Failure: The Building Block of Success

Failure main ingredient of success

Never Fail to Fail.  Fail frequently; fail fast; and fail forward.

– Susan Wojcicki, Google Senior VP

As I mentioned in the post titled “Fearless,” I spent several years competing in full contact fighting (Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).   Over the years, men would join our gym and many would leave after only a few weeks.  Skilled fighting is a learned art and an unnatural act.  Everyone starts out terrible.  You get your butt kicked constantly for the first few months.  You make endless mistakes, and you learn through pain.  Getting punched in the face or kicked across the legs teaches proper defense.    Bruising your shin on your opponent’s elbow or knee teaches you to conceal your kicks within combinations.

Most hopefuls walked through the door desperately wanting to believe they were special and talented.  They dreamed that fighting would come naturally to them; they were born to be champions.  They got a reality check and soon left to pursue other illusions.  The regulars won’t even bother to learn your name for the first 3 months.  Until then, you are just one more washout that hasn’t figured it out yet.

I noticed something else about the guys that didn’t quit but stayed on to become fighters.  The athletic men advanced quickly at first, but many would soon stagnate.  Very few of the small, weaker guys would stick it out, but those that refused to give up kept getting better and better and better.  As I struggled to improve, I began to notice that the small un-athletic guys would often progress faster than everyone else.  I was physically stronger and had superior endurance, so I could train harder and more frequently, and yet these small guys were improving faster than I was.

I realized that when you are strong and athletic, you can use your natural ability to compensate for your mistakes.  You escape the punishment and thus can keep making the same mistakes over and over without ever learning or improving.  When you are small and weak, you get punished for every single mistake, every single time.  You don’t have the strength, speed, or endurance to avoid the consequences.  These guys have only two options to escape the pain: quit or stop making mistakes.   The strong and athletic have three options: quit, stop making mistakes, or avoid the consequences with superior athletic ability.  Using athletic ability is instinctual and natural.  As a result, it becomes much harder to identify and eliminate mistakes.  For many people, natural talent is a tremendous disadvantage.

Failure is the most important ingredient of success.  All success is achieved through making mistakes, learning from them, adjusting your approach, and trying again.  If you do not attempt goals that challenge you and expose your weaknesses, then you will never learn; you will never grow; and you will never be successful.

I call this concept The Failure/Success Feedback Cycle.   How can we learn as fast and efficiently as possible?

  1. Isolate failure mechanisms: When you make a mistake, it’s vital to know precisely what action caused the failure.
  2. Receive feedback (failure or success) as quickly as possible: It is impossible to make intelligent adjustments without knowing the result of the previous attempt.
  3. Increase the Failure/Success Cycle frequency: Make an attempt, get feedback, understand the result, and try again as many times as possible within a given time frame.
  4. Manage the difficulty: It is impossible to learn from 100% success or 100% failure.  If you only succeed, nothing is driving improvement.  If you only fail, you cannot tell if your adjustments are helping or not.  The difficulty must be high enough that failure is frequent but low enough that improvement can be measured.

There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.

– Colin Powell

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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Comfort is the Kryptonite of Success


I love listening to podcasts.  One of my favorites is Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas.  At the end of every interview, John always asks the millionaire the following question:

Imagine you wake up in a different world.  You still have all the knowledge and skills you have now, but you don’t know anyone, and you don’t own anything except $500 and a laptop.  Your food and shelter are taken care of.  What would you do?

The very best answer I have ever heard to this question:

I’d burn the food and shelter.

Wait…what?  This is the very last thing that most people would do, how can it possibly be a good idea?  The very last thing that most people would do is probably not only a good idea; it’s likely brilliant.    If you want a life that is above average, you cannot do what everyone else is doing.  If everyone is doing it; it’s wrong, period.

We are all going to die; it is inevitable.  No matter what, we are not getting out of this alive.  The greatest risk in life is not death; death is certain.  The greatest risk is waking up to find that you are old and your life is spent.  You find yourself looking back on your years regretting all the chances you never took and all the dreams you never chased.  The greatest risk in life is not going for it, not realizing your true potential, and dying without ever really living.

Comfort is the single greatest threat in our lives.  The millionaire chose to burn his food and shelter because as long as he had them, he would be comfortable.  He could live out his years without ever doing anything.  He knows if his food and shelter are taken away, he would be forced to take action and that action would be the genesis of becoming a millionaire again.

