When I drive, I look at the signs and businesses that line the roads and streets. Recently, I asked myself a question that revealed a fatal flaw in my thinking — a fatal flaw that just may be the difference between wealth and insecurity, becoming what I wish to be and remaining in my current position.
While looking at the sundry businesses — at the many different ways people were creating wealth and personal prosperity — I asked myself a simple question and one, I am certain, you probably have asked yourself a plethora of times.
What is the difference between them and me?
Perhaps you did not use that exact wording, but the spirit of the questin is the same. On that night, like many uncountable nights, I wondered about the people of commerce and industry and power and ideas. I wondered why Sam Walton could create his line of stores, yet so many are left wallowing in positions that they could barely stand — and which kept them barely above water.
While I had asked myself that question many times in the past, on this particular night I had a revelation. I followed with another question:
Why am I looking for differences when, intrinsically, no real differences exist?
The differences I saw and noticed weren’t the real factors that contributed to anyone’s success or failure. It wasn’t a matter of brains or brawn, capital or ingenuity, push or pull. Rather, it was a matter of doing things – at least, just doing something. Anything!
It has often been the nature of popular business books and pop psychologists to earn their sheckles by keeping us in shackles with endless ramblings about what makes the successful successful. In other words, most of the common literature on the subject of success has been mired in putting our noses in our somehow unglamourous values and habits rather than showing us what really counts: Doing it!
I have a passion for reading biographies of historical or successful people. In all of the biographies that I have read, there has always been one common element: they are all crazy. When I say crazy, I mean completely nuts, bonkers, whacked. The “successful” have so many idiosynchrosies that to name all of them would be to name every speck of sand on a beach. For now, I will just list a few that I find most amusing:
Steve Jobs: Control freak and not very nice to underlings. Not to mention the drugs.
Donald Trump: Can we safely call him an egomaniac?
Larry Ellison: Braggart, egomaniac, BS-er.
Bill Gates: Do I have to mention his business practices?
Alexander the Great: Delusions of grandeur.
Napoleon: Another one with delusions of grandeur.
JD Salinger: Reclusive.
Lord Byron: Womanizer and scandal monger.
Ted Turner: Speaks before he thinks.
Just by looking at this miniscule sampling of famous personas, it becomes obvious that probably none of them read How To Win Friends and Influence People or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. All of them have had scandalous exposes written about them. All of them were majourly flawed in one way — or many. All of them pushed the envelope and just did what they did.
That, it turns out, is the deciding factor: doing what one wants to do. There is no preparing, no training, no self-improvement necessary. How big would Microsoft be today if Mr. Gates simply welcomed competition with a smile? What would the news industry be like if Ted Turner kept his mouth shut and minded what he said? I can answer that: kinda dull. His brashness earned him billions.
I do not write this as a vindication for all of our vices and failing points. I do not write this to stop people from reading self-improvement books and attending seminars. I write this for the people who do those things again and again and again. Those people must realize that the difference between them and the successful is merely the ability to dig in one’s heels and get to it.
Too often, I speak with a person who continually reads the books and attends the seminars and always has a plan or scheme for self-improvement. Listening to them is like listening to a Dead Head recant all of the shows to which he’s been. “I saw Tony Robbins in Atlanta, ‘99; Dr. Phil in Boston, ‘00; I was to Chopra’s book signing in New York last month” and the litany continues ad nauseum. The kicker is that the person still isn’t particularly happy, fulfilled, or successful. Do these seminars and books make the person happy? Yes, like crack makes a drug addict happy. The person catches his buzz and feels that in doing so, he is doing something. In the end, though, he is not.
All of the speakers and motivators say the same thing: Do it! All of the books reiterate that simple, yet poignant, phrase. There comes a time when a person realizes that they do not need to be completely organized or a polished speaker or a flawless person. Instead of studying the books, they should take what they learned and apply it to real life by working on their dreams. Or if not their dreams, then something — anything!
Or, as Charles F. Haanel wrote
“You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to do.”
You have the knowledge of your power; the courage to dare will come to you, if you don’t have it already, as you take those first steps toward your goal. All that’s needed is for you to have the faith to do. To get that, forget what you’ve heard and read; instead go boldly forward with what you know.
There are no real differences between us and them. The “differences” that certain authors and speakers like to notice are just fluff. I may have been a tad hasty when I said that their are no differences, perhaps there is one:
The successful know that they are flawed, but they just don’t care.
They just do it!
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