Quick, if you saw a Rolls Royce on the side of the road and a guy in a suit standing next to it staring at his flat tire, what pops into your head?
If you find yourself laughing at a rich guy having to suffer, you may be suffering from what prosperity expert Randy Gage refers to as a subconscious meme, an unconscious belief that is likely sabotaging your success.
In his book, "Why You're Dumb, Sick and Broke and How to Get Smart, Healthy and Rich," Gage asserts that many of us have prejudices about wealth and false beliefs about success that are holding us back.
Do any of these sound familiar?
-- Money is bad.
-- Rich people are evil.
-- It is spiritual or noble to be poor.
-- Underdogs and the little guys are good, big entities are bad.
-- You have to sell your soul to get rich.
-- Rich people have lots of money, but they also have many additional problems. Being rich isn't worth it.
-- Money causes good people to go bad.
Gage's in-your-face style challenges the unconscious programming that many of us have absorbed without even realizing it.
He writes, "Suppose you're eight years old and your family drives by a mansion. You're impressed and say something about it. Your mother tells you that people who live in big houses like that aren't happy. The odds are quite good that you will be infected with the "Money doesn't buy happiness," mind virus without even knowing it. It stays on your hard drive the rest of your life, but you don't even know when the program was installed."
Pop culture also plays a role. Gage says, "Titanic," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and even "Gilligan's Island" all fed into the rich people are bad mind virus.
I didn't think I had a bias against the rich. I always assumed I aspired to be one of them.
But Gage's book reawakened memories. Like my mom insinuating that when our dentist neighbor paid off his student loans and moved his family to the "fancy" side of town, they were no longer "like us." They cared about materialistic things like a house, cars and furniture, whereas we, the humble, noble middle class, still had our solid values.
Gage says that even you may be working hard to achieve success, but if your subconscious is programmed with limiting beliefs -- like it's noble to be poor -- you'll sabotage yourself.
If you believe rich people are evil, how likely is it that you will become one?
Digging through my own subconscious, I find that I do have a positive mental image of a noble benevolent businessman who contributes to the community, but I don't have any similar imagery for a successful woman. Wealthy women are usually personified as social climbing shrews, gold diggers or ruthless businesswomen, ala Cruella de' Ville or "The Devil Wears Prada."
Maybe that's why whenever I meet a teacher or social worker I'm always a little bit embarrassed to say I'm a businesswoman.
If you think you might be suffering from a similar self-sabotaging mind virus, here's how Gage recommends you get over it: Find your limiting beliefs, blow them up, then replace them.
So I'm replacing Cruella de' Ville, with a kind, uber successful millionaire who is a loving mother that funds her grandkids college and takes the whole family on cultural vacations.
And if I see a broken down Rolls Royce, I'm extending the same kindness I would to a mom in her minivan.
Lisa Earle McLeod is the author of "Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud."