The ideas articulated in this seminar are perhaps the most important of all the essays in this financial freedom series. I ask you to spend considerable time digesting them. They follow on from the tests you did in the previous essay and start to move you from self-doubt into self-belief. If you can lay a foundation of self-belief and confidence using the tools given to you here, you will move ahead financially. If you deny any glaring personal problem highlighted in this seminar, then all the practical advice in other seminars will give you mediocre returns at best. The challenge of investing for profit is won and lost between your ears, not in the markets. You are your own worst enemy or your greatest asset.
WHO ARE YOU?
Your opinion of yourself is the key to your future. Consider the following:
“As you think of yourself in your heart, so your life becomes”. (Proverbs 23:7)
In other words you will spend all your life bending your external world into the internal image you have of yourself. Your current financial state is simply a product, or effect, of what you believe you are worth, what you believe you deserve and where you believe you fit.
Who you think you are in terms of your identity, your self-worth, status, gender, social role, up-bringing, ethnicity and security are crucial sociological elements in the creation of your mental self-image. These deeply ingrained experiences and roles create core beliefs that are taken into all of your social dealings, financial decisions, personal relationships and employment decisions. Your current financial situation is a direct result of thousands of these interwoven interactions built up over a lifetime. No matter how much you would like to blame others for your current financial situation, you are stuck with it. So start owning it and start changing it. No change can occur without ownership of your behaviour.
The world creates you and then you create your world. From your earliest childhood you were being shaped by the significant adults in your life, namely your parents. This idea was raised in the previous seminar but needs to be mentioned again here briefly. Let’s get one thing straight from the start. Your parents did the best they knew how at the time! Hopefully, your children will say the same about you when you are old. Parenting is a messy business and parents bring into their role all the self-esteem baggage they inherited from their childhood. How did your parents mould you? Did they pass their own level of self-esteem on to you? Were they fatalistic, positive, encouraging, insecure, shy, bullying, critical, fair, patient, emotionally unstable, depressed, mentally ill, violent, encouraging, or an emotional doormat? These are crucial questions for you to ponder before you begin the task of getting motivated to advance financially. Before reading on spend some time pondering the types of people your parents were and how they have affected your outlook on life.
The thousands of social interactions you had with your parents, siblings and extended family were like waves shaping the beach of your soul. Each wave in itself was insignificant, but over the months and years they were powerful enough to shape and reshape the course of your identity and your destiny, just as waves can shape and reshape a beach without us noticing. The way your father and mother talked to you created a concept in your heart of how much you were worth to them and society. Did your parents lead you into adulthood with a sense that you were worth a lot or very little? The following poem by Dorothy Law Note says it better than I can:
Children Learn What They Live (By Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris)
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
As much as parents try to teach their children otherwise, because of the power of modelling, most kids turn out like their parents! The modelling of standards and values is infectious to a young child who is figuring out their place in life. Their heart and mind are sponges and every time a parent or sibling talks to them, it is like pouring water on that sponge. Your attitude toward work, ethics, personal morals, treatment of women, time management, immigrants and other races, poor people, money, assets, spouse relationships and a host of other issues were “caught” by you, whether you liked it or not. Consider your childhood for a moment and take stock of how family habits and modelling have influenced your current thinking and self worth. Observe your siblings and amuse yourself with the traits and attitudes of your parents they still display.
Occasionally there may have been an emotional storm in the life of your family which created some “beach erosion” in your life. This could have been parents divorcing, learning to live with a step-parent, permanent injury, life-long disability or disease, family bankruptcy, retrenchment, a death in the family, poverty, bullying, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The list is almost endless. These events will have had a great impact on your emerging self-esteem. They erode the confidence of young people as little else can, just as a storm erodes a beach. I frequently saw the traumatic effects of these events on the young people I taught in schools. Take stock of whether any traumatic family events have influenced your current thinking and self-worth. Once you reach maturity, these levels of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence in dealing with the world are largely locked in your psyche. You will rarely ever think of them and they become your autopilot through life, deciding for you how best to react to all the circumstances life brings to your front door.
Now and then you will also experience trauma as an adult which may wound your self-confidence. The break up of a marriage is a very common destroyer of self-esteem in modern society. My own experience with trauma came through the death of my wife, son and brother-in-law at the hands of a drunk driver when I was 25. For 13 years I suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome without ever knowing it. I lived in nine homes in four states and two countries, all through no fault of my own. My self-esteem and confidence in my future plummeted. The effect on my finances was devastating. I blew the value of two homes in reckless and exotic investment schemes. I remember going for a walk down on the family farm when I was 32 years old calling out to God, crying and wondering why I had become so inept with providing for my family. It was only through the prayers of my second wife I came through that era.
Have you experienced a confidence-shattering event in your adult life that is sabotaging your finances? Most people have some form of brokenness hidden in their soul because of the tragedies of life they have to endure. It will do you no harm to look at your current behaviour patterns to check for symptoms of these awful burdens we carry. If you are brave enough to deal with them you will be forever grateful. Most of us, however, prefer to avoid thinking about these painful episodes and this serves only to perpetuate their effects in our lives. Any form of bitterness or resentment about events in your past will be the key that you have not yet dealt with them.
