Self-Determination vs. Predetermination


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I’m going to get a little philosophical here. Bear with me. There’s an important point I’m trying to make.

There are two opposing schools of thought that divide mankind.

School of Thought #1: Self-Determination Drives Life Circumstances

School of Thought #2: Predetermination Drives Life Circumstances

Those who subscribe to School of Thought #1 believe we are in control of our life circumstances. There is no one out there, no higher power, watching over us, guiding us. Those in this school believe success, wealth, failure and poverty are manufactured. We turn left or right, decide A or B, or do X or Y as a matter of free will, instinct or internal guidance. In other words, the circumstances of our lives are dictated by our own decisions, our own behaviors and the choices that we make. We, in effect, create our own destiny.

Those who subscribe to School of Thought #2 believe we are not in control of our life circumstances. Some higher power is watching over us, determining the circumstances of our lives. Those in this school believe success, wealth, failure and poverty are outside our control. We turn left or right, decide A or B, or do X or Y because some force of nature acts upon us, directing us in every aspect of our lives. In other words, the circumstances of our lives are not determined by us, but by external factors we cannot possibly control. We, in effect, are powerless over the course of our lives.

When you subscribe to School of Thought #1 you embrace the concept that you are in control of your destiny; that you have power over the course of your life. As a result, you develop a mindset of self-reliance. Through hard work and personal initiative you seek to create the life you desire. You pursue lifelong self-education, take calculated risks, seek feedback from others and carefully weigh every decision you make. You search for mentors to help you forge good habits that put you on the right path.

When you subscribe to School of Thought #2 you embrace the concept that your destiny is predetermined; that you are powerless over the course of your life. As a result, you feel you are not in control of your life. You are a mere victim of the luck of the draw. Because you feel you are not in control of your life, you do very little to affect the circumstances of your life. You float along in life like a leaf on a fall day, carried by the wind.

Which are you? Something to think about.


How Big Will Your Folder Be?


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Every year I start a new file. I use one of those Pendaflex-type big brown folders. Inside, I put all sorts of things of importance as they occur during the year. Some are pictures of me with important people I meet during my speaking engagements. Some are vacation pictures. Some are articles that I write that make their way into national magazines, newspapers, etc.

I also put inside my big brown folder my Journal Binder. During the year I write in that Journal Binder. I write down everything I am experiencing during the year – my deepest thoughts. Most of the time it’s very depressing, page after page filled with the obstacles, problems, and the doubts, fears and anxieties I’m feeling at the moment. But sometimes it’s very uplifting, on those rare days when things go right, and all of my doubts, fears and anxieties are replaced by expressions of unbridled optimism.

Every January 1st, I then summarize that Journal Binder and put the summary as the lead page in the binder. Then I close it and put it away, inside my big brown folder, which makes its way into a file cabinet I keep in my basement. I’ve been doing this since 2000.

I noticed this year, when I was putting my big brown folder away in the file cabinet in my basement, that my 2016 big brown folder was larger than my 2015 big brown folder. I then noticed that 2014 was larger than 2013 and that 2013 was larger than 2012. Each year, since I started following my dream of becoming a successful author and speaker, my big brown folder has been getting bigger. I thought about that for some time.

As I was staring at my big brown folders, it dawned on me that they were a reflection of the progression of my success each year. The more success, the bigger the folder.

Then I thought about 2017. I wondered what that big brown folder would look like. Will it be bigger or smaller than 2016? If it turns out to be bigger, that’s a good thing. It means I’m growing. It means I’m accomplishing more than the year before. It means I’m succeeding.

We all need something by which we measure our success. That something becomes a muse that motivates and inspires us to push ourselves forward and carry on in the face of all of the obstacles, fears and doubts that every dreamer pursuing their dream faces.

If you’re pursuing a dream, you need that something, that muse, that big brown folder. Find your big brown folder and then ask yourself every year “how big will next year’s folder be?” It will help give you that extra edge you need. It will keep you from quitting on your dreams.

Think Big Start Small


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“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

– Martin Luther King

The idea of pursuing a dream is overwhelming. Like most dreamers who take action, there is a huge knowledge gap starting out. The pursuit of a dream eventually fills that gap. You gain knowledge, understanding and clarity by virtue of the multitude of missteps you make during the journey.

The key to taking action on a dream is to stop trying to see the entire staircase but to, instead, focus on the step in front of you. Once you navigate that step successfully, the second step appears, then the third and so on.

Each step you take is a learning experience. Learning by doing forces you to figure out how to overcome the inevitable pitfalls and obstacles that get in the way. The learning you acquire from those pitfalls and obstacles becomes emotional scar tissue on the brain – you don’t forget them. Emotions make learning stick.

