In life, we will grow in proportion to two main conditions:
- The degree of our receptivity and
- The source of our ideas.
The first one refers to our willingness to accept new ideas and alternative ways of thinking.
And here's the thing:
When we try to change something in our life, more often than not, we have to start by changing our belief system. And that happens primarily because we are “programmed” from an early age to think and see things in a certain way.
When we grow up however, we realize that the beliefs we have are not always the most resourceful for us. And that's no wonder because what is a belief?
A belief is a strong conviction that something exists or is true.
But as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truths than lies.”
Here's why: If you'll only look to confirm your beliefs, you'll never discover if you're wrong.
That's where your degree of receptivity comes in.
It all starts with the realization that life is not always black and white ― it has some gray nuance to it. The same problem, decision, or situation can be seen from multiple viewpoints.
As Prof. Anthony Weston said: “If you can’t imagine how anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you just don’t understand it yet.” And as Alfred North Whitehead would add: “The reason we think is so that our thoughts can die instead of us.”
So re-examine your convictions and destroy your previous conclusions. Keep an open mind to alternative ways of thinking. Have the courage to take your deep-rooted convictions and challenge them against contradictory evidence. Seek the company of those who don’t agree with everything you say.
By doing so, you'll begin to shift those false beliefs that keep you from growing.
And that's where the second fundamental condition for growth comes handy, which refers to the source of our ideas.
So here's my question: What is the source of your ideas?
You see, your outer world is a mirror. It reflects back in absolute and complete accuracy what is going on inside.
Let me say that again: What is going on outside of you is a reﬂection of what is going on inside of you.
So if you want to change anything on the outside, you have to change things on the inside first. The “inside” in this case is represented by your mind.
As the British philosopher James Allen said: “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
World renowned life and business strategist Tony Robbins echoed the same sentiment when he stated that feeding your mind is all about perspective. “You’ve got to bring something new to it,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re going to keep operating off the same old beliefs, the same old thoughts, the same old emotions that have not gotten you to the level you want.”
You have to stand guard at the gates of your mind and be careful about what you expose yourself to, because what you let in is what will eventually come out.
It's the Law of Cause and Effect in action: For every effect there is a definite cause, and for every cause there is a definite effect. You reap what you sow. Garbage in, garbage out.
Simply put: You become what you think about. You've probably heard this a million times, right?
And that's the problem. Here's why:
What may have been a groundbreaking insight at its inception has now become cliché due to repetition and overuse. And because it's cliché, we dismiss its importance. But just because a phrase is overused doesn't mean it's a cliché, and because a phrase is a cliché doesn't mean it isn't true.
So please don’t be the kind of person who says: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before,” brush it away, and move on looking for THE most advanced thing, THE thing that you’ve never heard before.
You see, common sense, especially in personal growth, is not always common practice.
And you already know this.
I bet there are hundreds of areas of common sense that you and I don’t employ every single day ― and we struggle because of it.
But as I always say: Personal transformation resides in the masterful execution of the fundamentals.
Get good at the basics before you try the latest hack, secret trick, or random tactic.
Remember: Tactics address the symptoms while neglecting the problems. They solve a part of the effect, but they don’t treat the cause.
The cause is having the wrong foundation. If you don’t get the foundation right, everything else is irrelevant.
Master the basics. Master the basics. MASTER. THE. BASICS.
Okay, I'm starting to rant...
The bottom line is that if you want different results in life, you have to think different thoughts. Because when you change your thoughts, you can change your life and the course of your destiny.
Speaking of that, I agree that we can't control everything that goes in our mind. We simply cannot monitor our mind at all times. But there's certainly a lot we can do about the things we can control.
Just follow this simple guideline:
Your thoughts are informed by what you put in your EARS or in front of your EYES.
As you see, I've emphasized two key words: ears and eyes.
Let's see why these two are so important and what you can do with them to enhance your quality of life.
. . .
If you'll study the highest performing people in the world, you'll discover that they all spend time on continual growth and learning.
They do so because they understand one simple truth: You don't get in life what you want; you get in life what you DESERVE. And in order to deserve more, you've got to BECOME more.
I learned this early on from my mentor Jim Rohn who suggested that you have to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
If YOU will change, everything will change for you. Because when YOU grow, everything else grows with you.
(Read that again.)
You see, your education doesn't end at graduation. That's where it starts. And the sooner you realize that, the better.
If you're new to the subject of personal development, you might be overwhelmed because you don't know where to start.
That's perfectly fine.
I've been there myself and I know exactly how you feel.
