This might sound harsh, but the world is full of losers. Every city in every country is full of men and women that live mediocre lives. They have heads full of unfulfilled dreams and they want more out of life. They want to win.
They just don’t know how.
What’s holding them back has nothing to do with not being a “born winner”. Sure, things like connections or family wealth make succeeding in any field easier… but they aren’t necessities.
It isn’t a lack of intelligence. While some may have more mental capability than others, if you’ve made it to 2009 natural selection has likely put enough common sense in your head to thrive.
So, what gives? Why are the top 20% in any venture (business, humanity, learning, etc.) so much more successful than the bottom 80%? Why do most people suck?
The answer can be summed up with one word: Action.
A Word of Clarification
I’ll be basing the advice in this article on the accumulation of financial wealth, since the majority of the Western world uses this as a meter stick for success.
However, keep in mind that any item of value can take the place of “money” in this article. The principles stay the same regardless of your personal pursuit.
On Taking Action
Winners know that money isn’t made when you’re thinking. Money isn’t made when you’re shuffling papers, addictively checking emails, reading the sports section of the newspaper or smoking a cigarette.
Money is made when you are in the grips of action.
All of us have the logical capability to know what actions bring us success. We also can follow the cause-effect-cause chain to learn what moves us away from success. The key to being a winner is doing more of what helps you win and less of what makes you lose.
Get in the habit of continuously asking yourself one question: Is what I’m doing right now making me money?
If not then stop doing it. Immediately. If you plan on being a success tomorrow you have to focus on what makes money today.
Of course, there are things that don’t make you money this exact moment but are requirements for making more money in the future. These actions have value… just not today.
In situations like this, it makes sense to set aside a certain time bracket every week to do these future paying actions. This might include things like reading that new book, getting through your Google Reader entries, or tightening up your personal finance plan
Personally, I use Sundays for this task. Every Sunday, I lock myself away and read through the nonfiction books I’ve been meaning to get to and I plan for the next week. I also review my “master plan” for the next 3 months.
Also, there are obviously other things that are worth spending time on. Life isn’t meant to be a workaholic. A more fitting question, then, might be “is what I’m doing right now adding value to my life?”
You may want to follow it up with “Do I value this item more than something else I can be earning?” This will keep you from watching that Babylon-5 marathon instead of breaking out the baseball mitt with your son.
In this way thinking and making money become two separate actions. When you’re working, you are completely focused on that. When you are thinking/planning/reading, you are totally focused on that.
Cause and Effect: The great divide between success and failure
The biggest separator between those that make boatloads of money and those that don’t can be summed up with three words: cause and effect.
Every kind of success is rooted into reality. Reality takes shape in the form of cause and effect. Whether you want to be the next Einstein or the next Buffet, the foundation is the same.
Let’s say you want to make $50K extra within the next 6 months. Month one, you sit on the couch and think about $50K every day (a la The Secret). Nothing changes.
You’re left with two options. You can spend month two doing the same thing… which is what most would do and wonder why they get the same outcome.
Or you can use the reality you’ve now seen by way of your first effect, and change course towards your goal. Set a new cause in action, and you are guaranteed a different effect (or outcome).
Most don’t consciously decide to stay the same course that has proven to be ineffective. Usually, it’s just a matter of habit, or not seeing other valid options. It’s easy to dream of success; it’s hard to invest the mental energy necessary to find the proper cause for the result you are after.
But there’s a shortcut to your wildest dreams… and here’s the roadmap:
First, you decide what it is you want. Let’s say that you want to make enough money to travel the world for 6 months out of every year.
Next, find somebody that’s already accomplished what you aim to. A good model in this example might be Tim Ferriss, or maybe Rolf Potts.
Final step: Do exactly what they did to get the success you want. Not what they said they did, or what others say they did. Take the exact same steps that they took.
Yep. It really is that simple.
So there you have it. Two facts, nothing more… use these two facts and the dreams rolling around your head like marbles will be yours. Ignore these facts, and you’ll be in the same relative position next year that you are today.
Mark my words. And refer to the first section, “on taking action”.
The choice is yours, amigo. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck and I hope to see you in the winner’s circle; first drink’s on me.