Sunday, October 02, 2005

The people you meet and the books you read

Here are three things that struck me this week and some thoughts for you on each.

First is that you become like the people you meet and the books you read. This is one of the most important lessons that I've been taught because it is so incredibly simple and yet profound, and always practical.

Think about the type of person you want to be in five years. Think also about the kind of life you would like to be living in five years. Do you think it is possible to achieve? I would tell you, along with Charlie that it truly is possible to create the life of your dreams using this principle of the people you meet (and associate with) and the books you read.

Here is how it works: If you want to be a certain kind of person, begin to seek out, meet, and associate with and learn from those kinds of people. By associating with them you will begin to change yourself and become like your desired outcome.

This works the same way with books. If you want to master something, you can simply seek out 60 books on the topic and read one a month for 5 years. I guarantee you that you will become like the books that you read - at the very least you will become so much more like your desired result. This is even more true to the degree that you take the lessons and principles you learn and act on them.

Let's look at an example: Let's say that you want to become wealthy. Think about the people you associate with. Are they wealthy? Let me preface this next comment with this: I am not suggesting you dump your poor friends because they are poor. I am going to suggest that your poor friends won't be able to teach you how to be rich, so you need to seek out men and women who are living a wealthy lifestyle and associate with them--and learn from them, then begin to live like them.

This works with the books too. Set up a 60 book reading list, and read one book on wealth and finances every month for five years. Put the principles into practice in your own life and I'll bet that you will be better off financially at the end of five years.

Second, taking small steps builds courage and confidence. I remember reading an article written by Michael Jordan about how his confidence was built. The great basketball player Larry Bird once said that "God has disguised himself as Michael Jordan." Many people think that Michael Jordan may have always been the best basketball player in the history of the world, and yet many of them do not know that he was cut from his high school basketball team (when he was a sophomore). So how did he go from not being able to make his team to one of the most recognizable people on the planet?


Jordan says that the key to his success is confidence and yet, it was only through each successive win that he came to have the confidence to perform the next great feat. It all really started with a game winning last-second shot in college when he realized that perhaps he could go to the next level. It built his confidence. By the end of his career, he had so much confidence that every time it came down to a last-second shot, everybody in the stadium knew that Michael would be the one to take it.

So what does that mean for you and me? I think it is simple. No one starts out as "Michael Jordan Superstar" - not even Michael Jordan!

Instead, we must tackle small wins and build our courage and confidence so that we can take the next step in our lives and careers - phases that we may not be able to get to in large steps, but can in small steps. What do you want to accomplish - that big dream of yours? That's great! But is it more likely that you will get there slowly and surely than through one big jump? You bet. So take each step carefully and move toward the accomplishment of all your dreams and goals.

And third, average people do incredible things. One of the most fascinating aspects of my life has been meeting many people who have achieved so much. From a very early age, people who have shaped their world with incredible accomplishments have surrounded me. It has been a privilege to learn from them and see inside of their lives and careers.

Do you know what one of the most empowering things I have learned by observing these people? It is this:

They are no better than anyone else. Period.

Occasionally, I will meet someone who will reference someone else and begin to talk as though that other person were other-worldly. It may be a sports hero, a politician or another speaker.

Unfortunately, what has happened is that the person has either over-valued the achiever or under-valued himself.

You see, there are no "super-humans." Superman is a cartoon. There are high achievers, yes. But they are ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things. And yet these high achievers are just people. They hurt, they cry, they fail, they make mistakes and they are trying to find their way - just like everyone else. Because of the cult of personality, we think of them otherwise.

I think that understanding this is extremely empowering! Why? Because it means that any one of us can accomplish great things! Think about it: If success only came to these "super-beings" then those who were merely mortal would have no hope. And yet, success can come to anyone. Anyone can be rich. Anyone has a chance to make a huge impact on their world. Anyone can build a great business. That is an amazing thing to believe and act on!

So, the next time you see someone who has accomplished much, admire them, but see them as an example that can be followed, not on a level that is beyond your reach!

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