The Incremental Formula for Success and Failure

The only thing more rare than instant failure is instant success. It does happen on rare occasion. But in almost every instance success and failure are the result of an incremental process that takes months or years to occur. The success philosopher Jim Rohn wrote:

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.

Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day? The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.”

If you eat one doughnut your health will not fail. It will not kill you. And that is exactly what you think, one doughnut will not kill me. Nor will one cigarette or one day without exercise. One night of not enough sleep will not kill you. Failing to read a good book in three months will not lead to ignorance or failure. But repeat these things over and over and failure will result. Do the right things, eating that apple or getting enough sleep or getting exercise – do those things with regularity and success occurs.

The Formula for Failure

Rohn observed, “Failure’s most dangerous attribute is its subtlety. In the short term those little errors don’t seem to make any difference. We do not seem to be failing. In fact, sometimes these accumulated errors in judgment occur throughout a period of great joy and prosperity in our lives. Since nothing terrible happens to us, since there are no instant consequences to capture our attention, we simply drift from one day to the next, repeating the errors, thinking the wrong thoughts, listening to the wrong voices and making the wrong choices. The sky did not fall in on us yesterday; therefore the act was probably harmless. Since it seemed to have no measurable consequence, it is probably safe to repeat.

On their own, our daily acts do not seem that important. A minor oversight, a poor decision, or a wasted hour generally doesn’t result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.”

The Formula for Success

Success is the result of the sustained practice of doing the right things. It is the result of disciplined repetition. Doing the right thing over and over leads to success. Doing one thing once is not what is required. The success mentality looks far into the future and recognizes that what we do regularly, what we do every day, leads to success, or failure.

This ability to look into the future and see the collective result of repeated efforts (or failures) is what distinguishes success from failure. Allowing oneself to be caught up in the instant moment and disregarding the long term cumulative effect of what we do leads to failure.

Jim Rohn left a treasure of wisdom like this.

Read Jim Rohn’s full article here.

Learn more about Jim Rohn and his teachings on personal development and creating wealth here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

Synopsis of Content:

Harvey has compiled in this book a daily meditation and inspiration for how to achieve more. For each day there is an inspirational quote from an author or leader, some questions to stimulate your thinking and a lesson which often requires you to do something.  There are 365 such pages, one for each day of a year. You can start any time as they are not tied to any dates.

While you could sit down and read this book through its real value is to use it one page per day for a year. Harvey challenges the reader to move beyond where they are now in life, even if they feel stuck, and to expand your potential and accomplish more.

Each day has a lesson and an assignment. Some of the assignments are generalized, challenging you to think in a different way or to interact with others in a different way. Other assignments are more specific challenging you to do one thing differently.

The book is part inspiration – and it is very inspirational – and part a book of exercises and lessons to move you forward in the areas where the author has found people most often stuck or lacking proper action or reflection. The book is also a day by day recipe for constant personal development.

Each page can be read in five minutes or less, and many only take a minute to read. The exercises and assignments however take more time – as much as you are willing to devote to make positive changes in your life.

It does not matter where you might be on your road to success and achievement nor does it really matter what you are attempting to achieve. It would serve people in business, in their private lives, or in any personal success path.

The book is not preachy but it does deliver valuable lessons that are classic success ideas. Harvey gives you a little push and what you do with that is entirely up to you.

What I did not like about this book:

The book would benefit from a table of contents and a good index. While the day by day progression is good the book contains a lot of wisdom that would be easier to access if it had a good index.

What I found useful about this book:

The daily quotations are real gems and come from many different sources. The book is almost worth its price just to get those quotes. The real value though goes far beyond the quotes. The inspirational lessons and the exercises are excellent day by day steps to make progress.

One of the book’s advantages is that you do not have to wade through hundreds of pages and then try to draw broad lessons from them. The daily format lets you move through the book gradually without spending more than five minutes a day reading.

After a year the reader will have covered 365 pages but more importantly the reader will have moved through a set of lessons and exercises that can change perceptions, beliefs, and patterns of thought and action.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and very easy to read. The day by day format slows you down and forces you to do what should be done with every good book on personal development and success – it forces the reader to understand, think about and use the book’s content. It is like having a one year success coach.

