Wednesday Wealth Recap:
- Becoming a better investor, employee, student or romantic partner takes effort. And most people don’t want to take the first step. Alex Green reveals how to start that difficult journey.
- The wealthiest people in America aren’t like you and me. But what exactly is it that sets them apart? How do the ultra-rich think about wealth? Nicholas Vardy explores those questions.
- Chief Trends Strategist Matthew Carr has a simple rule for investing. And it’s not about profits. Learn more here.
- What do rattlesnakes and investing have in common? More than you think. Our colleague Associate Franchise Publisher Rachel Gearhart dives into the snake pit.
When my sons were growing up, I dreaded meeting with their teachers. I was always a tiny bit afraid that somewhere in the middle of the conversation the teacher would lean forward, grab my ear and chastise me.
This may be an irrational fear, but it is deeply seated. It was planted many years ago at St. Agnes Elementary School. It was nurtured in middle school and high school by just about every teacher who had the misfortune of having me in class.
All that said, because of my deep-seated irrational fear, I had no idea what I could accomplish early in my business career.
But that didn’t stop me.
Despite my less-than-stellar early education, I went on to graduate college magna cum laude. I earned a master’s degree and stopped just short of my dissertation for a Ph.D. I’ve written and published more than a dozen books – including three bestsellers – won awards for writing and used the skills I learned in school to help build several multimillion-dollar businesses.
In The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale says that unless you have a positive attitude about yourself and your abilities, “you cannot be successful or happy.”
I believe he is half right.
Yes, you need a positive attitude to be happy. But you can be quite successful by most measures simply by applying my success formula:
- Decide exactly what it is you want.
- Make it a primary goal.
- Establish a series of yearly, monthly, weekly and daily objectives to achieve that goal.
- Resist the urge to give up along the way.
My own experience proves that, by doing this, you can achieve almost anything you want in life – even if you don’t have much faith in your own abilities. And I’ve seen it proven dozens of times by others – people I’ve known, people I’ve heard about and people I’ve read about.
As I’ve written about many times before, however, accomplishments don’t convert to happiness.
So what if you want happiness? Or what if happiness and equanimity are integral to your definition of success? Well, then you need to follow Peale’s advice and start thinking positive thoughts about yourself.
Lack of self-confidence, Peale said, “is one of the great problems besetting people today.” He makes reference to a survey of college students indicating that for 75% of them, confidence was the thing most lacking in their life.
Who could argue with that? If you’ve ever choked up in an interview, forgotten your lines in a play, blown a free throw or been verbally stifled by a rude comment, you know too well the effect that a lack of self-confidence has on performance.
“The blows of life, the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged,” Peale says. In such situations, “it is easy to lose track of your abilities and powers,” but by re-appraising your personal assets, you can convince yourself that “you are less defeated than you think you are.”
As an example, Peale tells how he counseled a 52-year-old man who came to him “in great despondency.” Everything valuable in his life, the man said, had been “swept away” by a recent business setback. “I have nothing left at all.”
Peale knew that although the man had indeed gone through a serious setback, his chief problem was the way he viewed it.
“Suppose we take a piece of paper and write down the values you have left,” Peale suggested. And so they did. Among other things, the list included these personal assets:
- A wonderful wife – and a 30-year marriage
- Three devoted children
- Admiring friends, happy to help
- Good physical health
That’s not a bad list. And, if you’re feeling down, I would hope that focusing on positive personal assets like these could help you overcome the worst feelings you could possibly have about yourself.
Let me tell you a story about this…
About 30 years ago, I became friendly with a man, about my own age, who had all of the assets listed above – plus a successful printing business and a sizable personal fortune. He was a charismatic guy – always good-natured, upbeat, full of good fun and easy to like.
Then, one day, his business failed. I don’t remember the details, but he went bankrupt.
I heard about it soon after it happened. When I called to console him, it was too late. Sobbing, his wife told me that he had killed himself.
I couldn’t understand why he did it. He had had so many other things going for him that, in my eyes, his business and the wealth it produced were just gravy. Apparently, he didn’t see it that way.
If my friend had read and taken Peale’s advice to heart, he’d be alive today. He’d be enjoying all the wonderful things he had, including the love of his wife, children and friends. He’d also, I’m quite sure, have made back all the money he lost, plus plenty more.