The Well-Kept Secret

Those who are financially free are those who know, and have applied, something that the rest of us don’t.  In fact, not only wealthy people, but every person who has success in any area of life has learned and applied a secret principle.  Although these people are not shy about sharing their secret formula with others, the principle remains elusive for most people.  And of those who know this principle which guarantees success, a great many people refuse to employ it to affect the result they desire.

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The Action Component

It’s been said that knowledge is power.  This is almost correct:  applied knowledge is power.  The difference between knowledge and applied knowledge is this well-kept secret known by all who possess success–be it financial, physical, or in any other realm.  You must know what you want.  You must know what actions are required to obtain what you want.  But with these two pieces only you cannot succeed.  You need the third piece: consistent daily action.

Discover Your Dream

Imagine your dream life.  If you could have anything, anything at all, what would it be?  Whatever it is, let’s represent it as a large tree.  You have an axe and must chop down this large tree.  Each swing of your axe gets you a little closer to your goal.  Find a mentor who has a life closer to your dream life than you do.  Ask him what actions he took to achieve the level of success he has attained.  These actions are your axe swings.

Five a Day, Every Day

Now for the application of the secret principle:  Take these actions; every day.  Not some days, not for a short period, but every day.  Here’s what I know:  if you swing your axe five times per day, every day, every day, every day, eventually the tree will fall.  No matter how big the tree, no matter how great or terrible you are at swinging, the tree will fall.  You must know what you want, you must know the right activities, but many people who have these things right still do not succeed.  Too often, we give up to early, or fail to take daily consistent action.

Persist Until Victorious

Do not let failure beat you in this way.  Discover your dreams, find what your axe swings are.  Then commit to doing them every day without fail for the next 2, 5, 10 or how ever many years are required to get there.  Success is never comfortable or easy; it is, however, worth it!

Your Surroundings

Imagine I had a very valuable and powerful computer, capable of extraordinary things and able to make me healthy, happy, and wealthy.  What should I do with this incredible machine?  If I asked you who I should have program it for me, who would you recommend?  Should I allow random coworkers, family members, or friends to load whatever content they want into my computer?

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Your Incredible Mind

Guess what—you do have a very powerful computer that can get you anything you want in life.  It’s called your brain!  Scientists are continually amazed at the incredible complexity and capability of the human mind.  And, just like a computer, your brain can be programmed.  In fact, your brain is being programmed whether you realize it or not!

The problem with most of us is that we are simply not intentional about what we allow to program our brains.  We often let the foolish words of well-meaning people invade our minds and keep us from growing to the heights we’re capable of.  One may try something great, fail, and accept failure as part of his life.  He then spreads his bile to those around him, discouraging others from pursuing their dreams, simply because he has failed, given up, and accepted defeat.

Filtering What Goes In

You have a choice.  You can spend time around the failure of a man described in the previous paragraph, letting his rotten ideas and programming spoil your mind.  Or, you can intentionally limit your time around such people and develop a filter for the junk ideas they spew.  Turning positively, you can seek out successful people, people who have achieved what you want and are seeking to improve themselves further still, and allow them to speak positive ideas into your mind.

Choose Your Associations Wisely

Success always requires hard work and sacrifice.  You can decide to accept your status quo as it is now and fill your life with distraction and entertainment.  Or, you can get around people who challenge, inspire, and motivate you.  The company you keep and the advice you follow will create the path and future of your life.  Will the path you’re on today lead to a thriving life?

True Spirituality

What does it mean to be spiritual?  Does a person with a strong spiritual life simply keep all the rules?  And what’s the point of living in true spirituality anyway, when it seems like all you get for your sacrifices is some undefined goody-goody feeling?  Today we’ll explore these questions and more, and learn what the world’s greatest teacher had to say on the subject.

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Actions Speaking Louder

Many of us have had less than positive experiences growing up around Christian people.  Even within the church, it’s all too common to see people talk about all kinds of good things, but then when we see how they live, the disparity is enormous.  What good is it to talk about the right things one ought to do, and then go out and live completely the opposite?  Seeing people living this way can make us jettison the whole idea of Christianity:  who wants to follow a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites?!!

