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Is your “Moral Code” destroying your Wealth?

Welcome to this month’s newsletter.

This time I would like to share with you my observations on quite a deep topic, one which could be potentially destructive to your wealth creation efforts. It’s something which you may not even be aware of – your moral code. Let me explain.

A Moral Code could be loosely defined as a set of agreements you have accepted as the “right thing to do” while growing up in a particular environment (e.g. your family, church, tribe, etc.). Morals and moral codes get drummed into you in subtle ways, such as the stories you hear, as well as more direct methods such as teaching or actions from others in your group. Ultimately you can end up living by the same moral code as your group with or without either your consent or knowledge.

For example, the following ideas can form part of your moral code, depending on the group you were brought up in:

  • Stealing from others is bad regardless of who they are. This might be true if you were brought up in a typical middle class family in Australia today;
  • Stealing from others is acceptable, as long as you are stealing from the “bad guys” (the “bad guys” being defined as the rich, the government or anyone that your group doesn’t like!). This might be true if you were brought up in a “Robin Hood” style family☺ or say a gangster’s family.

A moral code, as you can see, is basically whatever is acceptable to the group. It does not have to make sense to other people outside of the group. It certainly does not have to be rational or contribute to your long term survival.  The most dangerous thing about our moral codes is that we are mostly not aware of the power they can have over our daily lives.

It has been said that the most powerful force driving a human being is their “the need to be right”, i.e. we have the need to feel “right” about ourselves and our actions in terms of our moral code, and it doesn’t matter whether the moral code makes any sense or not.  You can see plenty of examples of this:

  • Teenagers take drugs and drink themselves silly just to “fit in” with their peer group. The pressure they experience means they would feel “not right” about themselves if they were the only one in the group who went against the use of drugs and alcohol, which is the moral code (i.e. required behaviour) of their group;
  • Most criminals unconsciously leave traces of their crimes behind for the police to find, so that they can get caught. They do this as they also have the need to feel right about themselves within their moral code, as “not hurting others” may be a deep down part of their moral code;
  • A cheating partner can quite often be the first one to initiate the breakup of a relationship, as they also have the need to feel “right” about themselves within their moral code of “don’t hurt others”.  In this case they know, at an unconscious level, that by leaving their relationship they are reducing the damage done to the other person.

You may say that we are the harshest judge of our own behaviour in the Court of Our Moral Code.

Let’s take a look at your moral code in the area of wealth if you come from a poor or middle class family. Remember our parents and grandparents are just like any of us, as we all need to feel right about our own behaviour within our own moral code.  Let’s say our not-so-wealthy parents have made us believe and accept the following agreements (i.e. they form part of our moral code):

  • Rich people only get rich because they rip others off;
  • Rich people are usually unhappy or unhealthy;
  • Rich people are usually targets for crime.

You may notice that these agreements we’ve unknowingly subscribed to about rich people may come from our parents or even the mass media, which targets the majority of the people who are not wealthy. Our parents usually tell us this either because of their own selective observations or they may simply have accepted their parents’ moral code without questioning it.

Let’s say that you happen to be from a not-so-wealthy family but you yourself want to be wealthy. This is a conscious desire you have but you have inherited, unconsciously, a moral code that is not so supportive of your efforts to create wealth. If you are like most people who have the need to feel “right” about themselves within the context of their own “anti-wealth” moral code, you will then be likely to demonstrate a pattern of; making some money, then losing it, then making it again, then losing it,…, and keep repeating this endless cycle until you run out of time or spirit to continue! ☺

This happens to you because every time you find yourself in an abundance of wealth through some conscious effort, your need to feel “right” within your anti-wealth moral code will kick in to force you to relinquish your wealth (unconsciously and without your consent), so that you can again feel comfortable within your anti-wealth moral code.  Then you will make another conscious attempt to make money again, only to find that your anti-wealth moral code unconsciously puts you back to square one again.

You will find many people on the wealth creation journey go through this pattern of wealthy-poor-wealthy-poor cycle corresponding to the pattern of the conscious-unconscious-conscious-unconscious cycle. But if you are not aware of the power of your own moral codes, you will forever be looking for conscious reasons to justify why you have lost most of your money every time after you have made it. The truth is that you will never find the right conscious solution if the problem lies in the unconscious world.

As you can see, if you were brought up in an environment with an unconscious anti-wealth moral code, unless you have accepted a new set of moral codes, there is very little chance you can build sustainable wealth.  So how do we change our anti-wealth moral code when we are not even aware of it most of the time?

First of all, I hope that by reading this article, you can begin to consciously examine your moral code in this area. By bringing your moral code from the unconscious level into the conscious level, you have now solved 50% of the problem.

Secondly, if we realise that moral codes creep into our lives in the first place by us living in certain environments, then if we consciously choose our environment and friends, we may have a better chance of accepting a different set of moral codes unconsciously.  Remember there is no “right” or “wrong” about a moral code, different groups just have different moral codes.

If you wish to be highly intelligent, you need to choose a group that respects knowledge and values education. If you decide to be fit, you need to choose your group that values fitness and looks after their health. If you choose to be rich, you need to choose your group that respects wealth and looks after their money.

Finally, we need to recognise that changing our moral code may not easy. Initially we may have to “force” ourselves to fit into a group of people who may be quite uncomfortable for us initially (i.e. they share a different set of moral codes that our existing moral codes may force us to reject so that we can feel right about ourselves☺).

Hence the biggest barrier to adopting a new set of moral codes is our inability to let go of our need to be right about our own existing moral codes.  In other words, we need to have the courage to be wrong first, so that we can be much more right later on.

Until next month, happy investing.

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Investors Direct Financial Group (IDFG) was established in 2001.
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