Notes on Author:

Jason Harvey is a certified life coach. He is founder of the Limitless Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research on human potential. Harvey lives in Canada.

To read more about the author and about his purpose in writing this book read the Books2Wealth exclusive interview with Jason at: Interviews.

Related Website:

http://jasonharvey.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. This book contains 365 ideas you can use, but for this review I will include just three: your power of choice more than your abilities define your potential. Look at the choices you make where they have led you. Consider that each choice you make defines your limits and your potential.
  1. “A missed opportunity is worse than a defeat”. Be alert to opportunity and be willing to seize it when it becomes apparent. So much is missed when we let opportunity pass by.
  1. “All things are difficult before they are easy”, Thomas Fuller. Resist the inner thinking that you are not good enough, smart enough or otherwise unable to do something. Stop limiting yourself. If you want to achieve something do the work and it can happen.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

Copyright holder: 2010 by Jason Harvey

Publisher: Amazing Life Press, Canada

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Should You Have a Board of Directors?

Leadership author, speaker and consultant James Strock recently wrote a blog post titled, “A Board of Directors for Your Life and Career?” Strock used the example of a famous 20th century actor named John Barrymore. Barrymore wanted to advance his career and consulted with several people to advise him. He called it his Board of Strategy. It was an informal group including critics, playwrights and teachers. His board advised him to work on his voice and he did. The result was described as transformative. He began to get serious parts, not just the light comedic parts he had been getting.

Would you benefit from your own board of strategy?

When we think of a board of directors we imagine a group of serious business people seated around an impressive table in an impressive room working through a formal agenda and directing the policies and activity of a company. A board of directors sets down directives – it tells management what to achieve and what policies to follow. I do not think most of us have a “board room”, nor do most of us want a group of other people telling us what we must do – directing us. That is why it is called a board of directors – because it directs us.

What we may want and what would benefit us is a board of advisors. This board does not have to meet formally or at all. There is no need for a board room. You can meet with your advisors either individually or in small groups. If you are contemplating a major change in your life you may want to assemble them in one room if you can to get the benefit of the synergy of a group process.

We can all benefit from advisors. We all need honest evaluation from others that we trust. Whether it is a trusted friend, colleague, accountant, attorney, or spouse, we can benefit from seeking their advice and ideas. The final decisions about what we are going to do are ours to make. But the advice from others can be invaluable, especially if you choose these advisors carefully.

I prefer to call this group a board of advisors. We should all have such advisors whom we can consult as the need arises. I suggest these guidelines about the people you seek advice from:

  1. You should be able to trust them.
  2. They should be willing to advise you honestly, even when the honesty may sting a bit. You need objective advice, not yes men.
  3. They should have some knowledge about what you seek advice about. You do not seek legal advice from your plumber or plumbing advice from your attorney.
  4. You should be willing to give something in exchange for their help. If they are giving professional advice you will likely have to pay them. If they are giving more personal advice perhaps you can agree to serve them advising them when they seek advice or doing other things for them.
  5. Be selective about when and how you seek their advice. Do not abuse the privilege.
  6. Whether you follow their advice or not you should thank them sincerely for their help.

We can all benefit from the advice and help of others. You may not want a board of directors, but would you benefit from a board (or group) of advisors?

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Introducing Mark Struczewski

Is productivity a problem for you? Do you struggle with procrastination at times? I want to introduce you to my friend Mark Struczeewski who specializes in helping people conquer procrastination and become more productive. Mark has a blog, https://markstruczewski.com/ , speaks publicly and offers coaching. I have been a long time subscribe to his newsletter and find his work helpful.

Mark wrote How to Overcome Roadblocks on the Path to Your Success, and A Succes Fou Life: What It Is and How You Can Live It (2012). On his blog he uses a lot of video so if you like that you will love his blog.

I will be reviewing his new book here later this year. Check him out, I guarantee you will learn something useful.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

A Books2Wealth Classic and Book of the Month for January 2014

Title and Author: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Synopsis of Content:

The essence of this little book is that what a man thinks is what the man becomes. Or in today’s parlance, what a person thinks determines what the person becomes. This little book, 31 pages in the pocket edition, is a powerful explanation of the New Thought concepts popular at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This was the new thinking a century ago about how we become what we become. Fortunately for us most if not all this theory is equally useful today as it was a hundred years ago even if it is not as unique as it may have seemed then.

