The miracle of self – discipline and personal excellence
“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit”. – Aristotle
You are your most valuable asset. Your life, your potential and your possibilities are the most precious things you have. Thus, your great goal in life should be to fulfill that potential and become everything you are capable of becoming.
Your ability to learn, grow, and fulfill your potential is unlimited. Today, people are graduating from high school and college in their seventies, learning new subjects and developing new capabilities. Your ability to learn and remember can continue throughout your life if you keep your brain alive, alert, and functioning at its best.
Your most precious financial asset is you’re earning ability. Your ability to work is your primary source of cash throughout your life. You could lose your home, your car, your bank account, and everything you own, but as long as you have you’re earning ability, you can earn it all back—and more – in the months and years ahead.
Your biggest investment. Most people don’t realize this. They take their earning ability for granted. But it has taken you your entire life to develop you’re earning ability. Every bit of education, experience, and hard work that you have invested in learning your craft and developing your skills has gone into building this asset.
You’re earning ability is very much like a muscle. It can increase in strength and power year by year as the result of regular exercise. Likewise, the opposite is true, too: If left alone or ignored, you’re earning ability, like your muscles, can become weaker or even decline because you have simply failed to upgrade it continually.
In other words, you’re earning ability can be either an appreciating or a depreciating asset. An appreciating asset is something that grows in value and cash flow every year as the result of continual investment and improvement. A depreciating asset, on the other hand, is something that loses value over time and finally reaches the point at which it is “written off,” being of little or no further value. The choice is yours whether you’re earning ability is increasing or decreasing month by month and year by year.
Training. Some people are actually losing value each year, declining in earning ability, because they are not continually upgrading their knowledge and skills. They don’t realize that whatever knowledge and skill they have today is rapidly becoming obsolete. It is being replaced by new knowledge and skills that, if you don’t have them and someone else does, you will be in danger of being overtaken by your competition.
No limits on your potential. The average income increase in America is about 3 percent a year, just about the same as the rate of inflation and cost of living increases. People whose income is increasing at 3 percent a year seldom get ahead. They have a job, which can also be thought of as an acronym for “Just Over Broke.”
But the fact is that no one is better than you, and no one is smarter than you. If someone is do better than you are today, it is simply proof that he has learned how the Law of Cause and Effect applies to his work, and he has begun doing the things that other successful people have also done. The application of the Law of Cause and Effect to your personal life is “learn and do.”
The achievement of personal excellence is a decision you make—or that you fail to make. But in the absence of a commitment to excellence in your chosen to field, you automatically default to average performance—or even mediocrity. No one becomes excellent accidentally or by just going to work each day. Excellence requires a definite decision and a lifelong commitment.
The keys to the twenty – first century
Knowledge and skill are the keys to the twenty – first century. Becoming the best person you can be and moving to the top of your field require the application of self-discipline throughout your life. Mental fitness is like physical fitness: If you want to achieve either, you must work at it all your life. You can never let up. You must be continually learning and growing—every day, week, and month—throughout your career (and in other areas of your life) if you’re going to join the top 20percent and stay there. To earn more, you must learn more.
Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “The fact that some have become wealthy is proof that others may do it as well.”
What others have done, you can do as well—if you learn how. Everyone who is at the top was once at the bottom. Many people who come from average or poor families with average incomes or who grow up in average circumstances have gone on to become some of the most prominent people in their fields. And what hundreds of thousands and even millions of other people have done, you can do as well.
The philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that “the very best proof that something can be done is that someone else has already done it.”
Ordinary into extraordinary. Very often, you see people who don’t seem to be as intelligent or as talented as you are who are nonetheless accomplishing remarkable things with their lives. There is nothing that will make you angrier than to see someone who seems to be dumber than you do better than you. How can this be?
The answer is simple: At a certain point in their lives, they realized that the key to success was personal and professional growth. It was a dedication to lifelong learning.
The good news is that almost every important skill is learn able. Every business skill is learn able. Everyone who is proficient in any area of business was at one time completely ignorant in that area. Every sales skill is learn able. Every top salesperson was once a beginning salesperson and unable to make a call or close a sale. All moneymaking skills are learn able as well. Almost every wealthy person was once poor. You can learn anything you need to learn to achieve any goal you can set for yourself.
Make a decision
The starting point of your moving upward and onward toward becoming one of the most competent, most respected, and highest paid people in your field is simple: Make a decision!
It is said that every major change in your life comes about when your mind collides with a new idea, and you then make a decision to do something different. You make a decision to complete your education, upgrade your skills, or get into a good college. You make a decision to start a new business. You make a decision to take a particular job or start a particular career. You make a decision to invest your money in a particular way. And, especially, you make a decision to be the best in your field.
Many people say that they would like to be happy, healthy, thin, and rich. But, wishing and hoping are not enough! You have to make a firm, unequivocal decision that you are going to pay any price and go any distance in order to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. You have to make that decision and then burn your mental bridges behind you. From that minute on, you resolve to continue working on yourself and your craft until you reach the top 20percent – or beyond.
The answers have all been found! Here is a great discovery: All the answers have been found. All the routes to success have been discovered. Everything that you need to learn to move to the top of your field has already been learned by hundreds and even thousands of other people.
And if you ask them for advice, they will give it to you. Successful people will have their phone calls held, cancel other appointments, and put their work aside to help other people be successful. But you must ask, and then you must follow their advice once they give it to you.
If you can’t ask them directly, read their books and attend their talks and seminars. Listen to audio programs created by successful people. Sometimes you can send them e – mails and ask for advice. Learn from the best.
