The Skeletons (and Butterflies) In My Closet

Successful people learn from their mistakes, but SUPER successful people learn from others mistakes.

Editor's Note: This article is available in both text and video format.

Have you ever let out your family's secrets?

Have you ever helped someone because of that?

I'm about to reveal the secrets to failure and success in my family.

I believe we can all learn from mistakes. Successful people learn from their mistakes, but SUPER successful people learn from others mistakes.

This is Dave Denniston and I’ve been writing articles on Physicians Money Digest for a while. You may have seen a few of them. Today, I'd like to tell you a little bit about me and three big lessons that I learned from two people close to me.

Two people that were huge influences in my life were my dad's mom, Grandma Frances, and my great Aunt Margaret. Now, I come from a really small family. As a matter of fact, I am an only child. So, in my immediate family, including my cousin and aunt, there's only about five or six of us. Well, I guess maybe seven or eight if you include the new kiddos.

What I'd like to teach you today are three lessons that I think we can all apply.

First, let me tell you about my Aunt Margaret. My Aunt Margaret and Uncle Phil lived in Southern California, which is where I was raised originally. They lived in Redondo Beach.

Aunt Margaret and Uncle Phil were basic folks. He worked for the railroads—Union Pacific—and she worked at Pabst Brewery and got all kind of great drinks for Uncle Phil to consume. They had a kiddo named Marty. He was the joy of their lives. He was their pride and joy. Unfortunately, their lives took a nose dive when at the really young age of two, he choked on an apple core and died.

They didn't have any other kids. So, they focused on one thing in their lives and that was to become millionaires. They saved every month and slowly realized their goals many times over. It wasn’t because they came into a windfall or created a business—it was because of their steady savings that they were financially successful.

I remember visiting their beautiful ocean-view home in Redondo Beach watching the stock ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen while playing with Legos and He-Man toys. I had no idea what the heck it was all about, but I determined from a very young age that I wanted to be successful just like them. To do so, I needed to learn how they made their money… by investing in the financial markets.

Here they were regular people with regular jobs, and they save and they save and they save and they become multimillionaires.

What I really learned from them was one huge lesson…

Lesson 1: It's not what you make, it's what you keep.

As a physician, I want you to think about that lesson that: It's not what you make, it's what you keep.

You could be making $150,000, $200,000, $300,000, $500,000 or even $700,000, but if you want to hit your retirement goals, remember it's not what you make, it's what you keep.

To be completely honest, while Aunt Margaret and Uncle Phil were financially wealthy, they were poor in relationships. They had virtually no friends and lived a fairly miserly existence. They rarely tasted the fruits of their labor. They rarely shared it with others.

They simply…. existed.

Now, the other person that was really influential in my life, was Grandma Frances. Grandma Frances loved people. She would give the last strip of clothing off her back to give to someone. She really taught me about caring and loving people. I used to go up to her house every summer, spending two or three weeks in Washington and there’s no doubt, she was an important reason why I started my career there and why I went to Seattle Pacific University.

She taught me this lesson…

Lesson 2: It's all about serving people. Because at the end of the day, whatever we may make and keep, we don't get to take it with us to the graves.

As an adult, this lesson really grounded me and helped me keep my perspective and frankly it's why I am here teaching these lessons because I am here to serve and here to help out.

My third major lesson from Grandma Frances and Aunt Margaret…

Lesson 3: It's really about balancing these two worlds because Grandma Frances, as caring as she was, as loving as she was, she really just scraped by.

I want to take the attitude of loving people and being that servant, but I don't want to be just making it month to month wondering if I am going to be okay in my retirement years. I also want to combine that with the lessons from Aunt Margaret, it's not what you make, it's what you keep.

In my life, those are two huge influences and I want you to think about this for you.

What's your background?

What are your influences?

What can you keep and what can you throw away?

Anyhow, some food for thought. Let me know some of your biggest influences.

I would love to hear your stories and why you view money the way you do and why you behave the way you do. E-mail me at dave@daviddenniston.com with your comments, suggestions, and your influences and maybe you’ll let the skeletons and the butterflies out of your closet too.

Image courtesy of Kamnuan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net