By Jim Sheridan
Welcome back, brethren. Let’s continue our conversation about the importance of your mind regarding wealth creation because it’s the most underestimated weapon you have. In fact, it’s my view that the mind is the only difference between you and the wealthy minority.
Each week you listen to me rant, criticize, and dole out advice, so I guess you think I must have all the answers and that it’s all okay for me because I’m in the lucky few. So this week, I thought I’d turn the lecturing finger back on myself and confess to my greatest imperfection… which is also my greatest wealth-creating secret. You have this weapon too, and I’d like to explain how to find it and use it.
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Recently, a lady in my neighbourhood contacted me and asked if she could buy me lunch. I explained that I’m a happily married man, but she interrupted and said it was for business reasons (the way men’s minds work…). I asked what it was about exactly and she said that she’d heard I was a very successful person and she wanted to pick my brain. Ever respecting of people who want to learn, I agreed and met her for an Italian meal. This lady was already a reasonably successful businesswoman, but she was delighted to be sitting with me.
I don’t say this to boast, merely to put things in perspective as to why she wanted to speak to me, and to set the scene: my personal achievements are somewhat above average. And, as I’ll explain in a second, I’m NOT amazingly proud of these achievements. To give you a brief resume (most people think I’m full of it when I tell them all this):
* At age 18 I was a pro ice hockey player in Britain’s premier league.
* At age 20 I was the youngest regional manager in their history for a major auto manufacturer.
* At age 22 I got bored with that and decided to become an airline pilot, paying for my own training with no guarantee of a job. My employer thought I was nuts and so did all my friends and family.
* At age 29 I became the youngest 737 captain on the fleet of a major airline. The airline had to get a special dispensation from the insurance company to allow this, and I was the first captain in the airline’s history to get a unanimous ‘yes’ from the command review board.
* At age 32 I got bored with that and decided to become financially free by starting my own business. I quit the airline, and now my friends and family REALLY thought I was nuts.
* My business went on to become a multi-million dollar success, and in 2006 I retired as I had originally wanted to.
* Age 36 and retired, I stared at the swimming pool and got bored after a week and decided to become a bestselling novelist. My novel, The Pandora Prescription, became a bestseller in 2007, and got translated into three languages including Chinese.
* Age 37, I missed flying. So I bought a small plane and set a world airspeed record for that weight category (as one does). Mid-air, I also set a world record for sales from a promotion I wrote.
* At age 39, I produced a TV show.
* Age 40, nobody was impressed anymore. I wasn’t impressed either, and I started to question my actions and motivations.
* By the way, I failed my high school exams and never went to college.
Do shades of Forrest Gump spring to mind?
So it’s understandable why she wanted to meet me. She may have thought me a total loon, but she also sensed that she could reap some kind of secret that I evidently had. What was it that enabled me to somehow get whatever I wanted? To grant myself every wish like some kind of genie in a lamp…
So she takes a sip of Pellegrino and says: “One thing. Just tell me the ONE THING. How do you do it?”
One thing? Just one??
I took a generous gulp of Chianti and thought hard (there’s really no such thing as a free lunch, is there?). I dug deep into my soul and I didn’t like what I saw…
If she’d have asked me this question a year earlier, I would’ve been deeply flattered and delivered an answer somewhere along the lines of how cool I was. However, she’d caught me after a personal, spiritual journey that I’d embarked on the previous few years in the wake of a divorce. A personal descent to know myself, my demons, and what drives me.
But her question demanded that I define it, to crystallize the fruits of my personal quest over the previous two years…
I had two words for her: GRIM DETERMINATION.
Emphasis on ‘grim’.
I looked at her with steely eyes and said, “What are you willing to personally sacrifice? How OBSESSED are you prepared to become about your goal? Do you even have a goal?”
The part you didn’t see on that impressive resume was the personal price I paid. I don’t mean financial, I mean emotional. What do you think it took to accomplish all that? Do you think I could go out partying every night, goof off whenever, and generally screw around, drifting with the tides and smelling the roses? Do you think I had time for friendships? Do you think I could even entertain the idea of committing myself romantically to another or searching for my soul mate? Do you think I could afford to be negative or complain about things not being fair?