But if you'll allow me to offer you a personal suggestion, it would be this:
If you're committed to achieve your highest potential and become your greatest version, you'll most certainly need a good library.
Do you want to be financially independent?
How about being healthy and free from disease?
Do you want to be happy?
Would you like to have a beautiful, lasting relationship with your spouse?
Do you want to live a life full of joy, fulfillment and prosperity?
Did you know that there are books on how to become healthy, wealthy and happy and people don't read them?
I guess they're busy doing other things. And that's fine. Not everyone has to do that, I get it.
But you're not “everyone” because you're here, and that tells me that you want to rise above the crowd, am I right?
If so, then recognize the fact that everything you need to design a better life has already been written in books. And today, almost anyone can afford to buy them.
You can always start by getting some free books at your local library with just a library card. That's where I had to start. Now this is FREE. How much easier can it get?
As Derek Bok said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Reading is by far one of the greatest habits you can develop. Just start with as little as 15 minutes a day and work your way up to 60 minutes. Start small and make sure to do it consistently.
You'll be so glad you did.
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none. Zero.”
Self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner.
2. Listen to audiobooks, programs & podcasts
Now you might say: “But I don't have time to read!”
Remember this: A lack of time is almost always a lack of priorities. If it's important to you, you'll make time for it. If it's not, you'll find an excuse.
But let's say that for whatever reason, you don't like to read books. Well, a great alternative to reading is listening to audiobooks, programs and podcasts.
Turn your car into a learning machine, or as Brian Tracy calls it, a “University on Wheels.”
According to the University of Southern California, you can get the equivalent of full time university attendance by listening to educational audio programs as you drive from place to place.
Think about it: Given enough time, you can become an expert in almost any field by using this approach.
But let's stretch this concept even further.
You can listen to audiobooks and podcasts while commuting, running, exercising, running errands, walking the dog, cooking, cleaning the house etc. While your body is busy, your mind is free. So use that time to nourish your mind with high quality material.
If you don't know where to start, here are some of my favorite podcasts in no particular order:
Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu
“Impact Theory is a business and mindset-focused interview show that will teach anyone aspiring to greatness the secrets to success.”
The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast
“This podcast breaks down the dichotomy of life through interviews and lectures that explain how individuals and culture are shaped by values, music, religion, and beyond. It will give you a new perspective and a modern understanding of your creativity, competence, and personality.”
The Joe Rogan Experience
“The Joe Rogan Experience is a long form, in-depth conversation with the best guests from the comedy world, the sports world, the science world and everything in between. One of the most popular comedy podcasts, this show has something for everyone.”
The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish
“The Knowledge Project helps you build a world-class multi-disciplinary education that you can use to make better decisions and live a more meaningful and productive life.”
The Brendon Show with Brendon Burchard
“Every week, Brendon shares what he's struggling with, working on and marching towards - and how we can all live an extraordinary life. This is an intimate and inspiring look into the life and strategies of one of the most watched, followed and quoted personal development trainers in history.”
The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
“Find out what makes the greatest people great and how to apply those lessons to your life. Join NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes as he shares inspiring stories from the most brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities on the planet.”
The Tim Ferriss Show
“Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages. In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.”
And by the way… Did you know that almost all books that are sold on Amazon have an expertly recorded audio version produced by Audible?
You can get one free audiobook with their 30-day trial and cancel any time. To do so, visit www.audible.com. This is not an affiliate link. I recommend them only because I use their app myself and I love it.
Simply download their app on your smartphone or tablet and listen on the go.
What I like the most about Audible is that it allows you to keep listening on all of your devices, and picking up where you left off, anywhere you are. That's brilliant.
Combine that with a reading habit and you'll instantly set yourself apart from the crowd.
3. Attend Seminars, Courses, Conferences and Masterminds
Besides practicing the disciplines mentioned so far, you should also consider attending seminars, conferences, masterminds and other similar events.
Is there a subject or industry you're interested in or want to know more about? If so, then find out what events are in your city on that specific topic and go there.
A seminar given by an expert can save you tons of time in learning the same things on your own.
Even more so, with the advance of technology, there are thousands of online courses you could take on almost any imaginable subject, all of which you can study from the comfort of your own home.
Remember: the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Be like a sponge and soak up as much as you can while you're here.
“The learners shall inherit the world, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”
4. Keep a Journal
If you're serious about becoming your greatest version, keep a journal. This is, hands down, one of the best tools for personal development you can have.
Journals can be used for different purposes.