Your job as a rookie investor will be to sort out all the subtle and not so subtle influences from your childhood that have affected your thinking about life, and especially about finances. Financial success is directly related to self-esteem. The lower the self-esteem, the poorer the person usually is. The more a persons self-esteem grows, the greater their capacity to create wealth. Wealth is simply a product of self-belief.
MEASURING YOUR CURRENT SELF-ESTEEM
In the headings below I have outlined a few ideas to show you where you are on the messy scale of self-confidence. These ideas are not rigid rules, but thought provokers to help you in the areas of your weaknesses that you might not have considered before. All of us lack confidence in some areas of life, so don’t think you have to be a superman to be successful. Life is about daily micro-decisions in the direction of improvement or failure. Decide to do something every day to improve your confidence. You will measure the result in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
1. What is your thinking like?
The chatter that goes on inside your head never ceases. It is the interface between the subconscious and the conscious mind. The nature of this conversation with is an all-important barometer of your level of self-esteem. Do you find yourself talking negatively? Do you put yourself down? Do you talk positively to yourself and cheer up your soul when it is down? If you are a picture thinker, what are these pictures like? Are they pictures of what you don’t want to happen or what you do want to happen? It is vital that you begin to take control of the talker or the pictures inside you and steer them in the direction of your desired future. Your future life will move in the direction of your current thinking patterns. To change this future you must change these thinking patterns.
2. What makes you upset?
The level of your self-esteem is measured by what it takes to upset you. No one can upset you. You only upset yourself! You decide what will trigger your anger and frustration. This is a hard truth to face sometimes, but it is the truth. Just look at driver behaviour at peak hour. Every one of us is experiencing the same general driving conditions, but some choose to whip their emotions into a rage at the slightest inconvenience. People of low self-esteem will anger easily, while people of high self-esteem will exhibit much higher levels of patience and resilience. The difference lies in the fact that the patient persons integrity and sense of security is not under threat. They know their world is not about to collapse. Calm people make better investors. So, what does it take to upset you?
When you allow other people’s behaviour or life’s circumstances to upset you easily, you give away our power to others. You become powerless because powerlessness was the natural state of your soul as it was developing through its formative years. The person who loses their temper easily is actually crying out for help. They feel bad about themselves, so have to bring others down to their low level of self-confidence through anger. You cannot get angry at investment decisions made on your behalf and expect to eventually learn the secrets of investment. You were the fool who gave them your money!
3. How do you respond to difficulties?
We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can control our reaction to adverse circumstances. Will a major setback to your plans ruin your confidence in a better future, or will you regroup, plan a better attack, make adjustments and sail on? So much of the skill of getting along in life is tied up in how well you react to “curved balls”, or unexpected difficulties. Do they cause you to crawl back inside a shell of emotional protection? Or do they bring out the fighter in you? The circumstances shouldn’t decide how you react.
On the 29th of January 2002, I was dumped by a three-metre wave at the beach. I dislocated my shoulder, severely tore the nerves in my left shoulder and could not move my arm for six months. For three months all I could do was go to work, teach with one my one good arm while experiencing never-ending sleep deprivation and electrical spasms. I’d come home at 4.00pm to sleep, wake up for dinner and then try again to sleep all night while doped up on very high level pain killers in the middle of six strategically placed pillows. But this setback did not stop me from building a huge series of retaining walls within 12 months, with one arm! It was not going to beat me. Today my left hand is still deformed and my thumb useless, but the accident was the catalyst for me to finally begin taking serious steps toward financial independence. For the first time in my life I realised I could not rely on a wage if I became an invalid. I would have lost our home and my family’s future security if it had been a back injury. The race was on in my mind to create an alternative financial security through investing. This injury is the reason why you are now reading this website on financial independence. Adversity can ruin you or it can create a whole new appreciation for who you are and the strengths you have. Use adversity wisely!
4. Who is responsible for your circumstances?
Do you find yourself blaming others for your current set of life circumstances? This is a classic sign of low self-esteem. Blaming others or the hard times in life is simply a form of self-pity. You have once again removed the centre of control over your life and destiny from within you to outside circumstances. Do you look to government handouts? Do you gamble regularly? Do you blame your upbringing? Do you blame your spouse? All of these are signs that you are not willing to take control over your external circumstances and shape them into your will and vision. Your success will only ever come from your own efforts, not the efforts or generosity of others.
5. Are you known to be impatient?
Impatience implies self-doubt. You who are impatient are fearful of an adverse outcome. A negative emotion attaches itself to the impatient person and rubs off on others. Confident people relax as they wait for circumstances to turn in their direction. More investment money is wasted in this one area than in any other. Impatience is self-fulfilling. You usually get what you feared, and fear comes from lack of self-esteem.