Do you think I’m proud of it all?
Twenty years of nothing but hard-won accomplishment. A room full of awards, a bank account full of money, an empty bed, and the occasional respecting word from a lady like this over lunch (but mostly it’s friction caused by jealousy).
My friend, life is one big trade off. You simply have to choose. Or you have to balance.
I don’t have a magic wand, I have blinkers on. I have a deadly weapon, and that weapon is GRIM determination.
Here’s the thing: This power can also be a curse. I have to be extremely careful for the things I wish for because they may become an all-consuming desire at the expense of everything else.
It’s like being a nuclear bomb. In the right hands, great. In the wrong hands (or focused on a flawed objective), deadly. Truly a weapon of mass destruction if used irresponsibly.
The psychology behind this is simple. I had an over-critical father who constantly said I was “useless” when I was very young and impressionable. I’m not alone here, but a child can go one of two ways when confronted by this as their mind develops: they can either believe that they’re “useless”, or they can rebel and become programmed to prove otherwise. This is the so-called ‘fight or flight’ mental mechanism.
It’s very simple: what you experienced as a child defines you.
You may not be aware of this, but you’re currently either rebelling against or reproducing what you experienced in childhood. Fight or flight.
Until a few years ago, my life was an unconscious quest to prove that I was not “useless”. I guess I proved that I wasn’t and then some, but who was I doing it for?
I was doing it for a vicious and hideous monster that was the creation of childhood. A demon inside me, a phantom. My subconscious. My ‘secret’ was a brutal monster that will always be inside me, a monster who will attack anything in the way of the goal I’ve set myself, however dumb or pointless that goal may be, and whatever the personal cost to the ‘real’ me.
As I said, I’m not proud of this secret, but neither am I alone. Where do you think the inspiration has come from for stories from ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ to ‘Fight Club’ to ‘The Incredible Hulk’?
YOU have something dark lurking deep inside you, you’re not immune to the affliction, but it may have affected you in different ways to me, you may have taken the ‘flight’ response to adversity. Either way, it is your DUTY to know yourself, your demon, because this is what is driving you on a daily basis…
THE ONE THING THAT DEFINES YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU ARE.
So what is it?
Ask the question. This is self-awareness, or ‘consciousness’.
But I need my monster to achieve things, to make money, to survive. I can’t help the fact that he’s so vicious. He’s got me this far, so what am I to do? These past few years I haven’t really focused on anything because my monster had been tranquilized, and so, while the break was much needed, I now wish to pursue goals without the bad consequences (retirement, though I could have this immediately, is not a goal). What am I to do?? This…
My monster is now in a cage, and I let him out (on a leash) when required. Only in business hours, and the goal must be carefully selected to be something I truly do wish for after careful consideration, because it will become an obsession. It isn’t easy. And it’s frightening to watch when let loose. Obsession is the secret… as long as you can get the genie back in the bottle.
You see, thankfully I eventually did meet my soul mate, and I don’t want this monster to ruin things for me (believe me, he’s tried). I now have the love of an amazing woman that I probably don’t deserve, but will hold on to as if it was a life raft in a stormy sea. I’ve experienced the consequences of a life without balance, a life without consciousness, and I’ve learned what’s truly important. And, much like Forrest Gump, it was all really about “My Jenny” and coming ‘home’.
I suspect your problems are different to mine, but the solution is found in the same place…
By definition, you’re here because you want wealth and success, and you’re doing the right thing by listening to someone who’s achieved the things you seek. The big secret to achieving your goal is the one deep inside you. It’s a secret without you even knowing it, and I suspect it’s working against you, not for you like my secret was.
Stop what you’re doing. Go within, go deep, and challenge the artificial processes going on within you. What are your opinions and why? Who’s saying those things in your head?
Your quest begins here.
Go watch that movie, ‘The Truman Show’ with new eyes, if you want a fun assignment.
By the way, you know that voice you can hear inside you now that’s resistant to everything I’m saying? That’s the monster… and he doesn’t want you confronting him. What’s that saying? “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was making people think he didn’t exist…”
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