You can use a journal to document any insights, breakthroughs, ideas and lessons learned. It's also great for reviewing your day, week, month, or year. You can also keep a gratitude journal in which you write every day what you're grateful for.
As always, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, so you might have to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Personally, I use two separate types of journals:
One type is used to write down my goals and keep track of them.
I also use it for problem solving and for writing down important notes, ideas or “Ah-has” that come to mind during the day.
The other one is used to keep all the ideas gathered from books, audiobooks, seminars and courses.
This is also called a “commonplace book” and I've been keeping these types of journals since the age of nineteen. They are by far one of the most valuable possessions I have.
Speaking of that, I personally find reading and writing to be a fascinating mix of activities. The historian Robert Durnton described it beautifully in his essay “Extraordinary Commonplaces”:
“Time was when readers kept commonplace books. Whenever they came across a pithy passage, they copied it into a notebook under an appropriate heading, adding observations made in the course of daily life.
[…] Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end, early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts.
Reading and writing were therefore inseparable activities. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it; and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your personality.”
What a wonderful process, isn't it?
The best part about a “commonplace book” is that it gathers a huge amount of wisdom that you can turn to in times of opportunity, depression, or crisis.
And more so, imagine the incredible feeling you'll experience when you‘ll go back over these journals at the end of the year and see how much progress you've made.
It's really a unique experience and that's exactly why I encourage you to keep one.
5. Become an Idea Machine
If you'll follow the previous points suggested, you'll invariably come up with more and better ideas. That's great, because ideas can be life changing.
The key now is to capture these ideas in your journal the moment they come up.
What I've learned from experience is that you shouldn't trust your memory. When you come across a good idea, write it down. When you hear something valuable, write it down.
Remember: Sometimes all you need to open the gates to fascinating breakthroughs and incredible opportunities is just one more good idea.
If you're serious about it, you can also schedule time once a week for a “Thinking Session.” These kinds of sessions are particularly great for idea generation and problem solving.
This is the time where you need to be in complete solitude, preferably in a quiet place, and brainstorm ideas on various aspects of your life.
You can think of ways and means of improving something at work, in your business, or in your family.
Think about how you can improve your health, your relationship with your spouse, or your financial situation.
Brainstorm ideas on how you can increase your service and become more valuable to the marketplace.
Here's a simple, yet powerful way to do it.
Problem Solving Exercise
Step 1: Use your journal, or get a piece of paper and a pen.
Step 2: Draw two columns. Simply draw a line down the middle of the paper.
Step 3: On the left-hand side, write the heading “Problem.” On the other side, write the heading “Solutions.”
Step 4: In the area called “Problem,” describe the problem as clear as you can, in as much detail as you possibly can.
Step 5: When you're done describing the problem, head over to the area called “Solutions.” My mentor Jim Rohn taught me three powerful questions that can be used to solve almost any problem.
Here they are:
1. What can I do?
Many times, we have all the answers we need in our head, but rarely do we tap into that powerful resource.
Now is the time to get all your ideas out of your head, and put them on paper.
The key is to write down every single idea that comes to mind. Let your imagination run wild and most importantly, keep the pen moving.
2. What can I read?
Guess what? Maybe there's a book on your problem.
The same issue you're facing, someone, somewhere in the world has faced it too. And the good news is that they probably found a solution to it and then shared it with the world.
3. Who can I ask?
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Be humble enough to realize that you don't have all the answers. You've already done your homework. You've read the books. You've done your best to figure it out. But still, you can't find a resourceful way out.
When you show that you're a serious student, people will be willing to help. Just have the courage to ask.
What can I do? What can I read? Who can I ask?
Use these principles when you're trying to solve a problem and you might as well find a solution that opens the door to new opportunities.
. . .
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you?”
Dr. Carol Dweck
Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University
As Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
I want you to stop looking outside for a change and go back to yourself because the world around you is really not the problem. YOU are.
You can’t change other people. But here’s what you can do: you can change yourself.
Remember: If you want to live your best life, take the road less traveled. Don't do what the majority is doing. Don't be a follower. Here's why: You won't grow.
Someone once said that if you want to live a life of mediocrity, do what the mediocre do. If you want to live an exceptional life, do what exceptional people do. Isn't that true?
At times it may sound like a lot to do, but remember: Nobody said it will be easy. They just promised it will be worth it.
And really, what's the difference between ordinary and extraordinary people? It's exactly in that little "extra" that they do. Extraordinary people aren't any different than you and I. They're just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
You and I have the same capabilities. I challenge you to level up your game. Go where the demands are high and reap the rewards.
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