Main No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
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Table of Contents Title Page Dedication Introduction PART I - Self-Discipline and Personal Success Chapter 1 - Self-Discipline and Success Describe Your Ideal Life Do Your Own Thing Join the Top 20 Percent Starting with Nothing Hard Work Is the Key The Great Law Success Is Predictable The Secrets of Success Pay the Price Learn from the Experts Mental and Physical Fitness Need to Be Ongoing Become All You Can Be Success Is Its Own Reward Chapter 2 - Self-Discipline and Character The Great Virtues The Test of Character The Big Payoff The Development of Character The Structure of Personality Always Behave Consistently Do the Right Thing What You Dwell Upon Grows Chapter 3 - Self-Discipline and Responsibility From Childhood to Maturity Get Over the Mistakes Your Parents Made The Fatal Fallacy An Attitude of Irresponsibility Eliminating Negative Emotions Psychosomatic Illness Blaming Is Easy The Antidote to Negative Emotions Money and Emotions Responsibility and Control Never Complain, Never Explain Self-Mastery and Self-Control The Only Antidote Is Action Chapter 4 - Self-Discipline and Goals The 3 Percent Factor Multiply Your Chances of Success The Discipline of Writing Success Versus Failure Mechanisms Take Control of Your Life The Seven-Step Method to Achieving Your Goals The Ten-Goal Exercise Select One Goal Make a Plan Use “Mindstorming” to Get Started The Great Law of Cause and Effect Chapter 5 - Self-Discipline and Personal Excellence Your Biggest Investment You Are the President What Got You Here Won’t Get You Any Further Join the Top 20 Percent No Limits on Your Potential The Keys to the Twenty-First Century Ordinary into Extraordinary Make a Decision Follow the Leaders, Not the Followers The Answers Have All Been Found Set High Income as a Goal Use the 3 Percent Formula to Invest in Yourself Three Simple Steps to Become the Best The Achievement of Mastery Talent I; s Not Enough Two Hours Each Day Will Get You to the Top Form the Habit of Continuous Learning You Can Be Rich or Poor: It’s Your Decision Increase Your Income 1,000 Percent One Half of 1 Percent Per Week 26 Percent Better Each Year Seven Steps to the Top Be the Best! Chapter 6 - Self-Discipline and Courage Fears Can Be Unlearned Fear Paralyzes Action Do the Opposite Visualize Yourself as Unafraid Learn to Speak on Your Feet Eliminate Two Fears at Once Confront Your Fears Move Toward the Fear Leaders Have Two Types of Courage Deal With the Fear Directly The Disaster Report The Real Antidote Chapter 7 - Self-Discipline and Persistence The Reward of Persistence Your Ability to Respond Optimism Gives You Resilience Be Proactive Versus Reactive Look for the Gift Resolve in Advance PART II - Self-Discipline in Business, Sales, and Finances Chapter 8 - Self-Discipline and Work Separate the Relevant from the Irrelevant Develop an Excellent Reputation The Law of Three Helps You Prioritize Calculate Your Hourly Rate Get on the Same Page About What Work Is Most Important Work All the Time You Work Who Works Hardest? The Secret Survey Pay the Price The Forty Plus Formula Look the Part: Dress for Success Chapter 9 - Self-Discipline and Leadership Four Stages of Development Leaders Have Vision A Leader Is a Standard Bearer Walk the Talk Set the Standards Set Values and Principles Seven Principles of Leadership The Inevitable Crisis Self-Control and Leadership Leadership Qualities Leaders Rise to the Top Chapter 10 - Self-Discipline and Business The Law of Competition The Customer Is Always Right You Must Be Better Challenge Your Assumptions Identify Your Ideal Customer Know Your True Costs The Purpose of a Business Is to Please Its Customers Set High Standards Think About the Solution Chapter 11 - Self-Discipline and Sales Business Success or Failure The Discipline of Generating Sales Overcome Your Fear of Rejection Increase Face Time with Customers and Prospects Remain Positive and Optimistic How to Double Your Sales Income Control Your Sales Activities Improve Your Ratios Keys to Sales Success Start Early Set Higher Standards for Yourself All Sales Skills Are Learnable Chapter 12 - Self-Discipline and Money The Reasons for Financial Failure Spending Makes You Happy Rewire Your Responses About Money Associate Happiness with Saving Save Throughout Your Lifetime Practice the 1 Percent Formula The Payoff Is Tremendous Income Increases Don’t Help Practice the Wedge Principle The Miracle of Compound Interest Chapter 13 - Self-Discipline and Time Management You Can’t “Save” Time Assess the True Value of Everything You Do Personal Strategic Planning Think Before You Act Priorities versus Posteriorities Identify the Consequences Managing Your Time Practice Single-Handling 1,000 Percent Return on Investment Keep Yourself Focused Start Today Chapter 14 - Self-Discipline and Problem Solving The Inevitable and Unavoidable Crisis Perform at Your Best Keep Your Mind Clear Stepping Stones to Success A Nine-Step Method for Solving Problems Effectively The Big Reward The Determinant of Your Success PART III - Self-Discipline and the Good Life Chapter 15 - Self-Discipline and Happiness The Law of Control The Reason for Happiness Happiness Is a By-Product Five Ingredients of Happiness Five Ingredients of Happiness Never Be Satisfied Chapter 16 - Self-Discipline and Personal Health Living a Long Life Seven Key Health Habits The Five Ps of Excellent Health Get Your Weight Under Control Change Your Set Point The Fatal Flaw in Dieting The Formula for Permanent Weight Loss Live to Be One Hundred Chapter 17 - Self-Discipline and Physical Fitness Listen to the Experts Get Started First Thing Trick Yourself Increase Your Intelligence Make Exercise a Part of Your Lifestyle Join an Organized Sport Develop New and Better Habits Chapter 18 - Self-Discipline and Marriage The Key to a Happy Marriage Birds of a Feather Love Is Our Greatest Need in Life Different Strokes Require Tolerance and Understanding Male-Female Communication Styles Relationship-Building Takes Effort The Disciplines of Listening Total Commitment Is Essential Be Willing to Change The Four Questions You Should Ask Your Spouse Should Be Your Best Friend Chapter 19 - Self-Discipline and Children Your Greatest Responsibility How Children Spell “Love” Setting New Priorities Long-Term Thinking The Greatest Gift Is Love Discipline Versus Development Question Your Beliefs Set a Good Example Be a Role Model Building Character Always Tell the Truth The Foundation of Self-Confidence The Power of Forgiveness Teaching Your Children Is Never Ending Be Their Role Model Chapter 20 - Self-Discipline and Friendship The Core of Personality The Key to Happiness The Law of Indirect Effort Raise Other People’s Self-Esteem Seven Ways to Make People Feel Important Be Concerned About Other People Chapter 21 - Self-Discipline and Peace of Mind Outer Versus Inner Success The Need to Be Right Refuse to Blame Anyone for Anything Give Up Your Suffering Practice Forgiveness The Forgetting Curve Get Over It and Get On with It Forgiveness Is Selfish Accept Responsibility and Forgive Copyright Page [image: 001] This book is fondly dedicated to my friend and partner Eric Berman, one of the most disciplined and determined people I have ever met. Introduction: The Miracle of Self-Discipline “There are a thousand excuses for failure but never a good reason.” —MARK TWAIN Why are some people more successful than others? Why do some people make more money, live happier lives, and accomplish much more in the same number of years than the great majority? What is the real “secret of success?” Often I begin a seminar with a little exercise. I ask the audience, “How many people here would like to double their income?” Almost everyone smiles and raises their hands. I then ask, “How many people here would like to lose weight? Get out of debt? Achieve financial independence?” Again, everyone smiles, some people cheer, and they all raise their hands. Then I say, “Wonderful! These are great goals that everyone has. We all want to make more money, spend more time with our families, be fit and trim, and achieve financial independence. “Not only do we all want the same things, but we all know what we have to do to achieve them. And we all intend to do those things, sometime. But before we get started, we decide that we need to take a little vacation to a wonderful fantasy place called ‘Someday Isle.’ “We say that ‘Someday I’ll read that book. Someday I’ll start that exercise program. Someday I’ll upgrade my skills and earn more money. Someday I’ll get my finances under control and get out of debt. Someday I’ll do all those things that I know I need to do to achieve all my goals. Someday.’” Probably 80 percent of the population lives on Someday Isle most of the time. They think and dream and fantasize about all the things they are going to do “someday.” And who are they surrounded by on Someday Isle? Other people on Someday Isle! And what is the chief topic of conversation on Someday Isle? Excuses! They all sit around and swap excuses for being on the island. “Why are you here?” they ask each other. Not surprising, their excuses are largely the same: “I didn’t have a happy childhood,” “I didn’t get a good education,” “I don’t have any money,” “My boss is really critical,” “My marriage is no good,” “No one appreciates me,” or “The economy is terrible.” They have come down with the disease of “excusitis,” which is invariable fatal to success. They all have good intentions, but as everyone knows, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The first rule of success is simple: Vote yourself off the island! No more excuses! Do it or don’t do it—but don’t make excuses. Stop using your incredible brain to think up elaborate rationalizations and justifications for not taking action. Do something. Do anything. Get on with it! Repeat to yourself: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” Losers make excuses; winners make progress. Now, how can you tell if your favorite excuse is valid or not? It’s simple. Look around and ask, “Is there anyone else who has my same excuse who is successful anyway?” When you ask this question, if you are honest, you will have to admit that there are thousands and even millions of people who have had it far worse than you have who have gone on to do wonderful things with their lives. And what thousands and millions of others have done, you can do as well—if you try. It has been said that if people put as much energy into achieving their goals as they spend making up excuses for failure, they would actually surprise themselves. But first, you have to vote yourself off the island. Humble Beginnings Very few people start off with many advantages. Personally, I did not graduate from high school. I worked at laboring jobs for several years. I had limited education, limited skills, and a limited future. And then I began asking that question: “Why are some people more successful than others?” This question changed my life. Over the years, I have read thousands of books and articles on the subjects of success and achievement. It seems that the reasons for these accomplishments have been discussed and written about for more than 2,000 years, in every conceivable way. One quality that most philosophers, teachers, and experts agree on is the importance of self-discipline. Discipline is what you must have to resist the lure of excuses. It is self-discipline that enables you to “vote yourself off the island.” It is the key to a great life and, without it, no lasting success is possible. The development of self-discipline changed my life, and it will change yours as well. By continually demanding more from myself, I became successful in sales and then in management. I caught up on my schooling and took an MBA degree in my thirties, which required thousands of hours of determined study. I imported Suzuki vehicles into Canada before anyone else, set up sixty-five dealerships, and sold $25 million worth of the vehicles, and this is all after I had started with no knowledge of the industry. What I had, however, was the discipline and determination to learn what I needed to know and then apply what I needed to do. I got into real estate development with no knowledge or experience, applied the power of discipline, which was then backed by hundreds of hours of work and study. I then went on to