It’s Not Easy to be a Leader

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Joseph Allen is the principal investigator at the University of Virginia’s Adolescent Research Group. In his research he found that human beings are hardwired to follow. Or, more specifically, the desire to follow the crowd (Herd Doctrine) appears to be a human trait.

For this reason, leaders are outliers. To be a leader you must overcome the built-in human desire to follow.

Many years ago, Candid Camera decided to test this science in their famous Elevator Prank. As funny as that Candid Camera prank was, it highlighted the lengths people will go to be part of the herd.

This Herd Doctrine is why so few become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs must defy everyone they know inside their herd – their family, friends, neighbors, and other individuals.

If you are considering pursuing success via a big goal or life dream, you must, at some point, confront and overcome the well-intentioned members of your herd who will try to dissuade you. It won’t be easy. Your evolutionary conditioning and the evolutionary conditioning of those inside your herd will fight you every step of the way.

Dreamers or entrepreneurs are essentially trying to create or grow their own herd. There are two steps you must follow in creating your own herd:

Step 1 – Separate Yourself From You Herd
Separating yourself from the herd is why most people never achieve success. The herd stops them in their tracks. The moment anyone in your herd gets wind that you are pursuing some big goal, life dream or purpose they pounce on you. You are bombarded with all sorts of negativity. “What happens if you fail?” “Maybe it’s too risky.” “The odds of success are stacked against you.” “You’re not smart enough.” “Where will you get the money?” It takes super human effort to persist in the face of such criticism. Most don’t. They surrender to the herd.

Step 2 – Create Your Own Herd
Successful people succeed because they are able to pull others away from their other herds to join their own herd.

If you can get the herd to move to your product or service, it can make you an overnight success. It forces other herds to move in your direction. For example, when the Facebook herd was formed, others left out of the herd began quickly jumping on the Facebook herd bandwagon. That herd now has over a billion members.

Successful people are successful because they are able to get others to join their herd. Millionaires have big herds, deca-millionaires, bigger herds and billionaires, huge herds.

Understanding the Herd Doctrine is critical to success in life. Getting the herd to turn your way, or join your own herd, is what millionaires and billionaires do. Successful people are actually herd creators.

When The Student Is Ready The Teacher Will Appear

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I remember asking one of the millionaires in my Rich Habits Study, a woman, what led her to take the leap of faith and start her own insurance agency.

The woman smiled and became reflective for a moment. Then she told me her amazing story.

It was a time of great discontent. She was in her mid-thirties. She was very unhappy with her job. She did not get along with her boss. She did not like her long commute, how much money she made and she shared with me many other things about her life that were dragging her down.

Then, one morning, she woke up to a voice in her head – “do what you love and you will never work another day in your life”.

The millionaire-woman told me she must have heard her mother say those words a thousand times growing up. But the words fell on the deaf ears of a child, until, as an adult, she became discontented with her job and her life.

It was only then, for the first time, that she truly heard the wisdom in her mother’s words, screaming to her one fateful morning. Words that had been living there, inside her mind, since a child.

Only when she was ready to receive that information, did the wisdom in those words have meaning.

Over the past ten years, I’ve spoken to thousands at various events, conferences, etc. My goal is always the same – to leave my listeners with some words of wisdom that might help take them down a path towards the life they were intended to live.

Most end up buying one or more of my books. Often, I would get thank you emails from former attendees, sometimes years later, telling me that they had just re-read one of my books and, as a result, had decided to make some major change in their life.

Initially, when I’d receive those emails, I would scratch my head and wonder to myself, why did it take so many years for my words of wisdom to sink it?

Then one day I came across the following Buddhist proverb:

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Truer words were never written.

Wisdom is all around us. We are literally bombarded by it every day. Family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, media, blogs, podcasts, TEDx talks, all spouting words of wisdom. Words that, far too often, fall on deaf ears – until, that is, we are ready to receive it.