When Alexander the Great landed on the shores of Persia, he ordered all of his ships to be burned.  The message to his men was clear.  Move forward and conquer, and you might live.  Retreat, and you will die.  Often outnumbered more than 10 to 1, the Macedonians advanced and conquered Persia.

68% of Fortune 500 companies were started in a depression or recession.  John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Sam Walton, and Henry Ford were not born wealthy.  They struggled and all knew hard times when finding success was essential for their survival.

Jamie Tardy hosts Eventual Millionaire, another podcast I love.  She’s interviewed 100’s of millionaires, and the “baby factor” is a reoccurring theme.  Entrepreneurs became successful after having a baby and being forced to either succeed or be unable to take care of their children.  With their backs against the wall, they become millionaires.

You must get uncomfortable to grow.  Your dreams should be so big they scare you.  Your goals must drive you beyond your current limits into the discomfort zone.  Commit to doing something every day that makes you uncomfortable.

We feel fear when we are out of our comfort zone.  Fear and discomfort are actually a great litmus test for discovering what you should be doing.  Whatever you are afraid of the most, whatever makes you the most uncomfortable is probably the single most important thing you need to do.  Do it.

We are not getting out of this alive.  You have nothing to lose.

Do not go to the grave with your best work still inside you.  Die empty.

– Todd Henry

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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Your Desire is the Destination and the Way


Desire is the single most important factor in achieving your goals and changing yourself.  If you are not absolutely clear on what you want for your life, your number one priority should be to discover it.  Just wanting something badly enough is 85% of the journey to achieving it.   The remaining 15% are details that you will not remember anyway.

A young man approaches a success guru and tells him “sir, I want what you have.  I want to be as successful as you.”  The Guru looks him over, and asks “How bad do you want it, son?”  The young man replies, “Sir, I want it; I want it bad.”  The Guru looks at him thoughtfully.  “I see.  Well then meet me tomorrow at the beach.  Be there at 5 am.”  The young man agrees.  The next day, he arrives in a suit and tie at 4:55 am.  The Guru is already there and waiting in board shorts.  The Guru greats the young man and says “follow me into the water.”  They walk out into the cold Pacific Ocean up to their chests.  The young man hesitates, but the Guru says “keep going.”  They continue until the water is at the young man’s chin.  Suddenly the Guru grabs the young man and drives his head under the water.  The young man does not fight at first, but after 30 seconds pass, he begins to struggle.  As his mind screams desperately for air, he scratches, claws, and kicks with all that he has to break free and breath.  Just before the young man goes unconscious, the Guru pulls him up out of the water.  He says, “Son, when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you will be successful.”  – Paraphrased from Eric Thomas (listen to Eric tell the story here).

If you do not know how it feels to need to breath but be temporarily unable, then fill your bathtub and put your face in the water.  Stay in even after you become uncomfortable.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  How long can you go without air?

You will reach a moment when there is absolutely nothing in the universe that’s more important to you than getting air.  You will not be thinking about ball games, celebrities, your personal limitations, or excuses.  Distractions will cease to exist.  You will reach a moment of clarity where the only thing that matters, the only thing that even exists, is your desire for air and the actions you can take to get it.

I read stories about the US Navy SEALS when I need an inspirational boost.  In phase 2 of BUD/s training, the SEALS are trained for survival in and under the water.  In one test, the seals must tread water for 5 minutes with their arms up and out of the water while wearing full gear.  If you drop your arms in the water you fail the test.  In this Youtube video, you can watch the men struggling to keep their nose or mouth out of the water and breath.  Some of them will lose consciousness and have to be resuscitated because they refuse to cheat and use their arms.  They must pass the test to be SEALS.  These men want to be SEALS MORE than they want to breath.  It is difficult to imagine what could successfully stand in the way of a man that wants something more than he wants to breath.

When you become clear and focused on what you want, you will find yourself taking massive action to get there.  It will not feel like work any more than fighting for air felt like work to the young man in Eric Thomas’ story.  You will not get discouraged when things you try do not work; you will try something else until you find something that does work.  You will not make excuses or feel sorry for yourself because you will be too busy doing stuff that actually matters.  You will not have any issues asking for help.  A drowning man will cry out for help and frantically grasp anything that might save his life.

