My Loss of Entitlement Saved My Future


I know entitlement first hand. My Brazilian mindset had prepared me for a privileged life where I expected my parents to pay for college, find me a high-paying job, pay for my wedding and set me and my future bride in a new house they would build for us. Nice, isn’t. But that’s not the way it all happened, and for that, I’m most thankful.

On my 19th birthday I got a call from Brazil letting me know that the government had frozen any money transfers going outside the country. And even without that restriction in place, my parents could no longer afford to pay for my college education. Therefore goodbye,

free college education


first house.

easy job.

I was crushed. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I have thanked God for that disappointing news many times over the years. In a conversation, my sense of entitlement suddenly disappeared and I was forced to take charge of my own life and trust God for my future. It was traumatic but powerful in a positive way. Whatever little success I have in life today, I trace it  directly to that conversation and the shifting of my expectations and mindset. I still battle entitlement often. When I hear these words come out of my mouth, I know I’m headed down the entitlement road: “I just deserve more. I worked harder than that person; therefore I should be further ahead. These are rules for other people. They don’t apply to me”

What about you? Have you ever felt a sense of entitlement? Has adversity made you a better person?

  • So, ironically, Fernando Collor saved your life! 

    Great perspective!

    • Andrew, until now, Collor had never been credited with anything positive. 🙂

  • Adversity has always been my best teacher.  I think there’s a danger for me when “everything” is going my way to assume I made it happen. When this mindset creeps in, I usually get served a smack of adversity with a dose of humility and end up with a healthier perspective. 

    • “smack of adversity with a dose of humility and end up with a healthier perspective.” I’m going to use this in the future!

  • Adversity has taught me to look for the rainbow. There is always an end to suffering–something better on the other side.

  • I was fortunate to be taught by my parents from an early age that I was responsible for my own finances and possessions, jobs, etc.   When I wanted the cool clothes as a 12 yr old – they said, “start babysitting and earn the money to buy them”.   When I was ready to buy a car, they said “go get a job and we’ll drive you to it until you are able to buy your own”.   Can I tell you what incentive having my mom drive me to my  job was to save that money and get my own car?!   🙂

    I worked through college…and actually, never got my degree because I became a bit of a workaholic early on.  I’ve spent wisely at times and irresponsibly others.  I had to own both.

    So today – even with our 5 yr old… if he wants a special toy and doesn’t want to wait for Christmas or Birthday, then he gets to go into his piggy bank, pull out his money and pay for it himself.   Battling entitlement these days as a parent is TOUGH – so we’re starting early.

    • I have a 16 year old that has to be driven everywhere. He feels your pain, but we do more. 🙂

  • Bunnie

    I am sorry, but expecting an education, home, and a job is not entitlement. It is the 21st century, and while other coutries are doing this we are falling behind. We have a big problem with selfishness and greed in this country, and somehow providing opportunity especially to the lower classes is being looked at as entitlement? We hate the poor in this country, and it is nothing but, ignorance. To me entitlement is some who sits around blustering about working through college, having a home, and working….and has not got the humility and gratitude to know they are lucky. And, if that little scenerio worked for you, stop being so selfcentered and egocentric to think that things do not always go right for people, and attitude towards entitlement and people less fortunate is really a denial that a) this could happen to you, and b) you are justifying your own selfishness by blaming people who may not, like you, really have control over their misfortune so you can feel ok having all your stuff and not doing anything that would help the common good, and your fellow humans.

    • You obviously failed to see the point of the post. I’m not blaming anyone or my circumstances. I still believe that my parents did not have to pay for my college expense and they did not have to buy me a house when I graduated or find me a job. That’s just ridiculous entitlement. If they chose to do those things and were able to, that would be their prerogative.

      The point of this post is that once I decided not to expect everything handed out to me and decided to  start work hard for them, my life changed and so did my future.  I appreciate all the sacrifices and hard work my parents put to get me to college, but enough was enough.

      This not a comment on the poor or our responsibility to help them. This is my story, my perspective and the very reason I believe I have gone as far as I have. 

