Luck is self-created

thomas_jefferson.jpg Most of us — including me — were taught to believe in luck. We believe that certain people have achieved certain successes or have experienced “good fortune” at least partially because of luck. Of course, we acknowledge that hard work and perseverance were involved to some extent, but we believe that “luck” is the critical factor in most people’s successes.

How many times have you heard someone say something to the effect of, “If you want to accomplish X, you’ll need more than hard work and credentials. You’ll also need to a lot of luck. It’s a hard business to break into (or succeed in, or rise to the top of, etc.).”

We nod our heads, subconsciously slipping into the trap of allowing ourselves the excuse of lack of luck whenever we fail to achieve something that we want . . . but which we secretly believed was out of our range anyway.  It’s like when you approach that gorgeous person hopefully … and just know that she or he won’t be interested because s/he will look at you and decide you aren’t quite up to par.

That kind of thinking is poison … and it will manifest for you everything that you didn’t want to manifest!

Here’s the lesson: luck is self-created.

As Thomas Jefferson said:

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

“Lucky” people put themselves in the right place at the right time, they contact the people that they need to meet to get ahead or stay connected, they work hard and consistently to make sure that when an opportunity arises, their name and reputation are known — and they are ready to meet the challenge.

You can practice creating luck on a daily basis. Your opportunity may be just around the corner — but you have to prepare for it. Think of all the ways that you can create luck in your own life.

Perhaps that means sending out resumes on a daily basis.  Perhaps it means calling five more contacts per day, being friendly to everyone that you meet, starting to write a business plan, writing that magazine article or query, or sending out a press release. Perhaps it means stretching your comfort zone just a little bit more every day.

Bottom line: The creation of luck entails different things for different people. Figure out what it entails for you, and practice the creation of luck every day.

Expect to be lucky, prepare to be lucky, act like you are lucky, and you will create your own luck.

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May 15, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 2 comments.

Deconstructing “The Science of Getting Rich”, by Wallace Wattles

wattles.jpgIf you are interested in Wallace Wattles and his work, The Science of Getting Rich, Debra Moorhead has a great seven-part commentary on applying the science.

Her first blog on the topic is available here.

March 29, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

Believe and Succeed

thinking-2.jpg  “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

One of the big challenges in life is to recognize when you perceive that you have “failed”, and then to make something good come out of that.

When we allow ourselves self-pity for too long, we ultimately start feeling not only like a failure — but also like a victim.

The key  is to acknowledge that your hopes did not pan out — but that this experience means that you are meant for something different, and usually something better.

I had an a-ha moment watching one of the two Oprah shows on The Secret, wherein Oprah said something along the lines of, “If you’re fired, you should thank them … because that just means you weren’t meant to be there anyway.”

Similarly, I saw Donald Trump speak a couple of years ago in Los Angeles and he recounted the story of a friend who was talented but doing abysmally in his line of work. Trump kept telling him to quit — but he wouldn’t. Finally, he was fired. Thereafter, the friend started some sort of golf business and has never been happier.

Often when we fail — assuming we are working diligently — it is because we really are supposed to be doing something else. It means we are on the wrong path.
And often that “something else” is so much bigger than what we were doing.

What’s great about this is that if we think about it hard enough and creatively enough, the opportunity presented by the “failure” often dwarfs the problem.

An obvious example would be being laid off from your job and being forced to start your own business … which you have wanted to do forever but didn’t have the guts for.   In this case,  life has given you a kick in the pants.

Another example would be attempting a freelance writing career for niche magazines, and being rejected over and over. You might realize that you have been thinking way too small and decide to sumbit to the big national magazines, write a book, or even start your own magazine.

A less obvious example: your website/business is not doing as well as you hoped. You visit your traffic stats and notice that 50% of the people who are your visitors/customers are interested in X. You have been focusing on X, Y, and Z and everything in between.

Out of this failure you can recognize that there might be a huge market for X. You build the website and products centered around X … and your niche idea takes off.

A still less obvious example: what have you been criticized for your entire life? Arrogance, timidity, too loud, too meek, inability to cooperate with others, a desire to have everyone approve …

Whatever it is, that is part of you. And you should use that in a unique way that makes you stand out like no other person could.