Most of us are not clear on what we want for our lives.  We started a road trip with no map and no destination.  Somewhere along the way we got lost and became comfortable living a life with no direction or meaning in places we do not belong, doing things that do not matter.

If this sounds painfully familiar to you, I strongly recommend the following:

1. Discover yourself.  What makes you happy?  What makes you furious?  There are countless books on personality types, and I have read plenty, but the only one that I really connected with is StrengthsFinder 2.0.  You will answer hundreds of questions, and it gives you a strength profile that applies specifically to you, with an emphasis on your top 5 strengths (You WILL NOT be assigned to one of a dozen boxes and then given advice that sounds like it was copied out of a cheap horoscope).  When I reflected back on my life, I realized that all the things I loved enabled me to exercise most or all of my strengths.  Likewise the things that always felt like chores did not allow me to use my strengths.  We are naturally motivated and excel when we are acting in our strengths.

2. Discover your purpose.  The purpose of life is to use your unique strengths to help and create value for others.  Once you find your strengths, begin looking for ways you can use them to make the biggest possible difference for others.  Success, happiness, and wealth are all side effects of using your highest and best abilities to help others.

Discovering yourself and your purpose is a life long journey and the answers evolve as we learn and mature, but the more you know about yourself and your purpose the happier and more successful you will be.

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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Why Walk When You Can Ride a Giant?


Alan Lakein famously said, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  I wonder if truer words have ever been spoken.  They are worth reading again actually:

Failing to plan is PLANNING TO FAIL.

The vast majority of people do not plan anything in their lives.  People leave the most important decisions of their lives completely to chance.  It is absolutely stunning.  Children are arranged by alphabetical seating charts in school.  They become friends with those they sit next to everyday.  They grow up and work in the same field as family members or get a job through one of their alphabetical friends.  They meet their life partner at their random job or through a random friend.

Jim Rohn brilliantly observed, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  We are going to connect some dots.  Brace yourself, this could be painful:

You are the average of the people you surround yourself with.  If random chance and not careful planning selected all of those people, you are planning to be a failure.

Tragically, the vast majority of us have unknowingly planned to be failures, and we are succeeding brilliantly.  Henry David Thoreau observed, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered… –Les Brown

Random chance does an extremely poor job of running our lives and determining our future.  Successful people have taken the steering wheel of their life back from chance.  They have a clear vision of who they want to be, the life they want to live, and who they want to share it with.  They set goals and carefully plan how to achieve them.  They act on their plans daily (see Habits: Where is Your Autopilot Taking You?).

Some of you may be thinking: “Kurt, I do not want to be the average of the people that are around me, but I do not know where to find the people I want to be like.”

Nobody has successful “real life” friends until after first becoming successful themselves.  Successful people do not associate with unsuccessful people.  If they did, they would not be successful!

Throughout this blog, I have linked to great writers and speakers.  Make them your imaginary friends, and immerse yourself in them.  You will grow and will start meeting real life friends who support your growth.  Your growth will start like a snow ball and finish like an avalanche.

I highly recommend the following “friends:”

  • Tony Robbins:  Tony is my “belief doctor.”  My brother introduced me to his material which started me on my journey of personal growth.  Tony will help you identify beliefs that are holding you back and teach you how to replace them with beliefs that will drive you towards success and happiness.
  • Sean Stephenson: Sean is my “excuse surgeon.”  Sean has done everything, and if Sean can do it, anybody can do it.
  • Brian Tracy: Brian is a great coach.  He’ll fire you up to take action and focus on what matters most.
  • Grant Cardon: Grant will stoke the fire to a raging, uncontrollable inferno.  Warning: you may find yourself working 18 hours some days and loving every minute of it.  Happiness is being fully engaged in your passion and purpose.
  • Les Brown
  • Jim Rohn
  • Alan Lakein

I honestly haven’t read or listened to the last three yet, but every time I Google a famous success quote to find the author, it is always one of these guys, so I have added them to my personal “to read/listen to” list.

Here’s what I do:

1. I have Kindle on my smartphone.  Whenever I am waiting in line, sitting on the john, waiting for someone, or have a single minute where I am not doing something, I pull out my smartphone and read a few pages.  This is one of the best ways to read a book because you get to digest it in small pieces.  I read 5-10 books a year just by taking back these fragmented segments of time that would otherwise be wasted.