Life altering events, unhappiness or discontent are often stop signs that force us to pause and reconsider the path we are on in our life. In those moments, moments represented by serous self-reflection, all of life’s distractions melt away and our entire mind opens up, allowing us to see or receive wisdom that had been staring us straight in the eyes for many years.

Wisdom only visits those who are ready to receive it.

Here’s Why So Many Give Up On Their Goals

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Setting, pursuing and achieving goals is a common habit of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study. No epiphany there. But what should be an epiphany to everyone, is how self-made millionaires set goals, which, I learned, is very different from how most people go about setting and pursuing goals.

One of the reasons self-made millionaires become rich, is they know something about goal-setting that isn’t taught in schools. And this knowledge enables them to achieve 100% of their goals, every time, all the time.

Unfortunately, most people who set goals, grow frustrated or beaten down and eventually give up on their goals. That’s too bad because if they had just a little bit more knowledge, they could achieve every single goal they pursued. So, what are ordinary people getting wrong about goals? Why do so many quit on their goals?

Your Goals Are Not Tied to Your Dreams

Your goals must be an integral part of your dreams – those lofty wishes that, together, produce your ideal future life. There is, however, a process, which I define as Dream-Setting. Essentially, Dream-Setting involves a two-step process:

  1. Creating a 500 – 1,500 word script of your ideal life.
  2. Identifying the dreams, embedded within your script.

Goals built around the dreams defined by the blueprint of your ideal life, help you to gain clarity and produce passion, which is the next problem with goal-setting.

Your Goals Lack Passion

Goals are your construction crew, meaning they are your workforce, meaning goals are hard work. If you lack passion, you must rely on motivation and willpower. Motivation and willpower have short lives. They only last a few hours and constantly need to be recharged. This ebb and flow can stifle goal achievement. However, if your goals are built around dreams, those dreams will infuse you with passion and passion is tied to the emotional part of your brain (Limbic System), creating emotional energy that is virtually limitless. To learn more about emotional energy read my book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.

Your Goals Lack Habits

Ideally, you want to create daily goal habits that make goal achievement automatic. When you create habits around your goals, you don’t need to rely on passion, you don’t need to rely on motivation and you don’t need to rely on willpower. You will engage in those daily goal habits because habits are unconscious habitual behaviors that, once forged, force you to engage in that behavior, no matter your emotional or mental state.

Your Goals Lack Physical Activity

A goal is only a goal if it includes physical activity – action. Without physical activity, a goal is only a wish. And wishes don’t come true until you convert them to goals.

Your Goals Are Not Achievable

If you lack the knowledge or skill-set to perform the actions required of goals, you will not be able to achieve that goal until you acquire that knowledge or those skills.  Acquiring that knowledge or skills can take many years.

 

Are You Focusing on the Right Things?

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When I was 17, I was one of the top youth tennis players in the northeast. Another 17 year old tennis player I knew, wasn’t as good as me. I beat him soundly in every tennis tournament in which we met. But, his family had money. So, they went out and got him a tennis coach.

Within a year he was beating me, barely. But, he was beating me. That coach had transformed him into one of the best young tennis players in the northeast in less than a year. I never forgot that.

To be a great tennis player you can’t have any weaknesses. You have to know what needs improvement. Do you focus on your serve? Do you focus on your volleys up at the net? Do you focus on your overhead, backhand, forehand, groundstrokes, footwork or fitness?

If you focus on the wrong things, you’ll never become a great tennis player. Knowing what to focus on separates the average from the above average. It takes you to the next level.

When you’re pursuing success in a career or business, it’s no different. Focus, alone, is not enough. You need to know what to focus on. If you mis-spend your time focusing on the wrong things, success will remain elusive.

So, how do you know what to focus on?

