“Successful people have large libraries, unsuccessful people have large TV’s.” When I first heard that comment, I protested mildly, because successful people can afford large TV’s. And my most successful friends do happen to have large TV’s.

But the point is still valid. There is a high correlation between success and the pursuit of learning and growing. Books symbolize active learning; TV’s symbolize passivity.

But it is also a fact that one can no longer count on formal education as a path to success. I’ve got a ton of that myself, but it is the ongoing self-improvement through reading, seminars and workshops that is more critical to current success. And my successful friends would agree.

That’s, in part, because formal education usually feeds only some of the wide range of individual abilities that make us up as complete human beings. Howard Gardner has proposed a theory that there are “Nine intelligences.” We can be smart or educated in some of the nine while being dumb or uneducated in others. Traditionally, education fed only three of the nine.

The intelligences we were fed in the classroom were largely Linguistic—word smart, where we learned to read, write and interpret written meaning; Logical/mathematical—number/reasoning smart, where we learned to calculate, quantify and make logical deductions; and Physical—body smart, which we fed through phys. ed. (and where many not so strong in the first two had their day in the sun).

But those three alone will not guarantee success. And, what about those who excel in the other six? Let’s look at them:

Naturalist intelligence—nature smart differentiates between natural elements, a trait of great importance to early humans that is still believed to drive much of consumer behaviour. Musical/artistic intelligence—music smart is better understood and sometimes fed in traditional education. Existential intelligence—spiritual smart ponders and interprets the deep questions of human existence. Interpersonal intelligence—people smart is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. (Those who are the “people smartest” tend to be the most successful financially). Intra-personal intelligence—self smart is the deep understanding of oneself and the human condition. And, finally, spatial intelligence—picture smart is the ability to think in three dimensions, to see the whole picture, not just the details.

Is there scientific evidence for the existence of these nine intelligences? Is that important?

What may be more important is that we ask ourselves whether we want to be successful. If the answer is yes (and why wouldn’t it be?), that we then find ways to capitalize on those of the nine where we are strong, and work to improve those where we need help. Reading, seminars and, yes, even some TV shows, can help us.

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The above article and the one below are from the March issue of Action newsletter, Fraser Valley Rent 2 Own’s monthly hard-copy newsletter. What you missed by not being subscribed to it are: a hilarious article on getting old, some contemplative thoughts on spring, a bunch of fun facts (Did you know, for instance, why fire-halls have circular stairs?), a recipe, a Sudoku, our Top 10 list . . . and more . Check the tab on the right, to see how you can subscribe to the full newsletter.

Collections: how to kill your credit in a hurry
Three recent encounters with credit reports devastated by “Collections” prompt this article. In one case, the credit score was being dragged down a little by an old bill, under a thousand bucks, that hadn’t been paid. The dispute remained unresolved, so the debt holder sent it to “Collections”. Boom! The credit score dropped by over 50 points overnight (plus $500 was added to the bill).

In another case, a prospective client came to me because of credit issues. He’d discovered that an old bill of under a dollar had remained outstanding (he’d been a few cents short in paying off that bill). Each month the creditor added a few pennies interest and reported another missed payment to the credit bureau. Each month the score took a little hit. Eventually, the creditor sold the debt to a Collection Agency. (You might wonder why it was worth anyone’s time and effort to deal with a debt that small, but it is probable that the collection agency simply bought a bundle of debts in a computer-generated package and no human ever noticed the size of any individual debt on the list.) Now a report goes to the credit bureau that the debt has been sent to Collections. Boom! An instant big drop in credit score.

It is true that you can call the credit bureau, discuss the silliness of this all, report errors, etc., and have them adjust your report, which then automatically adjusts your score. But who wants that hassle? And it takes time. And besides, the Credit Bureau must also listen to the Collection Agency.

Cell phones can be the worst killers of credit. In a typical scenario, Jay (made up name) buys a cell phone with a three-year contract. Jays fails to read all the fine print in the contract (who does?). Two years in, Jay gets a great offer from another wireless provider, buys in, and calls Provider 1 to cancel the remainder of the contract. Provider 1 refuses to cancel. Jay is mad. He refuses to pay further bills to Provider 1—why should he pay for a cell phone he is no longer using? Each month he tosses the bill he gets. But the fine print has him caught. Each month, Provider 1 sends an overdue report to the credit bureau. Each month the overdue amount grows a little. Eventually, the account gets an R9 (which means “You’re a seriously delinquent dude!”) Then the account gets sold to “Collections.”

About this time, Jay decides he’s sick of paying his landlord rent every month and wants to get into home ownership. He makes good money and can afford it. He goes to a lender or mortgage broker, to get pre-qualified. That’s when he discovers he’s hooped because his credit score is way too low! He had no idea! His cell phone squabble has done him in!

At this point, I could say “Thank God for cell phones!” because Jay now comes to Fraser Valley Rent 2 Own for help. But I would never say that, though I would try to help Jay out.

Lessons to be learned:

1. Check your credit report from time-to-time. You might not even be aware of some things on there that are hurting your score. Checking your credit is easy; you can do it online. Visit www.equifax.ca.

2. Solve your disputes with creditors, even if it hurts to suck it up. It will prevent a credit dive when the account goes to Collections. Plus, your original account holder may be easier to deal with than a Collection Agency, perhaps accepting a discounted amount to settle the account. 3. Read the fine print on contracts, even if it’s the most boring thing you’ve ever done.

On the other hand, if you’ve been caught in that situation, but have now learned the lessons of bad credit decisions, we will be happy to help you get into your home now, while also helping you fix up the credit issues.