Becoming the Best

Do you want to become the best at what you do? Not everyone does, which is why there is so much mediocrity out there. If you do want to become the best at what you do it requires constant work – constant improvement in yourself. You can have all the splendid plans and goals you wish; you can learn all sorts of strategies but you must have skill and hone that skill over time to become the best at what you do.

As Benjamin Hardy has observed: “When you’re confident about what you do and clear about where you’re going, the right strategy will make itself known. Hence, when your “why” is strong, you’ll figure out “how.”

“The how comes from the why. Not the other way around.”

As Jim Rohn said, “Work hard at your job and you can make a living. Work hard on yourself and you can make a fortune.”

You must take the initiative. You must create. You must ask questions, learn, refine your understanding and develop your abilities. The more capable you become the more valuable you are to others, including those who pay your wages.

Honing your skills means to constantly improve them. Improve the way you do what you do. Learn from others who have achieved success. Seek out and learn the latest techniques. If they are useful learn the latest technologies.

You cannot move forward by standing still. You cannot ever be satisfied with your current abilities. You must constantly improve. That is how you become the best at what you do. Not by doing the same thing over and over – but by doing it better over and over.

Learn how you can achieve more, become better at what you do, 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

Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Synopsis of Content:  

Angela Duckworth, PhD, is a psychologist who has studied what single factor is most important to success. She studied people engaged in high performance activities including business people, spelling bee contestants, Olympic athletes, West Point cadets, students in various educational institutions and many other situations where high performance is required in highly competitive situations. Her research is vigorous.

She learned that two factors are most important to attain success in all these situations. They are passion and perseverance – what she calls grit.

Duckworth found that grit was more important than background, intelligence, talent, looks, past performance, and a number of other factors commonly associated with success. It is not that these other factors are not important. It is that grit is the most important. People with grit who may have less talent or IQ than their competitors come out on top if they have sufficient grit. Likewise people with talent and intelligence often do not do as well if they lack grit.

Grit means a strong and sustained passion or desire to excel. It also requires the willingness to work very hard over a long period of time, not weeks or months, but years, to attain a goal. This combination of passion and perseverance creates the greatest likelihood for success.

What I found useful about this book:

The author’s research and case studies clearly illustrate how grit is the primary factor in success for most people in most situations. It provides a blue print for what it takes to succeed with or without extraordinary talent.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is exceptionally well written and easy to read.

Notes on Author:   

Angela Duckworth, PhD, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the Univ. of Pennsylvania. She has a BA in neurobiology from Harvard, a MSc in neuroscience at Oxford and PhD in psychology from the Univ. of Pennsylvania. She was also an award winning teacher.

Other Books by This Author:

None.

Related Website:   

http://angeladuckworth.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. The single greatest factor in success at any endeavor is grit – the sustained passion to achieve combined with hard work over long periods of time.
  2. Passion can be generated. People can find what they truly want to achieve and dedicate themselves to the pursuit of that success.
  3. Sustained hard work over long periods of time can overcome limitations and help achieve any goal if one is willing to keep at it long enough and with sufficient dedication.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Copyright holder: ©2016 by Angela Duckworth
Publisher: Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The September 2016 Book of the Month

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

The Excellence Habit – How Small Changes in Our Mindset Can Make a Big Difference in Our Lives by Vlad Zachary

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   

The Excellence Habit – How Small Changes in Our Mindset Can Make a Big Difference in Our Lives by Vlad Zachary

Synopsis of Content:  

This book is about becoming better: it is about performing at a higher level, excelling, and achieving more. It is about overcoming barriers both real and perceived. It will inspire and it will teach.

Zachary uses real life case histories and research to show how people have overcome obstacles to their success and achieved more. He then translates that into basic principles that will help you do the same.

Excellence is the key to achieving more. Make excellence your habit and you will succeed. That is his message. The author argues that the main source of success is excellence, and that excellence depends on our internal circumstances, grit, determination and discipline. Excellence Is a process we use to attain a result and that result is success.

Zachary frames the excellence habit in terms of three principles he calls The Iceberg Principle, The Law of Not Selling Out and the Journey Mindset. He allows that luck plays a role in our success but does not dictate it. If we practice more, practice better and do the right things luck usually follows.