Not Based in Duty or Behavior

Jesus’ picture of spirituality, as contrasted with the heresy described in the previous paragraph, has nothing to do with activity.  Rather, true spirituality is walking in a loving relationship with our Father God.  You see, while we were sinners, alienated from our Creator because of our sin, God sent his son Jesus to come, live a perfect life, and die the death we deserved.  When we respond to this truth and turn from our sin and to Christ as Lord, God grants us new life. Just as God saw our sin placed on Christ at the cross, He now sees Christ’s perfection in us.  No longer are we estranged from our Creator – we are His sons and daughters!

Living in Response to What He Has Done

True spirituality, then, is living in response to this truth, to this great gift of salvation we have received.  When we understand what Christ has done for us, we respond in the only way possible—by loving Him, loving what He loves, and desiring His will.  How do we know what He loved?  In the Scriptures we hear from God who He is, what He has done, and how He desires we live.  Christ taught us that the first commandment is to love God above all else.  The second commandment is to love our neighbors. On these two commandments hang all the teachings of the Law, and if you think about it, sole direction one needs to live as a blessing to those around him.  Though living this way is not easy, and even as followers of Christ we often fall short and sin, this is the way to true spirituality and eternal life:  accept the gift of salvation Christ offers, and devote your life to following Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He is gentle and humble of heart, and will lead you, protect you, and invite you into His heavenly kingdom.

Get More of What You Want

What if there were a way that you could have more of the things you want in life? A better car, more time with family, better and more frequent vacations, or anything else you can think of. Would you be willing to make a few changes in your life in order to get these things?

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Have You Lost Your Dreams?

Most people are good dreamers when they’re young. We imagine what life could be: the things we’ll do, the places we’ll go, the people we’ll influence. But, as we get older and become part of “the real world,” the temptation surfaces to deny or suppress our dreaming. There are a few big reasons this happens. One, that’s what people around us do. As you know from being a reader of this blog, that’s never a good reason to do anything! But a second reason is that often the practical cost of all the things we’d like to do adds up to a great deal more than we earn in income. This is a real limitation, but I have some good news: it can be overcome in two ways.

Owning Your Priorities

The first way to overcome the gap between what your dream life costs and the money you have available is to eliminate things which are not essential. For example, I may dream of owning a top-of-the line road bike, but don’t currently have the $1,500 in the bank to purchase one. However, owning the bike of my dreams is actually within my reach. I can get the $1,500 I need if I will simply commit to cutting $1,500 from other areas in my life. Maybe I collect $200 by abstaining from buying coffee from Starbucks for a year. I can collect another $300 by canceling cable TV for three months, and get $150 more by selling an old stereo that I never use. What I’m doing here is sacrificing the things that aren’t important to me in order to obtain that which is important to me.

We often let statements like, “I wish I could afford that,” or, “someday I hope to be able to…” come out of our mouths. As in our example above, the fact of the matter is that we can afford the things we’re dreaming about, but we refuse to give up the other things in our life that we need to sacrifice in order to get it.

Instead of Shrinking Your Dreams, Expand Your Income

The long-term way to overcome the gap between the life we imagine and the life we can afford is to develop an asset. One of the best definitions of an asset, especially in the context of what we’re discussing here, is Robert Kiosagi. In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert defines an asset as something you own that produces a stream of income for you. By this definition, a house you own and live in isn’t really an asset, because it moreso takes your money, through taxes, interest, and upkeep expenses, than it produces in capital appreciation for you. An asset by Robert’s definition would be ownership in a growing company, a stock or bond, or creating a franchise. What assets do you have currently? What opportunities do you have to develop an asset?

We’ll Show You How

If you don’t know where or how you could begin to create an asset for yourself, you are in the right place! Part of what we do as part of our ThriveMart business is something called, “personal franchising.” We help people to do what we’ve done—start a business that they own without the risks and financial investment typically required to launch a business. Visit our ThriveMart facebook page and send us a message to learn more, and remember what Zig Ziglar says, “you can have anything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want!”

Does Money Drive Your Decisions?

