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What’s the Best That Could Happen?

In my personal life right now I’m doing something incredibly stupid.

I’m pursuing something with a very low chance of success at the expense of things where the chances of success are very high.

This is exactly the opposite of the approach I’d suggest people take in investing but I think it offers a worthwhile lesson.

I was talking to a girl about modelling the other day.  She’d just started and was immediately fairly disenchanted with the process commenting “there’s a lot of models out there and most models don’t make a lot of money”.  These are both true statements but they ignore the bigger picture that she’s not most models and there are some models who do fantastically well.

As entrepreneurs we take a giant leap getting into business for ourselves.  The stats are against us depending on who you believe 80% of businesses fail but worse than that most never amount to any spectacular success.  Our actions are born not of what is likely but what is possible.

Instead of asking “what’s likely to happen?” we ask “what’s the best that could happen?”

The thing is this people aren’t statistics.  Our outcomes aren’t determined by the bell curve they are determined by a whole variety of factors principle among them being what choices we make and what actions we take over and over again.  In other words we influence our outcome we don’t have to settle for what everyone else gets.

Look at someone like Elon Musk creating a car company and a Space company.  The probability of failure in both of those industries was extremely high.  The challenges were almost insurmountable.  But guess what?  Tesla and Space X are both thriving ventures today.

Living an amazing life, creating amazing change, these do not come from just thinking “what’s the best that could happen?”  It’s equally important to consider everything that could go wrong and work around it.  But it’s hard to achieve those amazing things without asking “what’s the best that could happen?”  And it’s only after choosing something incredible that we put on our black hat to consider what might go wrong and get to work to make sure it doesn’t.

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The Universal Problem Solving Formula

There are a myriad of micro-skills that are easy to overlook that go into any kind of success.  One critical one is problem solving.  Here’s a fact, people run into barriers and quit.  Perseverance is part of it but it goes way further than that and how do you persevere?

Yesterday I was talking to someone who I’ve noticed frequently gets stuck and quits.  Does this in business and career but in communication, relationships, etc. as well and it all comes down to the same predictable process.

Imagine you had something you wanted to communicate to someone you tried and they didn’t get it?  What would you do?

Most people would resort to one of two things.  Either they’d say “forget it” and quit (in which case if it was worth quitting over after one attempt was it really worth trying to communicate to begin with?).  Or alternatively they’d repeat themselves.  What if the person still doesn’t get it?

Usually this would lead to either another repeat perhaps with heightened emotions, a stern voice or yelling…or just quit.

Now if you were really persistent you might do one of two things or a combination.  You might ask “what aren’t you understanding?” or try to restate the same thing in a different way to try to get the person to understand.  A lot of people just don’t have the patience for this process and they aren’t likely to be particularly successful in whatever their not willing to be patient with.

Sooner or later most people will give up.  What was the gap?

Resourcefulness…

Let’s consider another example.  You’ve got an important business deal you need to close but it’s in another city and you’re broke having put everything into your start-up, what do you do?  A lot of people would give up right there, they’d say “I can’t make it because…” and that story would be the reason it was ok for them to fail.  That’s a loser’s mentality.  NEVER play like that!

Some other people would put in some effort maybe they’d ask some people for a ride and what if that didn’t work?  They’d give up and tell the story about how they tried everything but it didn’t work.  Tony Robbins has an expression “if you’d really have tried everything you’d have the result”.  You haven’t tried everything you’ve just scratched the surface.  The person who has tried everything will have hitch hiked, begged, borrowed, pleaded, fought all the way there.

I have a friend who was an incredible example of this.  When he turned 18 he wanted to go to Tony Robbins Mastery University in Hawaii but couldn’t afford a ticket to the event.  Without a ticket to the event and with just enough money to get one way he flew to Hawaii without any return ticket or place to stay.  He then proceeded to go up to random people on the street, introduce himself and ask if he could borrow $17 000 for the course (or whatever the amount was).  He got turned down each time.  At this point a person could justifiably say “he’s tried everything”, no one could fault him for giving up.  But he didn’t, he harassed Tony’s staff so much that they held an emergency meeting just as the event was starting and agreed to do something they never do, which was give him the course based on zero deposit on payment terms.  In other words he got the result.  “If you are committed you’ll do whatever it takes”.

There’s a whole emotional side to doing whatever it takes and perhaps in the future we’ll feature an expert in this area to discuss it but for now there is something that’s served me well that we can learn.  What I’ve noticed is most of the people who get taken out early have something in common.  They have a lack of options on the front end to keep them going.  Here then is the process I find consistently works well.

  1. Brainstorming – most people jump to options with very few, when you’ve got a challenge discipline yourself to brainstorm a massive number of options (more than 3 typically up to around 7, never get less than 3 preferably a few more, returns tend to diminish over 7) regardless of how crazy they might be, don’t judge them at this point that comes later. When you’ve got 7 options to solve your problem you’ll be much more able to keep going when one option fails.