Our Thoughts Control Our Circumstances 

Allen begins with a discussion of how out thoughts affect our circumstances. He describes this in two different aspects. First he explains what we now know as the law of attraction – what we think about enough will be attracted to us. Second he dwells on the need to transform thought into action – the need to transform ourselves in order to obtain what we seek in life.

Avoiding Fear and Negative Thinking 

In the second part of the little book Allen discusses the power of thought and conviction on our health and wellbeing. He tells us that those who live in fear of illness become ill. Again, he is applying the law of attraction.

Dominant Purpose 

The third section is devoted to the importance of a single dominant purpose in our lives. Here we find the same thinking that Orison Swett Marden was writing about in the United States during the same period and later the same general thinking was carried forward by Napoleon Hill. While I cannot now say for sure it seems likely that both Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill were influenced to some extent by Allen’s little book. We see the same basic teachings in The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, an American contemporary of Allen.

Allen completes the book with a section on how thought factors into achievement and finally the importance of serenity.

Allen’s little book was a hit a century ago when he published it and has remained in print and of interest ever since. Og Mandino said that this little book was among the top ten success books of all time and I don’t disagree. It is not possible in this short article to delve into the depth and wisdom of this little book. While the writing style is a bit dated and the density of the prose requires one’s full attention and thoughtful reflection there is no better example of a small manual on how to pursue self-development in how we think and how we use thought.

Most people could read this little gem in an evening, but few could fully mine its depth in a hundred evenings. This is one to reread again and again. Like an onion, the more one studies it the more one uncovers between its covers.

This little book is a must read for anyone serious about a study of success and of maintaining even a minimal success library. And on that subject, it is important to review a number of these success books over time to obtain the depth they have to offer. Only by reading several authors will the real color of this thinking completely develop in your mind.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This little book was originally published in 1902 and has remained in print for over 110 years. It is surprisingly readable for a book written a century ago. I like the Executive Books version because it has good headings.

Notes on Author:

Allen was a British subject who wrote a number of books including this one for which he is best known. He died in 1912. This book is the best known but he wrote 20 books. Ironically he thought this book was one of his least significant works.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit”. We create, to a great extent, our own circumstances and outcomes by the way we think.
  1. “You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.”
  1. Calmness of mind is a jewel of wisdom. The calm man learns to govern himself.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author:  As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Copyright holder: the original copyright has expired; various publishers have added headings and other material to copyright it. The copy I have is copyrighted by Executive Books 2001.

Publisher: there are various publishers; my copy is from Executive Books

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Information Overload – Learn How to Manage It All

Forbes.com featured an article with 10 Steps to conquer information over load. The article was written by Laura Shin. She points to the many sources of this over load, even the grocery store. ““In 1976, there were 9,000 products in the average grocery store, and now it’s ballooned to 40,000 products. And yet most of us can get almost all our shopping done in just 150 items, so you’re having to ignore tens of thousands of times every time you go shopping,” he says””. The “he” she is quoting is Daniel Levitin, McGill University psychology professor and author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.

She notes that by one calculation we have created more information in the last ten years than I all of human history before that. The average American receives five times more information every day than they did in 1986.

Here are Levitin’s ten steps to getting control of it all:

  1. Do a brain dump

Follow the advice of productivity “guru” David Allen in his book Getting Things Done and get stuff out of your brain. As important information comes to you write it down immediately, this allows you to let go of that information in your mind. Allen then provides a serious of steps for how to organize and use that information.

  1. Follow the Two-Minute Rule

If a task can be done in two minutes or less get it done now. If it cannot be done in two minutes put it on a to-do list and do it when you have time.

  1. Clump together similar tasks

For example, return phone calls all at one time. Pay all the bills due at the same time. Complete one set of tasks before moving on to others. Resist distractions from this.

  1. Do not multitask

Research shows we do not perform well when multitasking. Focus on one task at a time. Eliminate distractions from that task.

  1. Limit email distractions.

Turn off audible signals that you have new email. Set aside certain times in your day to review and respond to email. If you need to turn email off the rest of the time.

  1. “Eat the frog” first thing in the morning.

