Madoff as Teacher not Devil

by Mayuri on April 5, 2009

Madoff’s Lesson For Us

My  friends, Matt and Geneen, lost all their retirement savings in the  Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Instead of being victims, they have used the experience in very constructive ways for themselves. I am not talking out of school here, because they have each publicized their plight  in their own ways: together as a couple on the Today show, author Geneen in an article in the Huffington Post (What I Gained By Losing in Madoff) and  award-winning inspirational speaker Matt  in Youtube (What Bernie Madoff Couldn’t Steal From Me) . One of the  common ingredients in their stories is their willingness to take responsibility – not only for what happened- but ongoingly. As Matt says, Bernie Madoff stole money from them, but it was up to them to ensure that he didn’t steal the rest of their lives. 

Too often we stay locked in the past and try and change it. We obsess about how it should have been, or how it could have been if…..Those who are focusing on Bernie Madoff and what should have happened to him (nothing you can do to him will bring back your wealth), or, trying to find out where the money is (wake-up, it’s GONE), or how the government should pay them back because it was the SEC who messed up (Hey, where’s my bailout!) are staying in the past, are ultimately not taking responsibility for their lives.

There is a new paradigm shift, and that shift requires each of us to take personal responsibility for our money lives. We no longer have the luxury of passing our funds to an “expert” money manager. Money managers who , in my view, were negligent not just unlucky. We are going to have to know exactly where our money is, and exactly what it is doing.  We are going to have to live within our means. For most people that will mean no more credit cards and the chase for more is better. 

I believe this recession is not going to be over quickly, rather it is going to be a slow burn for a period of time- I just don’t know how long (months, or more likely years before we move to a more real economy from a bubble one). We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, and if people do not start controlling their money lives, and understanding their money issues, and most importantly, taking responsibility for their financial lives,they will be left behind the wake of the new paradigm shift.

And this is what Bernie Madoff has brought to us, not just the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world, but a wake-up call to all that we must quit sleeping in complacency and begin taking responsibility for our own financial lives.

But this is just the beginning. Taking responsibility is not an easy thing to do, but it is a big step in becoming a conscious human being. And if you take responsibility for your finances, you will start to also see the other areas in your life that you don’t take responsibility, where you blame others (your spouse, your boss, the government, your mother). And when you begin to realize it is YOUR journey, YOUR life, and it is YOUR responsibility, you enter your own personal paradigm shift.

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