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Create Your Own FutureHow to Master the 12 Critical Factors of Unlimited Success
By Brian Tracy
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-25107-0
Chapter OneSuccess Is Predictable
"It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits to our abilities do not exist." -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The great question of philosophy has always been, "How shall we live in order to be happy?" The greatest minds of all time have dedicated years, often entire lifetimes, seeking the answers to this question. Your ability to ask and answer this question correctly for yourself is the key to everything that happens to you and to everything that you accomplish. The worst use of time and life is to work hard to climb the ladder of success only to find that it is leaning against the wrong building.
I did not graduate from high school. I fooled around and left school in the half of the class that makes the top half possible. Because of my limited education, the only work I could find was at laboring jobs. For years, I traveled from place to place, washing dishes, working in sawmills and on construction sites, slashing brush with a chain saw as part of a logging crew, and working on farms and ranches.
When the laboring jobs ran out, I got a job in straight commission sales, going from door to door and office to office. I wasn't afraid to work, but hard work alone was not enough. I lived from sale to sale, barely making a living. Then,one day, I did something that changed my life.
Learn from the Experts
I went to the top salesman in my company, a man who was selling and earning at least five times as much as I was, and I asked him, in frustration, "What are you doing differently from me?"
He was selling the same product out of the same office at the same price to the same people under the same competitive conditions. Yet he was selling vastly more than me, and in less time as well. Again I asked him, "What are you doing differently from me?"
And he told me. First, he sat down with me and asked how I was selling already; what kind of results I was getting. He listened patiently and then he told me how he did it. He explained the importance of asking questions and understanding the real needs and problems of the prospect before attempting to sell anything. He showed me how to present my product as the best possible choice for a particular customer. He explained the best answers to the most common concerns that prospects ask, and he showed me how to ask for a buying decision.
It turned out that earlier in his career, he had been thoroughly trained at a large company in the process and methodology of professional selling. He had mastered the skills of the basic sales process and then adapted them to his current products. He had discovered that, like riding a bicycle or driving a car, the system of selling, once learned, could be transferred to another product, service, or industry, and it would work just as well.
This principle hit me like a thunderbolt. It changed my life. Just imagine! There were reasons for everything that happened, for success or failure in any area. If there was something I wanted, I just had to find out how other people had achieved it. Within reason, if I just did what they did, I would eventually get the same result.
Here is my first rule: If you do what other successful people do, nothing can stop you from eventually getting the same results they do. And if you don't do what they do, nothing can help you.
I was on my way! In the years to come, I worked in many different businesses at a variety of jobs. Each time I started in a new field, I immediately buckled down and learned everything I could about the rules of success in that business, then applied what I had learned, adapting it to my current job until I got the same or better results than others had achieved.
The Great Question
As I began moving up, I started asking another question, "Why is it that some people are more successful than others?" Why is it that some people have more money, better jobs, happier families, vibrant health, and exciting lives, and others not? Why do some people drive newer cars, wear nicer clothes, and live in better homes? These people always seem to have money in their pockets and in their bank accounts. They dine in fancy restaurants, take beautiful vacations, and live more enjoyable, satisfying lives. Why was this?
The answer I got back was that these people were somehow luckier than the average, as if they had been born with a special gene or chromosome that others lacked. Even people who have achieved greatly often attribute their success to "luck."
However, I felt that something was wrong with this explanation. Were people who started off with limited backgrounds and eventually succeeded just lucky? If people worked hard, studied continuously, and pulled themselves up into positions of prominence by their own application and effort, was this a matter of luck?
Did this explanation mean that people who had come from all over the world, arriving with no friends, no language skills, no money, and no opportunities, and who had then become successful, were just lucky? Did this mean that people who started off with nothing, who, over the course of their working lifetimes, became financially independent, self-made millionaires, or even billionaires, were just lucky? This explanation didn't make sense to me.
The Statistics Don't Lie
According to the IRS, there are more than five million millionaires in the United States, most of them self-made. There are almost 300 billionaires, most of whom started with little or nothing. More than 100,000 people become millionaires in the United States each year, at a rate of approximately one every five minutes. Are all these people just lucky?
The Breakthrough in Philosophy
In about 350 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle propounded what has come to be recognized as the foundation law of Western philosophy and Western thought. At a time when most people believed in the various gods who lived on Mount Olympus and the causeless, chaotic influences of flowers, rocks, trees, and the elements on human life, Aristotle instead propounded his "Principle of Causality." He said that we live in an orderly universe, governed by great unchanging laws. He insisted that there is a reason for everything that happens, whether we know the law or principle behind it or not.
Today, we call this the "Law of Cause and Effect." We accept it as an essential way of interpreting what happens in our world. But in Aristotle's day, it was a remarkable idea, a breakthrough in thought. It revolutionized the study of philosophy and guided the great thinkers through the centuries right up to the present age. It was commonly believed that all Western thought for 2000 years was merely a footnote to Aristotle.
Simply put, the Law of Cause and Effect says that everything happens for a reason. It says that for every effect in your life there is a cause or a series of causes, whether you know them or agree with them or not. Nothing happens by chance.