Have you ever heard someone quote from the Bible that, “money is the root of all evil?” Does God really oppose riches and want His children to avoid nice homes, cars, and other physical possessions?  Is it wrong to seek financial freedom and success?

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To start off, let’s check the accuracy of that biblical quote.

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7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Money is Paper

Does this passage teach that money is bad?  Is money the root of all evil?  No. Rather, it is the love of money that is a root of all sorts of evil.  Loving anything more than we love God is idolatry, and to do so violates what Christ said was the greatest commandment:  to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As the passage above teaches, many foolish men have wandered away from God in the pursuit of their greatest love:  money.

So, if loving money is a danger we must be careful to avoid, should we seek to keep our income low and not bother to learn sound financial principles and habits?  Some have misquoted and misunderstood Scripture in asserting such ideas, only to find that this foolishness has the opposite effect than what was intended.

Money on Your Mind

Which man spends more time thinking about money, the one who earns plenty and has a large savings account or the one who earns little and lives paycheck to paycheck?  All else equal, who places more value on a $100 bill, a man who’s in debt up to his ears or a man who has a $1 million net worth?  A rich man may be miserly or generous, and a poor man may love God or love money, but in general the following applies:  those with plenty of money make fewer decisions based on money than do those who have little.

How Then Shall We Live?

So, what does this mean for us—the majority between poverty and affluence?  How should we live in light of these truths?  I see two major lessons:  First, always check your heart that you’re loving God more than money (or anything else for that matter).  Whether you count yourself rich or not, your heart can be led astray after money, so guard yourself and always see money as a means to serving God, not the other way around.  Lesson number two is this: act wisely now in order that your decisions need not revolve around money later.  Dave Ramsey says in this way:  Live now like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else.

Don’t Be the Joneses

It’s a hard thing to do, saying no to fun trips, activities, and purchases just because “we don’t have the money.”  What makes it even harder is that it’s so easy to borrow money on a credit card or finance a big purchase, and this is exactly what our neighbors do.  But, if you will make the hard decisions and say no today, the money you save and invest will grow and compound, and one day you’ll reach the position of financial strength and freedom where money no longer drives your decisions.  We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Reaching New Heights Together

Imagine being healthier and fitter than you’ve ever been in your life.  How great would it feel to look the way you want and have a habit of taking good care of your body?  Well today, we’re launching a tool that will help you do just that.

We’ve just added a resource to the recently redesigned ThriveFit page that will help you get plugged into this great community.  By connecting with each other, we can spur each other on and encourage everyone to reach new heights and achieve the results we all want.  Check out this free resource today by choosing ThriveFit from the top menu and selecting Results.  Or, just add totalthriver.com/results to your favorite places (or subscribe via rss). Be sure to register yourself as a user and share your successes with us!

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Is Success Once Success?

One day, a little boy decided he wanted to learn to ride a bike.  He found his dad and asked him all about how bicycles worked.  His dad told him all about the history of bicycles, the parts that make up a bicycle, and the technique required to ride one.

Victory!  Or Is It?

The boy and his dad began working diligently on learning to ride the bike.  As the boy practiced, he gradually improved, until one afternoon, his dad released his grip on the back of the seat and the boy rode under his own power for a full block.  Happy and proud, both man and son returned home and parked the bike in the garage.  The bike stayed in it’s spot in the garage all night.  The next day, the bike also stayed in its place.  So too the third day, fourth day, and fifth day.  In fact, the bike stayed put for weeks, followed by months, and then years.  The boy never again took the bike out for a ride, though he walked past it nearly every day.  Now the question: did this boy learn to ride a bike?

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Technically, the boy learned all about the bike.  And once, he did manage to ride it a ways.  But did he benefit?  Did anyone benefit?

Assimilate It

You see, you and I are often like that foolish boy.  We undertake a worthy venture, like eating healthier, beginning a fitness regimen, or connecting with God in Scripture and prayer, but we fail to continue and create a permanent habit.  In so doing, we miss out on the benefit of the venture, just as the boy missed out on the joys and benefits of bicycling around his neighborhood.

Today’s the Day!