6. Who do you hang around?
People of low self-esteem will attract others at their same low level of confidence. We see this every day in school playgrounds, work sites and social groups. It is almost an ironclad rule that you will attract people who are like you in levels of confidence and sense of self worth. Perhaps the saddest example is that of the insecure woman staying with the abusive husband or live-in boyfriend. You are already like the people you hang around, but you will become more like them as time goes on. Do you want to be like the current group of people you associate with? Will they help you to reach your goals? Will they encourage you on your journey into a brighter future? If the answer is no to these questions then it is time for a deep rethink of who you are and who you are choosing as friends. It is my experience that you will lose some friends the day you begin to share with them your dreams of a better future. Your negative friends will call you a nut and become threatened by your newfound self-esteem and direction. If it happened to me it will happen to you.
7. What are you afraid of?
When you were tiny you were frightened of the simplest things. Later as a teenager you were petrified of more complicated but necessary tasks such as driving or extreme sports. As we progress through life, we learn the skills that make us competent to function in our culture. One of the great pleasures of parenting my teenagers has been watching them develop independence and competence in the cultural skills of adulthood, such as driving, academic achievement, sporting prowess, interpersonal relationships, initial employment and the like. If as young person you experienced major trauma in any of these areas you may be scarred for life.
All of us have fears to face, but the person of high self-esteem pushes through their fears, those of low self-esteem pull back into their comfort zone. Some of the greatest feelings of success in life are those which come after just having mastered a new and difficult skill or challenge. These intense emotional rewards are the building blocks of self-esteem. You must push through your fears if you are to grow as a person and as an investor. There is no easy way out. This essay is designed to get you away from a feeling of fear in one small part of your life, your finances. Apply the “push through” principle to every part of your life and you will liberate all sorts of hidden potential.
8. Do you admit to your mistakes?
People of low self-esteem rarely admit to any fault, and this is perhaps their greatest fault! Their brittle ego would be shattered if they were to admit they were responsible, they stuffed up and they must take the responsibility for an error. People of high self-esteem know how to say sorry, and they do so quickly. Their pride doesn’t prevent them from taking the initiative. Their self-worth will not be threatened by being humble. In relationships the more secure person always seems to apologise first. After I permanently injured my left hand, many friends suggested I sue the local council for not placing a warning sign on the beach, since it is one of the most injury-prone beaches in Queensland. My response was to admit I was the stupid idiot who went swimming on a red flag (which means beach closed due to large and dangerous waves) in a large swell. It was embarrassing and hard to say, but it was true! Can you admit your faults or your mistakes? Can you apologise freely for your bad behaviour? These are the signs of a confident and balanced person.
The financial markets will chew up and spit out any investor who has a hard time admitting their errors. The market doesn’t care about your pride and ego. You had better learn to be humble in admitting error well before you begin to place your hard earned money in the rough and tumble of the investment markets, especially the share market where you get instant feedback on the wisdom of your judgements. When you cannot admit your mistakes you tend to keep hanging on to the investment. Instead of selling for a small loss, you end up losing 50-75% of your capital. Pride comes before a fall.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
1. Understanding the power of pain and pleasure
The following notes are largely a summary of the writings and teachings of Anthony Robbins, the world’s best known motivational speaker. When you have finished you will see how he has been able to motivate so many thousands of people to change the way they think.
What creates a hero, a criminal, a high achiever, a great contributor to society, a recluse, a poor person, a wealthy business owner, a happy person or a depressed person? The answer lies in the patterns of pain and pleasure they have conditioned their brain to respond to.
We are born neurologically pre-wired to respond to pain and pleasure as an infant: digestive wind gives a baby pain, burping gives pleasure. Hunger is painful but breast milk gives pleasure. A full bladder gives pain but wetting the nappy gives relief, and the examples could go on for pages! As we grow up we quickly learn that all the necessary bodily functions are pleasurable, for example eating, eliminating waste and sex. This is no accident because without doing them the human race would die out. At the same time most situations that cause us harm, such as disease and injury create pain. As a child, you also received emotional messages of pain and pleasure from your parents who taught you socially acceptable ways of experiencing pleasure while avoiding pain such as a smack for touching the electricity socket or a cuddle for giving mum a smile.
This is the way God formed us. Every single human is built this way. It is no accident of evolution. The nervous system is geared to receive nothing but messages of pain and pleasure. We are like a computer with a binary system of electrical impulses. This cycle of pain and pleasure is the foundation of every action in our lives. Everything you will do today, you will do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure. Think about what you have done so far today and see for yourself.
As we grow up, these repeated experiences of pain and pleasure become neurologically hard-wired into our brain. This is how our belief systems are formed and it is also how a lot of our personality and character traits are formed. Personality problems and character defects usually occur because the normal and natural balance between pain and pleasure has been distorted in our youth. Phobias, fears, depression, anxiety etc are formed by unnaturally strong pain and trauma. Greed, selfishness, laziness and arrogance develop through strong and unbalanced pleasure experiences when we are young, often without the balance of suitable consequences for anti-social behaviour.
If we have had either painful or pleasurable experiences with our father, we will form a belief system about fatherhood based on these experiences. If we failed a subject at school, we usually associate pain with that subject and create a belief system that says we are not good at it. If we do well, we will feel pleasure and believe we could form a career out of it. Most of us love ice cream, but if it gives you a migraine you will probably hate the stuff! Other common sources of pain and pleasure include housework; pain for some, pleasure for others. Eating healthy food; painful for some and pleasure for others. Being sociable; painful for some and pleasurable for others. The list is endless.