2. I have Audible on my smart phone, and I purchased a stereo Bluetooth headset (Stereo is essential, or you won’t be able to hear over background noises, click the link for the ones I recommend).  Whenever I’m eating alone, stuck in traffic, exercising, or doing anything that doesn’t require my full mental attention, I am listening to one of these guys.

The difference this makes is incredible.  My income DOUBLED within a year of starting these two habits, and I mostly just listened and read.  I had no definite action plan, wasn’t clear on what I wanted, and I looked at my goals only a few times year.  Your success will explode when you become crystal clear on what you want, actively set goals, and plan based on their advice.

 We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants. – Sir Isaac Newton

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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No Regrets

regret pain meaning success passion

When we look back on our lives and remember our mistakes, it is easy to be overcome with regret.   Sometimes just reading an inspirational story about someone else can fill us with regret.  We feel that we wasted so much time.  We could have done so much.  We could have been so much.

Feeling regret results from believing:

  • Mistakes are costly and cause permanent damage
  • Pain and injury are always negative and reduce our potential

Our beliefs drive our decisions and actions and thus determine our future.  Regret is a belief that our potential for success and happiness has been permanently reduced.  Beliefs are self-fulfilling.  Regret is not only a waste of precious time (we cannot change the past); regret reinforces beliefs that limit us.  Regret is thus twice damaging.

We eliminate a belief by replacing it with a new one.  Every time I notice myself caught in regret, I note the self limiting belief, and I re-frame it.  I made this a habit (read how here).  Regret is the cue, re-frame is the action, and feeling positive and happy about my past and future potential is the reward.

For example, I have recently read books by Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Sam Walton, and John D. Rockefeller.  These guys had Dynamic Minds at a very early age, and by the time they were my age, they were already unbelievable success tycoons.  Why did I spend so much time trapped in beliefs that made me miserable and powerless when I could have been doing so much?  It is easy to believe that I will never reach their standard.

Here is my re-frame:  I did not waste time; I learned valuable lessons.  Whatever it takes, no matter how much time or how much pain, it was worth it to learn what I know now.  The higher the price, the more we cherish the prize.  Indeed that is what drives me to write these articles and share these ideas with you.  It is never too late to be wildly successful because it is never too late to change our beliefs and thus change who we are.  Colonel Sanders achieved wild success with Kentucky Fried Chicken only after he was 65 years old!

Sometimes the regret is not about a mistake we have made but an unfortunate event that happened to us and caused great injury and pain.  Viktor Frankl survived three years in Nazi concentration camps.  He lost all of his possessions.  He was separated from his wife, mother, and brother who would all die in the Nazi camps.   In Man’s Search for Meaning, he explains the key to his survival was giving his pain meaning:

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning”

Frankl survived and his suffering inspired him to write.  His ideas (although extremely heavy at times) have greatly influenced me and have inspired countless others.

Re-frame pain as a gift.  If you have suffered, someone else has suffered in the same way.  Let pain drive you to find an answer to your suffering.  If your suffering is great enough, let the passion drive you to make a difference for everyone that has experienced this pain.  Sean Stephenson’s entire life is a beautiful example of this.  I highly recommend all of his work.  His ideas have influenced me tremendously and are reflected throughout these articles.

WARNING!  Sean’s life and accomplishments absolutely annihilate all excuses.  Your favorite excuse that you have cherished your entire life will not survive Sean Stephenson.  Consider yourself warned!

Live fearlessly with no regret.  Use regret as a cue to re-frame “mistakes” as valuable lessons learned. Re-frame regret over injury and pain you have suffered with a passion to make a difference for others.  You may just discover your purpose, passion, and path to happiness in your pain.  Wild financial success and happiness result as side effects of making a massive difference for others.

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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We are generally driven by two forces in life: we seek pleasure, and we avoid pain.  Fear is our mind predicting pain will result from an anticipated situation, action, or decision.  Fear is our mind instinctually protecting us from danger.

Rationally and consciously avoiding unnecessary pain is essential for survival, but fear serves far too often as a mind-control mechanism.  Despots (political, religious, or parental) enforce their will by inflicting or threatening pain.  The objective is to create mind controlling fear.  Our instincts benevolently seek to protect us, but they evolved over millions of years and have not changed much in the last 50,000 years.  In contrast, our lives have changed dramatically.  We are not afraid of driving 70 mph in our cars, yet an accident could easily kill us.  Our instincts are still in the Stone Age and know nothing of cars.

