Goal Power

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Goals to Achieve Anything by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   Goal Power! Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Goals to Achieve Anything by Daniel R. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:  

Goal Power! is a concise introduction to the fundamentals of creating effective goals and executing them. You will learn how proper use of goals leads to success and can enable you to achieve anything you want to achieve.

Learn how the number of goals you have affects your ability to achieve any of them.

Learn how to properly define a goal with sufficient clarity to motivate you and help you achieve your aim. Learn how to use short term and long term goals.

Learn how to execute a goal and sustain efforts for the long term.

This book provides a fundamental guide on how to create, write out, implement, measure and achieve goals. It discusses the number of goals you should have, or not have. You will learn how in the implementation stage how to reassess goals and make mid-course corrections.

At the end of the book is a step by step guide on how to create a great goal.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is clearly written with examples and well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Daniel R. Murphy is a blogger and author who has studied success for over 30 years. He has authored hundreds of articles on financial success, success in general, personal development, leadership, and time management.

Other Books by This Author:

The Success Essentials
Your Financial Success
Effective Time Management

To learn more about these books go to: http://danielrmurphy.com/books-etc/

Related Website:   

http://danielrmurphy.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. The fewer goals you have the more you will achieve on your goals. Ideally working on one goal at a time leads to the most success. More than three goals at any one time can so deplete focus and energy that none are achieved.
  2. It is critical to write your goals down. Written goals are achieved far more often than unwritten ones.
  3. Goals should be clearly and simply written and should be time bound. They most often should be measurable.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Goal Power! by Daniel R. Murphy
Copyright holder: ©2015 by Daniel R. Murphy
Publisher: Albany Publishing Co.

Goal Power! is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Mental Models II

A week ago I discussed James Clear’s article on how to think better using Mental Models. This week I want to take a second look at this concept and look at another post by Clear on this idea.

Clear defines a mental model as, “an explanation of how something works. The phrase “mental model” is an overarching term for any sort of concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind”.

“Mental models help you understand life. For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand how the economy works. Game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work. Entropy is a mental model that helps you understand how disorder and decay work.” Clear also observes that mental models guide how we perceive the world and how we behave.

Mental models can be very helpful but they are not perfect. “There is no single mental model from physics or engineering, for example, that provides a flawless explanation of the entire universe, but the best mental models from those disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel to outer space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.””

Charlie Munger said that 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight to make you a worldly-wise person.

Clear has assembled a starting list of some of the most common mental models in a number of disciplines. In invite you to check out his list and read up on some of those models. The better you understand them the more effectively you can use them. You can read more here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Synopsis of Content: 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a blueprint for how to effectively improve something through the establishment of a key goal, develop a system for measuring performance of the goal, and then following through with its execution. The authors advise focus on no more than three goals and if possible only one. They argue that too many goals dilute effort too much resulting in too little being achieved toward any one goal. To really effectively achieve a significant goal requires a high level of focus and that happens best with three or fewer such goals.

The approach is to develop a big goal, something vitally important. They call this a WIG which stands for “wildly important goal”. Once the goal is identified it is necessary to develop certain measurements to determine if the goal is being achieved.

The first measurement is the “lag measures”. This measurement tells you if you are achieving the actual goal. For example if the goal is lose 25 pounds then the lag measurement is losing 25 pounds. This is the ultimate measurement of achievement.

Next you must identify those actions that will most likely enable you to lose 25 pounds. As an example those actions may include restricting daily calorie intake to 1800 calories and increasing exercise to 5 miles of walking or running each day. These are called the “lead measures”. For this goal then the lead measures are calories consumed per day and miles walked or run per day.

The next step is to measure performance on the lead measures every day and track both the lead measures and the lag measure to determine performance and achievement of the goal. It is important to post these measurements on some form of graph or table where everyone involved in the goal can see how they are doing. Participants are held accountable for their contribution to the lead measures at a weekly WIG meeting where the posted data is reviewed and each participant’s contribution is reviewed.

This system was developed primarily for organizations and teams within organizations. However at the end of the book the authors discuss case studies to show how the same system can be used for personal goals.

Throughout the book case studies are presented showing how this method helped various companies and organizations to improve their performance, often in substantial ways. It builds cohesion and accountability in the team, or if done by an individual for that individual.