Here are a few of the words we commonly use in conversation when what is really happening is the receiving of pain or pleasure through our neural pathways.
|failure, sadness, disappointment, frustration, fear, anxiety, stress, loser, ache, sorrow, letdown, stuff up, verbal abuse, an E grade, hell, grief, consequence, punishment, stinking, disgusting, awful, hunger, rejection, incompetence, depression, lack of sleep, phobias…||success, winning, elation, confidence, vision, high self-esteem, enjoyment, happiness, sleeping in, satisfaction, gratification, joy, delight, heaven, reward, yummy, delicious, relief, love, excitement, compliment, fulfilment…|
To better understand the importance of pain and pleasure in your current lifestyle, try thinking of five decisions you made today that directly involved pain avoidance and pleasure seeking. Now think of five major financial decisions you have made this year that involved pain avoidance and seeking pleasure. Their influence pops up everywhere! Once understood, their power can be harnessed for your benefit. You can deliberately over-ride and redirect these messages to achieve new and higher goals, or to change old and unwanted behaviour.
The connection with self-esteem should now be obvious. These pain and pleasure “waves on the beach” of our lives often create irrational adult responses to people and the environment…and finance. My wife dislikes camping in the dry bushland of Australia because, as a child living in western Queensland, she suffered asthma attacks every time they went for a picnic in the bush. The message: bushland equals pain. A child I taught once was petrified of dogs because one jumped on her when she was an infant. She didn’t remember the event but the pain stuck. You too have many of these beliefs that can be traced to your own set of unique childhood experiences. The compulsive gambler, the constantly irritable housewife, the spendthrift husband, the fearful miser, the whinger, the alcoholic, the workaholic, the social climber and the mousy husband can usually trace the origins of their situations to the beliefs about themselves generated in childhood.
2. Change your pathways and change your destiny
Fortunately, these beliefs can be changed. They are not fixed forever and they do not lock you into a fatalistic future. You recreate your future when you consciously acknowledge the role these influences are having on your current situation and decide to change. But any change requires you to reverse the pain-pleasure pathway that is already hard-wired into your brain. This is the reason why dieting is so hard. People have wired their brains since childhood to finding pleasure through ice cream, chocolate sweets and fast food, salt, sugar and fat! The pleasure they trigger in the brain must be replaced with pictures of future disease, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, hardening of the arteries and other pains if the junk food path is followed. At the same time we must create images of pleasure in our mind at the thought of being healthy, fitness, disease free old age, and attractiveness. We will always move toward the pleasure pictures we create for ourselves.
So, all lasting and significant change in a person’s life requires a re-wiring of the pain/pleasure neural pathways. Have you ever tried to change a habit and couldn’t do it? This was because you tried to change the effect, not the cause. The behaviour is a product of the neurological pathways you have developed. You have to change the pain-pleasure routes in your brain first before lasting change can take place.
One of the most profound powers you will ever develop is the ability to use pain and pleasure as your servants to reach your goals instead of allowing them to be the masters that drive you. The secret of success in investing and personal change is learning how to use pain and pleasure to take you where you want to go in life. The principle you need to apply if you want to make lasting improvement in your life is as follows:
What you purposefully link to pain; and what you purposefully link to pleasure, will shape your destiny from this day onwards. All your decision-making, goal setting, dreaming, and action must be linked to future pleasure if it is to be successful.
The thought of future investing will be avoided if it has involved experiencing the pain of failure in the past or if it involves the relinquishing of current pleasurable spending habits. Saving your money for investing is impossible when you have wired your brain to the pleasure of material teats and consumption. This pattern must be replaced with an image of the future poverty that will be endured if changes are not made to spending patterns. Concurrently, images of a future filled with increased material control and comfort have to be created and constantly rehearsed in our mind to emotionally justify the immediate sacrifice of spending. When you first start to reverse these neural pathways you will begin to feel that subtle sense of pleasure and excitement you once felt at the prospect of shopping, through the act of not shopping! It will be like a set of scales coming off your eyes as you look at the world through a new set of glasses. Once the emotion of pleasure is associated with saving instead of spending, you have taken the first crucial step in taking control of your finances and your life.
There is not a day that passes when I do not picture my future life-style and personal direction. With it comes an immediate pleasurable emotion, as I know I am making the all-important daily choices that will take me there. Psychologists call it dreaming or visualising. A bastardised new-age version of this simple principle is found in the book called “The Secret”, which I do not recommend. Unfortunately, so many people I speak to today who are my age have a strong sense of fear every time they picture their lives in a decade or two. They feel the pain of future poverty because they have hardwired their brain to current consumption. They know each day takes them one step closer to this dreaded future.
So you see your current financial situation is simply a product of the types of pain-pleasure neurological wiring you experienced in childhood that has now developed into belief systems in adulthood. Your self-esteem can be measured by looking at your lifestyle, and that includes your finances. You only have what your self-esteem says you deserve. Rewire your brain and make a decision to take control of you self-esteem and your future.