Fear should always be questioned.  Despots would not rely on fear if their plans were beneficial, and our instincts are only relevant for cavemen.  Fear can imprison the mind.

My childhood and youth were very difficult.  I had so many self-limiting beliefs and fears that I lived in a virtual cage inside my own mind.  I became so miserable, that I decided to end my life.  I researched and experimented with several methods trying to find one that would be certain and relatively painless.

I decided not to talk to my friends or family about my decision to end my life.  It saddened me to know they would have wanted me to reach out to them, but I was sure I was going to do it.  I didn’t want the person I called to blame himself because I had talked to him and then killed myself anyway.

I was experimenting with a method of hanging that restricts blood flow to the brain when I awoke on the floor with a broken rope tied around my neck.  After I few minutes, I realized where I was and what had happened.  The experiment was a success.  The blood to my brain had been stopped, and I had passed out.  I would have died, but the rope I had used in the experiment could not support my weight.  I immediately found a stronger rope, but as I was tying the knots, I stopped to reflect.

I did not choose to be born.  I did not choose my parents, my family, or where I grew up.  I did not choose my personality; I did not get to choose anything.  I never asked for life.  Life was forced upon me.  As I held the hope, I realized that I knew exactly how to die.  Anytime, anywhere, I could choose to die.  In that moment, I was given the choice denied me at birth: Kurt, do you want to live?  I realized the worst  possible mistake is living a life you don’t enjoy, because nothing can possibly be worse than death.  No matter what I do, how terrible the mistake, death is the very worst possible consequence.

I realized that I was not afraid to die.  I was not afraid of anything anymore.  I was fearless, and  I had absolutely nothing to lose.

I realized that my life was a free gift with no strings attached.  There was no longer any pressure, fear of failure, or concern for what other people might think.  I was free to do whatever I wanted with my life.  Suddenly killing myself seemed like a crazy thing to do.  I only get once chance to live, and there are endless opportunities and adventures to explore.

In that moment, I took control of my life and chose to live, to really live, to face life squarely without fear, and to accept whatever comes without flinching.  At the time I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what I should do, but I was determined to pursue a dream no matter how ridiculous, no matter where it took me.  I had always loved martial arts as a child, so I decided to compete in full contact fighting.  I learned many valuable lessons from fighting (which I’ll discuss in future posts), but that chapter of my life is now complete.

I have since discovered myself and my purpose, but I will never forget or regret the moment I look control of my life and became fearless.

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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Habits: Where is Your Autopilot Taking You?

habits success

Habits are our autopilot system.  When we are not consciously directing our actions, our habits direct them for us.  Successful people deliberately program their autopilot system to take them where they want to go.  Unsuccessful people spend most of their lives with autopilot on, but have no idea where it is taking them and have no idea how to give it directions!

We are all born with an amazing brain with this incredible autopilot feature.  Unfortunately our brain did not come with an owner’s manual.  Luckily, scientists have tinkered around enough to figure a lot out.

From Wikipedia, a habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously.  Habits are formed by regular repetition of a behavior until it becomes automatic.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the time required to form a new habit is between 18 to 254 days; 66 days is the average.

Habit formation occurs in three stages:

Stage 1: The cue – an association that triggers the behavior

Stage 2: The actual behavior

Stage 3: The reward – a positive feeling that reinforces the behavior

Thus to program our autopilot system, we need a cue or something that reminds us to take action and a reward for completing the action.

My favorite method for forming a new habit is to connect the new behavior to a habit I already have.  I use an existing habit as the cue for the new habit.  I found I can form a new habit in 10-20 days using this trick.

In The Miracle Morning, Hal describes a process for building a series of habits he performs every morning.  This idea is pure gold; it is easily in the top 10 best ideas I have ever discovered.

Here’s why it is absolutely brilliant:

1. The morning routine is performed EVERY DAY.  This drives incremental improvement everyday.  As discussed in Success is Built on Habits, not Defining Moments, even tiny incremental improvements achieved daily will snowball to spectacular success.

2. The routine is performed the first thing every morning.  Everyday starts on the right foot.  Momentum is HUGE.  When you are having a great productive day, it is easy to keep being productive.  The opposite is also true.  When a day starts out bad, it usually stays and ends that way.

