“Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gain,
all great discoveries and inventions, and of all achievement.”
—Claude M. Bristol
One of the most controversial chapters in Brian Tracy’s book, Get Smart!, is “Rich Thinking versus Poor Thinking.”
In that chapter, he shares a series of simple ideas you can learn and apply. While I fundamentally disagree with much of the gross over-simplification, there are veins of excellence that we can use to add to our mental toolkit.
(Pause for a second before we continue. Just to be clear, this isn’t an article about going from zero to a million in a lifetime. No clickbait here. No, this article is about giving you tools you can add to your mental toolbox.)
The Role of Mindset
Best-selling author Og Mandino says:
There are no secrets of success. There are simply timeless truths and universal principles that have been discovered and rediscovered throughout human history. All you have to do is to learn and practice them to enjoy all the success that you could desire.
Sounds a lot like what we’re trying to discover.
A lot of us do things not to succeed but to avoid failure. This is what Elon Musk calls the fundamental problem with regulators. Tracy writes:
Because of destructive criticism in early childhood and mistakes they have made as adults, they are paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, of losing their time or money. Even if they are presented with an opportunity, they go into a form of paralysis.
Their fear of failure causes them to create all kinds of reasons not to take action. They don’t have the time. They can’t make the minimum investment. They don’t have the necessary knowledge and skills. Like a deer caught in the headlights, they are paralyzed by the idea of failure, which causes them to never take any action at all.
As it happens, most fortunes in America were started by the sale of personal services. The people had no money, but they had the ability to work hard, to upgrade their skills, and to become more and more valuable. As a result, more and more doors of opportunity opened up for them.
Fearing Disapproval and Criticism
This relates to our fear of criticism and disapproval, which results in approval-seeking behavior. And when we’re seeking approval and acceptance, we’re more likely to think conventionally. And when we think conventionally, we're unlikely to get above-average results.
We don’t want to look different. As a result, we stop learning and growing.
“I will study and prepare myself and someday my chance will come.”
— Abraham Lincoln
To achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you must learn and practice something that you’ve never done before.
If you’re learning something universal you’ll always have an opportunity to practice what you learn.
Putting all of this together becomes tricky.
Often we have the courage to think and act differently, we mentally prepare ourselves for the critical feedback and then we dip our toe in the water only to find it’s not to our liking.
This is where persistence comes in.
Most of us are simply unwilling to sacrifice in order to succeed. We want our cake and we want to eat it too. Most of the people I know that are incredibly successful have suffered some setback that they had to overcome. A lot of people would have given up. Only they persisted. (Of course, there are plenty of people that persist and fail too.) I’m generalizing a bit here but the people who look for the nearest exit when things get tough are usually the ones with the average results.
There is only one type of relationship that is sustainable over a long period of time and that's one where everyone wins. Tracy writes:
Rich people are always looking for ways to create value, to develop and produce products and services that enrich and enhance the lives and work of other people.
They are always willing to put in before they take out. They do not believe in easy money or something for nothing. Rich people believe that you have to justly earn and pay for, in terms of toil and treasure, any rewards and riches that you desire.
Poor people lack this fundamental understanding, the direct relationship between what you put in and what you get out. They are always seeking to get something for nothing or for as little as possible. They want success without achievement, riches without labor, money without effort, and fame without talent.
Poor people gamble, buy lottery tickets, come to work at the last possible moment, waste time while they are there, and then leave work at the first possible minute. They line up by the hundreds and thousands to audition for programs like American Idol, thinking that they can become rich and famous without ever having paid the price necessary to develop the level of talent and ability that enables them to rise above their competitors.
One of the great secrets of becoming wealthy is to always do more than you are paid for. If you do, you will always be paid more than you’re getting today. And there is no other way.
Go the extra mile. Be willing to put in far more than you are taking out. There are never any traffic jams on the extra mile.
Fear can often keep us mediocre. We don’t risk being wrong.
Getting rich isn't as simple as changing your mindset. However changing your mindset can go a long way to changing the way you see the world. And when you see the world differently you can behave and respond differently to the stimuli around you. When you do that, you have the potential to outperform.