“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
In 2008, I was asked to speak at my Alma Mata, Centenary College of Louisiana, where I received my physics undergraduate degree. I was excited to get a chance to think about what I had learned over the years since graduation and pass that on to some of the incoming students.
This was a great introspective opportunity and I leveraged my love of observing and surrounding myself with people who are happy and successful (by their own definition). Can’t imagine this would be a bad thing to do…
Thinking back over the years of observation (I’m a huge fan of psychology) and pulling data points from articles and books I came up with something I called “The System”, a representation based on reading about and watching successful people, happy people, and trying to find the trends in their lives. This is what I observed. It might be good to note that since 2008, I have used it to live by and couldn’t be happier.
I noticed over the years that there seemed to be 5 “buckets” around successful people that influence thinking and being. Balancing the buckets is what enhances that success. Let’s start with you. YOU are at the center of it all, your physical being, your ability to think, your values. Intrinsic to you is a definition of success. YOU define success and can choose the thought environment around you and how you interact with it, so you must control the buckets in a way that leads to your success definition.
Three quick caveats:
- Success is what you define it to be
- The pursuit is an ever-changing, very dynamic, continuous journey
- These are “Brandon-isms”, they work for me, take what you want but I invite you to create your own “-isms”
B1 – Curiosity: Keeping an open mind will allow you to think more clearly. It yields creativity (which I believe everyone has) and innovation (which I define as applied creativity). Actions: Pay attention to your surroundings – trends, sudden changes, google. There’s a reason for EVERYTHING! – What is it?
Actions: Ask questions! Interact with your physical environments.
B2 – Learning: “Thinking is a skill that must be learned” – Learning has little to do with how smart you are or your intelligence. Learning helps open new doors, find new hobbies, develop new skills, improve current skills, etc. It keeps the brain young. Learning can yield positive thinking. Never stop learning – every entrepreneur will attribute a part of their success to the love of learning. Train yourself to find opportunity in failure – failure is part of learning. Reinforce what you have learned by doing. Good quote: “Our lives basically change in two ways: The people we meet and the books we read.” – Harvey Mackay. (Hint: those both involve learning)
Actions: Set a learning goal(s) every year, and never stop. Focus on your strengths! Don’t know yours? – Try stuff… how else will you learn?!
B3 – Travel: Immersing yourself in a place or culture different from your own often leads to open mindedness and a better macro/global understanding. The best part is that everyone’s experience is different. This yields greater understanding about diversity (another creativity booster). Good quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.“ – Mark Twain – I couldn’t agree more.
Actions: Take at least one interesting trip to a new place a year. This could be a new place across town, across the country, across the globe. No excuses – do it. Bonus points if you try something new while there.
B4 – Relationships: This is your network, your family and friends, your peers, other people with similar interests, and those that simply edify your life (a very true reality: It’s not what you know, it’s who). This can also be your spiritual relationships and relationship with self via mindfulness and awareness, which can be a long and challenging piece of self work, but well worth the time. Keeping this strong and healthy is a keystone to a strong support system and has roots to leadership skills.
Actions: Find a mentor; keep in touch with your network; surround yourself with people who will help you grow and build you up – avoid those that don’t. Since you are the CEO of “You, Inc” – find an advisory board to help with the success of “You, Inc”!
B5 – Goals: Set goals for yourself – we are on this planet for a short time, why not strive for something? Life goals, business goals, personal goals, whatever they are, they should be goals that matter to you. The premise – figure out what you want out of life! Write it down (this is important to do) and only do things that lead you toward it. “Focus on the things that matter and not on the things that don’t” – Randy Pausch. This really helps in decision making. Good goals simplify decisions.
Actions: Take an introspective moment and figure out what matters to you! Write it down and work towards that. If you need a starting place – read this book: The Big Five for Life, by John Strelecky. This is my highest recommended book. Make a goal to balance your buckets too…
Your Logic: All of these buckets give and take with your thought processes. Humans are logical creatures – we can not, by nature, arrive at conclusions through illogical thought. Logic is the sum of all your experiences, some deep rooted, but always slightly shifting. Logic is how we communicate to each other. I believe that b/c of this, it is impossible to Convince anyone of anything. When you can to find common ground between your logic and another person’s logic is when you can learn to Persuade the other person’s logic to agree/disagree with yours – it has to be logical to them too! Logic drives everything. This also drives your perception of reality. Creating the 5 buckets for yourself and working to balance those buckets rounds you out as a person. This maximizes your ability to find that common ground with others, giving you clarity, communication, contemplation and less stress in most situations. Sound, balanced logic = happy thinking. Look for a follow on post digging deeper into Logic in the future.
You, Inc: I always liked the idea (coined by Burke Hedges?) that you where the CEO of your own company and all of your skills and abilities, etc were, to the world, your product(s). This seemed to bundle my observation very well, so I used it. Basically – you are in control in your life, and with the right stuff going on inside, you can maximize your happiness and achieve your definition of success. You’ll have a stellar product for the outside world!
For me, The System ensures I’ve got the right stuff going on for me to continue to progress toward the things I want in life. As mentioned, I still use it today to live by and for me at least, it is a reminder to keep my life balanced, to stay positive, and continue to push forward to maintain a happy life and improve. It’s not always easy, but rarely is anything worth working for easy. Whether you are at the top of your game, are a budding entrepreneur, or are just looking for sometime to help guide you – The System is a great foundation. I thought I would share. I hope this can give others insight.
Be an information sponge.
Try new things. Go new places.
Seek new and maintain relationships.
Work toward your own happiness.
Have a creative and productive day,