build shopping centers, industrial parks, office buildings, and residential subdivisions. With self-discipline, I have built successful businesses in training, consulting, speaking, writing, recording, and distribution. My audio and video programs, books, seminars, and training programs have sold more than $500 million in thirty-six languages and fifty-four countries. Over the years I have consulted for more than 1,000 companies and trained more than 5 million people in live seminars and talks. In every case, the practice of self-discipline has been essential to my success. I discovered that you can achieve almost any goal you set for yourself if you have the discipline to pay the price, to do what you need to do, and to never give up. Who Should Read This Book? This book is written for ambitious, determined men and women who want to achieve everything that is possible for them in life. It is written for people who are “hungry” to do more, to have more, and to be more than they ever have been before. Perhaps the most important insight of all with regard to success is that to achieve greatly, you must become a different person. It is not the material things you accomplish or acquire that matter so much as it is the quality of the person you must become to accomplish well above the average. The development of self-discipline is the high road that makes everything possible for you. This book will serve as your step-by-step guide to becoming a remarkable person who is capable of remarkable achievements. [image: 002] A Chance Encounter Reveals the Reason for Success Some years ago, I was attending a conference in Washington, D.C. During the lunch break I was eating at a nearby Food Fair. The area was crowded, so I sat down at the last open table by myself, even though it was a table for four. A few minutes later, an older gentlemen and a younger woman who appeared to be his assistant came along, carrying trays of food and obviously looking for a place to sit. Having lots of room at my table, I immediately arose and invited the older gentlemen to join me. He was hesitant, but I insisted. Finally, he sat down, quite thankfully, and we began to chat over lunch. It turned out that his name was Kop Kopmeyer. As it happened, I immediately knew who he was. He was a legend in the field of success and achievement. Kop Kopmeyer had written four bestselling books, each of which contained 250 success principles that he had derived from more than fifty years of research and study. I had read all four books from cover to cover, each more than once. After we had chatted for a while, I asked him the question that many people in this situation would ask: “Of all the 1,000 success principles that you have discovered, which do you think is the most important?” He smiled at me with a twinkle in his eye, as if he had been asked this question many times, and he replied without hesitating, “The most important success principle of all was stated by Elbert Hubbard, one of the most prolific writers in American history, at the beginning of the twentieth century. He said, ‘Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.’” He went on to say, “There are 999 other success principles that I have found in my reading and experience, but without self-discipline, none of them work. With self-discipline, they all work.” Thus, self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic quality that opens all doors for you and makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education, and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity. Your Two Worst Enemies Just as self-discipline is the key to success, the lack of self-discipline is the major cause of failure, frustration, underachievement, and unhappiness in life. It causes us to make excuses and sell ourselves short. Perhaps the two biggest enemies of success, happiness and personal fulfillment, are first the Path of Least Resistance and, second, the Expediency Factor. The Path of Least Resistance is what causes people to take the easy way in almost every situation. They seek shortcuts to everything. They arrive at work at the last minute and leave at the first opportunity. They look for get-rich-quick schemes and easy money. Over time, they develop the habit of always seeking an easier, faster way to get the things they want rather than doing what is hard but necessary to achieve real success. The Expediency Factor, which is an extension of the law of least resistance, is even worse when leading people to failure and underachievement. This principle says, “People invariably seek the fastest and easiest way to get the things they want, right now, with little or no concern for the long-term consequences of their behaviors.” In other words, most people do what is expedient, what is fun and easy rather than what is necessary for success. Every day, and every minute of every day, there is a battle going on inside of you between doing what is right, hard, and necessary (like the angel on one shoulder) or doing what is fun, easy, and of little or no value (like the devil on your other shoulder). Every minute of every day, you must fight and win this battle with the Expediency Factor and resist the pull of the Path of Least Resistance if you truly desire to become everything you are capable of becoming. Take Control of Yourself Another definition of self-discipline is self-mastery. Success is possible only when you can master your own emotions, appetites, and inclinations. People who lack the ability to master their appetites become weak and dissolute, as well as unreliable in other things as well. Self-discipline can also be defined as self-control. Your ability to control yourself and your actions, control what you say and do, and ensure that your behaviors are consistent with your long-term goals and objectives is the mark of the superior person. Discipline has been defined as self-denial. This requires that you deny yourself the easy pleasures, the temptations that lead so many people astray, and instead discipline yourself to do only those things that you know are right for the long term and appropriate for the moment. Self-discipline requires delayed gratification, the ability to put off satisfaction in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term. Think Long Term Sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University conducted a fifty-year study into the reasons for upward socioeconomic mobility in America. He concluded that the most important single attribute of people who achieved great success in life was “long time perspective.” Banfield defined “time perspective” as “the amount of time an individual takes into consideration when determining his present actions.” In other words, the most successful people are long-term thinkers. They look into the future as far as they can to determine the kind of people they want to become and the goals they want to achieve. They then come back to the present and determine the things that they will have to do—or not do—to achieve their desired futures. This practice of long-term thinking applies to work, career, marriage, relationships, money, and personal conduct—each of which is covered in the pages ahead. Successful people make sure that everything they do in the short term is consistent with where they want to end up in the long term. They practice self-discipline at all times. Perhaps the most important word in long-term thinking is sacrifice. Superior people have the ability to throughout their lives make sacrifices in the short term, both large and small, so as to assure greater results and rewards in the long term. You see this willingness to sacrifice in people who spend many hours and even years preparing, studying, and upgrading their skills to make themselves more valuable so that they can have a better life in the future, rather than spending most of their time socializing and having fun in the present. Longfellow once wrote:“Those heights by great men, won and kept, Were not achieved by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night.” Your ability to think, plan, and work hard in the short term and to discipline yourself to do what is right and necessary before you do what is fun and easy is the key to creating a wonderful future for yourself. Your ability to think long term is a developed skill. As you get better at it, you become more able to predict with increasing accuracy what is likely to happen to you in the future as the result of your actions in the present. This is a quality of the superior thinker. Short-Term Gain Can Cause Long-Term Pain There are two laws that you fall victim to when you fail to practice self-discipline. The first is called the “Law of Unintended Consequences.” This law states that “the unintended consequences of an action can be far worse than the intended consequences of that behavior because of a lack of long-term thinking.” The second is the “Law of Perverse Consequences,” which says that “a short-term action aimed at immediate gratification can lead to perverse, or the opposite, consequences from those at which it was aimed.” For example, you might make an investment of time, money, or emotion with the desire and intent to be better off and happier as a result. But because you acted without carefully thinking or doing your homework, the consequences of your behavior turned out to be far worse than if you had done nothing at all. Every person has had this experience, and usually more than once. The Common Denominator of Success Herbert Grey, a businessman, conducted a long-term study searching for what he called “the common denominator of success.” After eleven years, he finally concluded that the common denominator of success was that “successful people make a habit of doing the things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do.” And what were these things? It turned out that the things that successful people don’t like to do are the same things that failures don’t like to do either. But successful people do them anyway because they know that this is the price they have to pay if they want to enjoy greater success and rewards in the future. What Grey found was that successful people are more concerned with “pleasing results,” whereas failures were more concerned about “pleasing methods.” Successful, happy people were more concerned with the positive, long-term consequences of their behaviors, whereas unsuccessful people were more concerned with personal enjoyment and immediate gratification. Motivational speaker Denis Waitley has said that the top people were those who were more concerned with activities that were “goal achieving,” whereas average people were more concerned with activities that were “tension relieving.” Dinner Before Dessert The simplest rule in the practice of self-discipline is to eat “dinner before dessert.” In a meal, there is a logical order of dishes, and dessert comes last. First, you eat the main courses and clean your plate; only then do you have dessert. There is a cute but misleading bumper sticker that says, “Life is short; eat dessert first.” Just think what would happen if you came home after work and, instead of eating a healthy dinner, you ate a large piece of apple pie with ice cream. What kind of appetite for healthy, nutritious food would you have afterward? With all that sugar in your stomach, how would you feel? Would you feel re-energized and eager to do something productive? Or would you feel tired and sluggish and ready to write off the day as largely finished? You get the same result when you go for a drink or two after work and then come home and turn on the television. These are simply different forms of “dessert” that largely eliminate your ability to do anything useful for the rest of the evening. Perhaps the worst part of all is that, whatever you do repeatedly soon becomes a habit. And a habit, once formed, is hard to break. The habit of taking the easy way, doing what is fun and enjoyable, or eating dessert before dinner becomes stronger and stronger, and it leads inevitably to personal weakness, underachievement, and failure. The Habit of Self-Discipline Fortunately, you can develop the habit of self-discipline. The regular practice of disciplining yourself to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not becomes stronger and stronger as you practice it. You refuse to make excuses. Bad habits are easy to form, but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with. And