3. We love our habits.  We look forward to them.  I look forward to performing my morning ritual every morning.  It is honestly the best part of my day!

4. We can specifically design a morning routine that will drive us towards success.

Here is my personal morning routine:

Total Time, 1 hour, 40 minutes

  1. (15 min) Get out of bed, use the toilet.  Read autobiography of a highly successful person while on the toilet.
  2. (15 min) Warm up for workout.  Spend a minute visualizing achieving each one of my goals:
    1. Financial
    2. Physical
    3. Personal Self-development
    4. Relationships
  3. (60 min) Perform workout while listening to a motivational book or podcast.  Jot down ideas while resting between sets.
  4. (15 min) Drink protein shake at my computer.  Record ideas in Journal.  Create several action items I can accomplish today to move me towards my goals.
  5. Shower and start the day

At the end of this routine, I am completely pumped, excited, and motivated to take massive action and get a ton accomplished.

Here is why my routine works particularly well for me.  I wake up every morning because I need to use the restroom (THE CUE).  I’m still a little groggy, so spending 15 minutes on the john reading is a great way to coax me awake.  I do not check email or look at anything that could distract my mind from my morning routine.  I read the autobiography of a success giant for inspiration.

My warm up routine makes my body 100% awake and ready for the workout.  Visualizing achieving each of my goals 1) keeps them in my focus 2) makes me believe I can and will achieve them and 3) reinforces my desire and commitment to them

During my workout, I perform my daily plan for achieving my physical goals.  I always think most clearly and have my best ideas while working out.  Listening to a motivational book or podcast right after visualizing each of my goals causes my mind to brainstorm great ideas for making progress toward the goals.

After the workout, I drink a chocolate protein shake.  I love chocolate and my body is filled with endorphins from the workout (BIG REWARDS!).  I sit down and relax while getting my ideas into my journal.  Before I start each day, I have a list of actions I can accomplish that day that will get me closer to my goals.  I love getting each one done and checking them off the list.

Where is your autopilot taking you?  Do you start each day with massive positive momentum?

If you are interested in learning more about creating a morning routine, definitely read Hal’s book.  Hal’s idea is absolutely brilliant.  A good morning routine followed daily will absolutely change your life.


Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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Success is Built on Habits, not Defining Moments


success habit small changes big differences

As children we grow up watching Disney movies.  I love Disney movies.  There are heroes and bad guys, and there is always a defining moment where the hero makes a difficult decision involving sacrifice for someone he or she loves.  The sacrifice is heartbreaking but everything works out, and everyone lives happily ever after.

In Disney, defining moments determine the outcome of the story.  Unfortunately too many people think life is a Disney movie; they keep waiting and hoping for their “defining moment.”

Life is not a Disney movie, and there are no defining moments.  A single moment will not determine your success or failure.  In fact, the decisions you make in crucial crossroad decisions are really decided over many years by little things you choose to do or not to do everyday.

Success (or failure) is defined by the little things you do consistently every day for months and years – your habits.  Can you improve just 1/10 of 1% every day?  Just find one little thing every day, and do it slightly better.  You will be 3% better in a month.  You and everyone else will not even notice the difference.  But by 3 months, you will be 9% better, and by 6 months you will be 20% better.  In one year, you will be 44% better.

If you are 44% better at what you do, you are creating 44% more value, and you should get a 44% pay raise every year!

Successful people work on self-improvement every day of every year for decades.  Let’s look at the numbers:

After 2 years, you would be 207% better than your former self and 207% better than all your peers who were not also making a 1/10 of 1% improvement every day.  By now, you are a completely different person.  Your old friends are not your friends anymore.  You no longer understand each other.  Everyone thinks you are talented, how else could you be twice as good at seemingly everything?  Let’s keep crunching numbers:

After 3 years: You are 298% improved

After 4 years: You are 430% improved

After 5 years: You are 619% improved

That’s 6.19 times better than the average guy, making 6.19 as much money.  You can go from being loser to a success story in 5 years just by improving 1/10 of 1% every day.  Once you start winning, you will not stop:

After 10 years: You are 38.4 times better

After 20 years: You are 1475 times better

After 30 years: You are 56,643 times better

This Forbes article claim CEO’s earn 331 times the average worker,  and 774 times a minimum wage earner.

