Business Insights: The 1% Difference To Achieving Success
This is a guest post from my good friend Jim . He’s an ex-lawyer, entrepreneur, and all-around badass.
Charles and I discussed how success happens through hard work and efficiency, but this talk soon spun off into a discussion about work efficiency and its relationship to success. We came to the conclusion that you can sometimes be “too efficient” and that success isn’t JUST about working HARDER.
What do I mean by this?
Sometimes, I feel frustrated that I don’t have the answers to what I’m looking for: how do I increase my profits or to improve my wealth, happiness, effectiveness, etc. What do I do when I feel this?
By default, I usually work harder. We concluded that this could be the wrong thing to do. Hard work IS a big part of getting you there, but it isn’t always the most direct path to success.
Why Achieving Success is A Lot Like Flying an Airplane
A plane is off-course 99% of the time but is constantly redirecting itself towards the destination. Now, everyone has probably heard that story about the plane before (well, anyone and everyone who studies self-help anyway) in the context of goal setting. You can be flying the plane (i.e. working hard as hell towards a goal), but how do you find those crucial 1% corrections that make sure that you are on the right and most direct path towards your goal?
What Charles and I realized is that the 1% wasn’t about WORKING, it was about THINKING.
This is a crucial point. The most highly leverage-able activity for achieving success that you can do is thinking. This is because thinking provides direction for the rest of your actions. And the actions you take, determine your results. HARD WORK alone does not mean that you will be able to THINK DIFFERENTLY.
So, how do you sharpen your ability to THINK DIFFERENTLY?
The Power of Destabilizers
What are destabilizers? They interrupt and cause paradigm shifts your patterns of thinking. They could be:
- New experiences
- A holiday
- Reading a new book / essay
- Videos / DVD
- Meetings with a Mentors
- Discussion with like-minded peers. Ben Franklin started a club called Junto which had the goal of mutual improvement. They met every Friday evening to discuses business, personal issues, philosophy, morals, & politics.
- It could even be just plain time to think
To highlight the importance of “Time To Think” – Keith Cunningham, a business mentor, tells the story of how he was in a meeting with Mike Milken (the creator of Junk Bonds!). An executive knocked on the door to the room and asked Mike Milken whether or not he wanted to proceed with the takeover of a large company.
Mike opened his notepad, and said to the executive, “My next available time to think is 6am tomorrow. You’ll have a decision by 7 am”.
What a crazy concept – scheduling time to think. And a billionaire did it. In fact, most of the super rich people I know do it. But if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Thinking is the most highly leverage-able activity. This is because it determines how effective your future actions will be. If you have employees, it determines how effective their actions will be in creating value.
If you run campaigns in affiliate marketing, you need to find and see angles that you currently do not see. Consequently, the crucial point is that you have to keep sharpening your ability to THINK DIFFERENTLY. And the way you do this, if you are not already doing it, is by engaging ‘destabilizers’. Don’t just work harder, work so that you can THINK smarter.
So, if you feel like you’re in a rut (or a “downswing” in your life – see my post on The Wave Theory Of Happiness for what I mean by, “downswing”), then do what you can to find ‘destabilizers’ that might provide a kick or even a revolution, in your way of thinking.
This could be from reading a blog (like this one, or my buddies at Asian Efficiency, Charles Ngo or other good blogs – I’ll write a list of them in another post), talking to your mentors, talking to like-minded peers, going to a seminar, watching a relevant DVD etc. But you need these destabilizers to fan the flames of your thinking towards greater heights. They also provide the occasional distance from your routine, so that you are able to THINK DIFFERENTLY and OUTSIDE THE BOX.
It’s these moments, when you are thinking differently and outside the box, that you get the crucial 1% directional changes, which make all the difference to your destination.
Thoughts from Charles:
One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t the due to decision making, but to habits. Most of our actions everyday are being made unconsciously. That’s why I always plan my days & develop habits that work towards my goals. Our brains want to be lazy and mindlessly surf the internet.
How do I use destabilizers? I’m an avid learner. I’ve read a few hundred business books, watch videos at Mixergy everyday, constantly listen to podcasts, etc.. I’ve traveled to over 20 countries the past 2 years and have really tried to understand how people from different parts of the world think. The people I talk to on a daily basis are all guys doing awesome things in my life – no squares in my circle.
When someone’s successful, I ask myself why. I met one of the biggest drug lords in Asia and asked about his story. I love reading the biographies of chefs, athletes, and historical figures. I’m friends with some of the best pickup artists in the world and questioned how they went from 0 to hero. I achieve shifts in my thinking by connecting the dots and analyzing the patterns of different successful people.
Most people go through life as sheeple. College is not for everyone yet you’ll see everyone getting into a life-time worth of debt just because it’s what everyone says to do. People are scared to think because they’re scared of trying something out and failing. That’s why their lives are on auto-pilot, it’s easy to follow the path of least resistance.
Don’t be a sheep, be awesome!