REBUILDING SHATTERED CONFIDENCE
Having an understanding of the power of pain and pleasure is the important first step in the process of changing your destiny. However there are also many practical steps you can take to change your future. The following list of strategies for lifting your spirits and re-directing your life follow no particular order and importance. They are simply offered to you in the trust that there will be an inspiring idea amongst them that will help you to lift your vision when the experiences of life have knocked the stuffing out of your reserves of confidence.
1. Emotion follows motion.
If you are feeling down you will usually create a physical environment that reflects the lousy way you feel inside. Clean up your room, your house, or your yard. Plant a tree, grow some flowers, mow the lawn, spring clean, do some ironing, grow a vegetable patch, walk to work, take up cycling. Anything you do that creates a better living environment around you will lift your spirits. Your emotions will lift as you take pride in your living space and your lifestyle. Action creates emotional momentum. It is not the other way round.
2. Mix with people who lift your spirits.
You always become like the people you hang around. When you are low in spirits, you will attract people who reflect your internal condition. It is very likely that they will not be people who are natural encouragers. Start to mix with more positive people. Ask them to speak into your life, to help you become like them. Give them your best side, do not complain and whine to them or you will lose their confidence and friendship. Speak of your dreams, not your failures. Discipline yourself to speak well of others and your future. This will gradually rewire your neurological pathways.
3. Begin to look further into the future.
One of the chief characteristics of people of low self-esteem and confidence is their inability to dream about the future. They live from day to day, usually because their dreams have been shattered. This lack of hope crushes their spirit. It is no accident that hope in the future is mentioned as one of the three chief attributes in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13). Hope in the future is the seedbed of dreams. Begin by dreaming small, achievable and safe dreams. When you reach them, turn your sights to bigger targets. We have a neighbour whose husband left her with four children in a rental home. She lived from day to day for several years. Then one day she decided to go on a small cruise. She cleaned houses, saved up and went. She had such a good time on the cruise that she then set her sights on a bigger trip to Europe! She applied for more cleaning jobs so she can get there. She is on her way to a better life. We can all do this, in our own particular circumstances and in our own timing.
4. Set a goal and burn the excuse boat.
An ancient Chinese general led a war party to an enemy island. Just before the attack, he asked his soldiers to look back to the boats that brought them there. They were all burning! Nothing motivates us like lack of alternatives. Low self-esteem is often about making excuses. Burn those excuse boats and fight for what you believe in. Set that goal and destroy any means of rationalising, justifying or predicting failure. Bust through or bust trying.
5. Think positive for a week.
It is incredible how often we think negatively. It is human nature and very natural to be a whiner and a knocker. For one whole week set a personal goal of thinking nothing and saying nothing but positive things. The first few days you will be in shock at how negative you actually are. The discipline will then have to kick in. It will be almost as bad as not eating for a week. You will be starving the part of you that made you fat with self-pity. Starve it to death! Keep going after the week is finished. Get good friends to be your coaches. Ask them to tell you when you slip. Make it a family affair. The best mentors will be your children and the people you live with because they see you when your polite public mask is off.
6. Research someone you admire.
Think of a well-known world citizen who has qualities you admire and in whom you sense there is a maturity and wisdom you lack. Look into their life and find out their story. These stories are always fascinating. Pierce Bronson, the man who played James Bond for many years lost his wife to cancer when they had a young family so he had to get serious about his acting to feed the kids. The rest is history. Tom Cruise is dyslexic and has a huge problem reading scripts. Nelson Mandela spent 29 years in prison. Mick Fleetwood was useless at everything in school except tapping pens. Find reasons to encourage your downcast soul and lift your spirits. Don’t stop at one person. Make it a habit to feed your mind on the stories of people who have achieved greatness. One day you could emulate their story in your own life.
God believes in you more than you believe in yourself. He made you so He knows how to help you. He loves you to the point of extreme and longs to knock on the door of your heart. He is there to help fix the broken-hearted among us. He is in the human heart transplant business. The number of times I have heard the story of a broken life transformed through coming to God in prayer is incredible. But you must be sincere. You must want change. You must be humble. Prayer unleashes the power of heaven for the problems of earth.
8. Admit who you have become.
For so many of us life is often about creating a façade or image to impress others or to hide a secret. Our selfish western culture encourages us to hide behind walls of pretence. We mostly live in cities where image has replaced the value of small town relationships. Are you hiding something from the world? Are you hiding something from yourself? The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit you are an alcoholic. Having met a few alcoholics in my time, I can see why this first step is the hardest. Human nature is supremely gifted at pretending. We hide our darker secrets from others, even our closest loved ones. If you are gutsy enough to admit to who you really are, it will be one of the hardest and most liberating things you will ever do. New directions and personal growth only come when we admit that the old direction was a failure.
9. Find a mentor or two.
We all need advisers and wise counsel in life. Contrary to the Paul Simon song, we are not rocks or islands. Men are especially prone to the error of thinking they are invincible and can go through life without advice. One of the most powerful personal growth habits you can set up is to choose one or two older, wiser people to meet with once a week or two. Spend quality time together sharing your turmoils and triumphs together. Give them the liberty of speaking into your life. You will make high quality friends and grow enormously as a person.