For example, if you are criticized for being self-centered and money-focused — go for it. Start a business and use your (rare) arrogance to instill confidence in your employees.

If you have been criticized for being meek and wanting everyone to like you … use that! Work at a non-profit at which you aren’t front and center (at least for now) and do your best work for others.

Our personalities are uniquely ours, and we must use them for distinct purposes.

If we do not do so, we become yet another member of the crowd who damns his or her  “flaws” and hopes for a better day.

But you are the master of your life.  You create your life through your thoughts and your expectations.

Shape it according to your will and mold it to the form of your own unique personality.

March 26, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. 3 comments.

Gratitude

mansion-7.jpg Every spiritual teacher tells us that gratitude is imperative to personal development.

Yet gratitude is a more difficult concept than many would admit. For example, I am grateful for my life, what I have, my loved ones’ lives, and everyday beauty (for example, I love watching the birds and squirrels in our backyard scampering and flitting about).

But this feeling of gratitude can pale in comparison to the many things that are not quite right in one’s life. And so the gratitude exercise can sometimes be a little difficult.

So when I feel this way, I force myself to take in precisely what I have. And everytime I do this … I realize I have so much.

I don’t want to get too off-topic here, but as a professional with a nice car, I have sometimes been treated to forms of abuse — being cut off, yelled at — by people who I believe see me as a rich snob. Actually, I bought the (stereotypical rich person’s) car used — and it probably has a year or three before it is retired to a mechanic. But to some people, my life seems so much different than their own because I drive an “expensive” car.

Please. I – like all of us — have a myriad of problems and difficulties. Moreover, I am on a personal development journey that is requiring all of me to stay on course.

So I realized that the way I look to some people — rich and carefree — is the way the richest and most famous people seem to me.

And then I got it.

We all have our own experiences to live out, whether in a beatdown apartment or a grand mansion — but we’ll always still be the same soul and experience the same life hurts and difficulties.

So yes, Richard Branson’s life looks grand to me. But to him, I am sure it feels just as ordinary and problem-ridden as any other life.

So the key is to just enjoy whatever level we are at. In terms of Earth’s population, I probably have a better life than 99% of people. So to grump and groan seems a bit ridiculous. Sure, I always strive to make life better but the fact is … life is pretty good.

And I want to remember that as my life, wealth, and abundance grows. Actually … only if I appreciate that will my abundance grow.

March 21, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development. 7 comments.

Succeed by Doing What Others are not Willing to Do

mountain-climb.jpg Over at GeniusTypes.com, Brian Lee offers an article titled Why People Fail. Although it is not a cheery title or subject, the wisdom Brian imparts is priceless. He speculates that even though many people are presented with the precise information on how to become successful and wealthy, 99% of people won’t do anything about it.

Why? He gives five reasons, all of which are things most people avoid:

1. Hard Work

2. Taking Risks

3. Doing Research

4. Getting Organized

5. Selling

The truth hurts, but it can also be liberating if you are honest with yourself.

Read the full post here.

March 19, 2007. life, Money, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

Finding Your Purpose

path-in-boboli-gardens.jpg Paul Graham has one of the best articles I’ve read, How to Do What You Love, on finding your passion.

Some of the best passages:

Why is it conventional to pretend to like what you do? … If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. That’s where the upper-middle class tradition comes from … [C]onventional attitudes about work are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of the attitudes of people who’ve done great things.

His thoughts on prestige:

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

That’s what leads people to try to write novels, for example. They like reading novels. They notice that people who write them win Nobel prizes. What could be more wonderful, they think, than to be a novelist? But liking the idea of being a novelist is not enough; you have to like the actual work of novel-writing if you’re going to be good at it; you have to like making up elaborate lies.

And perhaps my favorite observation:

Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.

I do disagree with him on one point. He says that in finding what you love to do, you shouldn’t worry about the opinions of anyone beyond your friends. I’d go even further: don’t worry about what your friends think. This is your life to live, so choose accordingly.

Read the full post here.

