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This has been a trying week for me.  With the passing of another legend, I have been prompted to examine my mortality. I’m left questioning what imprint my life will have when I am gone.  What will I have achieved? What will I leave behind? What will others say I have done to positively impact their lives? And I also wondered, will my endeavors be so far-reaching that though I may be laid to rest I may never be allowed to rest in peace?

This last inquiry came about as I considered the lives of celebrities who have passed on: Sammy Davis, Jr., Judy Garland, Red Fox, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Heavy D., Don Cornelius, Whitney Houston.  There is so much discussion about the mishaps and pitfalls of their lives that even long after they’ve passed we recall more about their trials, tribulations and battles than we do about their triumphs and breakthroughs.

In fact, one of the most common controversies upon the death of a star is the division of their assets – or lack thereof.  Many celebrities spend their lives in the dark, writhing in emotional pain and bearing the burden in silence. As the country mourned the loss of Ms. Houston this past week, the media was sure to highlight that she was likely bankrupt.  They discussed her flopped records, canceled concerts and upcoming endeavors that were speculated to generate enough income to cover a few debts. In short, they reported that Whitney was broke.

As I was listening to one of these news reports, I overheard someone say, “Yeah, but their broke isn’t our broke.” In other words, she believed that celebrities are somehow exempt from the hardships that come with poverty because of their social standing.  But I know better. I know about celebrities who fall from grace; who live in their cars and rent rooms in boarding houses.  People still seek them out and look to them for entertainment.  But rather than glorifying their fortune and fame, the public ridicules them for being dumb enough to lose it all.

But the truth is, most of us are very unprepared for a life of wealth.  We wouldn’t know how to acquire it, sustain it or expand it.  We wouldn’t have the first inkling of a clue about what it means to make our money work for us. It is so much easier to talk about those who let what they have slip away than it is to consider why you’ve never had to begin with.

Yes, these are the things I think about when legends are laid to rest.  I question whether my life will ever be legendary. And it occurred to me, one of the greatest things we can do to maintain a life of balance is to obtain leverage.  We have to have leverage.  So many of these individuals die broke and broken because they didn’t know their worth.  They didn’t value what they had to offer. Subsequently, they surrounded themselves with people who saw them merely as commodities.  Their associates were concerned with the value of their next sale than the value of their spirits.

I want to encourage you today. You may be broke, but you don’t have to be broken.  There are people around you who have something you want or need, but you have something to offer them as well.  If people are not willing to give of themselves freely to you – be sure you keep them in the professional column.  People who love you will push you and support you without expecting anything in return.  Their motivation is merely to see you excel.  There are no ulterior motives. These are the people with whom you can share yourself wholly and completely. Everyone else is a connection; a link between where you are and where you want to be.

It sounds harsh, but this is how it’s done. You have to know who is for you and who is not.  But most importantly, you have to be for you.  Look at people like Donald Trump, Suze Orman and MC Hammer.  These individuals know what it means to suffer financial loss.  In fact, The Donald has turned bankruptcy into an art!  But each of them has leveraged themselves to bounce back.  The Donald used other people’s money to implement his initiatives while he was bankrupt.  He utilized his business contacts – is leverage – in order to get what he needed.

Suze Orman connected herself with some very up-and-coming folks who would prove extremely influential in the years to come.  She became a regular on The Oprah Winfrey Show before Oprah was a household name, so naturally when Oprah was internationally known and needed a financial expert on her show she called The Suze. This is how it’s done.

No amount of money is ever going to make you whole. You have to know your value and your worth irrespective of any dollar sign.  If we are going to see a shift in the way people are living and the way we experience their passing, something in us has to change.

Today, you might be broke but I pray you are far from broken.  I pray you live in your Light.  Good luck and Namaste.

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