10. Break your routine.
People who are struggling through life are often in a rut and need to jolt themselves out of the same old month-in, month-out grind. When I am like this I often hear a small voice inside me asking me to look up as I am walking. Instead of seeing concrete I instantly see nature in all its glory. Try going away for a weekend. Phone a friend and go out to dinner, even fish and chips in the park is a good excuse to share time with others. Low self-esteem people are often in need of being pulled out of a rut. A rut is simply not having anything pleasurable to look forward to. The secret of all happiness in life is having something to look forward to, a future with some pleasure in it instead of pain and the same old grind.
11. Forgive yourself.
So often we are crushed by events in life that are not our fault, but we assume they were. Children often blame themselves for their parent’s separation. Men blame themselves for accidents where loved ones were hurt. Women blame themselves for the failures of their children. Some of this blame is deserved, but the vast majority is not. Stop criticising yourself for things that happened years ago. Forgive those who caused the trauma and if you caused some of it, forgive yourself. If necessary, seek forgiveness from those you may have offended. Forgiveness is one of the greatest healing powers known to humanity. I have a friend whose father was a Vietnam veteran who beat him constantly when he was young. Needless to say the relationship was icy once he grew up. After becoming a person of prayer and discovered the spiritual teachings of Jesus on forgiveness, he gathered his strength over a few months and began to phone his dad just to say hello and to tell him he loved him. The result is that my friend is being set free, and so is his dad! If you have been emotionally wounded you will have to eventually do the same.
All of the above situations and problems will have an impact on your financial circumstances, just as they did on mine when I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for 13 years after the death of my wife and son. We spend our whole life turning the external environment into a mirror image of the way we feel inside. That is what I did for 13 years and the results were disastrous. Our external circumstances are a print out of our inner beliefs and self-esteem. This is the crucial message of this whole seminar. I can give you all the tools for financial success, but if your toolbox has no solid base in it, both of us are wasting our time.
THE ROAD-MAP FROM DECISION TO ACTION
Now we will begin to look at the psychology of making quality decisions and turning them into quality results in your personal life. This is where you learn to think like a champion. Good investing requires a well-trained mind, a mind that knows how to turn vision into reality. Each of the following headings must be followed in exact order for there to be lasting change in your future.
We make decisions constantly, almost by the second. It is our most constant mental process. Decision making ultimately determines where we end up in life. A day’s worth of micro decisions creates a “day brick” in one of the walls of the “house” of your life. A series of bad decisions on a single day will not ruin your life, but it will create a crumbly “brick”. Lay a hundred crumbly “bricks” in the building of your life and you are on the way to weakening the wall. All the decisions we make are therefore important, not just the bigger ones. Life is a constant series of decision-making experiences. The obvious decisions are made consciously, but the important decisions we make are often driven by the core beliefs developed through the pain/pleasure experiences of childhood. The rationale, or lack thereof, behind these decisions often escapes us but we find ourselves making these decisions “because that’s how things are done around here”, or “that’s how we’ve always done things” or “when I was your age” or “that’s what mum and dad did”.
Decisions can be limiting or liberating, it depends if you are going to take control of the decision making process. To change the course of your life will require you to acknowledge the limitations that current decisions are making on your future, expel them via the reversal of the pain/pleasure neural pathways as mentioned above, and to create a new decision making matrix based on where you want to be in the future. Your past conditioning must be confronted. Limiting beliefs must be removed. You can do better than the past, but only if you start to believe you can.
Decisions come before circumstance. Do not wait to figure out how you will fulfil your decision, just set the goal and you will figure out how to get there as you go. This is one of life’s secrets. Your entire arsenal of personal resources will fall in behind a solid visionary decision. You will suddenly think with a creativity that you never knew you had before, simply because you made the decision to have a go at reaching that goal. Are you waiting for the circumstances to be right before launching into a new vision for your future? You will wait until you die. The circumstances will never be right. You mould the circumstances after you have taken the all-important first step of deciding to have a go.
My conversations with countless young people and with my own mentors have shown me that the vast majority of us are frightened of making big decisions. They make us feel like we are stepping into murky water at on a dark night. We deliberately aim low just in case we fail. We short-change ourselves by biting off a little instead of a huge scary chunk. When you set your new goals make sure you aim for the stars, not the moon. In 2004 I set my initial financial goal at $2 million. When I mentioned it to my mentor he immediately chastised my small thinking. He thought I was capable of much higher targets! I have now set it substantially higher and am well on the way to achieving it.
2. Turn the decision into a dream
Decisions create pictures in your mind. Make a decision to improve your financial direction and you will immediately fill your mind with pictures of an improved future. These pictures are a crucial part of the process of change. These are your day dreams. The mind does not distinguish between these dreams and the reality around you. It allows you to live in the area of your dreams. They can come to dominate your life. One of the world’s great twentieth century dreamers was Walt Disney. He constantly took his fledgling company to the financial limit in the pursuit of another animated dream. Thank goodness he did! Use the simple act of making a quality financial decision to help you learn to dream of a better life. Most European free settlers came to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and North America because of this ability to dream. They made a decision to come because they dreamt of a better future.