March 15, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

Be Your Own Guru

20060514u-myselfonthecarneddmoelsiabodsummittrigpoint.jpgAs someone deeply devoted to personal development, I voraciously devour books, films, and podcasts on personal development and spirituality.

This focus, which has been fairly intense the last two years or so, has had a profoundly positive effect on my life.

But there is an aspect to the whole P.D. industry that worries me. There are certain people (O.K., a lot of people) who flock to so-called “gurus” in order to learn how to live their lives … step-by-step, if possible.

I’ll give you a brief example. I rarely attend live presentations, but when I do they have been very good (I am extremely selective). Last year I attended a two-hour talk by Wayne Dyer. He was very, very good. I brought my reluctant fiancée along, and he also very much enjoyed the talk. We even bought two plastic bracelets (I think they cost $2.00 total) to support a cause Dyer was advocating.

But that was it. I left feeling great and focusing on remembering a few points from the talk that were helpful to me.

I did not — as so many did — rush up to the stage during intermission, desperate to touch the hand of this man who might solve all my life problems. I did not stare in wonder at him as he paced the stage. I did not leave with a feeling of, “I need more Wayne Dyer, more!”

But so many people do seem to need Wayne Dyer. Or Deepak Chopra. Or Tony Robbins. Or Marianne Williamson.

Worse, they tend to gravitate toward one individual so that their need is focused on one “guru” in particular. In sum, they mistake the messenger for the message.

Look, I love many of the P.D. gurus. These people deserve every penny they earn for the changes they have made in peoples’ lives. But some of their devotees seriously need to learn to “take what you need and leave the rest.”

Another example: there is a very popular P.D. guy who blogs online. Most of you probably know of whom I speak but I won’t name him because this isn’t about him … it is about his followers. Most of his articles are great and many of his thoughts make me think critically in a way that I had not before.

Recently, he posted a pet theory about something we’ll call –for the sake of amusement — The Law of Magnetism. His theory about this “Law of Magnetism” grouped 1% of people into the thoughtful camp who had decided to personally become a magnet — or not. Again, I’m using analogies here; this wasn’t the actual theory. The other common 99% of people, according to the theory, float helplessly along in life, having chosen neither to become a magnet nor to become a non-magnet.

The theory was thoughtful but, to my mind, whacked out in many respects. To me, that’s fine. The guy is smart and critical but …. he gets stuff wrong — just like the rest of us.

Nonetheless, thousands of people rushed to the forum boards wondering whether they were among those who had decided to become a “magnet” or not. How did they know which side to choose? And what did the guru mean when he said X … and how did it apply to their lives?

It was crazy. It was like someone proclaiming that 99% of us are drifters, and 1% of us are magicians — but we have to decide which kind of magician … and then everyone re-framing their life to decide whether they are a magician or not. And what kind of magician precisely?!?!

People, please resolve to be your own guru. Even if a modern day certified savior were to appear and set out certain life precepts, wouldn’t you want to question these precepts and — if you decided you agreed with them — determine how to structure your own life accordingly, by means of your own critical thinking? You would not (I hope) run to this modern day savior and ask him or her about every detail of how to live your life. You would understand that we must know our own selves, and that we are all part of a divine intelligence that has given us the tools to take the basics and construct our own abundant lives.

At least I hope so.

I am not dismissing the gurus here. Rather, I am critiquing the phenomena of people desperately attaching themselves to one guru, taking everything the guru says as the Word, and then figuring out how they should live their lives according to the guru and that guru’s Word.

This is why so many people consume ridiculous amounts of products and seminars from particular speakers. Buying some books and films from various sources is one thing; hungrily devouring everything produced by one human being is another.

Please learn to listen to yourself. Read the books and listen to the podcasts. But be a critical thinker and take only what you need.

In short, be your own guru.

March 10, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 9 comments.

On Abundance

red-flowers.jpg Over at ArvindDevalia.com, Arvind has a helpful post titled Abundance, Abundance, Abundance.

He gives us nine ways to experience more abundance in our lives.

Here are three:

1. Be generous, without being wasteful. Always remember that what goes around comes around. Share the abundance already in your life and it will be reflected back to you by the people around you …

2. Let go of any habits of poverty. Start giving away your loose change to charities and people in need. Start cultivating being prosperous. Stop yourself from thinking thoughts such as “I cannot afford that.”