What I found useful about this book:

The focus on finding ways to measure the actual actions needed to achieve a goal is very helpful whether you are working with an individual goal or a team goal. The way the system fits together and accurately measures performance as well as accountability is an elegant and powerful concept. The real life examples show that it can really work in the real world.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well organized and well written. It provides all the information needed to understand the method and what makes it work.

Notes on Author:  

Chris McChesney works at FranklinCovey as a Global Practice Leader for design and development of the 4 Disciplines method.

Sean Covey is Executive Vice President at FranklinCovey and directs its international operations in 141 countries. He was involved in the original creation of the 4 Disciplines methodology.

Jim Huling is a consultant with FranklinCovey working with the 4 Disciplines. He has worked in corporate leadership in Fortune 500 companies and privately held companies.

Related Website: 

http://the4disciplinesofexecution.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Identify the most important improvement you can make or the biggest problem you need to solve in your organization or your personal life. Create a Wildly Important Goal to address that improvement or problem and then use lead and lag measurements to track progress and motivate follow through.
  2. All organizations can measure the performance of their employees and their teams on a bell curve with high performers on the right side, poor performers on the left side, and the average performers in the middle. Use the 4 Disciplines to move that bell curve to the right – to make everyone more effective performers.
  3. Measurement of the attainment of the goal and the actions needed to get there are key to motivating people and achieving an important goal.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Copyright holder: © 2012 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month: December 2015

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

You Can Train Your Brain to Think Better

James Clear in a recent post tells the story of how physicist Richard Feynman developed the ability to solve mathematical problems that most PhD students could not solve. Feynman had developed a different mental model to solve these problems. A mental model is a concept or framework of thought. The supply and demand concept is a mental model in economics for example. Game theory is another mental model. Entropy is a mental model that helps us understand how disorder and decay function in nature.

Though mental models help structure our thinking and can be very helpful they are also sometimes flawed. At the least they can be limiting. Another way of looking at it is that mental models are not perfect. No mental model can answer all questions in a field or solve all problems. Clear argues that the best mental models are those that have the greatest utility. The more mental models you have in your brain the more tools you have to solve problems. One weakness is that the more you master a single mental model the more likely you will be stumped at some point. As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer than everything looks like a nail.

You can expand the number of mental models you use by reading good books, studying fundamentals in unrelated fields of thought and learning from people who have widely different life experiences. We tend to think in silos – in individual disciplines: math, biology, economics, philosophy, etc. Creativity and problem solving often does better at the intersection of these disciplines, not merely within them.

Clear argues that you need not master all these disciplines. You need only learn the most important mental models in each silo and then work with them together. Clear has even created a list of the some the more important mental models in a number of disciplines.

This is not a new idea. The foundation of the classical liberal arts education was to learn the basics in a number of fields of study to “round out” one’s understanding of how the world works. The more mental models you possess the more tools you have to think with.

Read Clear’s entire post here.

I will write more about mental models in future posts. The more mental models you develop the more versatile and creative your thinking can be.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Synopsis of Content: 

This is a story within a story. Although it is written in a religious context it should not be rejected as a religious tract. It is much more than that.  The narrative is a fictitious account of Zacchaeus at the time of Jesus. Zacchaeus is mentioned in the Book of Luke of the New Testament as a tax collector who climbed a tree to glimpse Jesus as he entered Jericho. According to the biblical story Jesus spends the evening having dinner with Zacchaeus and discusses salvation.

In Mandino’s version of the story Zacchaeus is a small crippled man born in poverty and great disadvantage due to his deformities. Despite his being ill-treated and living in poverty as a child he learns to be successful – so successful that he becomes the richest man in Jericho. He is charitable and well-liked by the people, especially the less fortunate he helps. The story is narrated by his good friend and bookkeeper, Joseph. Zacchaeus teaches Joseph and others the secrets to success through example and through lessons. In time he is asked to teach the people these lessons more formally and he has them written on the wall that surrounds the city.

The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, does not like Zacchaeus’ popularity and forces him to become a tax collector or publican because he knows the people hate tax collectors. Zacchaeus does not want this job but has no real choice but to do it, and he does it with fairness and kindness as he does all his work. It is then that he meets the preacher Jesus and experiences a personal transformation.