as Goethe said, “Everything is hard before it’s easy.” It is hard to form the habits of self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-control, but once you have developed them, they become automatic and easy to practice. When the habits of self-discipline are firmly entrenched in your behavior, you start to feel uncomfortable when you are not behaving in a self-disciplined manner. The best news is that all habits are learnable. You can learn any habit you need to learn in order to become the kind of person that you want to become. You can become an excellent person by practicing self-discipline whenever it is called for. Every practice of self-discipline strengthens every other discipline. Unfortunately, every weakness in discipline weakens your other disciplines as well. To develop the habit of self-discipline, you first make a firm decision about how you will behave in a particular area of activity. You then refuse to allow exceptions until the habit of self-discipline in that area is firmly established. Each time you slip, as you will, you resolve once again to keep practicing self-discipline until it becomes easier for you to behave in a disciplined way than to behave in an undisciplined way. The Big Payoff The payoff for developing high levels of self-discipline is extraordinary! There is a direct relationship between self-discipline and self-esteem: • The more you practice self-mastery and self-control, the more you like and value yourself; • The more you discipline yourself, the greater is your sense of self-respect and personal pride; • The more you practice self-discipline, the better is your self-image. You see yourself and think about yourself in a more positive way. You feel happier and more powerful as a person. The development and maintenance of the habit of self-discipline are a lifelong task, an ongoing battle. It never ends. The temptation to follow the path of least resistance and the expediency factor lurk continually in the back of your mind. They are always waiting for an opportunity to pounce, to lead you astray into doing what is fun, easy, and unimportant rather than what is hard, necessary, and life-enhancing. Napoleon Hill concluded his bestselling book of the same name by saying that “Self-discipline is the master key to riches.” Self-discipline is the key to self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride. The development of self-discipline is your guarantee that you will eventually overcome all your obstacles and create a wonderful life for yourself. The ability to practice self-discipline is the real reason why some people are more successful and happy than others. How This Book Is Written In the pages ahead, I will describe the twenty-one areas of life in which the practice of self-discipline is vital to fulfilling your full potential and achieving everything that is possible for you. This book is divided into three sections for greater ease of use. Part I is entitled “Self-Discipline and Personal Success.” In these seven chapters, you will learn how to release more and more of your personal potential by practicing self-discipline in every area of your personal life, including setting goals, building character, accepting responsibility, developing courage, and backing everything you do with persistence and determination. In the seven chapters of Part 2, you will learn how to achieve vastly more than ever before in the areas of business, sales, and personal finance. You learn why and how self-discipline is essential to becoming a leader in your field, to operating a business more profitably, to making more sales, investing more intelligently, and managing your time for maximum results. Finally, in the seven chapters of Part 3, you will learn how to apply the miracle of self-discipline to your personal life. You will learn how to practice self-discipline in the areas of happiness, health, fitness, marriage, children, friendship, and the attainment of peace of mind. You will learn how to enhance the quality of your life and your relationships in every area. In each chapter, I will to show you how you can incorporate higher levels of self-discipline and self-mastery into everything you do. In the pages ahead, you will learn how to take complete control over your own personal and professional development and how to become a stronger, happier, more self-confident person in every area of your life that is important to you. You will learn how to break old habits that may be holding you back and how to develop the habits of self-reliance, self-determination, and self-discipline that will enable you to set and achieve any goal. You will learn how to take complete control over your mind, your emotions, and your future. When you master the power of self-discipline, you will become unstoppable, like a force of nature. You will never make excuses for not making progress. You will accomplish more in the next few months and years than most people accomplish in a lifetime. PART I [image: 003] Self-Discipline and Personal Success Your success in life depends more on the person you become than on the things you do or acquire. As Aristotle wrote, “The ultimate end of life is the development of character.” In these chapters, you will learn how to develop and use discipline in order to become an excellent person. You will learn how to develop greater self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride. You will learn the essential disciplines required for personal greatness and how to build them into your own character and personality. Chapter 1 Self-Discipline and Success “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” —PLATO Why do some people accomplish so much more in their personal and professional lives than others? This question has occupied some of the very best minds throughout human history. More than 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wrote that the ultimate aim of human life is to be happy. He said that the great question that each of us must answer is, “How shall we live in order to be happy?” Your ability to ask and answer that question correctly for yourself—and then to follow where your answer leads you—will largely determine whether you achieve your own happiness, and how soon. Begin with your own personal definition. How do you define success? If you could wave a magic wand and make your life perfect in every way, what would it look like? Describe Your Ideal Life If your business, work, and career were ideal in every way, what would they look like? What would you be doing? What sort of company would you work for? What position would you have? How much money would you earn? What kind of people would you work with? And, especially, what would you need to do more or less of to create your perfect career? If your family life were perfect in every way, what would it look like? Where would you live, and how would you be living? What kind of a lifestyle would you have? What sort of things would you want to have and do with the members of your family? If you had no limitations and you could wave a magic wand, in what ways would you change your family life today? If your health were perfect, how would you describe it? How would you feel? How much would you weigh? How would your levels of health and fitness be different from what they are today? Most of all, what steps could you take immediately to begin moving toward your ideal levels of health and energy? If your financial situation were ideal, how much would you have in the bank? How much would you be earning each month and each year from your investments? If you had enough money that you never had to worry about finances again, how much would that be? What steps could you take, starting today, to create your ideal financial life? [image: 004] Do Your Own Thing A popular definition of success is “being able to live your life in your own way, doing only those things that you want to do, with the people who you choose, in the situations you desire.” In each case, when you begin to define what “success” means to you, you can immediately see things that you should be doing more of or less of in order to begin creating your ideal life. And the biggest thing that holds you back from moving in the direction of your dreams is usually your favorite excuses and a lack of self-discipline. It’s not that you don’t know what to do, but rather that you don’t have the discipline to make yourself do what you should do, whether you feel like it or not. Join the Top 20 Percent In our society, the top 20 percent of people earn 80 percent of the money and enjoy 80 percent of the riches and rewards. This “Pareto Principle” has been proven over and over again since it was first formulated in 1895 by Vilfredo Pareto. Your first goal in your career should be to get into the top 20 percent in your chosen field. In the twenty-first century, there is a premium on knowledge and skill. The more knowledge you acquire and the greater skill that you apply, the more competent and valuable you become. As you get better at what you do, your income-earning ability increases—like compound interest. Unfortunately, the majority of people—the bottom 80 percent—make little or no effort to upgrade their skills. Most people, according to Geoffrey Colvin’s 2009 book Talent Is Overrated, learn their jobs in the first year of their employment, and then they never get any better. It is only the top people in every field who are committed to continuous improvement. Because of this increasing disparity of productive ability, based on knowledge, skill, and hard work, the top 1 percent of people in American today control as much as 33 percent of the financial assets. Starting with Nothing Interestingly, almost everyone starts out the same in life—with little or nothing. Almost all fortunes in America (and worldwide) are first generation. This means that most individuals started with little or nothing and earned everything they own in their current lifetime. The wealthiest people in America are almost all first-generation multibillionaires. This is the case with wealthy Americans such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, and Paul Allen. Fully 80 percent of millionaires and multimillionaires started with little money, often penniless, and sometimes deeply in debt and with few advantages, such as Sam Walton, who died worth more than $100 billion. Why have these people been able to achieve so much when so many have achieved so little? In their book, The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko interviewed more than 500 millionaires and surveyed 11,000 more over a twenty-five-year period. They asked them why they felt they had been able to achieve financial independence when most of the people around them, who started at the same place, were still struggling. Fully 85 percent of this new generation of millionaires replied by saying something like “I didn’t have a better education or more intelligence, but I was willing to work harder than anyone else.” Hard Work Is the Key The indispensable requirement for hard work is self-discipline. Success is possible only when you can overcome the natural tendency to cut corners and take the easy way. Lasting success is possible only when you can discipline yourself to work hard for a long, long time. As I mentioned in the Introduction, I started my own life with no money or advantages. For years, I worked at laboring jobs, at which I earned just enough to get from paycheck to paycheck. I stumbled into sales when I could no longer find a laboring job, where I spun my wheels for many months before I began asking that question: “Why is it that some people are more successful in selling than others?” One day, a top salesman then told me that the top 20 percent of salespeople earn 80 percent of the money. I had never heard that before. This meant that the bottom 80 percent of salespeople had to be satisfied with the remaining 20 percent, with what was left over after the top people had taken the lion’s share. I decided then and there that I was going to be in the top 20 percent. This decision changed my life. The Great Law Then I learned the “Iron Law of the Universe,” which made getting into the top 20 percent possible. It was the Law of Cause and Effect, or sowing and reaping. This law says that “for every effect, there is a specific cause or series of causes.” This law says that if you