You Are a Collage of Many People

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You are what you are because of the many people in your life. These people helped you form your habits, they helped you form your beliefs, they helped you forge your work ethic and they helped to direct and guide you in choosing what to do with your life.

Good or bad, the people who were a part of your life were a major factor in determining the circumstances of your current life.

If your circumstances are very good, meaning you are financially well off, happy and successful, chances are you were and are surrounded by good role models.

If your circumstances are not very good, meaning you are struggling financially, unhappy and not successful, chances are you were and are surrounded by bad role models.

But, no matter your current circumstances, you and you alone have the power and ability to alter your current circumstances.

If you are among the many who are struggling financially, unhappy and not successful, what do you do? Is it too late for you to change your circumstances?

The answer is – it is never too late to change. There are many examples of individuals, well into the twilight of their lives, who completely changed the circumstances of their lives. Grandma Moses began painting at age 80. Colonel Sanders was in his early 60’s when KFC was born. Ray Kroc was 55 when he founded McDonalds.

So, what can you do to change the circumstances of your life? How do you change your collage?

You must change your relationships. You must surround yourself with individuals who possess the following attributes:

  • Good Money Habits – Surround yourself with individuals who are good with money. These individuals possess good savings habits, frugal spending habits and prudent investment habits.
  • Success-Minded – Surround yourself with individuals who are pursuing success, a dream, big goals, etc.
  • Resilient – Surround yourself with individuals with a positive, can-do belief system.
  • Optimists – Surround yourself with individuals who are upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic about life.
  • Health Obsessed – Surround yourself with individuals who take care of their bodies – who exercise every day and eat healthy.
  • Self-Help Fanatics – Surround yourself with individuals who are self-improvement fanatics. These individuals are constantly reading and seeking to improve themselves.
  • Generous – Surround yourself with individuals who are generous with their time and money. You’ll find them sitting on boards of local, community non-profits.

You are a collage of many people. If you want to change your life, you must change who you associate with. The right people will infect you with their good habits and, in time, their collage will become your collage.

Ask And You Shall Receive

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The Bible is replete with self-help advice. One of my favorites is Mathew 7:7:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Holly Branson is doctor and the oldest child of billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson. In her book, WEconomy, Holly shares some of the most profound mentoring advice she received from her father.

One of the pearls of wisdom passed down to Holly by her father was to develop the habit of seeking advice by asking questions of everyone you come into contact with in life, no matter their standing.

Rich or poor, we all have lessons to share. Some of those lessons are ones that create wealth and some of those lessons are ones that create poverty.

Knowing what to do puts you in the race

Seeking wisdom from those who have succeeded in life, have accumulated wealth or who have realized their dreams helps you to identify the habits, decision-making and processes that led to their success.

Knowing what not to do gets you to the finish line

Seeking wisdom from those who have failed in life, who struggle with poverty or who were unable to realize their dreams helps you to identify the habits, decision-making and missteps that led to their failure.

Both are equally important – It’s important to know what to do, and it’s equally important to know what not to do.

By asking questions of everyone you come into contact with, rich, poor or stuck in the middle-class, you are able to capture the full spectrum of wisdom that is needed in order to succeed. Wisdom is everywhere. Sometimes it resides inside the minds of the most unlikely of sources.

Always seek wisdom from others. Ask questions of everyone you meet. Here are some of Holly’s ideas of questions to ask in order to gain wisdom:

  • I am a (fill in the blank – CPA, Author, Doctor, Mechanic, etc.) – Do you have any advice for me?
  • What would you do differently if you could begin your adult life all over again?
  • What would you change in your life?
  • What can I change?
  • What mistakes have you made that shaped your life?
  • What should I do differently?
  • What was the best advice you every received in life?
  • What was the worst advice?
  • Do you know any rich, successful people? What did they do to become wealthy?
  • Do you know anyone who failed? What did they do wrong?
  • What do you love about your life?
  • What do you hate about your life?

Ask and you shall receive.

Success Changes How Others Perceive You

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You are perceived by others in a certain way.

Sometimes that perception is favorable, unfavorable or one of indifference.

