The Art of Being Successful
The Art of Being Outrageously Successful!
My personal definition: you love your life, love what you do, love who you do it with, you are able to contribute and make a difference in the lives of others, you are financially secure, you get what you want most if not all of the time, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, with whomever you want to do it with.
The Journey begins:
Back in the late 80s, I met a man who was the senior vice president of Southern California for a nationwide residential real estate company. He had a real problem he couldn’t solve. Because the real estate market was hot, many people wanted to get into the business. So they developed a “fast track” program to teach people everything they needed to know to become a “successful” real estate agent.
Only problem was it didn’t work. For every 100 people that went through the program and got their license, at the end of the first year, 35 of them were gone, total failures, about 10 were performing at or above the level they hoped for, and the remaining 55 or so were not doing bad enough to drop out of the game but certainly not doing all that well either. How could that be? They were all taught the same things to do! The answer, I told him, was simple. He had bought into . . .
Myth #1: Knowing the right things to do is the pathway to success.
This belief is so prevalent in our culture that I guarantee that most of you just assume it’s the truth. That if you know the right things to do and do them, you’ll be successful. Look at most of the seminars you go to. The descriptions always say things like: In this seminar, you will learn how to . . .
And mostly you go to the seminars, read the books, listen to the tapes, and go to meetings to learn what there is to learn about the doingness of your business because you’ve been conditioned like most people to believe that the actions you take determine your results.
It’s a myth! There is no evidence to support it. Bill Gates isn’t a billionaire because he knows the right things to do. Neither is Donald Trump nor Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush.
So let it go. Stop going to programs to learn what to do. Stop reading books for the same purpose. It’s a waste of your time. And you will soon find out why.
And there are lots more myths. We’re told luck has something to do with whether or not we are successful. Nonsense. It’s a myth.
And then it’s not who you are it’s who you know. More nonsense. It’s another myth.
And one more: it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Still more nonsense.
I graduated from engineering school and then went to work for the Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC. I attended George Washington University Law School and graduated in the top ten percent of my class. I moved to California and soon found myself in a private law practice. And I worked hard at it.
But after 11 years, I was a struggling sole practitioner, just barely getting by on a month-to-month basis. Why? I had bought into a couple of other myths:
Myth #2: How smart you are determines your success.
Don’t you know really smart people who aren’t very successful? And don’t you know people that don’t appear very smart who are really successful? Of course.
Myth #3: If you work really hard, you’ll be successful.
People that work the hardest – laborers – are often the least successful. And so many people that hardly work at all are really successful. I have a client whose a multi-millionaire who retired at the age of 41 to raise a family and never stepped foot into his company again. He let his VP of sales become the President and run the company. He just gets a check every month.
So what’s the answer? And, is there “an answer?” I believe there is. Here it is:
How you think determines how you feel. I used to question which comes first, thinking or feeling, and now I’m clear everything starts with your thinking. And how you think and feel determines what actions you take and how you take them. And your actions then determine your results. So where does it ALL start? With how you think.
And what determines your thinking? How you were programmed to think in the early stages of your life.
Most people, over 80%, are programmed to think in ways that are designed to guarantee they will be unsuccessful.
Successful people think differently than unsuccessful people – that is the bottom line. So the only way to become successful is to learn to think the way successful people think.
Why is this the truth? Because there is something called the law of cause and effect.
Ever since Napolean Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich, and maybe even before
then, people have been discussing the possibility that our thoughts attract the circumstances into our lives. In his book You’ll See It When You Believe It (Harper Collins, 2001), the prolific author Dr. Wayne W. Dyer says that what you have in your life is a reflection of your beliefs. This notion has been popularized under the term “the power of positive thinking,” the implication being that if you think “positive,” you’ll have a “positive” experience and produce “positive” results.
For many people, this was some “good idea” until Albert Einstein came along, whose theories gave birth to what is now known as quantum physics. As I understand it, Einstein said that the basic “stuff” of the universe is pure energy. But it’s not any ordinary energy; rather, it’s energy that has an intelligence to it. And, human thought activates it. This has given credibility to all the power of positive thinking theories.
So here’s my understanding of the law of cause and effect and how this all relates. Simply stated, you are the “cause,” and what manifests in your world is the “effect.” More specifically, your thinking and beliefs determine how you become the “cause” in your company and your life.
Think of it as each of us being like a magnet. We attract things to ourselves that are consistent with our thinking and beliefs, and we repel things from ourselves that are inconsistent with our thinking and beliefs. Since it is highly unusual for someone to think, believe, speak, and act in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent, your conversation and your actions are a great access to your thinking and beliefs.