Mandino was a devout Christian and wanted to present this story in the context of his religious beliefs and especially in the context of this encounter between Zacchaeus and Jesus. Within this story however he conveys the secrets to success that Zacchaeus taught to others. In the end Zacchaeus follows Jesus’ teaching and gives away all his wealth and resigns as tax collector. Yet Mandino never really reconciles the two great lessons of the book: the lessons of financial success that Zacchaeus taught and the ultimate lesson Zacchaeus learns leading him to renounce the wealth and the financial success.

The “ten commandments of success” that Zacchaeus lays out are familiar to anyone who has read about success. They are very similar to the lessons written about in the Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. That book is also a fictitious story set in ancient times.

If you are Christian you may find the story inspirational on a spiritual level. If you are not Christian you will still benefit from the story – it inspires in ways beyond Christian doctrine. It is a short book, just 96 pages in paperback, but well worth reading.

What I found useful about this book:

The classic “commandments” of success are classics. They align with most of the great writing on personal success both before and after this book was published in 1981. For anyone interested in personal success they are very useful.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and easy to follow. It is a story and well written stories are always easy to follow.

Notes on Author:  

Og Mandino flew in a bomber plane during WWII and went on to be a successful salesman, author and lecturer. In fact he became a hugely successful writer and speaker on success and sales.

Other Books by This Author:

Mandino wrote a number of books the most famous being The Greatest Salesman in the World.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Through application of the principles that lead to success even the most disadvantaged person can overcome obstacles and attain success. Those principles include hard work, patience, the need to plan, the need to save in good times for hard times, the power of persistence, the need for action to execute plans, avoid wasting time and mental energy worrying about the past or future, avoid hording possessions, and striving to be yourself.
  2. We need others to succeed and it is therefore critical to treat others fairly and well.
  3. While achieving material success is important one must also pay attention to one’s spiritual needs.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino
Copyright holder: 1981 by Og Mandino
Publisher: Bantam Books

This review was published first on 11.06.15 as the November 2015 Book of the Month

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Do Nice Guys (and Gals) Finish First or Last?

google.com/clipart

You have all heard the axiom “Nice guys finish last”. But is that true?

Eric Barker examined this question in his recent book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Barker likes to look at what science has to teach us about things like success.

Wharton School professor Adam Grant looked into the research on this question. He divided people into three categories: Givers, Takers and Matchers. Givers were people who most often gave to others and helped others – they were nice guys. Takers more often took from others and Matchers tried to balance their giving and taking.

In studies of professionals he first found that givers (nice guys) often finished poorly. The missed deadlines, got lower grades and closed fewer sales. But this was not all he found. He also found that on the other side of the spectrum givers did best. People who constantly found ways to help others were the ones who scored best on success metrics. Takers and Matchers he found scored in the mid-range. So some nice guys finished last but some finished first.

Grant found that the difference between givers who succeed and those that fail is not random. He found that in the very short term Takers can succeed. Being a bully or a cheat may work for a little while. It does not appear to be an effective long term strategy though. Givers trust others and can create an atmosphere of trust in a social group. People working together with trust can accomplish much more than one person working alone. The research also showed that people who “chunk” their giving so they are not giving all the time do better. Volunteer three hours a week on one day and reserve the rest of your time to meeting your own needs rather than volunteering every day, for example. So to be a Giver who succeeds you should budget your giving – that is not do it all the time. We have all known those people who give all the time and neglect their own needs.

Barker also found that givers were most often rich. Arthur Brooks studied the connection between charitable giving and wealth and found that the more people gave the more wealth they earned. The question then arises, are Givers getting rich because they are Givers, or are they Givers because they are rich and can afford it. This raises the question about cause and effect.

All of these studies are based on correlations. Correlations can point to a cause and effect dynamic but they do not necessarily do so. The kinds of rigorous studies that would actually demonstrate genuine cause and effect have not been done in this area. Scientists agree that if you have enough correlations, if they repeat over and over, they probably are showing some form of cause and effect.

I hope that most of us think it is proper to be a Giver or a nice person because it is morally correct. If it pays off with more success for us that is a bonus.