When you succeed at something, however, all perceptions of you change. People admire success. People envy success. So, if you succeed, you will be both admired and envied.

Success acts like a magnet. It attracts all sorts of people. It will attract the kind of people you want to include in your inner circle – positive, upbeat, enthusiastic, success-minded individuals. It will also attract the kind of people you want to disassociate yourself with – the negative, toxic types. If you follow me, you already know how to identify both types.

Success changes your life, forever. Unique opportunities manifest out of thin air. Doors, previously closed to you, swing wide open. Devotees or apostles are easy to find. Money problems disappear. You have increased freedom to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want.

The fruits of success are plentiful. That is why the pursuit of success, no matter how hard the climb, is worth it.

Not many are willing to make that climb, however. The sacrifices, the adversity, the stress, the risks and the investment in time frighten most away from the pursuit. That is why there are so few at the top of the mountain.

The Weeds of Negativity

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It’s always smart to remove weeds. Left unchecked, weeds will quickly take over any garden.

The same holds true for negative thoughts, which act like weeds inside the mind. Left unchecked, negative thinking will take over, altering your behavior, emotions and decision-making.

Studies have shown that positivity increases focus, cognitive ability (IQ) and risk tolerance. Since you need all three of these to succeed, you can not allow one weed of negativity to grow in the garden that is your mind.

Negative thinking also suppresses your prefrontal cortex, which is critical for creativity, decision-making and acts as the command and control center of the brain.

What are the weeds of negativity that must be removed?

  • Envy
  • Greed
  • Fear
  • Hatred
  • Self-Pity
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Doubt

How do you remove these weeds? By replacing every negative thought with its counterpart. The moment a negative thought arises, replace it immediately with a positive thought:

  • Replace Envy with Gratitude – Express gratitude for something good in your life.
  • Replace Greed with Generosity – Think back to when you did something good for someone or donated money to some worthy cause.
  • Replace Fear with Courage – Think back to when you did something you were afraid to do and succeeded. This is why I encourage you to maintain a Victory Log. Victory Logs are real-life proof that you conquered some fear.
  • Replace Hatred with Love – The moment hatred for something or someone enters your mind replace it by thinking about the things and people you love.
  • Replace Self-Pity with Confidence – Think back to a time when you took on a challenge and succeeded. It will renew your confidence in yourself. Again, this is why you should maintain a Victory Log.
  • Replace Sadness with Happiness – The moment sadness enters your mind, think back to moment you were truly happy.
  • Replace Anger with Kindness – Remember a specific moment in which you showed someone kindness.
  • Replace Doubt with Certainty – Once again, a Victory Log comes to the rescue. Look at your Victory Log every time you doubt yourself.

Do not allow negative thoughts a moment of life. They are not your friends. They are the enemy. Treat them like an enemy and immediately destroy them with positive thoughts.

Success is a Dam Breaker

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Ben Hogan is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time. But, in the winter of 1938, Hogan was on the verge of quitting golf.

After a very disappointing second round of golf, Hogan was in last place in the Oakland Open. There was one day and two rounds of golf left to play. When he got back to his hotel room, he told his wife, “that’s all, that’s enough.”

They were down to their last $50 and Hogan had had enough. He was going to quit golf.

His wife, Valerie, very calmly told him he was a great golfer and he would eventually begin to make money playing golf. The very next day, feeding off of Valerie’s strength, Hogan tore up the golf course and finished in the top 16. He received the largest check of his life, $285.

His success at Oakland broke the dam. He received a job at the Century Club as an assistant pro, which ended his financial woes. Just two years later, Hogan would tie the course record at the North and South Championship in Pinehurst. After Pinehurst, he won the next two PGA events in succession. Lucrative endorsement deals followed as did lucrative offers to play in exhibitions.

Initial success is hard. It’s a hard climb. But here’s the thing – you only need to succeed once. Once you experience success, that initial success breaks the dam wide open. That is when opportunities for more success come pouring in.

So, you must stick with your dream. Never quit on your dreams. You only need to be right once.

Anchored in Ideology

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A few weeks ago CNBC published an article of mine. It was about how the rich will always control the wealth because they know how to cultivate wealth.