 

  1. Evaluating – go through the 3-7 options and determine the likelihood of success, you’re just guessing based on what you know but also be aware that if something doesn’t seem like it will work you should consider brainstorming 3-7 ways you could make it work. For example make one option to get somewhere is to rent a helicopter and that seems incredibly impractical and maybe it is but say it was an option and you’re just constrained by resources there are probably other ways to get those resources.

 

  1. Selecting – based on the evaluation prioritize the highest probability of success and most efficient activities in order.

 

  1. Action – implement the options you’ve prioritized immediately in an attempt to get the result.

 

Go back to the beginning if you aren’t succeeding.  If you’re struggling with brainstorming here are some useful tips:

  • Chunk it down – this means break the problem into smaller pieces:
    • “what’s the problem?” “I need to get from a to b”
    • “ok, what’s the problem there?” “I don’t have a method”
    • “ok, what are the possible methods?” “Car, boat, plane or bus”
    • “ok, how come those aren’t options?” “I don’t have any of those”
    • “ok, who does have one of those?” “well there are these 8 people”
    • “perfect what do you need to use their resource?” etc.
    • See how by breaking the problem down into smaller pieces and working through it sequentially it can be easier to determine options

 

  • Step back from the problem – this is something useful you’ll often get too close to the problem and therefore not see that the problem isn’t really what you think it is and as a result there are other options to get around it:
    • “What’s the problem?” “My credit card is frozen”
    • “ok, what do you need your credit card for?” “to make for this ticket online”
    • “ok, what other ways might there be to pay for a ticket?” “I could borrow one from a friend and pay them back”
    • “perfect, do you actually need to book the ticket online?” “I could I guess book in person”
    • “Perfect could you do that with cash?” “Yes”
    • “Ok, great, what are you booking the ticket for?” “To take this girl for a date”
    • “Ok, are there other places you could take her for a date?” “Sure, I guess”
    • “What other places…”
    • You get the idea, see how at the start the fixation might have been on a frozen credit card and maybe there are few options to unfreeze it but by stepping back you see the real problem wasn’t the frozen credit card anyway it was the need for a ticket and as soon as you change the problem from “unfreezing the credit card” to “buying a ticket” a whole different set of resources become available. Then you discover that’s not even the issue the issue is planning a date and when you realize the problem is actually planning a date a whole other set of options again become available.  The point is by stepping back and reframing the problem you can open up all kinds of options that might be useful in getting where you want to go.

In practice the above example is illustrative, actual coaching wouldn’t likely go that smooth but if you practice these disciplines yourself you’ll get very good very fast.  This is the key, this problem solving process, this process of getting resourceful is a discipline.  It is often worth generating options even though it’s not necessary because the tendency to go after what we know blinds us to potentially better practices.

“The defining factor in life is never resources it’s resourcefulness” – Tony Robbins.

Have business or wealth building questions?  Lacking the resourcefulness to become rich?  Contact us with your questions and we’ll do what we can to help.  Click “Ask a Business Question” in the lower right corner of the screen to get answers!

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You MUST Do This To Get What You Want

At the start of this year I set a number of goals as I do at the start of every year.  They varied wildly from financial and business goals to health and fitness goals to travel goals and relationship goals.  One example was transforming my wardrobe.  The previous year had been an attempt on my part to really increase the quality of my dress and I’d made significant strides but I’d taken a course a few months before where I’d seen how much further I had to go when compared to people I admire in the area.  Being able to be and being consistently one of the best dressed people in a room appealed to me and does to this day.

I did several things, first, I created a benchmark against which to measure myself on this goal.  Second, I put together a series of strategies on how I would achieve it (not crazy specifics just broad generalities).  Third, I figured out the cost and resolved to pay it.  This last point is critical.

In life no matter what there is always a cost for everything we want.  The cost isn’t necessarily financial it could be emotional or reputational or relational or something else but there is always a cost.  You don’t always have to pay the cost asked, you can shop around for market inefficiencies or you can negotiate the costs lower and you should, but there will always be a cost.  Here’s the thing those who aren’t willing to pay the price will never get what they want.  More those who are willing to pay the highest price will have the easiest job and greatest flexibility in getting what they want.

Today I talked to someone who wasn’t willing to pay the price…they said they were but their actions spoke differently.  They complained about someone lecturing them prior to being willing to give them what they wanted.  When asked “is it reasonable that they do so?” they responded “no”.  Being lectured is a small price, it happened to be the price the person who could help was requiring, the person didn’t need to accept it but then at the end of the day (and it was an urgent matter) they didn’t get what they wanted.