Can you think of something you know you should be doing, something perhaps that you’ve even successfully done on occasion, but that you’ve never gotten consistent with?  What benefits would you enjoy if you made this behavior a permanent habit in your life?  It could be that the only thing separating you from the greater level of success or achievement that you desire is the simple consistent application of something you already know how to do!  Will you take the steps today to make a new habit for your own success?  Make a commitment, let someone know about it, and enjoy your journey to the top!

Learning Something New

Are you growing?  Not in height, but in your capabilities, your character, your walk with God?  Here’s one way to check:  how often lately have you been frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable?

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Yes Benefits, No Discomfort

It’s a little funny sometimes how we always want to have the capability, the strength, the skill, but we avoid the exact things it takes to develop those parts into us.  I’ve heard it said that the place where success resides is outside your comfort zone.  I think that describes it pretty well.  Have you been there lately?

I’ve been learning what some may think is an odd skill lately, and even though it might not be the most important capability in the world, the experience has been very enlightening.  You probably can’t tell, but this article is being written with a different keyboard than usual.  It’s called the Dvorak keyboard layout, and I encourage you to Google it and learn more about what makes it worth learning.

But keyboards aren’t what we’re talking about:  we’re talking about learning.  And it’s what I learned about learning that can encourage and propel you to success in what’s important to you.  What I learned is this:

Embrace the Stages

Learning involves progressing through four distinct stages.  Only if you persist through the hard times, the times that make you want to quit, will you get to experience the benefits on the other side.  If there’s only one thing you hear from this entire article, let it be this:  you must persist.  When all seems most hopeless, you must hang on—you are so close to a breakthrough!

The four stages of learning are these:  enthusiastic beginner, frustrated learner, capable but lacking confidence, and master.  When I first learned of the Dvorak keyboard layout, I got really excited!  I jumped into an online lesson and flew through it happily.  This enthusiasm lasted a few days…

By the next week I had a few of the letters down, but by no means enough to type at a decent pace.  I used the backspace key like nobody’s business, and it seemed typing three sentences would take me all day.  It was at this point that the thought of giving up entered my mind.  To make matters worse, I told a few friends about what I was doing and how it could benefit them.  Rather than getting excited like I did, they told me that this was a waste of time and not worth the effort.  This was the low point of my Dvorak experience, and only my commitment to learning and growing helped me hold on.

Don’t Give Up!

I’m happy to report that as I persisted, I began to improve and the new style of typing became more and more fun.  Better than that, I began to see some of the lessons I’m describing for you here, and that made me even happier that I stuck with it!  I still have some room to grow before I become a master Dvorak typist, but I’m at a strong pace and am moving forward—taking the lessons I’ve learned and applying them to growth in the areas that matter most.  Will you get out of your comfort zone this week and start learning something new?  Let us know what it is by registering (which is free of course) and posting a comment below!  Thanks for including us on your path to a thriving life!

Set the Right Goals, and Don’t Forget to Execute!

Believe it or not, we’re coming up on the second quarter of 2013—have you set your goals yet? If you had set goals for 2013, are you progressing toward them? If you’re like many people, you may have let these aspirations move to the back burner. Today we’ll look at whether these goals should move to the front burner or off the stove completely. For those that do belong on your front burner, how can you keep your focus on them and ensure that they’re reached?

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What’s the Problem?

There are a few major reasons why a goal you set early in the year will fade into the background after a few weeks or months. One reason could be that the goal was not something you truly want or value. Sometimes it can be difficult to really drill down to the things we really want. In fact, focusing on ourselves only can result in blurry vision. Instead, recognize that your Creator God made you in a particular way; individually and different than anyone else. What strengths and passions has He placed in you, and what purpose does He want to use you to accomplish?

Translate the Long Term to What to Do Today

Another common reason that we discard our goals relates to lack of detailed planning and accountability. Instead of setting general goals and stopping there, translate your goals into weekly activities and execute them consistently.