You can read more about this and a lot more about what science tells us about success in Barker’s book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Building Good Habits

Building good habits can be very hard. It is especially hard to replace a bad habit with a good one. Eric Barker wrote a good post on his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree recently discussing the science on this.

We all have habits. Many of them. Some are good like brushing our teeth. Some are not so good like watching too much TV. Some are just bad, like eating too much rich food and gaining weight. Wouldn’t you like to break some of your bad habits and replace them with good ones? I will guess you’ve tried that before and found it hard, very hard. You likely failed.

What if you had the benefit of science to show you how to do it effectively?

A lot has been written about creating and ending habits. Barker’s work is good because he draws on science to support his ideas. In a nutshell the science suggests the following about how to change or create a habit:

  1. Change in small steps – it is easier and works better.
  2. Get support – social support and social competition encourages us to change – think about Alcoholics Anonymous.
  3. Ask yourself why this change is important to you. You will not be motivated to change unless you think it is important.
  4. Make the process as easy on yourself as you can.
  5. Act before you think. Don’t try to change your mind so your behavior will change; change your behavior and your mind will change.
  6. Reward yourself.
  7. Build a routine.

These steps sound simple. They are simple, but they are also complex. They require you to follow certain steps in a certain way. Those steps and that way of doing them has been scientifically studied and proven to work.

Sean Young, PhD wrote a book: Stick with It – A Scientifically proven process for changing your life – for good. Young is an award-winning psychologist and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior.

B.J. Fogg wrote a book called Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change the Way We Think and Do. Fogg is a PhD scientist whose student, Mike Krieger, founded Instagram.

Howard S. Friedman PhD, and Leslie R. Martin, PhD, wrote the Longevity Project to discover how and why live long and are healthy.

These are but four of the scientists that Barker cites for the scientific studies that support the thesis of how to form habits. This is not anecdotal advice. It is science. It has been proven to work. Science does not make the task of changing and creating habits easy. It requires effort. It requires commitment. It requires persistence. But science teaches us what works.

So if you want to make progress in changing your habits learn from what science as shown to work and not work. You can read Barker’s full post here: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2017/07/build-good-habits/
Good luck. Have fun. Make it happen.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Synopsis of Content:

A thorough exploration of what is currently known about how the human brain functions and how it drives human behavior. Based on many years of research our thinking abilities are divided into two modes: Fast and Slow, or System 1 and System 2.

System 1 operates quickly. It is also automatic, it does not require or permit reflection and protracted thought process. It functions without our even being aware of it, for the most part. System 1 is a pattern recognizer. It quickly recognizes a known pattern. For example, if I say “red, white and…” your System 1 function will instantly think “blue” as the next word, at least it will if you are American.

System 2 operates more slowly. It allocates attention to effortful mental activity, including complex calculations. If I ask you to multiply 3658 x 5.369 you will use System 2. If I ask you to create a business plan you will use System 2.

There are mental functions that System 1 does very well and some it does very poorly and some it does not do at all and the same can be said for System 2.

Because these two systems operate so differently they can have both positive and negative consequences. If you are confronted by a threat you can react quickly to defend yourself or seek safety. You need not use System 2 and contemplate all the possible options available to you – you can act swiftly. When we lived primarily in nature hunting and surviving predators this system was essential but even today it serves us well.

Consider how you drive a car. How often have you driven some distance, lost in thought about something, and not even being aware of all the actions you are taking to properly drive the car? System 1 drives the car while System 2 engages in reflective thought.

As good as System 1 is at driving and escaping saber tooth tigers it does not do so well in evaluating new and complex problems. It leads us to make assumptions (some valid and some very mistaken) and to make decisions based on those often invalid assumptions. System 1 limits our tendency to consider new ideas and question old ones.

Once we understand how the two systems work we can intentionally invoke System 2 where we need it.

What I found useful about this book:

Life is full of decision making. This book helps us understand how we make decisions and how to make them more accurately and effectively. We can understand how we make invalid assumptions and decisions. We can learn to be more accurate in our thinking when we are aware of how these two systems work.