3. Let the dream fire up your emotions
If you make a decision, then allow yourself to dream, excitement will automatically come next. Images and pictures of the future always lead to emotional sensations of either pain or pleasure. People are frightened of the dark because they picture bad things happening to them, which lead to irrational fears. You can use this same power, but in reverse, to drive you forward to your financial goals. As you make quality decisions and imagine a better future, you will feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem “bank account” gets a deposit. Feeling good is the motivation platform for actually taking action in the real world. You will act on what gives you pleasure. Pleasure is the feel-good factor behind all positive action. This is where the power of the human mind can create new pain/pleasure neural pathways.
Create a new goal, imagine its benefits and get excited! Do this daily for a month or more and your life will begin to move in this new and dynamic direction. Self-belief will rise and a sense of the impossible becoming possible starts to emerge. This is the way we create the passion that gets the job done. Show me a person with an ounce of passion for their dream, and I will take that person before another who has a tonne of knowledge but no fire in their belly.
4. Your actions begin moving in this new direction.
Successful sportsmen and women know the power of this process. They make quality decisions about subjecting their bodies to rigorous training regimes because of their goals. They constantly picture the goal set before them of a personal best or medal position. This triggers the feel good factor and they then train that extra bit harder to reach their goal. In the early sixties a young and visionary American president planted his foot on the cabinet table in Washington and made a decision to put an American on the moon before the end of the decade. That decision electrified the imagination of his entire country. Everybody got excited by the vision. Enormous sums of money, time, effort and willpower were poured into the project. The result was perhaps the greatest achievement in American history, and it occurred almost 40 years ago!
For all his faults, J. F. Kennedy knew how the secret of greatness. He was the personification of his own famous saying that “some men look at things that always were and say why? Other men imagine things that never were and say why not? If you make the transition from the first of these categories to the latter, whole new worlds of opportunity will open up to you. Your job now is to imagine a better future and to drag it kicking and screaming into the present. The following diagram, first seen in the previous seminar should now make more sense as it illustrates this sequential thought process.
MAINTAINING YOUR MOTIVATION
Becoming motivated and staying motivated are largely the same process. However I believe maintaining motivation deserves its own section because of what I have observed when dealing with young people who are looking into their future careers. Many young people go through the process of making a decision, setting a goal but then never make it. They share certain traits in common. Becoming financially independent is a hard course of action, it requires sacrifice. Only the dedicated will make it. Below are several issues you will have to deal with along the way, and several ideas that will help you reach the level of success you desire.
1. Dominant thoughts
To maintain your motivation and to do all the thousands of little things needed to reach your goal you will have to make your goal an integral part of your everyday thinking, and I mean everyday! Your life will always move in the direction of your dominant thinking patterns. Too many young people that I spoke to as a careers adviser created a goal but never transferred it into their daily thinking pattern. As a result they would lower their sights as time went on. To achieve your goal you must jog your memory each day to remind yourself of your dream and direction. Put little reminders up around the house or bring it up in conversation. Spend 5 minutes a day doing nothing else but quietly thinking of your dream. Do whatever it takes for you to keep the passion burning in your heart on a daily basis. High achievers always live in the future.
As a high school careers adviser there was one type of high school student who I knew would succeed in their dream. It was always that student who was doing something on a daily basis to get to where their dream was, whether that be an extra hour of homework, an extra 10 minutes on the piano, checking out relevant sites on the internet or just saving money to get there. These students did not need a careers adviser, they were their own adviser! If you think and mediate on your dream daily, you will find yourself constantly doing something that takes you one step closer to your dream. One of my students in particular stands out. During his last year of school he decided he would be the youngest person to fly solo around the world. In August 2016 Lachlan Smart did just that, at the ripe old age of 18 years!
Become a Lachlan and watch your world grow. Dwell daily on your financial goal and dream, do something regularly to get the knowledge you need to make good decisions. Spend time pushing your routines, your free time, and your quality time in the direction of your chosen destiny. Read, learn, talk and act in the direction of your choice, and success will come much faster than you thought it would. Because your antenna of anticipation will be up and humming you will see opportunities others miss. You will grow a new set of eyes for the invisible. You will become a one-person ideas machine. About once a month you will see the opportunity of a lifetime! They will emerge from the fog others can’t see through. This is the new world you can live in if you take the global goal and turn it into a daily micro routine. This is the world I have entered in the last 5 years. It is a wonderful place to live.
2. Overcoming setbacks
Along the path to your chosen future there will be the occasional roadblock and setback. There will be some failure and a few dead-ends. At these points on the road to success you all have to take time to process the new situation, make adjustments, refocus on your goal and direct your energy to keeping your dream alive. This is the stuff of feel-good Hollywood sports movies. In all of them there comes a time when the dream seemed dead (usually half time in the grand final), but the team regrouped, encouraged each other, drew on their inner strength and fought on to win by the narrowest of margins. You will go through these times. I know. I have. Every successful person, no matter the field also has these experiences. They are an essential part of the formula for success. They stiffen the neck, they strengthen the backbone, they grow the determination to fight and win. In the essay called “My Experience” I talk of the number of times I was knocked down financially during the Eighties and Nineties. I was wounded so often I am amazed I kept going. What if I had given up just before I started to succeed? Each time, after a period of re-grouping I went back to my dream of financial independence and tried again, much the wiser for having made such a stupid decision that ended up in a financial dead-end.