The Three Principles of Excellence

The Iceberg Principle is that any success comes from an extraordinary amount of work. It is all that work behind the scenes that lead to achievement. We only see what people achieve, we do not see the immense amount of work and discipline it took to get there.

The Law of Not Selling Out is about setting high standards and goals and then sticking to them no matter what happens. It is about sticking to our core values no matter what happens.

The Journey Mindset is about plotting a path to where we want to get and then following that path. It is a journey, as is life itself.

What I found useful about this book:

The book is inspiring for sure but more than that it provides a real framework for changing the way we think such that we do succeed. It lays out clear principles that we must stick to in order to succeed.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and well organized. It is easy to read.

Notes on Author:  

Vlad Zachary grew up in Bulgaria where he obtained his education as a journalist. He then worked in Africa and learned about being an entrepreneur. He came the US and obtained an MBA from Babson. He founded Pingwyn, a mobile based business.

Related Website:   

http:// www.vladzachary.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. The need for continuous change is at the heart of the Excellence Habit.
  2. Excellence comes from hard work and discipline.
  3. Excellence comes from learning what you must do to achieve your goals and then working hard to achieve them and sticking to your principles and your plan.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Excellence Habit by Vlad Zachary
Copyright holder: ©2015 by Vlad Zachary
Publisher: Central Street Publications

This was originally published as our Book of the Month for August 2016

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

7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness by Jim Rohn

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness by Jim Rohn

Synopsis of Content:

7 Strategies is Rohn’s synopsis of his complete philosophy as it applies to wealth and happiness. He found the two inextricable. One could not likely find true happiness without some financial success and if done right, the pursuit of financial success can be fulfilling.

Rohn sets forth his core philosophy here of the fundamentals. He teaches you how to unleash the power of goals, the importance of continually seeking knowledge and why this is critical, and the need to learn how to change.

He teaches the importance of controlling your finances, mastering how you use your time, the importance of surrounding yourself with winners rather than whiners, and the art of living well.

In a mere 156 pages Rohn discusses all the fundamental skills, habits and beliefs that are required to succeed with money and to be happy. His last chapter, on living well, focuses on how to be happy without constantly seeking more.

This book is the summation of a lifelong search for the fundamentals, a word Rohn loved to use, which are essential to the genuinely good life.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This is a very readable book. Rohn’s style is conversational, much like his audio presentations, and yet is concise.

Notes on Author:

Jim Rohn loved to talk about how he started in life as a humble farm boy in Idaho and came to be rich and famous. At 26 he was broke and going nowhere fast. He teaches how his first mentor, Mr. Earl Shoaf, began his education on these fundamentals. For over 40 years Rohn learned more and more about success and building wealth. He spent those years teaching what he learned to thousands of audiences and millions of people through an exhausting speaking schedule around the world, through his small books and mostly through is famous audio programs. Many of today’s success authors such as Anthony Robbins and Success Magazine editor Darren Hardy got their start studying under Rohn.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Surround yourself with people who will not tolerate mediocrity. Associate with people who are successful and who strive for success and improvement. This association will have a great influence upon you.
  2. Follow the wise words of Rohn’s mentor, Mr. Shoaf, who said, if you want to be successful study success; if you want to make money study the acquisition of wealth; if you want to be happy study people who are happy. Only by continuous learning do you open the doors of success.
  3. If you want to be wealthy and happy learn this well: learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.

Publication Information:  

7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness by Jim Rohn

(c) 1985, 1996 by Jim Rohn

Published by Prima Publishing

Learn More About Jim Rohn here.

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

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Synopsis of Content:

In Defense of Food Michael Pollan has given us the most important book on nutrition in this decade. He strikes back at the deluge of diet books and nutritionalism that has confused Americans now for two generations. He uses science to attack the “science” behind the nutritionalism that has so distorted the American attitude toward food and has left Americans as the most over fed and under nourished in the world.

After poking generous holes in the various theories and diet fads of the past 40+ years Pollan gives us some very decent guidance about what we should be eating and how we should be thinking of food. His fundamental thesis is simple: we should eat food, not too much, and mostly plants. By that he means:

Eat food:  the evidence is overwhelming that we should eat food in as natural a state as possible. We should eat whole foods, not processed foods or refined foods. We should eat more like our ancestors of a century or more ago. If you cannot pronounce or do not recognize the ingredients on a package don’t eat it. If there are generally more than five ingredients don’t eat it. If it contains highly processed and refined foods, including grains, sugar and oils, don’t eat it. If your great grandmother would not have recognized it – don’t eat it. Eat everything else. Eat fresh and frozen (but unprocessed) fruits and vegetables. Eat meat that is not processed or filled with hormones, chemicals, etc. There is a bit more to it than that, but that captures the essence of eating “food”.