Well, the article hit a nerve.

I received dozens of angry emails and tweets that not only berated my article, the comments debased my research and my intelligence. The interesting thing was, none of these critics knew me and none knew anything about my research. Yet, somehow, despite not doing their due diligence, they knew better. They were right and I was wrong.

It reminded me how powerful ideology is.

Ideology is programming that seeps into your subconscious mind, forged primarily in the fires of childhood. We typically pick up our ideologies from our parents. But we can also forge ideologies early in our lives through the influence of other family members, friends, peers, teachers or the neighborhood in which we live.

When you are anchored in ideology, it doesn’t matter how smart you are or how many degrees you have. You will, unknowingly, reject new or different ideas that run counter to an embraced ideology. You will dismiss the opinions, criticism and feedback of others that are in defiance of an embraced ideology. Ideology closes your mind and becomes a barrier to change.

One of the key Rich Habits, which lifts you up in life, making success possible, is being open-minded to the ideas of others. One of the key Poor Habits, which acts like an anchor, dragging you down in life, is being close-minded to the ideas of others.

The Snowball Effect

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Have you ever heard someone use the phrase, “this could snowball”?

What this phrase means is something could get bigger, increase or gain momentum.

One of the derivative Snowball Effects of realizing success from the pursuit of a dream, is subsequent success.

Success perpetuates more success.

And this is why pursuing a dream is so important. When you pursue a dream, there is a chance you might realize success. And this initial success almost always leads to other opportunities for even more and greater success.

Google snowballed. Once the herd took notice of Google, millions joined that herd. Google now owns more than 200 companies.

Facebook snowballed. From a few thousand users, Facebook has mushroomed into more than 1.3 billion users. Facebook now owns some other very well-known companies such as Whatsapp, Instagram and Oculus.

The Apple II’s initial success led to even more success thanks to the Mac, iPod, and the iPhone.

J.K. Rowling’s initial Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was a huge hit. Since then, more books followed, creating more success. Movies also followed. There are even Harry Potter amusement parks.

You create the opportunity for success when you pursue a dream. It’s hard work, it’s frustrating work and it’s fraught with risk, stress and can be physically and emotionally demanding. But, all you need is to succeed just once.

Thanks to the Snowball Effect, success snowballs, creating opportunities for more and even greater success.

The Decision Matrix

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There is a common decision matrix most individuals follow. This Decision Matrix is, almost always, determined by your habits.

Power Decisions

Power Decisions are decisions that are made from a position of strength. This strength affords you the luxury to say No.

When you are in a position of strength, you have a upper hand in negotiations, purchase decisions and most other areas of your life. And those decisions, almost always, wind up adding value or some benefit to your life.

Those who have Rich Habits are able to accumulate more money, maintain their health, forge strong relationships with other primarily successful people, and many other things which are the fruit of their good habits. Thanks to their Rich Habits, these individuals are in a perpetual position of strength and able to make Power Decisions.

Desperate Decisions

Desperate Decisions are decisions you make from a position of weakness. This weakness commits you to only one option – saying yes. If you say no with a Desperate Decision, your life is negatively impacted in some way, harming you and/or your family.

When you are in a position of weakness, you are forced to make decisions that are not in your favor and, almost always, wind up negatively impacting your life in some way.

Those who have Poor Habits, struggle with money, do not take care of their health, have weak relationships or have relationships with individuals who share their Poor Habits, and many other things which are the fruit of their Poor Habits. Thanks to their Poor Habits, these individuals are in a perpetual position of weakness and forced to making Desperate Decisions.

Want Decisions

Want decisions are decisions you make to satisfy a want.

Those who possess the Delayed Gratification Rich Habit do not make Want Decisions and are able to accumulate wealth. Because of this accumulated wealth, they put themselves in a position, later in life, to be able to make Want Decisions, using the income from their wealth to purchase that want. Those who are able to accumulate the most wealth, are able to do what they want and never have to worry about the financial consequences.

Those who possess the Instant Gratification Poor Habit make Want Decisions all the time and are unable to accumulate any wealth. As a result, when they run out of money or credit, they are unable to make future Want Decisions and live a life of slavery and misery.