want to achieve success in any area, you must determine how success is achieved in that area and then practice those skills and activities repeatedly until you achieve the same results. Here’s the rule: “If you do what other successful people do, over and over again, nothing can stop you from eventually enjoying the same rewards that they do. But if you don’t do what successful people do, nothing can help you.” The law of sowing and reaping, from the Old Testament, is a variation of The Law of Cause and Effect. It says that “whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” This law says that whatever you put in, you get out. It also says that whatever you are reaping today is a result of what you have sown in the past. So if you are not happy with your current “crop,” it is up to you, starting today, to plant a new crop, to begin doing more of those things that lead to success—and to stop engaging in those activities that lead nowhere. [image: 005] Success Is Predictable Success is not an accident. Sadly, failure is not an accident either. You succeed when you do what other successful people do, over and over, until these behaviors become a habit. Likewise, you fail if you don’t do what successful people do. In either case, nature is neutral. Nature does not take sides. Nature doesn’t care. What happens to you is simply a matter of law—the law of cause and effect. You can look at yourself as a machine with a default mechanism. Your default mechanism is the almost irresistible attraction of the expediency factor and the path of least resistance that I described in the Introduction. In the absence of self-discipline, your default mechanism goes off automatically. This is the main cause of underachievement and the failure to realize your true potential. When you are not working deliberately, consciously, and continuously to do, be, and have those things that constitute success for you, your default mechanism is at work. You end up doing those fun, easy, and low-value things in the short term that lead to frustration, financial worries, and failure in the long term. The Secrets of Success The great oil man, H. L. Hunt, who was at one time the richest self-made billionaire in the world, was once asked by a television journalist for his “secrets of success.” He replied: “There are only three requirements for success. First, decide exactly what it is you want in life. Second, determine the price that you are going to have to pay to get the things you want. And third, and this is most important, resolve to pay that price.” One of the most important requirements for success, once you have decided what it is that you want, is the quality of willingness. Successful people are willing to pay the price, whatever it is and for as long as it takes, until they achieve the results they desire. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be healthy, happy, thin, and rich. But most people are not willing to pay the price. Occasionally, they may be willing to pay part of the price, but they are not willing to pay the whole price. They always hold back. They always have some excuse or rationalization for not disciplining themselves to do everything that they need to do to achieve their goals. Pay the Price How can you tell when you have paid the full price of success? It’s simple: Look around you. There it is! You can always tell how much of the price of success you have paid by looking at your current lifestyle and your bank account. By the Law of Correspondence, your outer world will, like a mirror, always reflect the person you are and the price you have paid on the inside. There is an interesting point about the price of success: It must always be paid in full—and in advance. Success, however you define it, is not like a restaurant where you pay after you have enjoyed your meal. Instead it is like a cafeteria, where you can choose whatever you want, but you must pay for it before you eat it. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, “The elevator to success is out of order, but the stairs are always open.” Learn from the Experts Kop Kopmeyer, who I mentioned in the Introduction, also told me that the second most important success principle, after self-discipline, is that you must “learn from the experts. You will never live long enough to learn it all for yourself.” If you want to be successful, your first job is to learn what you need to learn in order to achieve the success you desire. Learn from the experts. Read their books. Listen to their audio programs. Attend their seminars. Write to them or approach them directly and ask them for advice. Sometimes, one idea is all you need to change the direction of your life. Let me give you an example of what I mean:Some years ago, I was referred by a friend to an excellent dentist. I learned later that he had a superb reputation. He was called the “dentist’s dentist.” He was the dentist that the other dentists went to when they needed excellent dental work. He told me that he attended every major dental conference that he could. When he was there, he attended every session, listening to dentists from all the over the country, and all over the world, discuss the latest breakthroughs in dental technology. One week, at great sacrifice in time and money, he attended an international dental conference in Hong Kong. At that conference, he sat in on a session given by a Japanese dentist who had discovered a new technology in cosmetic surgery that improved the appearance of teeth and enabled people to look handsome or beautiful indefinitely. He returned to San Diego and immediately began using the new technique in his practice. Soon, he became excellent in this area and developed a national reputation. Within a couple of years, people were coming to him from all over southwestern United States for this treatment. Because he had developed this expertise, he could raise his fees again and again. Eventually, he had made so much money that he was able to retire at the age of fifty-five, financially independent and able to spend the rest of his life with his family, traveling and fulfilling his dreams. The point of this story is that, by continually seeking out ideas and advice from other experts in his field, he came across a new technology that helped him become the leader in his field and saved him ten years of hard work in order to reach the same level of financial success. This could happen to you as well, but only if you become a lifelong student of your craft. Mental and Physical Fitness Need to Be Ongoing Achieving success is like achieving physical fitness. It is like bathing, brushing your teeth, and eating. It is something that you need to do continuously, every day. Once you begin, you never stop until your life and career are over and you have achieved all the success you desire. Not long ago, I was giving a seminar in Seattle. Just before the break, I encouraged people to buy and listen to my audio programs on sales, time management, and personal success. At the break, several people came up to me to ask me questions about the seminar content. One salesman pushed his way forward and said, “When you encourage people to buy your programs, you should tell them the whole truth.” I asked, “How do you mean?” He went on to say, “You are not telling the whole truth about your programs. You should tell people that they only work for a certain period of time, and then they stop working.” Again, I asked, “How do you mean?” He said, “Well, I came to your seminar about five years ago, and I was completely convinced by your presentation. I bought all your programs and began listening to them. I read every day in sales. And you were right, over the next three years, I tripled my income and became the top seller in my company. But then my income flattened out and has not increased at all over the last two years. The fact is that your materials stop working after a certain point.” I then asked him, “What happened to you two years ago, when your income flattened out and stopped increasing?” He searched his memory, thought for a while and then said, “Well, I was selling so much that I was hired away by another company. Ever since I started my new job, my income has remained flat.” I asked him, “What did you do differently in your new job in comparison with your previous job?” He started to answer. He then stopped. A shocked look came over his face. Finally he replied, “Oh my gosh! I stopped doing it. When I changed jobs, I stopped reading in sales. I stopped listening to audio programs. I stopped attending seminars. I stopped doing it!” He walked away shaking his head, muttering to himself, “I stopped doing it. I stopped doing it. I stopped doing it.” Becoming an expert in your field, continually upgrading your skills—which I will talk about in Chapter 5—is like physical fitness. If you stop exercising for any period of time, you don’t maintain your fitness at the same level. You begin to decline. Your body and your muscles become softer and weaker. You lose your strength, flexibility, and stamina. In order to maintain them, you must keep working at them every day, every week, and every month. Become All You Can Be There is an even more important reason for you to practice the self-discipline that leads onward and upward to the great successes that are possible for you. The practice of self-discipline enables you to change your character , to become a stronger and better person. The exercise of self-discipline has a powerful effect on your mind and emotions, developing you into a different person from the one that you would have been without self-discipline. Imagine yourself in a chemistry lab. You mix a series of chemicals in a Petri dish and put it over a Bunsen burner. The Bunsen burner heats the chemicals to the point at which they crystallize and become hardened. But once you have crystallized these chemicals using intense heat, they cannot be transformed back into liquid form. In the same way, your personality begins like a liquid: soft, fluid, and formless. But as you apply the heat of self-discipline, as you exert yourself to do what is hard and necessary rather than what is fun and easy, your personality crystallizes and hardens at a higher level as well. The greatest benefit you enjoy from exerting self-discipline in the pursuit of your goals is that you become a different person. You become stronger and more resolute. You develop greater self-control and determination. You actually shape and strengthen your personality and transform yourself into a better person. The rule is that “to become someone that you have never been before, you must do something that you have never done before.” This means that to develop a superior character, you must exert ever-higher levels of self-discipline and self-mastery on yourself. You must do the things that average people don’t like to do. Another success principle is that “to achieve something that you have never achieved before, you must learn and practice qualities and skills that you have never had before.” By practicing self-discipline, you become a new person. You become better, stronger, and more clearly defined. You develop higher levels of self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride. You move yourself up the ladder of human evolution and become a person of higher character and resolve. Success Is Its Own Reward The wonderful thing about the achievement of success is that every step in that direction is rewarding in itself. Each step you take toward becoming a better person and accomplishing more than you ever have before makes you feel happier, more confident, and more fulfilled. You’ve heard it said that “nothing succeeds like success.” What this means is that the greatest reward of success is not the money you make but rather the excellent person you become in the process of striving toward success and exerting self-discipline every time it is required. In the next chapter, I will explain how you can become the truly excellent person you are capable of becoming. Action Exercises: Take out a pen right now and write down your answers to the questions below. 1. If your work life and career were ideal, what would they look like? What one discipline could you develop that would help you to achieve it? 2. If your family life were ideal, what would it look like, and what one discipline would help you the most to make it a reality? 