Use the 3 percent formula to invest in yourself. To guarantee your lifelong success, make a decision today to invest 3 percent of your income back into yourself. This seems to be the magic number for lifelong learning. According to the American Society for Training and Development, this is the percentage that the most profitable 20 percent of companies in every industry invest in the training and development of their staff. Decide today to invest 3 percent of your income into yourself in order to make yourself an appreciating asset, to continually increase you’re earning ability.
If your annual income goal is $50,000, resolve to invest 3 percent of that amount, or $1,500, back into yourself each year to maintain and upgrade your knowledge and skills. If your income goal is$100,000, resolve to invest $3,000 per year back into yourself to ensure that you reach that level of income.
Three simple steps to become the best!
Becoming one of the top people in your field requires discipline and application more than anyt hing else. There are three simple steps that you can follow to become the very best in your field:
1. Read sixty minutes in your field each day. Turn off the television and the radio, put aside the newspaper, and read material about your field for one hour each day before you start working.
2. Listen to educational audio programs in your car. Start them and stop them as you listen, so you can reflect on what you have just heard and think about how you can apply the ideas to your work.
3. Attend courses and seminars in your field regularly. Seek them out. Take online courses in the convenience of your own home, courses that enable you to upgrade your skills and give you important ideas that you can used to be even more successful.
The power of compound learning, like compound interest, is quite amazing. The more you learn, the more you can learn. The more you learn, the better your brain functions, and the smarter you get. Your memory and retention rate improve. The more you learn, the more relationships you find between something you learned at one time and something you learn at another time.
Never stop learning and growing!
Talent is not enough. As I mentioned earlier, according to Geoffrey Colvin in his bestselling book, Talent Is Overrated, most people learn how to do their job in the first year, and then they never get any better. They just coast in their jobs. But the only direction you can coast is downhill.
Many people will work away at a job for many years and never rise above the average. They will do their job from eight to five, but they never lift a finger to upgrade their skills. They will not invest any time learning their craft unless their company pays for the extra training and gives them the time off to take it.
The average person does only an average job, and as a result, he earns an average income and worries about money all his life. He never realizes that often there is only a thin veil that separates the average person from the excellent person. The fact is that “if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” No one stays in the same place for long.
Two hours each day will get you to the top! It has been calculated that all you need to invest is about two extra hours per day to move from the average to the superior. Only two extra hours each day will move you from worrying about money all your life to being one of the highest paid people in your field.
Form the habit of continuous learning. The best news is that when you begin reading personal or professional development literature, listening to audio programs in your car, taking additional courses, and upgrading your skills in the evenings and on the weekends rather than watching television, you soon get into the habit of continuous learning. In no time at all, it will become automatic and easy for you to learn, grow, and upgrade your skills every day and every week.
The average adult watches about five hours of television each day. For some people, it is seven or eight hours. They turn on the television first thing in the morning and watch it until they leave for work. They turn it back on as soon as they get home from work. Then, they watch television until 11 or12 o’clock at night, going to bed without enough time to get a good night’s sleep. Then, they get up in the morning, drink coffee, and watch television for as long as they can before they go off to work once more.
Turn off the TV! Your television set can make you rich or poor. If you watch it all the time, it will make you poor. Psychologists have shown that the more television you watch, the lower are your levels of energy and self – esteem. At an unconscious level, you don’t like or respect yourself as much if you sit there hour after hour watching television. People who watch too much television also gain weight and become physically unfit from sitting around too much.
Your television can also make you rich – but only if you turn it off. When you turn off your television, you free up time that you can then used to invest in becoming a better, smarter, and more competent person. When you leave your television off when you are with your family, you will find yourself talking, sharing, communicating, and laughing more often. When you leave your television off for extended periods of time, you break the habit of watching television – and you will hardly miss it at all. Your television can be an excellent servant, but it’s a terrible master. The choice is yours.
One half of 1 percent per week (Can you be 1% better today than yesterday?)
One tenth of 1 percent times five days per week equals one half of 1 percent per week. Is it possible for a normal, intelligent, hard-working individual to increase his or her output by one half of 1percent (1/200th) in a single week? Of course, it is!
Having done this for the first week, could you keep up the same pace of personal improvement the second week? Of course, you could!
Could you get one one-thousandth of 1 percent better five days a week for an entire month? If you could, this means that you would be one half of 1 percent better per week multiplied times four, or 2percent more productive in an entire month.
There are thirteen four-week months in a year (4 × 13 = 52). Having become 2 percent better in a month, could you repeat that in the second month? In the third month? The fourth month? And so on?
26 percent better each year. Of course, you could! By working on yourself a little each day—learning new skills, getting better at your key tasks, setting priorities, and focusing on higher-value activities—you can become 26percent more productive over the course of an entire year.
Having achieved this goal for the first year, could you do it for the second year, and then the third? Could you keep it up for ten years? And the answer, of course, is yes. And the best news is that when you continue to work on yourself, it becomes easier and easier for you to get better and better as the weeks and months go by.
By the law of accumulation, or the law of incremental improvement, by the end of twelve months, you would be 26 percent better. If you continued to improve at 26 percent per year, by the end of ten years, with compounding, you would be 1,004 percent more productive. Your income would increase at the same rate. This formula works—if you do.
Be the best! Lifelong personal development and the commitment to personal excellence require tremendous dedication, discipline, and willpower. The greatest payoff is that every time you learn and apply something new, your brain releases endorphins, which make you feel happier and more excited about your future.
Every time you learn and apply something new, you will have a greater sense of personal power. Your self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride will increase. You will feel very much in control of you’re earning ability, which is one of the most important parts of your life.
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