  • Get a Coach – Coaching is gaining prominence in business. If you can afford a business coach, you want to find someone who is a bone fide expert in what you do. If they’re not, you’re wasting your money. Experts see what non-experts cannot see. They can see weaknesses, strengths; they can help you identify the areas you need to focus on.
  • Find a Mentor – Typically, this is someone who has at least a decade of experience doing what you are currently doing. If you work for a company, mentors are typically individuals who are at least two levels above where you are. If you’re an entrepreneur, mentors are other successful entrepreneurs, who have done are are still doing, what you are doing.
  • Read Books – Books can become your mentors in life. This self-mentoring is an investment that will not pay off for many years. But if you make reading self-help books or biographies of other success people a daily habit, eventually you will gain valuable knowledge and become better at what you do.
  • Mastermind Groups – A mastermind group only works if everyone in the group shares something in common. As an example, if you want to become a successful author, the members of your mastermind group should include other authors writing exactly about the same things as you, literary agents, publishers, author-centric publicists, editors, etc. Mastermind groups work best when they are limited to five or six individuals and meet at least once a week.

Knowing what to focus separates the average from the above-average. It accelerates your growth. It transforms you into a virtuoso.

The Role of Luck in Wealth Creation

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I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge the importance of luck in the creation of wealth. Luck, I’ve learned from my research, is a common denominator among certain millionaires. Without it they would have never become wealthy.

There are essentially six types of millionaires:

  1. Savers – Savers accumulated their wealth by living below their means, saving money and then investing that money prudently.
  2. Executives – These millionaires started out working for large publicly held corporations. Through hard work, smart office politics, constant self-improvement and powerful relationship-building skills, they rose up the ladder in their respective companies. As executives, they received higher than normal compensation, which always included bonuses and stock compensation.
  3. Entrepreneurs – These millionaires are individuals who pursued a dream, started their own business, overcame obstacles, faced adversity and through superhuman persistence, succeeded. 
  4. Virtuoso’s – These millionaires devote their lives to acquiring knowledge and building unique skills. After many years of focus and devotion to their careers or craft, they become virtuoso’s at what they do.  And others are more than happy to pay them a premium for their services or the products they sell.  
  5. Trust Fund Babies – These are individuals who are born into wealth and inherit most of their money.
  6. Gamblers – These are individuals who gamble regularly and get lucky by winning the lottery or the slots or something along those lines.

For Entrepreneurs, Trust Fund Babies and Gamblers, luck plays a major factor in becoming wealthy.  The difference for Entrepreneurs and Executives is that they create their own luck. Through hard work, constant self-improvement, persistence and taking calculated risks, Entrepreneurs and Executives create the opportunity for luck to occur. They are the beneficiaries of Opportunity Luck, whereas Trust Fund Babies and Gamblers are the beneficiaries of Random Good Luck – two very different types of luck.

Luck is not a factor for the Savers and the Virtuoso’s. So, for those who do not want to depend on luck, your best option is to become a Saver or a Virtuoso.

Mentors Fast-Track Success

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When I sought to write my second book, Rich Kids, I had an end in mind. I wanted to write a book that served one of the most important needs of success-minded individuals – the need to be mentored.

You see, with the success of my first book, Rich Habits, I began to receive frequent emails from different individuals around the world, asking me to be their personal mentor.

I’m one person running three businesses. And I knew it was impossible to be a mentor to everyone. So, I wrote Rich Kids to serve as my mentor surrogate.

Mentorship, I learned from my Rich Habits study, was one of the Rich Habits of self-made millionaires. Long before they became rich, the self-made millionaires in my study found people to mentor them.

Mentorship fast-tracks success. It takes the success learning curve from a lifetime, down to just twelve years, according to my research data. 

What does that mean?

It means if you want to get rich before you get old, find mentors.

I just read a very interesting article in CNBC Make It about this. Here’s the link.

In this article, Timothy Kim, a self-made millionaire, chronicles how he spent $70,000 for mentorship over the course of six months.

Kim is like many of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study who were fanatical about seeking out mentors.

And they are happy to pay for that mentorship.

I do a lot of speaking engagements around the world (my favorite is the Wealth Retreat). Many of the organizations who pay me to speak, charge upwards of $10,000 per participant for a five-day session. The participants are always individuals who are pursuing wealth or who are already wealthy.