So, the goal should not be to over think the steps you need to take. The goal should be to figure out what is the first step you need to take. Then take it. Don’t concern yourself with what you don’t know. No one who pursues a dream knows what they need to know. All dreamers are blind in the beginning.  You acquire your glasses that allow you to see, along the way.


Hard-Wired for Pessimism


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Pessimism is our tendency. We are all naturally hard-wired that way. Our initial response to unexpected events is pessimism. Why? Blame the amygdala. The amygdala is the seat of negative emotions. Those negative emotions, worry, anger, fear and anxiety, have served humans well.

Negative emotions have been around since the dawn of man. They act like a radar system, looking out for environmental dangers that could imperil our very existence. They are part of our fight or flight response system, alerting us to threats from our environment. The amygdala, raises the red flag, alerting us to potential dangers. It’s supposed to be a temporary thing. The amygdala is supposed to quiet down, allowing the prefrontal cortex, the command and control center of the brain, to go to work, solving the threat.

The problem, however, is that due to chronic stress, the amygdala remains on high alert in most people. This is bad. According to the latest science, negativity shuts down the prefrontal cortex. As a result, solutions to problems remain elusive. When you are perpetually negative, you are literally shutting down half of your brain, making it impossible for you to find solutions to the problems you encounter in life. 

Successful people, however, have conditioned themselves to be positive. When a problem, threat or unexpected event occurs, their positive mental outlook works to silence the amygdala, allowing the prefrontal cortex to get right to work solving the problem, threat or unexpected event. But, here’s the important thing – successful people weren’t born different from everyone else. They worked hard to develop a positive mental outlook. 

In my research I discovered some of the tricks the self-made millionaires used to create a positive outlook on life: daily exercise, journaling, scripting your ideal life, expressing gratitude every day, meditating and associating with other positive people, while avoiding negative people. I’ve written extensively about each one of these positivity tools.

If you are alive you will confront problems. That’s just life. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, there will always be problems. To turn off the negativity bias inside your brain, you must make an effort to stop negativity in its tracks. Every problem has a solution. When you confront problems with a positive mental outlook, you are able to shut down the negativity bias inside your brain and when you do, positive solutions will manifest out of thin air.

Rich Habits Poor Habits Episode 16 | Poor Habits Part 1

If you want to succeed in life, if you want to become rich, you need to understand the success beliefs of the Rich and develop more of these and drop the beliefs of the Middle Class or Poor.

Beliefs represent the acceptance of something without any proof to back up what we accept as fact.

They are inherited unconscious programming.

In Tom Corley’s five-year Rich Habits study of 23money coin price work job struggle balance rich man3 rich people and 128 poor people he discovered that your beliefs dictate your circumstances in life.

Those who are wealthy have different beliefs than those who are poor or stuck in the middle class.

Most who were raised in poverty inherited limiting beliefs that hold them back in life.

Those who are able to rise from poverty and become wealthy found mentors who possessed success beliefs or employed certain strategies that enabled them to remove their limiting beliefs and implant success beliefs, effectively re-programming their entire belief system.

In this week’s video we discuss how the wealthy adopt certain beliefs that promote success:

These include:

  • Health and well-being
  • Dream & Goal setting,
  • The way they view problems and solutions
  • Charitable work and giving back to the community

You can catch up with past episodes of this weekly webcast here Rich Habit, Poor Habits – Tom Corley & Michael Yardney

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The Power of Posterity


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I must confess, I am driven in large part by my posterity. What is posterity? Posterity is what remains when you are gone. It is your legacy. It is the stories future generations will tell of you; the footprint you leave behind that lets the world know you lived a life of meaning.

I consistently post my Tip o’ the Morning to Ya with one hope in mind: that someone will find value in one of my morning tips which will change their life in such a way that they become motivated to pursue greatness and, in that greatness, they change the world. My legacy, therefore, is to be a catalyst for greatness, even if that greatness manifests itself in only one person.

We are all here for a reason. We are not here to simply live and die. We all have a purpose in life. Our purpose does not announce itself with trumpets and horns and ah ha moments. It creeps up on us. It nudges us in certain directions, ever so slightly. But we need to be ever vigilant in seeking it. We need to spend our lives in search for our individual purpose. For in that purpose lies our posterity. Find your purpose, pursue it and you will have lived a life of meaning that will live on, long after you die.


Lack of Time Means Lack of Priorities


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Almost every day I get a call from someone, somewhere and the first thing they say is, “I know you’re very busy.”