3. If your health were perfect in every way, what disciplines would you have that make it possible? 4. If your financial situation were ideal today, what one discipline would you have that would help you the most? 5. Why aren’t you already as successful as you would like to be, and what one discipline would help you the most to achieve all your goals? 6. What one skill could you develop that would help you to realize more of your goals? 7. If you could wave a magic wand and be completely disciplined in one area, which one discipline would have the greatest positive impact on your life? Chapter 2 Self-Discipline and Character “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself and be lenient to everyone else.” —HENRY WARD BEECHER, NINETEENTH-CENTURY CLERGYMAN The development of character is the great business of life. Your ability to develop a reputation as a person of character and honor is the highest achievement of both social and business life. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear a word that you say.” The person you are today, your innermost character, is the sum total of all your choices and decisions in life up to this date. Each time you have chosen rightly and acted consistently with the very best that you know, you have strengthened your character and become a better person. The reverse is also true: Each time you have compromised, taken the easy way, or behaved in a manner inconsistent with what you knew to be right, you have weakened your character and softened your personality. The Great Virtues There are a series of virtues or values that are usually possessed by a person of character. These are courage, compassion, generosity, temperance, persistence, and friendliness, among others. We will talk about some of them in Part 3 of this book. Coming before all these values, however, is the most important one of all when determining the depth and strength of your character: integrity. It is your level of integrity, living in complete truth with yourself and others, that demonstrates more than anything else the quality of your character. In a way, integrity is actually the value that guarantees all the other values. When your level of integrity is higher, you are more honest with yourself and more likely to live consistently with all the other values that you admire and respect. However, it takes tremendous self-discipline to become a person of character. It takes considerable willpower to always “do the right thing” in every situation. And it takes both self-discipline and willpower to resist the temptation to cut corners, take the easy way, or act for short-term advantage. All of life is a test, to see what you are really made of deep, down inside. Wisdom can be developed in private through study and reflection, but character can be developed only in the give and take of daily life, when you are forced to choose and decide among alternatives and temptations. [image: 006] The Test of Character It is only when you are under pressure—when you are forced to choose one way or another, to either live consistently with a value or to compromise it—that you demonstrate your true character. Emerson also said, “Guard your integrity as a sacred thing; nothing at last is sacred except the integrity of your own mind.” You are a “choosing organism.” You are constantly making choices, one way or the other. Every choice you make is a statement about your true values and priorities. At each moment, you choose what is more important or of higher value to you over what is less important or of lesser value. The only bulwark against temptation, the path of least resistance, and the expediency factor is character. The only way that you can develop your full character is by exerting your willpower in every situation when you are tempted to do what is easy and expedient rather than what is correct and necessary. The Big Payoff The payoff for becoming a person of character, for exerting your willpower and self-discipline to live consistently with the very best that you know, is tremendous. When you choose the higher value over the lower, the more difficult over the easy, the right over the wrong, you feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem increases. You like and respect yourself more. You have a greater sense of personal pride. In addition to feeling excellent about yourself when you behave with character, you also earn the respect and esteem of all the people around you. They will look up to you and admire you. Doors will be opened for you. People will help you. You will be paid more, promoted faster, and given even greater responsibilities. As you become a person of honor and character, opportunities will appear all around you. On the other hand, you can have all the intelligence, talent, and ability in the world, but if people do not trust you, you will never get ahead. People will not hire you, and if they do, they will dehire you as soon as possible. Financial institutions will not lend you money. Because “birds of a feather flock together,” the only associates (never friends) you will have will be other people of questionable character. Furthermore, since the people you associate with have a major effect on your attitude and personality, you make or break your entire life with the quality of your character—or the lack thereof. The Development of Character Aristotle wrote, “All advancement in society begins with the development of the character of the young.” This means that advancement in your life begins with the learning and practice of values. You learn values in one or all of three ways: instruction, study, and practice. Let’s look at each of these more closely. Teach Your Children Values. One of the chief roles of parenting is to teach children values. This requires patient instruction and explaining values to them over and over again as they are growing up. Once is never enough. The value—and the importance of living by that value—must be explained. Parents must not only give illustrations but also contrast the adherence to a value, especially that of telling the truth with its opposite, that of lying or telling half-truths. Children are very susceptible to the lessons they receive from the important people in their lives as they are growing up. They accept what you say as their parent as a fact, as absolute truth. They absorb what you say like a sponge. You write your description of values on their souls, which are like wet clay, so that what you write becomes a permanent part of the way they see the world and relate to life. More than anything else, as we’ll see in Chapter 19, you demonstrate your values in your behavior. Your children watch you and strive to emulate the values that you not only teach and preach, but also practice. And they are always watching. The Rockefeller family children were famous for being taught financial values at an early age. Even though their father was one of the richest men in America, the children were given tasks and chores to perform before they received their allowances. They were then instructed on how to spend their allowances: how to save, how much to give to charity, and how much to invest. As a result, they grew up to become successful businessmen and statesmen, unlike children who had grown up in wealthy homes who were seldom disciplined in money matters. Study the Values You Admire. You learn values by studying them closely. The Law of Concentration says that “whatever you dwell upon grows and increases in your life.” What this means is that when you study and read stories about men and women who demonstrated the kind of values that you admire and respect, and then think about those stories and that behavior, those values sink ever deeper into your mind. Once these values are “programmed” into your subconscious, they create a propensity within you to behave consistently with those values when the situation requires them. For example, in military training, soldiers are continually told stories of courage, obedience, discipline, and the importance of supporting their fellow soldiers. The more they hear these stories, discuss them, and think about them, the more likely they are to behave consistently with these values when they are under the pressure of actual combat. The core virtue of character is truth. Whenever you tell the truth, however inconvenient it may be at the time, you feel better about yourself and you earn the respect of the people around you. One of the highest accolades you can pay another person is to say that “he or she always tells the truth.” Emulate the People You Most Admire. Much of your character is determined by the people you most admire, both living and dead. Who are they? Looking over your life and history, make a list of the people whom you most admire, and next to their names, write out the virtues or values that they most represent to you. If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, living or dead, what one person would you choose? Why would you choose that person? What would you talk about during your afternoon together? What questions would you ask, or what would you want to learn? Consider this as well: Why would that person want to spend an afternoon with you? What are the virtues and values that you have developed that make you a valuable and interesting person? What makes you special? Practice the Values You Respect. You develop values by practicing them whenever they are called for. As the Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself.” When a problem occurs, people tend to react automatically based on the highest values that they have developed up to that moment. We develop values by repetition, by behaving consistently with a particular value over and over again, until it becomes a habit, and locks in so that we come to practice it automatically. Men and women with highly developed characters behave in a manner consistent with their highest values, and they do so without thought or hesitation. There is no question in their minds about whether or not they are doing the right thing. The Structure of Personality The psychology of character involves the three parts of your personality: your self-ideal, your self-image, and your self-esteem. Your Self-Ideal. Your self-ideal is that part of your mind composed of your values, virtues, ideals, goals, aspirations, and your idea of the very best person that you can possibly be. In other words, your self-ideal is composed of those values that you most admire in others and most aspire to possess in yourself. The most important part of your self-ideal is summarized in the word “clarity.” Superior people are those who are absolutely clear about who they are and what they believe. They have complete clarity about the values they believe in and what they stand for. They are not confused or indecisive. They are firm and resolute when it comes to any decision in which a value is involved. On the other hand, weak and irresolute people are fuzzy and unclear about their values. They have only a vague notion of what is right or wrong in any situation. As a result, they take the path of least resistance and act expediently. They do whatever seems to be the fastest and easiest thing to get what they want in the short term, giving little to no consideration or concern about the consequences of their acts. The Evolution of Character. In biology, life forms are categorized from the least to the most complex, from single-celled plankton all the way up the increasingly complex spectrum of life to the human being. Similarly, human beings can be organized along a spectrum as well, from the least to the most developed. The lowest forms of humans are those with no values, virtues, or character. These people always act expediently and take the path of least resistance in their search for immediate gratification. At the highest levels of development of the human race, however, are those men and women of complete integrity, who would never compromise their honesty or their character for anything, including the threat of financial loss, pain, or even death. George Washington is famous for his honesty, which was demonstrated in the story in which he admitted that he had cut down the cherry tree. In the same vein, the founding fathers of the United States wrote, “We hereby pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his book Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, philosopher Francis Fukuyama observed that