Need Decisions

Need Decisions are decisions that must be made in order to satisfy some need.

Those with Rich Habits are able to make Need Decisions all the time without worrying about the financial consequences. Thus fixing a damaged roof, repairing the boiler, buying enough food for the week, paying a utility bill, etc., are Need Decisions they are able to make to satisfy a pressing need.

Those with Poor Habits are often unable to make Need Decisions because they do not have the financial ability to satisfy a need. Thus, fixing a damaged roof, buying a new boiler, buying enough food for the week, paying a utility bill, etc. all are Need Decisions they are unable to make to satisfy a pressing need, negatively affecting their life.

The point to all this is that your habits, good or bad, affect the decisions you make in life. Those with good habits are able to make the right decisions. Good habits put you in a position of strength and enable you to make decisions that improve the overall quality of your life.

How to Become a Virtuoso

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Virtuosos make the most money and are thus able to accumulate more wealth.

What is a Virtuoso?

A Virtuoso is someone who has unique, advanced skills and knowledge. Society will pay a premium for a product or service they perceive to be of more value to them.

The iPhone X costs $1,100. The Moto E4 costs $100. Individuals are willing to pay 11 times the price of the Moto E4 because of the perceived value of the iPhone X. Apple knows this only too well.

The typical seasoned CPA in the “Big 4” charges about $500-$750 per hour. The typical seasoned CPA in a small firm charges about $100-$200 per hour. Individuals and companies are willing to pay more for a seasoned CPA from a “Big 4” firm because of the perceived value of the “Big 4”.

When you are perceived to be a virtuoso, you will make more money.

So, how do you become a virtuoso?

Read, Write, Speak and Do.

Virtuosos do all four of the above things.

  • Virtuosos constantly read to maintain and acquire knowledge.
  • Virtuosos communicate what they know by writing articles for their blog, other blogs, the media, Internet sites, magazines, newspapers, etc. 
  • Virtuosos stand in front of others and share with them their expertise. Think speakers, media experts, seminar leaders, trainers, teachers.
  • Virtuosos have active clients, customers, patrons, patients, etc. They put their expertise to work in the service of others every day. By doing, they constantly sharpen their ax. 

If you want to become a Virtuoso, you must Read, Write, Speak and Do. All four. Not just one or two. All four. Day after day. Week after week and year after year. The more you Read, Write, Speak and Do, the more expert you become and the stronger your Virtuoso brand. Those with the strongest Virtuoso brand make the most money and accumulate the most wealth.

The Habit Chain

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In the 1950’s, one single invention completely transformed the habits of hundreds of millions of people – the credit card.

The Diner’s Club Card was really the first widely-used credit card. It allowed a limited group of restaurants to offer a small amount of credit to its customers. The card quickly caught on and within one year it had 20,000 cardholders.

The American Express card, introduced in 1958, took things to another level and within five years had 1 million cardholders.

Now, thank to credit cards, anyone can immediately get what they want. This easy credit has made instant gratification a world-wide habit for hundreds of millions of people.

But instant gratification is a Poor Habit. It creates unmanageable debt, which can lead to poverty. It also creates financial stress, which can lead to poor health. When combined, the unmanageable debt and financial stress caused by the instant gratification Poor Habit, produces an unhappy and unhealthy life.

Delayed gratification, living below your means and frugality are all Rich Habits. These Rich Habits form a chain of habits that lead to financial security, little to no financial stress and ultimately a happy, healthy life.

The birth of credit cards has transformed the world by transforming the world’s habits. If you want to be like everyone else, you will give in to instant gratification and incur unmanageable debt that can lead to poverty and financial stress, creating a life of misery.

Or, you can do what the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study have done – eschew instant gratification by making a habit of not using credit cards, buying only the best products/services you can afford, saving 10% or more of your income and investing those savings.

Break the bad habit chain that instant gratification produces and embrace the good habit chain that delayed gratification produces.

The difference between these two habit chains is night and day. These differences do not show up immediately. Delayed gratification takes many years to bear fruit. But the fruit it bears is ultimately a happy, healthy and financially stress-free life.