I always find my inner voice saying, “I’m not too busy actually.” But I also know what’s next. It’s typically some request for my time: a free speaking engagement, a podcast interview, contribute to some article they are working on or something else along those lines.

I always say no to anything that does not help me move forward in realizing my dreams or achieving my goals.

When I think of the idea of being busy, I think of someone who is out of control in their lives. They’ve said yes to too many things in life. They say yes because they have no priorities. They have no priorities because they are not pursuing their dreams or the goals behind those dreams.

When you are too busy it is almost always because you lack priorities. Priorities open your eyes to what’s most important in your life. And they act like stop signs for all of the things that are unimportant.

When you have priorities, you eliminate engaging in unimportant activities. Priorities free up your time and put you in control of your life. Having time is important. It keeps your calendar clear so you can take advantage of the important things that come along in life; the things that help move you forward in realizing your dreams and achieving your goals.

When you don’t have priorities, you take on too many things that add little value to your life. When that big opportunity does come along, you won’t recognize it. Your mind will be inundated with the need to complete all of the unimportant things you said yes to. You’ll be too busy to achieve and succeed.


Consistency Drives Success


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One of the hallmarks of successful people is that they are consistent. They forge routines that, from the outside looking in, don’t seem so incredibly hard to do. But what does make those routines hard is that they engage in them day in and day out. They are relentlessly consistent.

When Stephen King, author of Carrie, Cujo and many other blockbuster books, is writing a book, he will consistently write at least two thousand words a day for three months at a clip. He will write on weekends, holidays, even Christmas. Two thousand words a day works out to about ten pages a day. After three months, his first draft is complete.

My fifty year old sister-in-law, who has a body of an eighteen year old, runs virtually every day. She’s been doing that for more than thirty years. Earlier in the year, she began a one hundred day challenge in which she would run every day for one hundred days. She is closing in on two hundred straight days of running.  She is a mother with two children and has a demanding full-time job. There are days she can only run a mile or two. She does the one or two miles, no matter what. Running two miles a day might not seem hard. Running two miles a day for two hundred days, however, is hard.

If you want to be successful, you need to develop daily routines that move your forward in achieving your dreams and your goals. And you need to consistently engage in those routines even when you don’t feel like it. Over time, those who are relentlessly consistent, will outperform or outcompete or outgrow, those who are not. Consistency leaves your competition in the dust, given enough time.

Constructive vs Destructive Comparisons


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It is human nature, something hardwired into each one of us, to compare ourselves to those around us. Some good can come of it, especially when those within our social networks are of good character. In such cases, comparing yourself to others of high moral standing and who possess exceptional habits, is a good thing. It can lead to the development of good habits and morality. It can force you to grow in the right direction.

Where comparison goes wrong, however, is when it is tied to consumerism. When this hard-wired human tendency of comparing ourselves to others is applied to owning things, that is where the danger lies. Such comparisons lead to excess spending, debt and an unhappy life. In this instance, comparison becomes an unhealthy habit.

Seek constructive comparisons, such as good traits and habits you see in others. Avoid destructive comparisons, driven by consumerism, which motivates you to buy unnecessary things. Destructive comparisons are a slippery slope that will only lead to perpetual unhappiness and want.


Cultural Habits


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Many of the behaviors, habits and thinking we possess are the result of the different cultures we are part of. We are taught to think, feel and act by our culture. Without knowing it, we are literally doing things, saying things, responding to things and thinking things due to the conditioning we are exposed to every day.

There are many cultures you are exposed to during your lifetime. There are religious cultures, country cultures, town cultures, neighborhood cultures, family cultures, work cultures, high school cultures, college cultures, etc.

Each one of these cultures influences the habits you forge during your life. Some of these cultural habits are good, conditioning you to become thrifty or moral or compassionate. Some of these cultural habits are bad, conditioning you to spend money frivolously, go into debt, or do do immoral things.

As I’ve mentioned many times, habits spread like a virus within your social networks. Awareness is the most powerful tool available to stop bad habits in their tracks and replace them with good habits. Through awareness, you are able to identify those bad habits that are creating a life of misery.

When we know what those bad habits are, we can re-program ourselves by eliminating them and forging good habits. Surrounding yourself with others who have the habits you desire, can remove the cultural conditioning that gave you your bad habits.

You can join a local gym and adopt their good habits. You can join groups such as Weight Watchers and adopt their good habits. You can join a reading club and adopt their good habits. You can find a company which promotes self-improvement and personal growth and adopt their good habits.

Once you know which habits you want, it’s just a matter of finding a place, an environment, which fosters those good habits. The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your habits. You have only one life. Make sure you surround yourself with those who help make that life exceptional.