societies worldwide can be divided into two kinds: “high-trust” and “low-trust.” He also argues that the highest-trust societies—those in which integrity is most admired, encouraged, and respected—are also the most law-abiding, free, and prosperous. At the other end of the societal spectrum, however, are those societies characterized by tyranny, thievery, dishonesty, and corruption. Each of these are, without exception, both undemocratic and poor. Trust Is the Key. Trust is the lubricant of human relationships. Where there is high trust among and between people, economic activity flourishes and there are opportunities for all. On the other hand, where there is low trust, economic resources are squandered in an attempt to protect against thievery and corruption—or these resources are not available at all. In the United States, we have the Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents lay out the rules by which Americans agree to live. They create the structure of our government and guarantee our rights. But they assume that our elected representatives will be men and women of honor, committed to protecting and defending those rights. They attempt to assure that only men and women of character can thrive and prosper over the long term in our economic, political, and social system. They aim to assure that, in most cases, only men and women of character can rise to high positions in society. Although our system is not perfect, and people of questionable character occasionally rise to positions of prominence, it is seldom for very long. The basic demand of Americans for honesty and integrity eventually leads to the exposure and censure of dishonest people. The demand for men and women of character continues unabated. Your Self-Image: Your Inner Mirror. The second part of your personality is your self-image. This is the way we see and think about ourselves, especially prior to any event of importance. People always tend to behave on the outside consistently with the way they see themselves on the inside. This is often called our “inner mirror,” into which we peer before we engage in any behavior. When you see yourself as calm, positive, truthful, and possessed of high character, you behave with greater strength and personal power. Other people respect you more. You feel in control of yourself and the situation. What’s more, whenever you actually behave in a manner that is consistent with your highest values, your self-image improves. You see and think about yourself in a better light. You feel happier and more confident. Your behavior and outward performance then reflect this increasingly improving inner picture you have of yourself as the very best person you can possibly be. People tend to accept you at your own evaluation of yourself, at least initially. If you see and think of yourself as an excellent person who is possessed of high character, you will treat other people with courtesy, grace, and respect. In turn, they will likewise treat you as a person of honor and character. Your Self-Esteem: How Much You Like Yourself. The third part of your personality is your self-esteem. This is how you feel about yourself, your emotional core. Your self-esteem is defined as “how much you like yourself,” but it’s more than only this. The more you see yourself as a valuable and important person, the more positive and optimistic you will be. When you truly consider yourself to be important and worthwhile, you will treat other people as if they are important as well. Your self-esteem is largely determined by how consistent your self-image, which shapes your personal behavior, is with your self-ideal, or your vision of the very best person you can possibly be. Whenever you act consistently with who you consider an excellent person to be, your self-image improves and your self-esteem increases. You like and respect yourself more. You feel happy about yourself and others. The more you like yourself, the more you like others, and the more they like you in return. By acting with character and in harmony with your highest values, you put your entire life (internally and externally) into an upward spiral. In every area of your life, things will get better and better for you. Your role models have a tremendous impact on shaping your character. The more you admire a person and his or her qualities, the more you strive—both consciously and unconsciously—to become like that person. This is why clarity is so important. Always Behave Consistently Whenever you act in a way that is consistent with your values, you feel good about yourself. Whenever you compromise your values, for any reason, you feel bad about yourself. This also means that when you compromise your values, your self-confidence and self-esteem go down. You feel uneasy and inferior, inadequate and uncomfortable. When you compromise your values, deep down inside, you feel that something is fundamentally wrong. Almost all human problems can be solved by a return to your highest values and your innermost convictions. When you look back, there have probably been situations in your life when you have compromised your values in order to save an investment, keep a job, preserve a relationship, or maintain a friendship. In each case, you have felt worse and worse until you finally broke it off and walked away. And how did you feel when you finally had the strength of character to walk away? You felt wonderful! Whenever you use your willpower and strength of character to return to the values that are most dear to you, you are rewarded with a wonderful feeling of happiness and exhilaration. You feel energized and free. You wonder why you didn’t make that decision a long time ago. Do the Right Thing In the development of character that is based on self-discipline and willpower, long-term thinking is essential. The more you think about the long-term consequences of your behavior, the more likely it is that you will do the right thing in the short term. So when you have to make a choice or decision, always ask the magic question, “What’s important here?” Practice the Universal Maxim of Immanuel Kant: “Resolve to behave as though your every act were to become a universal law for all people.” One of the great questions for the development of character is this: “What kind of a world would this world be if everyone in it was just like me?” Whenever you slip, whenever you do or say something that is inconsistent with your highest values, immediately “get back on your horse.” Say to yourself, “This is not like me!” and resolve that next time you will do better. What You Dwell Upon Grows If you are in a situation today in which you are not living up to your highest values, make a decision, this very minute, to confront the situation and straighten it out. The minute you do, you will once again feel happy and back in control. There is an old Indian story: “On my shoulders are two wolves. One is a black wolf, evil, who continually tempts me to do and say the wrong things. On my other shoulder is a white wolf that continually encourages me to live up to my very best.” A listener asked the old man, “Which of these wolves has the greatest power over you?” The old man replied, “The one I feed.” By the Law of Concentration, whatever you dwell on grows and increases in your life. When you think and talk about the virtues and values that you most admire and respect, you therefore program those values deeper and deeper into your subconscious until they begin to operate automatically in every situation. Whenever you exercise your self-discipline and willpower to live your life consistently with those values that you most aspire to be known for, you begin to move rapidly along the path to becoming an excellent person. Action Exercises: Take out a sheet of paper and write out your answers to these questions. 1. Name three people, living or dead, who you most admire and describe one quality of each of them that you respect. 2. Determine the most important virtue or quality in your life that you strive the most to practice or emulate. 3. Identify those situations in which you feel the most confident, in which you feel like the very best person you could possibly be. 4. What situations give you your greatest feelings of self-esteem and personal worth? 5. If you were already an excellent person in every respect, how would you behave differently from today onward? 6. What one quality would you like people to think of when your name is mentioned, and what could you do to ensure this happens? 7. In what one area do you need to be more truthful and practice higher levels of integrity than you do today? Chapter 3 Self-Discipline and Responsibility “The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him-and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.” —J. PAUL GETTY Your ability and willingness to discipline yourself to accept personal responsibility for your life are essential to happiness, health, success, achievement, and personal leadership. Accepting responsibility is one of the hardest of all disciplines, but without it, no success is possible. The failure to accept responsibility and the attempt to foist responsibility for things in your life that make you unhappy onto other people, institutions, and situations completely distort cause and effect, undermine your character, weaken your resolve, and diminish your humanity. They lead to making endless excuses. MY GREAT REVELATION When I was twenty-one, I was living in a tiny apartment and working as a construction laborer. I had to get up at 5:00 A.M. so that I could take three buses to work in order to be there by 8:00 A.M. I didn’t get home until 7:00 P.M., tired out from carrying construction materials all day. I was making just enough money to get by, and I had no car, almost no savings, and just enough clothes for my needs. I had no radio or television. It was the middle of a cold winter, with the temperature at minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit, so I seldom went out in the evening. Instead, if I had enough energy, I sat in my small apartment at my little table in my kitchen nook and read. One evening, late at night, as I was sitting there by myself at the table, it suddenly dawned on me that “this is my life.” This life was not a rehearsal for something else. The game was on, and I was the main character, as in a play. It was like a flashbulb going off in my face. I looked at myself and around me at my small apartment, and I considered the fact that I had not graduated from high school. The only work that I was qualified to do was manual labor. I earned just enough money to pay my basic expenses, and I had very little left over at the end of each month. I suddenly knew that unless I changed, nothing else was going to change. No one else was going to do it for me. In reality, no one else cared. I realized at that moment that, from that day forward I was completely responsible for my life and for everything that happened to me. I was responsible. I could no longer blame my situation on my difficult childhood or mistakes I had made in the past. I was in charge. I was in the driver’s seat. This was my life, and if I didn’t do something to change it, it would go on like this indefinitely, by the simple force of inertia. This revelation changed my life. I was never the same again. From that moment on, I accepted more and more responsibility for everything in my life. I accepted responsibility for doing my job better than before rather than doing only the minimum that was necessary to avoid getting fired. I accepted responsibility for my finances, my health, and, especially, my future. The very next day, I went down to a local bookstore at my lunch break and began the lifelong practice of buying books with information, ideas, and lessons that could help me. I dedicated my life to self-improvement, to continuous learning in every way possible. For the rest of my business life, right up to the present moment, whenever I’ve wanted or needed to learn something to help me, I have returned to learning, to reading, to listening to audio programs and attending courses and seminars. I found that you could learn anything you need to learn in order to accomplish any goal you set for yourself. Over time, I learned that fully 80 percent of the population never accepts complete responsibility for their lives. They continually complain, criticize, make excuses, and blame other people