Let’s stop here for a moment. I would personally change this advice to focus on the positive: “Move towards habits of wealth. Start giving away extra money to those you feel deserve it. Cultivate prosperity. Start believing, ‘I can afford that.'”

In other words, I would phrase it in terms of what one wants to move toward rather than away from — but Arvin has the correct general idea.

Also, the whole idea of giving loose change feels … cheap. Believe you can afford to tithe and give away more. I use my loose change for the meter … but I give bills.

O.K., on to his third tip:

3. Expect the best from everything and everyone. Pessimistic people who are always moaning keep having negative experiences and bad luck. That is because what you focus on most is what you attract – so focus only on goodness from now on. Think of the things you love and desire.

Read the full post here.

March 9, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development. 1 comment.

Quote from The Science of Getting Rich (by Wallace Wattles)

wallacewattles_portrait.gif

Studying the people who have got rich, we find that they are an average lot in all respects, having no greater talents and abilities than other men. It is evident that they do not get rich because they possess talents and abilities that other men have not, but because they happen to do things in a Certain Way.

Getting rich is not the result of saving, or “thrift”; many very penurious people are poor, while free spenders often get rich.

Nor is getting rich due to doing things which others fail to do; for two men in the same business often do almost exactly the same things, and one gets rich while the other remains poor or becomes bankrupt.

From all these things, we must come to the conclusion that getting rich is the result of doing things in a Certain Way.

Wallace Wattles, Chapter 2: The Science of Getting Rich

March 6, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. 1 comment.

Challenge Your Assumptions about Success

hundred-dollar-bills.jpg Over at iwillteachyoutoberich.com, Remit Sethi talks about an interesting and prevalent phenomenon that he calls The Shrug Effect. He writes:

Isn’t it easy to point at someone really successful, listing the reasons why he’s so successful, but also the reasons he made it but you can’t?

We do this all the time. We see a famous CEO and point how “he took 5 companies public and got a Harvard MBA.” We see a successful children’s book author and point out how she already knew 4 publishers, so her book got published immediately … And then we shrug. “What can we do?” “She has a Harvard MBA.” “They made it big, but they’re different than me.” …

When we list off the skills/resources that the successful person has–and we don’t–we do 2 things: First, we distance ourselves from that person, making them into something other than an ordinary, regular person. Second, we create an excuse for why we won’t achieve the same level of accomplishment. And then, in a textbook case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, we don’t.

But guess what?

CEOs don’t just magically flip a switch and start wearing a fancy suit one day, directing their staff to do this and that. Getting to the top isn’t about knowing how to execute a leveraged buyout, or negotiating anti-dilution provisions, or whatever …
It starts earlier.

Read the entire post here.

February 28, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

Seven Ways to Change Your Life Tomorrow

joy-4.jpg 1. Wake up 20 minutes early and either meditate or simply read the best self-help/motivational book you own.

2. Don’t think of tomorrow as the last day of your life or the first day of your life … simply wake up and think of the day as a day that defines your life (how you are living) and where you are going. If you are dissatisfied with the day’s results, you may be tempted to change.

3. Do one thing to help your financial health. Depending on your financial state, this could mean saving $10 extra dollars or $10,000 extra dollars tomorrow. It could mean finally reviewing your bank statement or finally reviewing your monthly investment portfolio. It could mean asking for a raise. It could mean refinancing. It could mean a lot of things depending on who you are and where you are financially. The point is, you should be able to find one thing that will improve your financial situation tomorrow, even if it is as simple as opening an online (high interest) savings account.

4. Read one newspaper or journal that you have been wanting to read but have not (and I’m not talking about The National Enquirer; look, I read my share of celebrity gossip … but those publications have their place and time). Is it the Wall Street Journal? Forbes Magazine? Fast Company? Harvard Business Review? What is Enlightment magazine? The Economist? BBC Online? PBS Online?

5. Listen to a new radio or satellite talk station. One tip: Check out HayHouse Radio — it’s free and full of inspirational audio programs that you can listen to all day in the background while you work.