      • Bunnie

        That is fine. I never expected my parents to pay for a house for me either. As far as adversity I had a brain tumor, brain surgery, lost my job because complications, etc… and, the thing that has done for me is to see into a world that can be quite awful. I have been lucky in so many ways, but having looked over the edge what that has given me is insight into what makes someone go over, and how easy that can be. There are 8 people for every one job in this country. It makes it very difficult for them if someone believes they have not tried hard enough, because they have been LUCKY enough to overcome those hardship. What I get out of this is that what does not kill you makes you stronger. But, do not believe or forget that you may possibly be lucky. I still think that this is conversation about people who are not thinking in terms of anything but themselves. Adversity should also be a tool of being able to put yourself in someone’s elses shoes. Empathy. I am not seeing that in many of the statements here. I am seeing if I can do it you can. And, not being grateful for being able to do it.

        • Bunnie

          Expecting an education, a home, and a job is not entitlement. Maybe in Medevial times, but this is not Mediveal Times.

  • Anyone who says adversity hasn’t made them a better person is full of it. Getting kicked off the ladder of “I deserve this” was certainly one of the best things that happened to me. In a matter of a day I went from a queen sized bed to a twin bed, with two drawers and two boxes under my bed. That was my possessions. You get rid of entitlement pretty quick that way. 

  • While I don’t like adversity (I mean, who does?!), it definitely has grown me. When I lost my full time, well paying job at the end of 2008, it really reordered my life. It definitely was hard at first, but I thank God for it. It pushed me to live on less while still giving. It was the catalyst I needed to start my own business, and helped me learn to truly trust God – and see Him provide in ways I never imagined. Sometimes the hardest things we go through are the best for us.

    • Proud of you and your perseverance, Jason.

      • Thanks Maurilio. Hasn’t always been easy, but definitely worth it.

  • Eliel Santos

    Maurilio, I follow you on Twitter and I like your writings BUT I got a “bone to pick” with you about this last entry. I worry that from your text people may think that in Brazil everyone has the same “Brazilian mindset” that you had but that couldn’t not be more further from the truth since the largest majority of Brazilians, most likely, have not come from the same background that you had. As a Brazilian I can say that I NEVER had that mind set in me since it was never passed to me by my parents anyway! Since I was 14 years old (the legal age to start working in Brazil) I had to work a full-time job (8-6 PM) and study at night. I was never told or had it implied that my parents would be responsible for my college education, wedding expenses, first house and so on. My parents were not given any of that, neither were my grand-parents! I don’t know how you got this “Brazilian mindset” mention as a “general rule for life in Brazil” but I am sure that the absolute majority of Brazilians know that they have to work for every cent that they need and for every brick that they want to conquer in their future! Unless, of course, they belong to a more privileged section of the Brazilian society (a very small one), the one that can afford to give their children all the things that you mention (nothing wrong with that, since they work for it). But to say that the “Brazilian mindset” is to have these things handed-out to them is border-line offensive to me and to the hundreds of millions of Brazilians that have to work hard every day! That is much more close to an American mindset than to a Brazilian mindset because that is just not Brazil’s daily reality!

    • Eliel, I appreciate your perspective and my intent was not to paint everyone in Brazil in the same circumstance, but it was my mindset and the mindset of those who were part of my social circles. I had several friends who had the same expectations than I had. They parents were wealthy doctors, farmers, industrialists.

      I grew up in Ribeirao Preto where a lot of wealthy people lived and still do and went to an exclusive private school where my classmates had access to private planes, chauffeurs, and house servants.

      While that might not be a general Brazilian perspective, it certainly was mine and that of my peers. 

  • Adversity has made me a better person. It’s required me to trust God a lot more, be tighter (and smarter) with my money, and has taught me a lot about myself – both the good and the bad. While I don’t ask for adversity, nor would I want to repeat any of it, I am thankful for what God allowed me to go through, as it’s shaped me into the person I am today and will be tomorrow.

  • Great realization. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Jehiel Ortiz

    Thanks, very helpful

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