for things in their lives about which they are not happy. The consequences of this way of thinking, however, can be disastrous. They can sabotage all hopes for success and happiness later in life. From Childhood to Maturity When you are growing up, from an early age you become conditioned to see yourself as not responsible for your life. This is normal and natural. When you are a child, your parents are in charge. They make all your decisions. They decide what food you will eat, what clothes you will wear, what toys you will play with, what home you will live in, what school you will attend, and what activities you will engage in during your spare time. Because you are young, innocent, and unknowing, you do what they want you to do. You have little choice or control. As you grow up, however, you begin to make more and more of your own decisions in each of these areas. But because of your early programming, you are conditioned unconsciously to feel that someone else is still responsible for your life, that there is still someone else out there who can or should take care of you. Most people grow up believing that if something goes wrong, someone else is responsible. Someone else is to blame. Someone else is guilty. Someone else is the villain and they are the victim. As a result, most people make more and more excuses for the things in their lives, past and present, that make them unhappy. Get Over the Mistakes Your Parents Made If your parents criticized you or got angry with you for mistakes you made when you were growing up, you began to unconsciously assume that somehow you were at fault. If your parents punished you physically or emotionally for doing or not doing something that pleased or displeased them, you felt inferior and inadequate. When your parents withheld their love to punish you for not doing something they demanded, you might have grown up with deep feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and undeservingness. All these negative feelings could then intersect to make you feel like a victim, like you were not responsible for yourself or your life once you became an adult. The most common feeling that we have as adults if we have been raised in a critical home environment is the feeling that “I’m not good enough.” Because of this feeling, we compare ourselves unfavorably to others. We think that other people who seem to be happier or more confident are better than us. We develop feelings of inferiority. This can become an emotional trap. The Fatal Fallacy If we think for any reason that others are better than us, we unconsciously assume that we must be worse than they are. If they are “worth more” than we are, we assume that we must be “worth less.” This feeling of inadequacy or worthlessness lies at the root of most personality problems in our lives as well as most political and social problems in our world, both nationally and internationally. To escape from these feelings of guilt and worthlessness that have been instilled in us as the result of destructive criticism in childhood, we lash out at our world, other people, and situations. In any part of our life with which we are unhappy or discontented, our first reaction is to look around and ask, “Who’s to blame?” Most religions teach the concept of sin, which states that whenever something goes wrong, someone is to blame. Someone has done something bad. Someone is guilty. Someone must be punished. This whole idea of guilt and punishment leads to ever-increasing feelings of anger, resentment, and irresponsibility. An Attitude of Irresponsibility Our courts today are clogged with thousands of people demanding redress and payment for something that went wrong in their lives. Backed up by ambitious plaintiff lawyers, people go to court demanding compensation, even if they themselves are completely at fault for what happened—especially if they are at fault. People don’t want to accept responsibility. People spill hot coffee on themselves and sue the fast food restaurant that sold them the coffee in the first place. People get drunk and drive off the road and then turn around and sue the manufacturer of the fifteen-year-old car they were driving. People climb up on a stepladder and lean over too far, falling to the ground. They then sue the ladder manufacturer for their injury. In each case, people are attempting to escape responsibility for their own behaviors by blaming someone else, making excuses, and then demanding compensation. Eliminating Negative Emotions The common denominator of all people is the desire to be happy. In its simplest terms, happiness arises from the absence of negative emotions. Where there are no negative emotions, all that is left is positive emotions. Therefore, the elimination of negative emotions is your great business in life if you truly wish to be happy. There are dozens of negative emotions. Although the most common are guilt, resentment, envy, jealousy, fear, and hostility, they all ultimately boil down to a feeling of anger, directed either inward or outward. Anger is directed inwardly when you bottle it up rather than expressing it constructively to others. Anger is directed outwardly when you criticize or attack other people. Psychosomatic Illness Negative emotions are the major causes of psychosomatic illness. This occurs when the mind (psycho) makes the body (soma) sick. Negative emotions, especially as expressed in the form of anger, weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to colds, flu, and other diseases. Uncontrolled bursts of anger can actually bring about heart attacks, strokes, and nervous breakdowns. Here is the great discovery: All negative emotions, especially anger, depend for their very existence on your ability to blame someone or something else for something in your life that you are not happy about. It takes tremendous self-discipline to refrain from blaming others for our problems. It takes enormous self-control to refuse to make excuses. It takes tremendous self-discipline for you to accept complete responsibility for everything you are, everything you become, and everything that happens to you. Even if you are not directly responsible for something that happens, like hurricane Katrina, you are responsible for your responses, for what you do and say from that moment forward. It takes tremendous self-mastery for you to take complete control of your conscious mind and deliberately choose to think positive, constructive thoughts that enhance your life and improve the quality of your relationships and results. But the payoff is tremendous. Blaming Is Easy By following the path of least resistance, the easiest and most mindless behavior of all is for a person to lash out and blame someone else anytime anything goes wrong, for any reason. People who develop the habit of automatically blaming often become angry at things. Blaming inanimate objects when they do not function as expected is so silly that it almost becomes a mild form of insanity. People become angry at doors that stick. They swear at tools they are using when they themselves make a mistake. They get mad when their car doesn’t start. Even if it is an inanimate object, if it doesn’t work perfectly, then the thing must be to blame. People will often kick a car that they are mad at or a box that they tripped over. The Antidote to Negative Emotions The fastest and most dependable way to eliminate negative emotions is to immediately say, “I am responsible!” Whenever something happens that triggers anger or a negative reaction of any kind, quickly neutralize the feelings of negativity by saying, “I am responsible.” The Law of Substitution says that you can substitute a positive thought for a negative one. Since your mind can hold only one thought at a time, when you deliberately choose the positive thought, “I am responsible,” you cancel out any other thought or emotion at that moment. It is not possible to accept responsibility and remain angry at the same time. It is not possible to accept responsibility and experience negative emotions. It is not possible to accept responsibility without becoming calm, clear, positive, and focused once more. As long as you are blaming someone else for something in your life that you don’t like, you will remain a “mental child.” You continue to see yourself as small and helpless, like a victim. You continue to lash out. However, when you begin to accept responsibility for everything that happens to you, you transform yourself into a “mental adult.” You will see yourself as being in charge of your own life, and no longer a victim. In Alcoholics Anonymous, people who are having problems with drinking attend meetings with others going through the same situation. What they have found is that until the individual accepts responsibility for his or her problems, both with alcohol and in other areas of life, no progress is possible. But after the person accepts responsibility, everything is possible. This is true with almost every difficult situation in life in which you project your unhappiness onto other people or factors outside yourself. Money and Emotions Many of our biggest problems and concerns in life have to do with money: earning it, spending it, investing it, and, especially, losing it. As a result, many of our negative emotions are associated with money in some way. However, the fact is that you are responsible for your financial life. You choose. You decide. You are in charge. You cannot blame your financial problems or situation on other people. You are in the driver’s seat. So it is only when you accept responsibility for your income (who chose to accept the job you are working at?), your bills (who spent the money that put you into debt?), and your investments (who made those decisions?) can you move from being an “economic child” to an “economic adult.” Responsibility and Control There is a direct relationship between the acceptance of responsibility and the amount of personal control you feel you have over your life. This means that the more you accept responsibility, the greater sense of control you experience. There is also a direct relationship between the amount of control you feel you have and how positive you feel. The more you feel that you have a high “sense of control” in the important areas of your life, the more positive and happy you are in everything you do. When you accept responsibility, you feel strong, powerful, and purposeful. Accepting responsibility eliminates the negative emotions that rob you of happiness and contentment. In every situation, the antidote to negative emotions is to say, “I am responsible.” Then look into the situation to find the reasons why you are responsible for what happened or for what is going on. Your intelligence is like a double-edged sword: It can cut in either direction. You can use your intelligence to rationalize, justify, and blame other people for things you are not happy about, or you can use your intelligence to find reasons why you are responsible for what happened and then take action to solve the problem or resolve the situation. You can make excuses or you can make progress. You choose. Even if an accident has occurred, such as your car being damaged in the parking lot while you are at work, you may not be legally at fault for the accident. But you are still responsible for your responses, for how you behave as a result of what happened. Never Complain, Never Explain The mark of the leader, the truly superior person, is that he or she accepts complete responsibility for the situation. It is not possible to imagine a true leader who whines and complains rather than taking action when problems and difficulties arise. This sense of “response-ability” is the mark of the highly developed personality: You take responsibility for your life by resolving, in advance, that you will not become upset or angry over something that you cannot affect or change. Just as you do not become angry about the weather, you do not become angry over circumstances and situations over which you have no control. Furthermore, you especially do not allow yourself to be angry and unhappy in the present because of unhappy experiences or situations from the past. You say, “What cannot be cured must be endured.” It is amazing how many people are unhappy today because of a past event, even something that happened many years ago. Each time they think of the negative experience, they become angry or depressed once again. The good news is that at any time, you can stop thinking about, discussing, and rehashing the past. You can let it go and begin thinking instead about your goals and your unlimited future. As Helen Keller said, “When you turn toward the sunshine, the shadows fall behind you.” Self-Mastery and Self-Control Any self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-control begin with taking responsibility for your emotions. You take charge of your emotions by accepting 100 percent responsibility for yourself and for your responses to everything that happens to you. You refuse to make excuses, complain, criticize, or blame other people for anything. Instead, you say, “I am responsible,” and then take action of some kind. The Only Antidote Is Action The only real antidote for anger or worry is purposeful action in the direction of your goals—which is the subject of the next chapter. Before you turn to that, however, resolve today to first take complete control of your thoughts, feeling, and actions, and then to get so busy working on things that are important to you that you don’t have time to think about or express negative emotions to or about anyone, for any reason. When you exert your self-discipline and willpower in the acceptance of personal responsibility for your life, you take complete control of your thoughts and feelings. By doing so, you become a much more effective, happy, and positive person in everything you do. Action Exercises: 1. Resolve today to accept 100 percent responsibility for everything you are and for everything you become. Never complain, never explain. 