Many millionaires are believed to be the smartest kids in the class growing up, blessed with creativity, leadership and discipline that separates them from their peers. Well, that might not always be the case, according to a new study, because getting good grades as a kid isn’t a common trait among future millionaires.
Sure, being smart is important in anything you do, but it isn’t necessarily getting anybody closer to becoming a millionaire. That’s according to accountant and financial planner Tom Corley, who authored the best-selling book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Rich Individuals, which found that there’s no direct correlation between people with lots of money and super smart people; or, more directly, people who performed well in school.
In Corley’s findings, he discovered that there are some preemptive traits such as learning how to invest and budgeting, but, when it came to millionaires specifically, many of the success stories were actually of people who were average students growing up. In fact, many of the millionaires were strictly C students, with only 21 percent of the people Corley spoke with receiving A’s in school growing up.
So, why is this? Corley thinks it’s all about tenacity, as those kids who struggle with academics being more likely to develop resiliency skills, which isn’t something many students at the top of their class have to deal with. Obviously, there are outliers — especially Tupac Mosley, who overcame homelessness to become his Valedictorian of his high school class — but this specific research proves it’s the students who underperformed in school who most often became millionaires.
“You must grow a thick skin and become accustomed to struggle if you hope to succeed,” says Corley.
To the credit of Corley’s quote, his survey additionally revealed future millionaires to principally come from poor to middle-class households. Forty-one percent and fifty-nine percent respectively.
Tom Corley’s assumption is definitely an interesting one, and it raises the question of encouraging creativity and individualism over only academics in kids. In a similar vein, it’s like being an adult who’s trying to decide what’s more important, money or freedom, so these types of traits are developed early on in people.
Whether Corley’s accurate in his findings or not, success, or lack there of, in academics isn’t the only trait many millionaires share. According to Dr. Rainer Zitelmann’s book The Wealth Elite — which included interviewing a pool of millionaires and billionaires — he found that high-earners are most likely to take risks, going with their gut rather to make decisions. They’re also described as “non-conformists.” That means that, whether it’s quitting a job to focus on your passions or making a big decision based off of a feeling you have, most of millionaires aren’t following the pack, but, instead, marching to the beat of their own drum.
So the next time you laugh at the kid in high school for being lazy, unmotivated and lacking a passion to do homework, just remember that most millionaires probably shared a similar trait. That doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t care at all about school, but it might mean that they have a grasp of what they’re really interested in, refusing to accept what’s “normal” by climbing the corporate ladder rather than going after their dreams. Because, let’s face it, rarely do people become millionaires by sticking to a 9-to-5 job for 40 years.