The participants pay these large seminar fees because they believe in investing in mentorship. Their hope is that they will learn something or meet someone at these events that will help take them to the next level.

And if those event hosts do their job, that’s exactly what happens. They help take their participants to the next level, whatever that next level happens to be in their life.

Success always requires an investment in your time and money. It’s a fact that will never change.

Mentorship is one of the best investments you can make because it puts you in touch with individuals who have already figured it out. True success mentors know what to do and what not to do. As a result, they reduce the risk of failure and increase the odds for success. They fast-track success.

Top 10 Common Habits of High Achievers

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High Achievers are people who achieve some level of greatness in life. They might be successful entrepreneurs, professional athletes, Olympians, famous writers/authors, painters, engineers, singers, prominent religious figures, etc.

Essentially, they are individuals who, through their actions, achieve greatness. And these high achievers all share certain common habits. Relying on my vast stores of knowledge and research data in studying successful people, I will do my best to identify the top 10 common habits in their order of importance:

  1. Consistency – High Achievers go at it every day even when they are down, lack motivation, are sick, financially destitute, when life goes wrong, etc. They have specific habits or routines they perform every day No Matter What.
  2. Focus – High Achievers are single-mindedly focused on their goals, dreams and routines. They block out all distractions. They are masters at single-tasking. They never take their eye off the ball.
  3. Visionaries – High Achievers have a vision or a blueprint. Most likely, it is in writing and it is very specific. Their vision or blueprint is the GPS or map they use to get them from where they are to where they want to be.
  4. Persistent – High Achievers pursue their goals and dreams relentlessly. They overcome adversity. They overcome obstacles. They pivot or find ways to navigate around impasses. They never quit.
  5. Obsessed – High Achievers are fanatics. They are obsessed about their goals, dreams and routines. They think about them 24/7. They even dream about them.
  6. Processed-Oriented – High Achievers create processes through experimentation that work and that they follow.
  7. Action-Oriented – High Achievers are in constant motion. They pursue activities that help them to continuously move forward in achieving their goals and dreams.
  8. Calculated Risk Takers – High Achievers are calculated risk takers. They overcome their fear of failure, fear of making mistakes and fear of consequences by doing their homework, understanding the risks involved and taking that calculated risk.
  9. Deliberate Practice – High Achievers engage in daily Deliberate Practice in order to maintain and improve their skills.
  10. Self-Educators – High Achievers pursue knowledge every day. They become experts in their field by increasing their knowledge through self-education.

Based on my fifteen years of studying high achievers, this is what it takes to become a High Achiever.  There are many moving parts, many variables, many ingredients to becoming a High Achiever. It’s not any one thing that makes them great. It’s a combination of many things.

Happiness is a State of Mind Not a State of Being

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In a 2005 study at the University of California in Riverside, in which 275,000 subjects from 225 other studies were examined, researchers found that happy individuals experienced greater success in life than unhappy people.

Happy people, in their findings, had a way of attracting other upbeat, happy people. They also found that happy people were more likely to pursue long-term goals and dreams.

Happiness is not a state of being. It is a state of mind. Or, a habit of mind.

How do you create the Happiness Habit?

The happiness state of mind is a habit that you forge. You forge that habit in a number of ways:

  • Maintaining an upbeat, optimistic mindset, as opposed to being down and negative.
  • Being grateful for what you have, as opposed to being envious for things you don’t have.
  • Seeing the good or upside in everything, as opposed to seeing the bad or downside in everything.
  • Reading or exposing yourself to positive, upbeat material.
  • Exercising daily.
  • Eating healthy.
  • Forging and maintaining relationships with other upbeat, happy people and avoiding down, negative people.
  • Taking action and not procrastinating. Procrastination creates stress, which toggles on the amygdala (brain region where negative emotions are born).

Success has many moving parts. Happiness is one of those parts.