2. Look into your past and select a person or incident that still makes you unhappy today. Instead of justifying your negative feelings, look for reasons why you were partially responsible for what happened. 3. Select a relationship in your past that made you unhappy, and then give three reasons why you were responsible for what occurred. 4. Select one person in your past with whom you are still angry and resolve to forgive that person completely for what happened. This act will liberate you emotionally. 5. Accept complete responsibility for your financial situation and refuse to blame any financial problems on anyone else. Now, what steps are you going to take to resolve that situation? 6. Accept complete responsibility for your family situation, with each person, and then take immediate action to improve your relationships wherever there may be problems. 7. Accept 100 percent responsibility for your health. Resolve today to do or stop doing whatever is necessary for you to attain excellent all-around health. Chapter 4 Self-Discipline and Goals “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” —JIM ROHN Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals for yourself and then to work toward them every day will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor. You need to have goals to accomplish worthwhile things in life. You have probably heard it said that “you can’t hit a target that you can’t see.” “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” And as Wayne Gretsky said, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” The very act of taking the time to decide what you really want in each area of your life can change your life completely. [image: 007] The 3 Percent Factor It seems that only 3 percent of adults have written goals and plans, and this 3 percent earn more than all of the other 97 percent put together. Why is this? The simplest answer is that if you have clear goal and a plan to achieve it, you therefore have a track to run on every single day. Instead of being sidetracked by distractions and diversions, getting lost or going astray, more and more of your time is focused in a straight line—from where you are to where you want to go. This is why people with goals accomplish so much more than people without them. The tragedy is that most people think that they already have goals. But what they really have are hopes and wishes. However, hope is not a strategy for success, and a wish has been defined as a “goal with no energy behind it.” Goals that are not written down and developed into plans are like bullets without powder in the cartridge. People with unwritten goals go through life shooting blanks. Because they think they already have goals, they never engage in the hard, disciplined effort of goal-setting—and this is the master skill of success. Multiply Your Chances of Success In 2006, USA Today reported a study in which researchers selected a large number people who had made New Year’s resolutions. They then divided these people into two categories: those who had set New Year’s resolutions and written them down and those who had set New Year’s resolutions but had not written them down. Twelve months later, they followed up on the respondents in this study, and what they found was astonishing. Of the people who had set New Year’s resolutions but had not written them down, only 4 percent had actually followed through on their resolutions. But among the group who had written down their New Year’s resolutions (an exercise requiring only a couple of minutes), 44 percent had followed through on them. This is a difference of more than 1,100 percent in success, and it was achieved by the simple act of crystallizing the resolutions or goals on paper. The Discipline of Writing In my experience of working with several million people over the past twenty-five years, the disciplined act of writing out goals, making plans for accomplishing them, and then working on those goals daily increases the likelihood of achieving your goals by ten times, or 1,000 percent. This does not mean that writing out your goals guarantees success, but rather that it increases the probability of success by ten times. These are very good odds to have working in your favor, especially when there is no cost or risk involved in putting pen to paper—just a little time. Writing is called a “psycho-neuro-motor activity.” The act of writing forces you to think and concentrate. It forces you to choose what is more important to you and your future. As a result, when you write down a goal, you impress it into your subconscious mind, which then goes to work twenty-four hours a day to bring your goal to reality. Sometimes I tell my seminar audiences, “Only 3 percent of adults have written goals, and everyone else works for those people.” In life, you either work to achieve your own goals or you work to achieve the goals of someone else. Which is it going to be? Success Versus Failure Mechanisms Your brain has both a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism is the temptation to follow the undisciplined path of least resistance, to do what is fun and easy rather than what is hard and nec - essary. Your failure mechanism operates automatically throughout your life, which is the major reason why most people fail to fulfill their individual potentials. While your failure mechanism functions automatically, your success mechanism is triggered by a goal. When you decide on a goal, you override your failure mechanism, and can you change the direction of your life. You go from being a ship without a rudder, drifting with the tide, to being a ship with a rudder, a compass, and a clear destination, sailing in a straight direction toward your goal. THE POWER OF GOALS A client of mine recently told me an interesting story. He said he had attended one of my seminars in 1994, where I spoke about the importance of writing down goals and making plans for accomplishing them. At that time, he was thirty-five years old, selling cars for a dealership in Nashville, and earning about $50,000 a year. He told me that day changed his life. He began writing out his goals and plans and working on them daily. Twelve years later, he was earning more than $1 million a year and was the president of a fast-growing company that sells services to some of the biggest companies in the country. He told me he could not imagine what his life would have been like if he had not taken out a piece of paper and written down the goals he wanted to achieve in the years ahead. Take Control of Your Life Aristotle wrote that human beings are teleological organisms, which simply means that we are purpose driven. Therefore, you feel happy and in control of your life only when you have a clear goal that you are working toward each day. This also means that this ability to become a lifelong goal setter is one of the most important disciplines you will ever develop. In nature, the homing pigeon is a remarkable bird. It has an uncanny instinct that enables it to fly back to its home roost, no matter how far away it starts or in what direction it must go. You can take a homing pigeon out of its roost, put it in a cage, put the cage in a box, cover the box with a blanket, and put the covered box in the back of a pickup truck. You could then drive 1,000 miles in any direction, open up the truck, take out the box, take off the blanket, open the cage, and throw the homing pigeon up into the air. The homing pigeon will circle three times, get its bearings, and then fly straight back to its home roost. This is the only creature on earth that has this ability—except for human beings. Except for you. You also have this remarkable homing ability within your own brain, but with one special difference. The homing pigeon seems to know instinctively exactly where its home roost is located. It then has the ability to fly directly back to that roost. In contrast, when human beings program a goal into their minds, they can then set out without having any idea where they will go or how they will achieve that goal. But by some miracle, they will begin to move unerringly toward that goal, and the goal will begin to move toward them. Still, many people are hesitant to set goals. They say, “I want to be financially independent, but I have no idea how I’m going to get there.” As a result, they don’t even set financial success as a goal. But the good news is that you don’t need to know how to get there. You just need to be clear about what you want to accomplish, and the goal-striving mechanism in your brain will guide you unerringly to your destination. For example, you can decide that you are going to find your ideal job, in which you work for and with people you like and respect and do work that is both challenging and enjoyable. You take some time to write down an exact description of what your ideal job and workplace would look like, and then you go out into the job market and begin searching. After a series of interviews, you will often walk into the right place at the right time and find yourself in exactly the right job. Almost everyone has had this experience at one time or another. You can have it by design rather than by chance simply by developing absolute clarity about what you really want. The Seven-Step Method to Achieving Your Goals There are seven simple steps that you can follow to set and achieve your goals faster. There are more complex and detailed goal-achieving methodologies, but this Seven-Step Method will enable you to accomplish ten times more than you have ever accomplished before, and you will do so far faster than you can currently imagine. Step 1: Decide Exactly What You Want. Be specific. If you want to increase your income, decide on a specific amount of money rather than to just “make more money.” Step 2: Write It Down. A goal that is not in writing is like cigarette smoke: It drifts away and disappears. It is vague and insubstantial. It has no force, effect, or power. But a written goal becomes something that you can see, touch, read, and modify if necessary. Step 3: Set a Deadline for Your Goal. Pick a reasonable time period and write down the date when you want to achieve it. If it is a big enough goal, set a final deadline and then set subdeadlines or interim steps between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. A deadline serves as a “forcing system” in your brain. Just as you often get more done when you are under the pressure of a specific deadline, your subconscious mind works faster and more efficiently when you have decided that you want to achieve a goal by a specific time. The rule is “There are no unrealistic goals; there are only unrealistic deadlines.” What do you do if you don’t achieve your goal by your deadline? Simple. You set another deadline. A deadline is just a