Not too much: Americans eat on average 700 calories more per day than they did just 50 years ago. We are bigger, fatter, more obese, and have more disease arising from poor nutrition than ever. We have more diabetes, heart disease and cancer from eating junk food. We also have too much fat on our bodies because we exercise too little and eat too much. Portion sizes are too large and our food is more loaded with fats and sweeteners.

Mostly plants: while one does not need to be a vegetarian to eat healthy, the more meat one eats, especially fatty and processed meats, the less healthy we are. Plants provide the healthiest nutrients and the least unnecessary calories for our body if they are fresh and wholesome.

Pollan points out that various ethnic diets, especially in the Mediterranean and Asia are far healthier because they follow these three simple guidelines. The modern American diet, on the other hand, with its processed foods, high fructose corn syrup laden drinks and quickie pizza and burgers is a short road to disease.

Our youth, who have grown up on this diet, and will less exercise than Americans traditionally got, may be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Pollan is not a radical. He does not say you have to eat tofu and raw food all day. There are many very healthy, delicious foods that you can and should eat. His indictment is against the highly processed and inadequate foods that dominate our diet today.

This is not the first book to send this message – but Pollan does a very good job as a careful journalist to bring us the facts to support the position he takes. By adhering to the simple guidelines he suggests we can regain health as well as our waistlines. His arguments are compelling as well as reasonable.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This is very well written. He writes in an engaging style and yet provides the footnotes and sources that support his position.

Notes on Author:

Michael Pollan is an accomplished author and journalist and is the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. He writes for NY Times Magazine. He also authored The Omnivore’s Dilemma among others.

Related Website:

http://www.michaelpollan.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Eat food that is wholesome, as natural and whole as possible and with as little processing as possible. Stick to the outside of the supermarket, if you must buy food in supermarkets, aiming for in season produce, fresh unprocessed meats and dairy with as little processing as possible. Avoid artificial ingredients and “convenience foods”.
  2. Make sure to get exercise every day.
  3. Eat slowly and intentionally, and only eat until you are full or nearly full. Reduce the size of portions that are all too common in the Western diet today.

Publication Information:  

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

©2008 by Michael Pollan. Published by Penguin Books. 205 pages not including Sources and Index.

Wishing you well,

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

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

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

The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Book Review

Title and Author:  The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:

The central message of this book is that success can be learned. We can read about the success of others and observe what they do in daily life and from their successes and failures we can learn what to do and what not to do.

No matter what we set out to do this book teaches the fundamental skills and disciplines that have allowed so many successful people to excel and achieve what they set out to achieve.

The book discusses the importance of attitude and our mental state to success. It teaches how to determine our chief aim or goal in life and how to focus on that. It tells us why that is so critical to success.

You then learn about the power of dedication and persistence, the price one must pay for genuine success, the importance of planning and setting goals, and the importance of executing on those plans. Finally there is a lot of discussion about self-discipline in a number of areas to enable us to succeed.

What I found useful about this book:

This book is based on proven techniques for success. There are no secrets to success and no magic involved. It is about proper focus, planning, execution and persistent dedication. It is about developing and maintaining the proper disciplines to achieve.

Readability/Writing Quality:  
The book is aimed at a general audience. It is well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:
The author has spent the last three decades studying success. He put what he learned into practice to go from poverty to become a successful public servant and rise to the top of his organization. He writes and blogs on success, leadership, wealth building, and personal development.

Other Books by This Author:
Your Financial Success
Effective Time Management

Related Website:

http://www.thesuccessessentials.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Success begins in the mind. We must determine what we want to achieve and develop commitment and dedication to that aim. We must believe we will achieve what we set out to do.
  2. Proper planning is essential to success. We must set goals properly and then execute on them daily to succeed.
  3. Success in any endeavor requires a high level of commitment, dogged persistence and the cultivation of proven self-discipline. Focus and hard work are essential to success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2011 and 2013 by Daniel R. Murphy

Publisher: Albany Publishing Company

Wishing you well,

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