Follow the advice of movie producer Jake Edwards and success expert Brian Tracy to “eat the frog” first thing in the day. That is, take on your most difficult or unpleasant task first thing in the morning, get it done and move on.

  1. Spend only as much time on decisions and tasks as they need.

Sometimes we devote more time to a decision or task then it really needs. It is better to assess how important the decision or task is and how easily it can be efficiently dealt with. For example Levitin says if you think you need to keep five year old bills and receipts just throw them in a box in case you need them, do not spend hours organizing something you’ll likely never need.

  1. Take breaks.

Taking a 15 minute break every couple of hours can make you more efficient and effective. Listening to music, taking a walk or even a short nap can recharge you and make you more effective.

  1. Daydream now and then.

Levitin says, “The brain operates in two oppositional modes: “one is when you’re directing the thoughts, and the other is when the thoughts take over and run themselves,” says Levitin. Directing mode is the one that allows us to get our work done, whether we’re an office worker, chef or tile layer, but our minds can’t stay in one gear all day long.

In daydreaming mode, says Levitin, “one thought melds into another and they’re not particularly related.” This daydreaming mode acts as a neural reset button and replenishes some of the glucose you use up in staying on a task.”

  1. Push against authority.

By this Levitin means to give workers in an organization as much autonomy as possible because people are happier and more productive if they have some autonomy.

This is a great list of ways to maintain focus, limit distractions and improve your effectiveness. Limiting information over load is about controlling how much information you are exposed to so as not to overwhelm yourself. I add these ideas as well:

  1. Limit internet use.

The internet is a great resource and you can learn a great deal from its content. You can also get mired in too much information. Turn off notifications from social media and other sources that will interrupt you and usually with information of little value. If you decide to “surf the web” set a time limit and avoid doing it throughout the day.

  1. Be selective about what you read.

With e-readers, internet content, magazines and books there is an endless source of information to read. The problem is that if you do not limit your reading you can be overwhelmed with information. You will not retain it, analyze it or make use of it.

The bottom line is that you must control how much information you read or listen to. Use what is truly useful to you or truly inspiring to you. Be aware of how well you are understanding and retaining what you read, see and hear. Our ability to take in and process information is limited. You must be discerning about it.

Learn how to manage your time to achieve more of what you want to do in my book, Effective Time Management. Get free lessons on how to use your time more effectively with my Effective Time Management Lessons.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Marcus Aurelius on Work

wikipedia.com

Once in a while, not very often, I want to stay in bed on a work day for just a little longer, especially if I stayed up too late, did not sleep well or if it is cold and stormy out.  But most mornings I get out of bed readily thinking about the day ahead. On weekdays it is the day of work ahead.

Perhaps I am lucky you might think. I am lucky I suppose that I have my health and I find my work rewarding and fulfilling. When you feel well and find your work fulfilling it is much easier to get up. I will claim credit however for choosing work that I enjoy and find fulfilling. If you can possibly do that I highly recommend it.

Two thousand years ago most people did not need to find their work fulfilling to get up in the morning. They had to get up and they had to work if they wanted to eat. (Well, I suppose it is no different for most of us today.) Even two millennia ago though there were the rich, the idle and the powerful who did not need to get up in the morning. They could lounge in bed as long as they wanted, and many of them did.

One notable man who did not was the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. So much has been written about how bad many of those emperors were that it is refreshing to find one who was good. Aurelius was a very hard working man. He left us his thoughts on life and on work in a collection of writings that are called Meditations. You can get a free copy of it from Kindle or visit your library. Meditations is full of advice and wisdom that ring as true today as they did so long ago.

He wrote: “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

Taking is lessons from nature he observed: “So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?”

Laying about and enjoying the warm bed is a treat and on a Sunday morning you may well give it to yourself as a little gift. But most days you will experience more in life by getting up (the earlier the better) and diving in. You will do your work and achieve something. There is satisfaction in that.

Aurelius was a stoic and it informed his philosophy. Whether or not you like the ideas of stoicism you can learn a lot from this man who thought deeply about what he did and why.

I have a copy of Mediations and I refer to it often. It is full of gems. I recommend it.

I also recommend Maria Popova’s blog Brain Pickings. It is the source of these quotes and the inspiration for this little article. She writes well researched and inspiring articles. I hope you check her blog out.