Readability/Writing Quality:

This book is written by a scientist. Though it is aimed at a general audience it is rather dense. It requires some intense mental effort to understand, or as the author would say, it requires System 2 thinking. While it can be a bit challenging to get through the book it also conveys a great deal of information and the journey is worth the effort.

Notes on Author:

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University.

Other Books by the Author:

International Differences in Well-Being
Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment
Choices, Values and Frames
Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology
Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
Attention and Effort

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is important to understand and recognize that we think in more than one way and that on a very basic level that thinking can be divided between a fast and slow mode. Fast thinking allows us to survive and to learn skills and practice them without undue thought. Slow thinking allows to create, invent, understand and calculate.
  2. Intuition, which can serve us well in many ways, also serves us poorly in many others and should be looked upon with skepticism. It is a product of our fast thinking system which largely functions without verification and accuracy.
  3. To obtain the most from our slow thinking capacity we must put forth significant effort. We must question all assumptions and resist the easy and often erroneous conclusions that the fast thinking mind jumps to. Bearing this in mind can make us more accurate and successful in our thinking.

Publication Information:
Title and Author: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Copyright holder: © 2011 by Daniel Kahneman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Book of the month for June 2015.

Get the book here:

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Getting Back on Track

Yehong Zhu posted 70 ideas on how to get back on track – that is how to live better – on Quora. It was then reposted on Inc.com. This is a fascinating list of ideas, tips, and insights. A few of them are very important. They all teach us something of value. Here are just a few examples:

3 Figure out what your values are and stick with them.

8 Trust your gut. When your spidey sense is tingling, pay close attention. Somehow it knows better than you do when something is right or wrong.

18 Whenever you can, pay it forward.

32 Work hard.

69 Life is short, and death is the great equalizer. Do everything you want to do while you can. There’s no time for anything else.

That is just a small sample. Some you will find very useful, others not so much.

Read all of Zhu’s 70 ideas here.
Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

What if You Do Not Have a Passion

The success gurus tell us every day on their blogs, their newsletters and their books that you must have a passion – an overriding complete and overwhelming passion for what you are doing with your life. It may be your job/career/profession/calling. It may be an avocation beyond your job. It may be a devotion to one’s children. Whatever it is it must be what motivates you and what gives you that sense of ultimate satisfaction in life.

You must, they say, have a passion.

I think not. It is wonderful if you do have a passion. It may even be better if you have one. It can also be worse. A passion can be so overwhelming and consuming that it does as much damage as good.

It is true that people often accomplish the impossible because of this all-consuming passion. It can give us a purpose in life that is intoxicating. But not everyone has such a passion. For many, perhaps most, life is about earning a living, paying the bills, making some progress and loving those we care about. For many their job is something they do to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.

On balance I do believe that having a passion or major purpose in life is a good thing. It gives direction. It provides focus. It energizes. Properly used and controlled it can be a very wonderful thing to have. People have accomplished so much out of their passions. Edison’s passion for invention improved the world in a thousand ways. Michael Jordan’s passion for basketball made him one of the best, if not the best player ever. Steve Jobs’ passion created the most unique technology company in the world and changed all our lives with that technology.

Passion or Purpose

It is important however to acknowledge that everyone will not have such a passion. It is unique and does not visit everyone. Many people do just fine in life without such an all-consuming passion. They succeed at their work, they raise their families and they contribute to society in all sorts of positive ways. They find contentment and even happiness without an all-consuming passion and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing inadequate about that.

I suggest that what we all do need is a sense of purpose. Like many buzzwords to day “passion” is over used. Often when the word is used people really mean a purpose. Humans do not do well without a purpose in life. A purpose may also be something we are passionate about. It may evolve into a true passion.

If you do have a passion that is great. It can be very great. But not having one is not a failure. Maybe the more important question is whether you have a sense of purpose in your life. It may be to raise your children well. It may be to be a good spouse. It may be linked to your job, career or profession. Psychological research clearly shows that people are happier, more productive and healthier if they have a sense of purpose.

We are all different and what motivates us is as unique as we are. Pursuing what is important and meaningful to us may be far more important than discovering a passion in life.

A passion is a wonderful gift we can use to achieve much. We can also achieve what we truly want in life without one. We can be happy and lead a rewarding life with a sense of purpose whether or not there is a passion.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com