Anchored in Ideology

tip-o-the-morning

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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.

One Thing Is All It Takes

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One word of advice. One mentor. One cheerleader. One opportunity given. One victory. One illuminating insight.

All it takes, sometimes, is just one thing. One thing that completely alters the trajectory of your life’s journey.

That one thing is a blessing.

We all need that one thing that forces us to turn, completely changing the direction of our lives. That one thing which forever sets in stone your purpose. A purpose that becomes your life’s calling.

The greatest of the greats are very often defined by that one singular life altering thing which causes them to pivot.

For Einstein it was a random ride in an elevator that gave rise to General Relativity.

For Steve Jobs it was seeing for the first time Xerox’s graphical user interface that gave rise to Apple.

We all have some smoldering fire burning inside us. A fire, waiting for a match that will unleash a fury of desire and passion.

That match, that ignitor is out there waiting for you to find it.

Never surrender. Never quit. Never give up the fight. All it takes is one seemingly innocuous, yet monumental thing, which will ignite the fire that resides inside each one of us and transform your life forever.

Response Habits

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There are certain habits that help you to respond positively and constructively to negative life events. These Response Habits get you back on track and enable you to respond to those negative life events in a way that alters the trajectory of your life forever:

  • Self-Improvement Response – When a wrench takes you off track, that is the time to figure out what went wrong, learn from it and make improvements that will help you become better, stronger, smarter than before.
  • Constructive Response – Life has a way of throwing wrenches onto the tracks of our lives. How we respond, how we react, to a wrench on the track, is a habit. We can wallow in self-pity, laying in bed for days at a time, or we can do something constructive in response to one of life’s wrenches. When a wrench takes you off the track, those who lead happy, healthy and successful lives, force themselves back on the track by doing something that actually serves to improve their lives – they channel the negativity of the event into running, exercising, healthy eating, self-improvement or some other constructive pursuit.
  • Re-Design Your Life Response – When things go wrong, that is the time to Dream-Set. Dream-Setting is the process of re-designing your life by mapping out the new life you desire. Some call it journaling. I like to call it scripting your ideal, perfect life. Scripting is a process in which you take yourself 5 – 10 years into the future and then write a script (1,000 words or more) about your future, ideal life. This scripting process helps you get back on track, allowing you to design the life of your dreams. It becomes your blueprint for the life you decide to create.
  • Tenacity Response – Wrenches take many form: setbacks, obstacles, breakups, divorce, job loss, health issues and other negative life events. Those who have forged the habit of Tenacity, take the bull by the horns and power through those negative life events. They do not submit to life, they conquer – they overcome the event by forcing themselves onto another track so they can keep moving forward.

Negative life events are a part of life. How you respond to them, however, is a habit. Will your response perpetuate the negativity or use it to change the trajectory of your life in a positive, constructive way?

Everyone Needs a Cheerleader

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Pursuing a dream is hard. It’s hard physically and it’s hard emotionally. Many who fail, are able to handle the hard work part but unable to handle the emotional part.

The ups and downs of pursuing a dream can last many years. Some are able to persist, but most are not and quit the battle.

The ones who persevere almost always have one thing in common besides passion – they have cheerleaders.

Cheerleaders are often the only thing standing between you and throwing in the towel. They are that incredibly important extra something that separates the winners from the losers.

I recently finished a great book called The Match. The book chronicles the amazing lives of golfers Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Ken Venturi and Harvey Ward.

When Ben Hogan turned professional, he struggled mightily. He even borrowed money from his new father-in-law to help fund his travel costs during one of his summer tours.

Hogan, one of the greatest golfers to have ever played the game, suffered through many years of eking out a living and barely getting by.

After getting knocked out of one too many tournaments, he hit a breaking point. He came home to his wife, threw his golf clubs on the floor and told his wife he had had enough. He was quitting golf.

His wife sat him down and told him that he was a great golfer. She said no one worked as hard as he did and that one day, very soon, he would win a tournament.

The very next month Hogan won his first professional golf tournament. What soon followed was a string of wins that put him at the top of the earnings list in professional golf.

We all need a cheerleaders in our lives but how do you find them?

By surrounding yourself with upbeat, optimistic people. When the majority of your inner circle is made up of positive, upbeat individuals, you will find cheerleaders everywhere you turn.

When You Are in Crisis Mode You Make Bad Decisions

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I love to study rich people and poor people. They always have pearls of wisdom, forged in the fire of experience, that force you to reevaluate the way you go about your life or how you think about things.

I was recently doing some research on Jon Taffer, the host of the award-winning show Bar Rescue.

One of the things Jon said really made me think. He said, “never allow anyone to rush you into making a decision. When you feel rushed, this puts you in crisis mode and causes you to make bad decisions.”

I’ve spent the better part of five years studying the brain. One of the important findings I made was that when we are under enormous stress, when we are in crisis mode, a part of the brain called the amygdala takes over. When it does, it partially shuts down the prefrontal cortex, the decision-making, command and control center of the brain.

When the prefrontal cortex is usurped by the amygdala, we become mindless zombies, unaware of important things going on around us in our environment and our lives.

You can see this in victims of accidents who go into shock. Shock victims are typically unresponsive, practically catatonic, unable to even hear the EMS people talking to them. When you go into shock, your amygdala takes over and your prefrontal cortex virtually shuts down.

When you allow negative emotions to control you, something similar, albeit watered down, is taking place. The amygdala becomes more active and the prefrontal cortex, less active. Making important decisions while in a negative emotional state can thus be catastrophic.

When you make a habit of allowing your negative emotions to control you, you are habituating poor decision-making.

This is why one of the Rich Habits is controlling your emotions. Those who make a habit of controlling their emotions allow their amazing prefrontal cortex to do its job; helping them to make good, sound decisions that benefit their lives.

The Truly Great Leave Footprints in the Hearts of Others

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In October, 2000, Tom Labrecque died at the age of 62. He was the Ex-CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank. His obituary stopped me in my tracks. Among his many accomplishments:

  • Youngest member of Chase’s Management Committee.
  • Served on the committee that helped resolve New York City’s financial crisis in the late 1970’s.
  • Spent 4 years in the United States Navy, rising to the rank of a full lieutenant.
  • Served on a destroyer during the Cuban missile crisis and headed a section of the Office of Naval Intelligence, deploying ships in the blockade off Cuba.
  • Served as chairman of Chase’s International Advisory Council.
  • Served on the board of trustees for the University of Notre Dame.
  • Was a Director of Pfizer Inc.
  • Was a Director of Delphi Automotive Systems.
  • Served as a trustee for the Hospital for Special Surgery.
  • Volunteered for many other organizations, too numerous to mention.

One of the many individuals who worked with Tom, a man by the name of Mr. Price, said Tom was by far the best CEO he had ever worked with.

Some people, like Tom Labrecque, strive to do good because they believe they were put here on this planet to be of service to others.

I came to bare witness to this in my five-year study of self-made millionaires. Seventy-two percent volunteered for some non-profit organization at least five hour per month. Many volunteered more than five hours a month.

Self-made millionaires forge habits of service that propel them to great heights in life. They give of their time and their money. They seek to enrich the lives of everyone around them.

They leave footprints in the hearts of others. That is their legacy. And when they die, their obituary reflects their devotion to service.

What will your obituary say?