Back to our conversation about success. Let’s take a simple example of the
law of cause and effect. I often ask people when I do interviews in a company if they are satisfied or not. And then I ask them to give themselves a score on a scale of 1 to 10 as to their level of satisfaction.
I guarantee you that everybody I ask this of answers my question by looking into their lives and their businesses to see how things ARE compared to how they would like them TO BE. Can you relate? I’ll bet you would do the same thing if I asked you that question.
Now, what’s the likelihood that everything in your life is exactly the way you would like it to be? Pretty slim for the vast majority of people. So I rarely get someone give themselves a score of 10. There is always a certain degree of dissatisfaction. AND, what is it that you and I spend most of our time dwelling on, the things in our lives that are working the way we would like or the things that are not. You guessed it, the later.
Under the law of cause and effect, if you focus on the things that you are not satisfied with, what you will attract into your life and your business are more things to be dissatisfied about. Conversely, if you focus on the things that you are satisfied with, you will attract into your life and your business things which will bring you satisfaction.
Successful people, generally speaking, look for the good. Life is not filled with lots of problems, life is filled with lots of opportunities. Unsuccessful people focus on what’s not working. They often feel victimized by life. When things are not working, they blame others, they justify why things are the way they are, and they often spend lots of time complaining.
Successful people recognize that they are in charge of their lives. When something isn’t working, they know they can fix it and they do. I recently read an article by Marshall Goldsmith, a very successful and prominent coach who works with high level executives in Fortune 500 companies. His research shows that:
“Successful people believe that they are doing what they choose to do, because they choose to do it,” “Successful people believe that they have the internal capacity to make desirable things happen,” “Successful people tend to pursue opportunities,” and “Successful people tend to have a positive interpretation of their past performance.”
Please notice that none of these characteristics have anything to do with how smart they are, how hard they work, etc etc etc. It’s all about the way they view the world and how they think.
Fear vs. trust:
Let’s take another example of the law of cause and effect. What is the most predominant human emotion in our society? If you guessed “fear” you are correct. And what’s the opposite of fear? My favorite words are faith, trust and optimism.
But fear is so prevalent that if we see someone being totally turned on about life, totally optimistic, having something wonderful to say about everything and every body, most people react like they are totally out of touch with reality. We say: “be realistic.” Or we call them a pollyanna. All that because fear is the biggest game in town.
But here’s the rub. If you come from fear, what you will attract into your life are lots of things to be fearful of. Your life experience will be that there are lots of things to worry about or be fearful of and all of your fears will seem very real.
If you come from trust and optimism, what you will attract into your life are lots of things to support you in having faith. Your life experience will be that life is filled with opportunities and breakdowns are temporary bumps in the road.
Here’s the most important point: Successful people don’t let their fears stop them! They are brave. They are risk takers. They have courage. They don’t stay in jobs or other circumstances that don’t support their vision and don’t bring them excitement and aliveness.
Unsuccessful people are stopped by their fears. They often choose being comfortable rather than taking risks. They view people who are out on the skinny branches of life as being foolish and irresponsible. They stay in jobs and relationships that don’t work for them because stepping out into the unknown is too scary.
Successful people play the game of life to win. Unsuccessful people play the game of life not to lose. Please read those two sentences very carefully. The difference is subtle, but makes all the difference in the world. And don’t move on too quickly. Take a moment. Ask yourself which you are doing, playing to win or not to lose. This could just be a life altering moment.
Scarcity vs. abundance:
One of the things we fear the most, even though it is rarely noticed, is that we will not have enough. In addition to fear being the most predominant human emotion, so is a belief in scarcity. We are so driven to plan, control, manage and save because we have no faith that we will be taken care of. It’s all about scarcity thinking.
What’s the opposite of scarcity? Abundance. Successful people think abundantly. Unsuccessful people think scarcity. And, it’s always a self fulfilling prophecy. The law of cause and effect at work.
If you “come from” scarcity, you’ll have a lot of scarcity in your life. If you “come from” abundance, you’ll have a lot of abundance in your life.
The amount of money (wealth) in your life EXACTLY corresponds to where your thinking is on the scarcity/abundance continuum. Which is why when a “rich” person has a downturn, and even goes bankrupt, it rarely takes very long before they are rich once again. And why people who win the lottery usually figure out pretty quickly how to lose all of the money they won.
Summarizing, start managing your attitude. Be enthusiastic, positive, passionate, and satisfied. Be willing to take risks. Have faith. The universe really is on your side. Confront your fears and insecurities. They are all imagined. They are not real. Having faith, being optimistic, trusting that everything will always turn out for the best just plain makes sense. Since whatever is going on in your life is a direct consequence of your thinking, why not take advantage of that fact and upgrade your thinking. And, you might just have fun doing this.