In so many positivity and goal setting type workshops and programs the emphasis is placed on what you want, but what you want is only 5% of the total picture and no the other 95% isn’t why you want it, that’s a bunch of impractical non-sense, you can want something for its own sake.  The 95% is the process of getting there and the price to be paid.

One of my favorite quotes is from legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight “Everyone has got the will to win.  It’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.”  In basketball as in many things preparation is the price you have to pay for victory.  Wealth building is the same.

No one builds wealth overnight.  As Bill Walsh is fond of saying “most of those who try to get rich quick go broke fast”.  Committing yourself to the long term, not trying to drag it out, but being willing to put in the time it might take to achieve the result will drastically increase your chances of getting there.

Want to become rich?  There are certain things you’ve got to do.  One of them ironically is negotiating down the price of most of the things in your life because if you’re consistently putting out more than you’re getting back you’ll end up with less, which is the opposite of rich.

You’ve got to be willing to sell because no one makes any money until a sale is made.  That doesn’t mean you have to be willing to cold call or knock or doors but if you’re not willing to you’ve immediately got less resources available at your disposal than your competitors who don’t have those rules and reservations.  You’ve got to surround yourself with great people and get rid of those who drag you down (that later part is tough for a lot of people).  You’ve got to fight for, gain and maintain ownership.

There is a key distinction here though between the price paid and how things works.  For example, it can be very tempting either when things are going badly or when a big opportunity shows up to violate your ethical standards to make the money.  You need to be very careful at this crossroads because there is a price to violating your ethical standards and very often what might seem good today is disastrous in the long run and that’s part of the point.  Those who achieve the most take a long term view with short term ambitions trying to make a lot happen quickly but being willing to plan long term to get the best results and one of those is building brand, reputation, something that lasts.  The subject of the value of durability (it’s huge) is for another post but always consider it an asset.

If you’ve got a business or wealth building goal and you’ve resolved that you’re willing to pay the price but don’t know the strategies to get there contact us we’re happy to help, a community that will support you is one of the most important factors in making those tough decisions and accelerating success.  In the meantime from now on when goal setting determine what the cost of that goal will likely be and resolve in advance to pay it.

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The Wrong Reason to Hire Someone

Today I got to re-witness a story I saw play out many times in my father’s life and business.  It’s a hard won lesson that some of you are going to take hard and be resistant to.  In spite of this I promise you it’s the right advice…especially for those who resist it.  Hopefully you’re not someone who has fallen into that trap and for you this advice will be self-evident.

I’ve had the good fortune over the last little while to know someone who has been struggling to find work.  My naturally tendency is to be soft hearted, generous, kind, etc.  All good qualities and in this case qualities I have to resist.  See my desire is to hire them for something, to come become a chef for me for my home meals (something I don’t need right now) or an internet marketing assistant (something they have zero qualifications for and would require massive training which their not motivated to undertake) or who knows what else.  The problem is this would do two things:

  1. It would be charity on my part effectively representing not a fair exchange and definitely not beneficial to me in fact likely costing me far more than the money

 

  1. Not serve that person even though they think it would and would like me to do it it would be a short term service at long term expense

 

Some problems simply aren’t solved short term and some problems are solved in the macro not the one off cases and this is painful for people who want to fixate on the small scale.  Not helping someone by paying for their trip to Mexico to a family member’s wedding, it’s hard they have to stay back (don’t get me wrong, you can do these things but they are pure charity and they aren’t addressing a root cause so the problem creating the situation will perpetuate, the best charity creates productivity but that’s for another discussion).  There are lots of examples.

Growing up I saw my father do this again and again in his small business, take pity on someone, see how he could help them and give them a job for which they were ill suited and resulted in a loss for him.  On the surface this seems kind hearted, it is in a sense, but it’s a bad move for everyone for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s just plain a stupid financial decision, there’s a stage and time for philanthropy and a way to do it well and this is not it
  2. It denies someone more skilled, motivated, and capable from having the same job
  3. It hurts your company reputation and brings the whole organization down
  4. It doesn’t build up the person you’re hiring so it perpetuates behavior that needs to change
  5. It leaves you with less to give in areas that you can have a higher impact

Among other faults it’s much like the give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish analogy.

I’ve made this mistake on a few occasions both lending money and hiring people sometimes literally to the point where I took money I legitimately needed (possibly as much or more so than them) and gave it away never to be returned.

The best result for everyone comes from win-win interactions, from creating the best net effect so there’s more abundance to go around in the long run.  This is a microcosm approach that seems good up close but hurts overall.

Learn the lesson, hire the best people you can every time and if you’d like to do charity or philanthropy do that separate from business and do it in a way that maximizes the impact you can make with each hour and each dollar and you’ll have the biggest possible effect in changing the world.

If you’d like some assistance or mentorship on how to hire the best people or on other business issues contact us and we’ll be happy to help.