This law says that if there is anything you want in life, any effect that you desire, you can probably acquire it. You simply find others who have achieved the same result or effect that you desire. You then discipline yourself to do the same things that they did, over and over, until you eventually get the same results and rewards. It is completely predictable and largely under your control.
What Are the Odds?
In my thirties, I applied for and was accepted into an executive MBA program at a major university. For four years, including evenings and weekends, summers and winters, I invested more than 4,000 hours studying the cause and effect relationships that determined business success or failure. It was during this time that I was first exposed to an arcane subject called probability theory. What I learned in this class profoundly influenced my thinking and answered many of my questions about luck.
Probability theory teaches that there is a likelihood that any particular event will occur. This likelihood or probability can often be calculated with great accuracy, and sometimes not. The entire worldwide insurance industry, involving billions of dollars in premiums and trillions of dollars in coverage, is based on actuarial tables, which are simply applications of probability theory.
In life insurance, actuaries know that there is a likelihood that a certain person of a certain age and medical history will die in a certain time period. But because it is not possible to determine who that person might be, all persons in that class can be insured at a price that makes it possible to provide death benefits to the few people who actually die during the life of the policy. This is called pooled risk.
The Law of Probabilities
The Law of Probabilities is the critical factor in explaining luck. This law says that for every event, there is a probability of that event occurring under certain circumstances.
Where the level of probability can be established with some accuracy, the level of predictability can be dramatically increased. For example, if you flip a coin, it will come down heads 50 percent of the time and tails 50 percent of the time. The probability of a head or a tail is 50 percent, no matter how many times you flip the coin. You may flip the same coin five thousand times, and on every flip of the coin, the probabilities remain 50 percent. You can, therefore, predict the outcomes over time with complete accuracy.
You Can Improve Your Likelihood of Success
Become Brilliant on the Basics
If you want to achieve success in any field, and you have clear, written plans that you follow and work on each day, you are much more likely to attain it. If you then study thoroughly and apply yourself to developing the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in your field, you will increase your probabilities of success. If you associate with the right people, manage yourself and your time extremely well, move quickly when opportunity presents itself, persevere in the face of obstacles, you will get the breaks.
Willingness to take intelligent risks in the pursuit of your clearly defined, intensely desired goals, puts you on the side of the angels. You will increase all the possible probabilities in your favor. You will achieve the same level of success in one or two years that other people may not achieve in 10 or 20 years of less focused, less directed behavior. You will create your own future. And it's not a matter of luck!
Look for Every Opportunity to Reduce Uncertainty
In physics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle had a profound influence on science and eventually earned him a Nobel prize. This principle states that, even though it is scientifically possible to determine exactly how a class of particles will behave in general, it is not possible to predict exactly which of those particles will behave that way specifically. As a result, there always exists a degree of uncertainty in physics, no matter how sound the general theory.
In human terms, it is possible to predict that about 5 percent of Americans will achieve a net worth of $1 million or more in the course of their working lifetimes. But it is not possible to determine in advance exactly which ones it will be. We can only be sure about the degree of probability.
In terms of health, happiness, and longevity, a certain percentage of people are going to lead wonderful lives, raise happy, healthy children, make a real contribution to their work and their communities, and live to be 80 or 90 years old. We just don't know for sure exactly who they will be.
Here is the key to creating your own future: Whatever you want, do everything possible to increase the probabilities of your achieving it. Even one small factor can spell the difference between success and failure.
Your primary goal should be to increase the likelihood that you will be one of those remarkable people who achieves greatly and makes a real difference with his or her life. And this is very much in your own hands.
To realize your full potential, free yourself as much as possible from randomness and uncertainty. Organize your life in such a way that the probabilities of achieving your goals are extremely high. Learn the cause and effect relationships between what you want and how to get it. Take complete control over every part of your life and create your own future. You must leave nothing to chance.
Chance versus Luck
When people achieve great success faster than others, they are immediately accused of having good luck. When people make a mess of their lives, largely due to their own shortcomings, they dismiss it as bad luck. A leading politician said recently, "All of life is like a casino. Some have succeeded greatly at the gaming tables of life, others not. Those who have been successful should be forced to share their winnings with those who have not done as well."
One of the reasons for this confusion about the reasons for success and failure is that most people don't understand the difference between chance and luck. Chance refers to gambling, to casinos, to blackjack, poker, slot machines, and horse racing. In games of chance, the outcome is almost completely out of your control. You have little or no influence over the result. Your level of risk in gambling is so high that your chances of winning over the long term are almost zero.
Luck, however, is something completely different from chance. What we call luck is really the Law of Probabilities in action. Whenever you see a person who has succeeded greatly, you see the result of many events that have happened in the past to achieve a particular outcome in the present moment. The lucky individual has done many things that, in combination, dramatically increased the likelihood that his or her desired goal would be achieved.
If you examine the history of any great success, and review the many actions that preceded it, you will see a definite pattern emerge. You will see that the successful individual did many little things, sometimes for years, which made the final success possible.
The Basic Success Principle
Here is a rule: There is a direct relationship between the number of different things you attempt and your likelihood of eventual success.
Excerpted from Create Your Own Future by Brian Tracy Excerpted by permission.
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