According to this report, the average CEO is 59 years old.  So they have been working at least 35+ years.  So what are CEO’s doing wrong?  They have had 35+ years for self improvement, and they are not even making 1000 times the lowest skilled person in America.  Why does the average CEO make so little?

I crunched the numbers.  If you improve yourself just 1/20th of 1% every day, after 35 years, you will be on the level of the average CEO.  Wow, I just lost a lot of respect for those guys!

Everyone can improve 1/10th of 1% everyday.  In fact if you are just starting out, you can easily improve a full 1% everyday, and at a full 1% improvement, the numbers go crazy.  You are 38.8 times better in just one year!  That means you are a completely different person making completely different kinds of money in just one year.

Success is built by small incremental improvements made consistently every single day.  How do we consistently do something every single day?  We are creatures of habit.  Habits determine our success in life.

What are habits?  Where do they come from?  How can we change them?

I discuss that topic in Habits: Where is Your Autopilot Taking You?

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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This topic was inspired by Brian Tracy’s books. I have read (or listened to) every one of them. I highly recommend any and all of his books.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy


The Best Advice I Have Ever Received

advice wisdom talent

The best advice I have ever received was from my father.  My dad struggled in school and never went to college.  He wanted better for me but knew that I would have to learn from others.

He told me:

Whatever you want in life, find somebody that has it and ask them how they did it.  Nobody is smarter or better than you.  If they have something you don’t or can do something you can’t, it’s because they know something you don’t and are doing something you’re not.

I grew up believing that the only differences between me and a Michael Jordan were 1) He knew a lot about basketball that I did not and 2) he practiced a lot, and I had not.  I grew up thinking I could be Michael Jordan if I wanted to.

When I failed at something, I did not take it personally.  It just meant I was not working  hard enough or I was doing something wrong, or both.  I tried again harder and smarter until I succeeded.

Decades later, I still love finding successful people and asking them how they achieved their success (hence this blog)!  It is 2nd nature to me.  What shocks me:

  1. NOBODY asks this question.
  2. NOBODY will answer it.

Deep down, people do not want to be successful; they just want to feel good about themselves.  Asking how to achieve success implies an understanding that:

  • Success is your responsibility.  You are not doing something you could be doing to be successful.
  • Successful people are successful because of what they are doing.  It is not luck; it is not talent; they did not cheat.
  • You must be ready to change and struggle to improve yourself.

Attributing success to talent abdicates responsibility.  People are in love with “talent.”  They believe everything comes easily to talented people.  The goal is to find your “talent” and do what is easy for you.  People that believe in talent:

  • Cannot understand, explain, or learn from the limited success they do have.  They want to believe they are special  If someone else could do what they are doing, then they are no longer special.
  • Cannot ask for advice.  They would be admitting that they are not special.
  • Are in denial about their true ability on almost everything.  Their self esteem is tied to being special.
  • Are terrified of failure or trying anything new because struggling means you must not be talented.

In reality:

Smart hard work and PERSEVERANCE  are far more important than talent.  Smart hard work and perseverance will make nearly anyone world class at nearly anything.  Talent is only worth talking about after smart hard work and perseverance (the result is a legend like Michael Jordan).

You should constantly try new things.  Trying, failing, and trying again is the most effective way to learn (I discuss this in more detail here).

Starting out, you should expect to struggle at everything because you have not worked hard and do not know what you are doing yet.  If you systematically apply smart hard work and perseverance, you can expect to be better than most in a very short while.

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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success perseverance determination persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

- Calvin Coolidge

Perseverance is a choice; success is a choice.  Lack of talent, education, or genius are common excuses when it’s more persistence and determination that are really needed.

How do we get persistence and determination?

Persistence and determination are side effects of beliefs and desire.

If you lack persistence and determination, something is wrong with your beliefs and/or level of desire:

  1. You do not believe it is possible
  2. You do not believe you can do it
  3. You do not believe it is worth it – you do not want it that badly

If you believe your goal is possible, you believe that you can achieve it, and you want it badly, perseverance is really just doing a lot of obvious stuff until you achieve your goal.

When your beliefs and desires are aligned against the goal, success is difficult and complicated because your mind is busy creating excuses and obstacles to keep you from taking the obvious actions.

Your beliefs and desires determine your actions and thus success in life.  Luckily, we can choose our beliefs and desires.

But that’s a topic for another post.


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