Will you give up when you make your first mistake? Or you learn from your mistakes? Thomas Edison took over a thousand attempts to get the light bulb working. No one remembers the failures. Paul Clithero from the Australian TV show “Money” lost money for the first three years as a full time financial adviser! His wife had to pay his bills, but he didn’t let his dream die. He pushed through. Decades later, after the success of the TV show he used to say that it took him 20 years to become an overnight success! When setbacks come on your journey to financial independence, or any other goal, comfort your soul by spending quality time meditating and refocusing on your dream. Focus on the destination, not the discouragement. Seek out mentors who can encourage you and give you wise counsel. Take a rest but never quit. You may have taken a wrong turn but that doesn’t mean you stop the journey. Above all, imitate Churchill and “Never give up!” When I injured my arm I had to swap from real estate to stocks as the vehicle to achieve my dream. During the Global Financial Crisis I lost a million dollars and had to start again. Eventually I got there.
So how does this look like in real life? Every story will be different, but here is one to show you how someone overcame incredible odds to create financial security. The following article appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail on the 8th of March 2007. It personifies what this essay is all about.
“From Rags to Riches”
“For Tracey H, rock bottom became a positive experience. The single Brisbane mum was living in a run-down rental unit with her two children, one with autism, and she had recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
As if that weren’t enough, Ms H could not afford to treat a painful tooth abscess and was forced to have the tooth removed.
She knew then she had to turn her life around. “I began reading everything I could about finance, but never had the money to start any of the ideas I was reading about. From this point on I saved and saved and saved.” Ms H said.
Within four years she had bought four properties in Queensland and had qualified to be a social worker. She is now married, owns 10 properties with husband Martin and they are classed as millionaires.
“I couldn’t get a loan from any banks, they all knocked me back. I saved like crazy and managed to get a loan through a co-operative building society at a much higher interest rate.” She said.
“I started paying the loan each week and any extra money I got, including the kids Christmas money, I put on the mortgage. It was bloody hard. I don’t know how I got here. We literally went without any modern conveniences. I was studying part-time and working part-time as a beauty therapist.”
Ms H puts her success down to perseverance. No matter how many banks or employers turned her away, she just came back stronger. “There is still a lot of prejudice and discrimination against women, especially if you are a single woman with children…there is still a long way to go for female equality.” She said.
Ms H has used her experiences to write “Goodbye to Welfare” to help other women become financially independent.” Ms H and her husband have bought a total of ten properties and their portfolio is currently valued at $3.1 million and they owe $1.3 million.”
If Tracey can do it, what about you!
Here is a second story from the director of a company I once made considerable from.
“Independent: Daring to Dream”
“The West Australian” May 10, 2010, 7:38 am
Gold was trading at $US 300 an ounce, nickel was at $US 3 a pound and Chris Bonwick had just been retrenched from Resolute Resources.
It was the year 2000 and the affable geologist was thinking about his options.
“It was the day after Valentine’s Day and I didn’t have a job, I had to look after my kids, I had a new wife who I had to buy a house for and I thought ‘how can I afford to do all this?’ “He said “I literally sat at my desk and thought ‘I can’t reinvent the biro, what am I good at?’ “
His answer led him and several fellow former colleagues to create Independence Gold, later Independence Group. Bonwick says the name reflected the founders’ wish not to “work for anyone else again in our lives”.
The group ran up a $130,000 credit card debt operating out of Mr Bonwick’s South Perth home before securing seed capital from Ranger Minerals on the strength of a handful of gold prospects. Within two years it had raised $4.5 million through a 20¢-a-share initial public offer, becoming one of the few junior floats at the time to attract institutional support from AMP, Rothschild and Macquarie.
Today, its tenth anniversary, Independence is capitalised at $500 million, mines nickel from Kambalda and has a 30 per cent share of the big Tropicana gold deposit.
The world has changed: gold topped $US 1210/oz this week, nickel is worth about $US 9.5/lb and the Australian mining industry is trying to come to grips with how a Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) might affect balance sheets.
But Mr Bonwick has not lost the dream he started out with of building Independence into a significant multi-commodity miner.
Tropicana provides the most obvious growth path for Independence, particularly now that buy-out talks with partner AngloGold Ashanti have ended and a final investment decision is expected by the end of the year.
The group is also pouring money into the exploration prospects thrown up by last year’s acquisition of De Beers’ Australian database.
In the meantime, with $152 million in the bank, Mr Bonwick is open to the right acquisition at the right price but is sceptical of the benefits to be had from consolidation within WA’s nickel industry where other players, among them Panoramic Resources, are also cashed up and on the hunt.
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