Seven Key Areas

The following six-step process provides a simple overview of how to set the right goals and adopt the habits that will lead you to reach them. Use these steps as guidelines to build a specific process that works for you. This method can be applied to reach success in any area of life, and we recommend using it for eack of the following areas:
• Career
• Fitness
• Personal Development
• Spiritual
• Family
• Financial
• Social

The six steps toward setting and executing worthwhile goals are as follows:

Step 1 – Figure out what you want. Peace? Financial security? Influence? Travel? Strong relationships? Missions? Taking care of family? Be specific. What would your life look like if you inherited $200 million today and also learned that you have only 5 years to live?

Step 2 – Find people who have what you want and listen to them; protect your mind from people [who don’t have what you want] who want to give you advice. Does your brother-in-law have financial success? If not, don’t take his financial advice.

Step 3 – Based on what you want (step 1) develop big, 5-yr goals. Figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this year to reach these big goals. Then, figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this month to hit the annual goals.

Step 4 – Plan out daily activities that will lead you to your monthly goals. Work with an experienced mentor [from step 2] to insure you choose the right activities.

Step 5 – Put your daily activities into your calendar, and stick to your calendar

Step 6 – Forget about the goals and focus on executing this day’s activities. Report how you did to your mentor. If you completed today’s activities, be happy with that.

Focus on things you can control—your activity. Focusing on results instead of activities you can control can be frustrating. Use your mentor to determine the right activities, do them consistently, and results will come.

Keys to Leadership and Success

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership Team Development (LTD) business conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  My team and I had the chance to learn leadership and success principles from some of the best in our industry.  For your benefit, I’ve summarized some of our major takeaways from the weekend in the following article.  If you’re interested in how you can join this amazing team and have access to great conferences and leaders like these while you create an additional income stream for yourself, feel free to comment on this post or leave a message on our ThriveMart page.  We’d love to be a part of your journey to the top!

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Common Denominators

My single biggest takeaway from the weekend came from a presentation of the five common denominators of every successful business owner.  The general idea was that even though different people build their businesses differently, they all generally do the following five things consistently.

Harmony

In my mind’s eye, I pictured business as an engine.  If you take action on these five things consistently, your engine stays in step with itself–in harmony.  But if not, the time and energy you spend on one cylinder gets for the most part wasted when one of your other cylinders isn’t firing properly.  I believe that a lack of knowledge of this principle has been one thing that has held our business back from realizing its full potential up to this point.  When I first got into business for myself, I thought, “This is great—I get to be my own boss and set my own schedule” and I think I translated that into, “I need only do the things I find fun; I can avoid the uncomfortable things.”  In reality, the proper way to build a business is to set the time commitment you’re willing to make, and work on each of the five things consistently during the time you’ve made available.

Ok, enough commentary, here are the five things:

  • Consistent sales:  Be sure that you’re using your products personally promoting their benefits to existing and potential customers.
  • Read and listen:  Become a collector of great business books and audio recordings of the best and brightest leaders of today and yesterday.  Incidentally, Zig Ziglar is probably my favorite person to read and listen to.  Make sure you get at least a few hours of reading and at least a few hours of listening each week.
  • Lead others:  Share your business with others who have interest in joining your team.  Once you understand how to do something, you can help another person learn it.  Multiply yourself by training others to learn and do those things which made you successful.
  • Spend time around successful people:  Get around the people who have what you want and are doing what you want to be doing as often as possible.  Attend informal gatherings, team meetings, and conferences as often as they are available.  Make the decision to consistently attend beforehand and work the other demands on your schedule around your business. (Note: never lose sight of your priorities:  God, family, then business.  But work your schedule in advance in order to attend these important opportunities for instruction and encouragement)
  • Communicate with your team: Call, email, and text your mentors as well as those whom you are mentoring.  Good communication increases accountability and helps mentees learn from your actions.

Don’t Stop Short

A final picture of this idea goes like this.  Assuming a soda costs $1, what do you get if you put 95 cents into the machine?  Nothing.  You spent all that effort getting the money in, but because you didn’t get all the way to the full dollar, you end up getting nothing.  Neglecting one of the five areas is like leaving off the last five cents.  Don’t leave your effort in the soda machine or run your car on 3 cylinders:  translate these concepts into your life and get going on your journey to the top!