Emotional Stability is a Rich Habit

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We are all hardwired for negativity.

Psychologist Rick Hanson, Senior Fellow of The Greater Good Science Center in Univ. of Caliornia Berkely, found that our old brain (Limbic System and Brain Stem) are predisposed for negativity. This negativity bias is a relic of millions of years of human evolution.

The amygdala, part of the limbic system, is a major player in emotions. It is one of the oldest, most evolved parts of the brain. Worry, fear and doubt are all negative emotions that emanate from the amygdala.

Because of its advanced evolution, the amygdala is extremely powerful and can be hard to control. When out of control, concentration, focus and decision-making are impaired.

But the amygdala can be controlled. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex, part of the new brain known as the neocortex, has the power to overrule the amygdala, and thus control emotions.

The job of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is to process risk and fear and thus, plays a major role in controlling emotions and decision-making.

This ability to control the amygdala, however, requires practice. Or, more specifically, it requires that you forge the Rich Habit of exercising control over your emotions.

Ninety-three percent of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study agreed that controlling emotions was a major factor to their success. Their ability to moderate good and bad emotions was seen as one of the main reasons people liked doing business with them.

The rich employ certain techniques to tamper down the overactive amygdala and keep the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in control of their emotions:

  • Daily aerobic exercise – Aerobic exercise releases certain neuro-chemicals that have a calming effect on the amygdala.
  • Healthy Eating – A study by the University of Warwick in London and University of Queensland, in Australia, asked 12,000 Australians to eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The study found a measurable increase in happiness due in large part to their altered diet. Further studies had isolated the reason – fruits and vegetables produce healthy probiotics and pre-biotics, improving the health of the gut (large intestine). Your gut sends information directly to the brain via the vagus nerve. When the gut is out of balance, it sends a distress signal to the limbic system, amping up the amygdala.
  • Meditation – A study from Emory University found that 20 minutes of daily meditation had a calming effect on the brain and helped improve focus and concentration.
  • Music – Listening to calming music tampers down the amygdala, allowing the ventromedial prefrontal cortex’s job easier.
  • Pleasant Conversation – The mere act of engaging in pleasant conversation calms the emotional center of the brain. This is one of the reasons you want to surround yourself with upbeat, enthusiastic, positive individuals.

No one likes doing business with people who are volatile. Individuals who allow their emotions to control their decisions and reactions to events, make others feel ill at ease – essentially, pushing away those who could have a positive influence over your life.

Anxiety-Reducing Habits

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Tom Corley boats - cropAnxiety impairs focus, concentration and dampens creativity.

Brain researchers are learning that the brain works best when it is in a relaxed state. By relaxed state, they mean when your prefrontal cortex is not as active.

When the prefrontal cortex is in a relaxed state, focus, concentration and creativity increase significantly.

This is precisely why Thomas Edison took frequent naps during the day – it boosted his creativity, and ability to concentrate and focus. In a relaxed state, Edison was able to see solutions to his problems, which led to many of his groundbreaking inventions.

Habits that reduce anxiety:

  • Positivity – Researchers at Oxford University found that by looking away from negative, unpleasant people in a crowd and instead, focusing your attention of positive, upbeat people, reduced anxiety. The conclusion: positivity lowers anxiety and calms the brain.
  • Daydream – Daydreaming is a state of mind in which the prefrontal lobe is less active. It is most associated with the alpha stage of brainwave function. The prefrontal lobe drives most of the negative thinking associated with anxiety. When it is relaxed, anxiety dissipates.
  • Meditate – Like daydreaming, meditation slows down and relaxes the prefrontal lobe, reducing anxiety.
  • Exercise Aerobically – Aerobic exercise dampens the prefrontal lobe, and thus, anxiety.
  • Take a Break – Nap, meditate, relax. These periodic breaks calm the prefrontal cortex, reducing anxiety.

If you want to excel in life, forge the above habits in order to optimize brain performance. A calm brain improves focus, concentration and creativity.