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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

5 Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness

One man's road to Success, wealth and happiness was created by studying the Book of Proverbs, the proverbs of King Solomon (who knew). Anyways instead of a book review (I'll skip the part about how this guy makes his millions) I thought I'd save you some time and give you the gist of the book.

So here are the 5 Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness. I have expanded upon the 1st two in detail because they really stuck out to me.

"Secret" #1 - Be Diligent
This Author states that it is pretty much human nature to take the path of least resistance, to do the minimum, and to just get by. He argues that in order for people to aspire to be more, all the success, wealth and happiness in the world is reserved as a reward for being diligent versus lazy.

He states that being diligent is to be:
a) Persistent towards your goal or in refining your craft (not in a stubborn way but with an openness to continuing to alter your course when needed to overcome obstacles).
b) Hard working
c) Well planned
d) Perform with speed, efficiency, and excellence so you will be sought out for your work.

The rewards of this diligence are:
i) True fulfillment without the want or need of material possessions
ii) Respect and admiration from society for your work
iii) Satisfaction and success
iv) Great wealth (everyone is happy to pay someone who does great work)

The author states that pretty much by being lazy you can assure yourself of having the opposite of each of the things above.

Most interesting was his beliefs around the root causes of laziness:
1) Self-centeredness - those who are open see the world around them will find an abundance of opportunity to make a difference with their own unique skills
2) Conceit or arrogance - those who are humble will be open to learn much from the world around them. Those who are arrogant know it all already and continue to takes the actions they want to take without improvement in approach or aspiration.
3) Ignorance and Irresponsibility (Foolishness) - The ignorant act without regard to the consequence of their actions. It is easier to be ignorant than to be educated because it takes time and effort to become something.

I won't be able to comment in as much detail as I would like on each of these without losing some readers, but this is one of two that I will comment on. At times I think you can go through the motions and do just enough to get by in this world because you haven't spent the time or the soul-searching effort to decide what you want to do. If you are going to do or study something, do it as best you can. If you are half-assing it - then you probably don't know what you want to do (or you may know it's not to become that which you are studying to become) so do something else.

"Secret" #2 - Eliminate Your Sense of Entitlement
A sense of Entitlement in any area of your life is an enemy that will keep you bound to unhappiness. This author argues that you will continuously be looking to others with unrealistic expectations and no control over what they actually are willing to give you. The only way to break loose of this unhappy and bitter cycle of entitlement is to release all unrealistic expectations you may have of others, including the government, your spouse, your employer, friends and your relatives.

This is the other topic I feel compelled to comment on. After spending 2 years studying Gen-Y (also known as generation debt) I have talked with many teenagers and people in their early twenties and I have seen this first hand. I am not sure what compels people to constantly keep score of what others owe them without thinking about what they have contributed in order to justify their "ransom". And too often you will find that the people who feel they are entitled to something are those who are desperate for that hand-out because they do not give enough of themselves to earn it. Once these people figure out how to earn what it is they desire (money, respect, etc) they will quickly break free of the chains of relying on others as they figure out how to rely on themselves.

In a business context the story goes as follows. Most people don't know how to make money. They don't know what they should do to have someone offer them compensation, so they look to an employer to tell them what to to to generate money for the company, and the company gladly gives them a wage which will be less than their output for the company. One famous business quote is that all of the enormous profits of the Fortune 500 companies are from excess output of the employees that they are not being paid fairly for. Once you learn how to earn money (or create money) without needing a company to tell you what to do, you will have "job security" for the rest of your life because you will always be able to rely an yourself versus needing a job from someone else.

But quickly back to the Gen-Yers. The sense of entitlement is alive and well as many people just starting out and working full time believe their standard of living should be as high as is was when living at home with mom and dad. They forget that it took their parents 20+ years to get to that level in their lives. This is a rude awakening for many Gen-Yers and a big reason why they prefer to live at home with their parents until they can save up for a higher starting standard of living. I still support Gen-Yers who chose to live at home with their parents because I think it is more responsible than starting out buying a home or a new car too soon while living lavishly. Far too many Gen-Yers start out with enormous college debt to let alone then add to their debt by spending beyond their means with no thoughts of saving for the future or retirement.

This section really struck me as I feel our nation becoming more of an entitlement nation than a boot-strapping nation of hard-working achievers which I believe is what built this nation.

"Secret" #3 - Be Grateful
If you are not grateful, DEVELOP a grateful heart. We all start with different levels of difficult situations in our lives, so this Author recommends if you currently don't feel that grateful, "treasure hunt" for things in your life that you could be grateful for already. In addition to warming you heart and those around you, you will begin to see joy in your life that is consistent, persistent, and lasting.

"Secret" #4 - Root out the weeds of Envy
Envy is a bottomless pit with no end. It is in opposition to feeling fulfilled. Envy is a misbelief that the things others have makes them happy or would make you happy. I think research has shown that by achieving a new level of possessions, we quickly recalibrate and would then desire what's next. When you know what you want in life, you can then know when enough is enough for you. Until you do that soul-searching, you will envy out of fear because you don't know enough about yourself to measure when you will have enough and be fulfilled.

"Secret" #5 - Live Wisely
The author states that Wisdom is not just about knowing what is right but acting on it. Living wisely involves DOING the right things, for yourself and for other around you. It is not enough to say "I know I should appreciate the people in my life" if you are actually being cold or bitter. It is an emptiness inside that fosters an external chill. Probably everyone knows someone who is curt or rude, and I also believe most people know that those people aren't happy with themselves more than they are unhappy with the masses they aim to irritate. Wisdom is about continual learning and self-improvement, and then putting those learnings into action. My takeaway from this point is not to just talk the talk but walk the walk. Another point that comes to mind with the live wisely point is that inner peace is not enough. I think everyone must then work to spread that peace.

So that's my long-winded summary. If you made it to the end congratulations. By no means do I pretend to be an expert on any of this, but I can now say that this book has brought it more top of mind as something I strive to be conscious of. And now - hopefully you will too because then in some small and indirect way maybe I can pass along some success, wealth and happiness to your life. That is your reward for being diligent enough to finish this blog!


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