Check out Mediations as well and bounce out of bed in the morning to take on the day and do something useful and important. It will make you feel good and I think it will help make life worth living.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Subtitle: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Synopsis of Content:

The seminal book on personal development and leadership of the 1980s this book, first published in 1989, was a #1 best seller and continues to be a popular book. In it Covey divides personal development into seven categories and assigns to them a habit or set of habits that will improve one’s life.

First Covey discusses the importance of principles and of leading one’s life according to principles. He also discussed our perceptions and how we can change the way we look at things through shifting a paradigm. Then he moves to the seven habits.

The seven habits are Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw. Covey labels the first three habits as the Personal Victory, how we master our own lives. The last four are called the Public Victory, how we become more effective with others.

He maintains that one must first achieve effectiveness for ourselves, the private victory, before we can attain effectiveness with others. The habits are presented in an order based on what we need to work on first, second, etc.

Covey’s analysis of perceptions and paradigms was a novel approach to a self-help book at the time it came out. The brilliant aspect of the book was not so much the content of the seven habits, there was little new in that, it was the way he organized these ideas and related them to one another. His reliance on principle centered thinking was also unique.

A second unique aspect of the book is the emphasis on basing one’s decisions on principles, which Covey maintains are universal. He argues that principles are timeless, they have always existed and always will, and are universal; they apply equally to every culture and place. He emphasizes that because principles are universal and inherently true they serve as a sound basis to guide one’s life.

What I found useful about this book:

I can still remember the day I bought this book in 1994. I cannot say that about any other book I purchased nearly twenty years ago. I can remember standing in front of the bookstore bookshelf and looking over the book, wondering if it was worth the price and the time to read it. In time I read the book six times and am now reviewing it for the seventh time. Each time I read it I learn more.

I must admit this is my favorite book on personal development and improvement. It is comprehensive in scope, covering every important aspect of personal development. It challenges you and informs you. To the extent you can apply the principles and habits Covey teaches you realize great benefit. This book contains valuable lessons about how to organize your time and your life.

I highly recommend this book. If you read only one book on personal development this year this should be the book.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is written in an easy and very readable style. It has excellent examples and illustrations of the lessons he teaches. It is very well organized.

Notes on Author:

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a university professor, writer and lecturer. He was very influential. He was co-founder of the Franklin-Covey Co. Dr. Covey died in 2012.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Live out your imagination, not your history. Know that you have full control over what you do. Accept full responsibility for your life. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
  1. A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
  1. The bottom line is, when people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team they work with and prioritized their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they discover they have the time they need to have a whole life.

The Books2Wealth Book of the Month for October 2013

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Copyright holder: 1989 by Stephen R. Covey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Things Have Changed Dad

One of my sons reminds me frequently that things have changed. It is not the same world I grew up in, not the same world I attended college in, not the same world I built a career in. His generation faces different challenges. He suggests that many of the principles I offer are no longer relevant.

To some extent he is right of course, but in some ways, I think not.

My son got a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts with the expectation that it would qualify him for a job that paid better than minimum wage. He was quickly disappointed. He moved to a larger urban area but was still earning minimum wage. He had friends in his age group that faced a similar problem. He had been told to work hard, do well in school and you will be rewarded. He now believed that had all been a lie, or least an outdated idea. He told me that the work hard and you’ll succeed idea may have been valid when I was a young man but is no longer true.

It is painful for a father to watch his son do all the right things and then struggle with disappointing results. We all want out children to succeed. Those struggles of my son and many in his generation who came of age during a severe recession have caused me to re-evaluate my assumptions about success and the things I write about on this blog.

For some perspective I also must remember my own struggles as a young man. I graduated with a B.S. degree in liberal arts as well but back in 1976. Jimmy Carter was President and the nation was in a recession. We faced “stagflation”, a crippling combination of high inflation and a stagnate economy with high unemployment. We had recently suffered through the OPEC oil embargo, long lines at the gas station, and high fuel prices. In the summer of 1976 I found how little that four-year degree did to improve my employment prospects. I worked in a soft drink bottling plant 12 hours a day at minimum wage. Then I was a janitor. Then I worked as a dishwasher and cook.