6. If so inclined, apply for something that you’re really interested in but don’t think you’re quite qualified for. You never know. I read somewhere recently that H.R. offices receive vastly more applications for low-to-mid range jobs than for the highest-paying jobs. Obviously this is somewhat a function of qualification (not as many people have the top-notch education and experience, etc.) but not entirely. Go for it! Jennifer Hudson was an American Idol reject a couple of years ago … and she just won an Oscar. Nothing significant about Jennifer Hudson changed; she simply needed to be in a different place and in a different situation (which happened to be even more prestigious).

7. Have you been wanting to take lessons or a class on something? In the U.S., most of you probably live within a short distance of a community college which provides wonderful education at incredibly cheap prices (most courses go for about $30-$100). Or just sign up for an online course. UCLA’s Online Extension program is the best that I have found (although it is pricey for some … about $500 for a 10-week course on average). The UCLA Extension instructors tend to be top-notch.

There are thousands of ways in which you can start changing your life for the better. So go out and do something new tomorrow!

February 26, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 4 comments.

Create Your Own Vision Statement

Here’s a wonderful video on making your own Vision Statement (below).

This is akin to making a Vision Board for what you want to manifest in your life, but using technology instead of a corkboard — much more powerful.

A few of the things that Malcom says in the video that are worthy of mention:

You can actually have all the things you want …

All the things you want to do …

And all the things you want to be …

You get what you want … So long as it’s truly what you want.

‘Cause you only get what you really want.

That last point is key. You only get what you really want because you only get what you put strong emotions into.

You can find Malcom and more information on his Vision Statements here.

February 25, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 1 comment.

Is Your Business Idea the Next Big Thing?

business-success.jpg EscapefromCubicleNation has a thoughtful post on how to tell if your business idea is the next YouTube … or not.

The top three ways (out of 10) to tell if you should reconsider:

  1. You “feel” there is a market based on hunches and a few conversations
  2. When you discuss the idea with people who would be the target market for your product or service, they are either overcome by an embarrassing silence or are direct like Michael Bolton from Office Space and say “That is the worst business idea I have ever heard.”
  3. When someone challenges your idea, you get very defensive and immediately change the subject, thinking “They obviously are not smart enough to get my brilliant idea.”

The top three ways (out of 10) to tell your business has viability:

  1. It serves a significant need in the market that is real, evidenced by thoughtful research, not speculation
  2. You have a unique approach, skill or capability that will allow you to serve this need better than anyone else
  3. When you talk to people who are the target market for the product or service, they get excited about it and ask when it is going to be available.

February 23, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Work. Leave a comment.

Steve Jobs’ Inspirational Speech at Stanford

Just a few of the a-ha moments in his speech, this one on trusting in the Universe (so to speak):

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

And another on the imperative to do only that which you truly love:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

Finally, on the power of the reality of death:

Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.



February 22, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 21 comments.

Change This! Reclaim Your Life

joy-2.jpg Changethis.com features a wonderful Manifesto by Stuart R. Levine (former CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates) titled Reclaim Your Life: A Two-Week Challenge to Help You Regain Time.

The subtitle may be a bit dry (how many times have we heard such advice?) but the Manifesto is quite good.

My take-away points:
1.

“I got it.”

As soon as you understand exactly what someone is explaining, tell them in one way or another, “I got it.”

Personally, this advice would have saved me about 45 minutes on the phone with someone in my organization last Thursday.

2 . Tell them if the baby is ugly.

“The sooner you point out that the baby is ugly, the less time everyone wastes developing a flawed idea. A Smart innovator counts on your honest feedback . That’s why he or she is asking for it.”

3. Know your weaknesses, but play to your strengths.

Self-explanatory

4. Life is a negotiation.

“If you’re breathing, you’re negotiating … Unless you’re negotiating a multi-year contract or a peace treaty, don’t bring a long laundry list to the table. You’re bound to lose something important if you do.”

5. Good enough is good enough.

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your best. But striving for perfection when ‘good enough is good enough’ is a waste of time.”

There are many other take-away points. Read the 17 page manifesto here.

February 20, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

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