only about 3 percent of all American armed force veterans have taken advantage of their GI Bill educational allowances.

That 3 percent figure keeps popping up in cases like that. It seems that only about 3 percent of people are seriously interested in investing a part of their time and energy in programs to help them get ahead in the world. The rest yell and flail around for pay raises and more fringe benefits. But when it’s suggested that they might do something to improve themselves, make themselves more valuable, they don’t want to do it.

Success is available to everyone who commits to being successful.

I hope you’ll decide to become a Have person. If you’ve read this far, you have probably already made that essential decision. Here are the next steps:

  1. Start getting up a little earlier than you’re accustomed to. This gives you extra time that 95 percent of the people in this world are not using at all. One hour earlier a day gives you six extra 40-hour weeks a year. During this extra hour, take a refreshing shower, dress, get yourself a fresh, hot cup of coffee or tea, and then sit down to a clean sheet of paper.
  2. Decide what you want in life. More wealth? Success? Happiness? More time with your family? At the top of the paper write down your goals. For example, let’s say you write down the amount of money per year that you intend to earn soon. That’s your financial goal. You don’t have to tell anyone. It’s nobody’s business but yours.
  3. Start to think. Think about your goal and what it will mean to you and your family. See how many ideas you can come up with to help you reach that goal, ideas to improve what you now do for a living. Ways of increasing your contribution to match your income goal.
  4. Try for five ideas every morning. Write them down and save those sheets of paper in a special “ideas” file. Focus on ideas within your line of work or expertise or area that you are most interested in. To think well and profitably, you must discipline your thinking. Keep your thoughts on course, controlled, and focused. Many or perhaps most of your ideas will prove fruitless. But some of them will be very good. A few will be excellent. And every once in a while you’ll come up with something truly outstanding.
  5. Develop a sense of expectancy. That is, try to hold the feeling that the goal you’re shooting for is a sure thing and that it’s only a matter of time before it’s realized. Henry Ford didn’t start making cars until he was 45. A friend of mine started a new company at 65. He’s still going strong, and his new company has sales of better than $300 million a year. It’s never too late.
  6. Change your attitude. Attitude has been called the most important word in the language. William James put it this way: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” To change your attitude, begin to act like the person you most want to become. If you were already in possession of the goal you’re shooting for, how would you conduct yourself in all of your affairs? How would you dress? How would you talk? Well, do it now, and tomorrow, and the next day. Begin now to act the part of the person you most want to become. And you will end up becoming that person. The German philosopher Goethe gave us the secret when he said, “Before you can do something, you must first be something.”

Practice your new attitude every day — every waking hour. Practice focused thinking a few minutes every morning and you’ll find yourself thinking all day long.

The late renowned psychologist Dr. Abraham Maslow found that people who live close to their true capacity have a pronounced sense of well-being and considerable energy. They see themselves as leading purposeful and creative lives. Isn’t that what we all want to do? I believe it is. And it all begins the moment you decide to become a Have person and leave the Have Nots to their complaints and excuses.


Five ideas a day is 25 a week if you don’t think on weekends. That’s more than 1,000 ideas a year. One idea can get you to that income you’re shooting for. The law of averages swings so far in your favor you just can’t miss.


There are two kinds of people: the Haves and the Have Nots. The Have Nots think the only people who earn large incomes resulting in successful, luxury lifestyles are crooks, lucky, endowed with more brains or talents, privy to occult secrets, or born into wealth. These are only alibis, a way for the Have Nots to justify their failure or mediocre lives. Learn the secrets to a successful life among the Haves and leave the Have Nots to their complaints and their alibis.


Learn more about Earl Nightingale and his many timeless books and audio programs.

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