But I had a plan. My plan all along was to use that four-year degree to get into law school and become a professional. After working for 15 months to save money to attend law school I did just that – I went to law school.  After law school, I built my own law practice from the ground up. It was a struggle. It was several years before I was earning a decent income.

My son was not impressed. Things were different now. His struggle was harder. His generation got a raw deal.

There is some truth in my son’s view. It is hard for many of today’s young people. Not since the great Depression have so many of them continued to live with parents. To be sure however many of that generation are doing well. My older son works in sales and did not even finish college. He is doing quite well.

So is my younger son right? Are the bromides of the past outdated and largely irrelevant in a changed world and a changed economy? I suggest that most of those traditional ideas about how to be successful are still valid but that many will still struggle financially despite doing the right things.

Choices

The choices we make about education, training, where we live and what career path we choose all play a large role in how well we will do. That has always been true. It was true when I was 25 and it is true now for my 25-year-old son. Choose a medically related career, engineering, sales and several other fields and success is much more likely. Young people must decide what they want to do and they must choose those careers that are in demand. A few people may carve out a niche in a field that is not in high demand and still do well, but for the majority it is critical to choose the right career. Likewise, choices about where we live, when we decide to marry and have a family also play a large role in our chances of success.

Hard Work

The willingness to work hard still provides rewards. While it is true that all hard work is not rewarded as a rule success in a globally competitive world requires hard work. Employers prefer hard workers. If someone wants to start a business of their own hard work is essential.

Integrity

Integrity is just as important today as ever. Some would say it is in short supply today though I am not sure I agree. I do see that those who are honest and have high personal integrity are more effective working with others and are more successful.

Frugality

It remains as important as ever to spend less than we earn, to save and invest wisely and to build for the future. Lifelong employment with a single company is now the exception rather than the rule. Corporate pension plans are no longer as secure as they once were. Government programs like Social Security never provide all that people need in retirement and their future is always subject to political whim.

Education

Education and increasing one’s skill sets and knowledge are more important today than ever. As my son correctly points out his generation is learning that conventional higher education may not always be the best way to go although it still has merit. Lifelong learning however remains critical to maintaining one’s competitive edge no matter where you live or what you do.

Conclusion

My son is right that things have changed. Technological change is increasingly rapid. We now live in an increasingly competitive global market. Social change is also faster than ever before. Adapting to this change requires agility and effort more than in the past. But some things have not changed. Hard work, integrity, frugality and education remain important and in many ways are more important today than they were when I was a young man.

The challenge for us all is to maintain these age-old principles while adapting to a changed world. The principles that have always contributed to success however still apply and may be more important today than ever.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Good Habits, Better Habits and Change

Good Habits are always good, right? Well, maybe not always. Stephanie Vozza recently wrote at the Fast Company blog about how some good habits may be holding you back. How can this be?

It can be because of change. We face change more and more today. It happens in places it did not used to happen. It happens faster than ever before and often it is more disruptive than in the past. As a result what worked well yesterday will not necessarily work well tomorrow. It may not work at all.

Vozza cites arguments made by Rod Favaron, CEO and president of technology company Spredfast. He came in to lead a startup and now that they have some sustained success he finds he is leading a different kind of company. He finds that what worked for the startup does not necessarily work for the more established business.

Vozza also points out that what might have worked well in one company may not work well at all in another company. People move from one business to another more often these days so this could be very important.

All these points are well made but I suggest they only tell part of the story. There are some universal habits based on unchanging principles that do not change. Habits based on acting with integrity for example serve one well regardless of the change around us. Acting with integrity may well be more important in a rapidly changing world.

I suggest that the challenge is to discern between those habits that still serve you well and those that may not. To help make that distinction I suggest these steps:

  1. Is the habit based on a timeless principle such as integrity or honesty? If it is it will not likely lose effectiveness regardless of what else changes.
  2. Is the habit still working? Does getting up and running every morning still contribute to your fitness?
  3. Has the habit failed to keep up with technology? Can email better communicate to an organization than a paper memo?

Although Vozza’s article was directed at young companies transforming from startups to a second stage growth the principles involved in evaluating the continuing value of a habit can apply equally to other situations including our private lives.

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
www.books2wealth.com