Search Results : “prudent risk”

Nov 102017
 

Life is too short and there is too much opportunity, to work in the wrong environment.

I’ve had a bit of time to ponder this question, having worked for nearly a dozen managers of all different types, from John Wayne, to Yoda of Sales, to a master ambassador diplomat, to Rambo of customer service, to a micro-manager that meant well, to Action Jackson, and more. Most became lifelong friends and role models, each with an important lesson to teach. Looking for common factors that mattered most to having a positive, empowering environment in which one can succeed, I believe my quote below sums it up:

I have had two chapters of my life when I had the privilege to take the lead and manage others. My theory followed these exact lines, but was summed up simply by Coach Lou Holtz’s simple formula for success in life — (1) Do Right, (2) Do the best you can, and (3) Treat others the way you would like to be treated — in a picture that watched over me at my desk. Anyone that has read my blog knows I admire Coach Lou — here’s a great commencement address if you have never seen Coach speak:

I believe it is the leader’s responsibility to communicate a clear vision and specific goals, then find and inspire the best out of each person entrusted to him or her, first gaining understanding and mutual respect, then adjusting his or her coaching and style to best fit each employee. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves in a ‘my way or the highway’ top-down scenario, where a manager is far more focused on pleasing his or her chain of command, rather than asking good questions and helping the team succeed. People can accomplish great things when they trust you and know you are out for their best interest.

Don’t waste years working for the wrong person. I’ve been fortunate and had great managers who simultaneously taught me important concepts while helping me succeed, inspiring me to think out of the box, take prudent risks, break barriers, and achieve new heights. If necessary, have the courage to make a move. Drawing a couple of new cards to improve your poker hand, trying new things, challenging yourself in mind-invigorating ways, makes life worth living.

I.M. OptimismMan

PS. Send me your feedback using the contact form. What important aspect did I miss in my quote above?

Oct 292017
 

As part of my Have a Daughter series, check out this speech by Reshma Saujani at TED.

I have written plenty of articles talking about the value of taking prudent risks and failing forward without loss of enthusiasm, but not in any specific context of helping daughters grow up well. Reshma opened my eyes to an important difference between boys and girls and how they are nurtured, and what must be done to encourage girls to take more risks at an earlier age.

You have a duty and choice: Choose to be a thoughtful, optimistic parent!

I.M. OptimismMan

Sep 152016
 

Here is an infographic that makes the rounds every so often on the internet.

I think its a great checklist to reflect on your own attitude and what aspect you should decide to improve:

mentally-strong

So, lets say you look at this chart and decide #10 is a personal weakness. What’s the first step to improve your mental perspective on “being willing to fail?” (As I have pointed out here in the past, you have to be willing to take prudent risks and fail forward if you are to accomplish great things). I’d vote for reading a book or two that highlights the value of failing early, failing fast, and failing forward. Just go to Amazon — there are numerous choices on this topic, and in truth — all the topics on this chart.

Designing your own, healthy, optimistic attitude is up to you. You can choose and develop your own mental perspectives.

I.M. Optimisman

Feb 132016
 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Four words that have survived since the mid-1300’s. Why? Truth thrives.

I have often written about the extraordinary opportunities available to all of us. We live at an extraordinary time, a time of fantastic and rapid change, in the best country in world. I believe that the opportunities to achieve whatever one wants to achieve in today’s America are limitless.

Yet, I know a lot of people that look at the same things I do and simply don’t see it the same. They see scarcity where I see abundant opportunity. It has taken me a while to figure out why but I believe I now understand. There are three fierce guard dogs at the gates of opportunity, and it turns out that most people see the snarling beasts, they miss seeing the gates, let alone the rainbow and waterfalls in the garden on the other side.

The guard dogs are risk, sacrifice, and faith. One or more of these prevent many from jumping on thousands of golden opportunities. Today I’ll spend a few minutes discussing the first one — risk.

Young adults have a great advantage over most of the working population. If they grew up in an optimistic home, they believe they can conquer the world, they have little if anything to lose, they don’t yet listen to (or at least adhere to) the often faulty, limited “wisdom” of their elders, and they have had few disheartening experiences. There is good reason most tech start-ups are fueled by young adults.

As we get older, we tend to take less and less risk. This risk aversion invades most of the facets of a person’s life: financial, emotional, professional, psychological, personal, you name it. Yet the core truth of “nothing ventured” rules nearly every facet of life.

By the time people hit their 40’s, most don’t want to take any chances. This is a terrible mistake that shackles one’s life. Without accepting risk, all you can expect is a lousy return following the path of the risk-free herd. When you embrace good risks, you expand your possibilities and your life.

Overcoming the fear of risk is possible and comes from learning and understanding probability better than the average person. Risk is simply half of the equation: once a person learns to evaluate risk clearly, in relation to probable return, she can start making educated decisions regarding the worthiness of any endeavor. These three guard dogs start to look much more lovable.

It is easiest to understand risk vs. return in simple betting. If someone offered you 3:1 odds on the flip of a quarter, it becomes a good bet – in other words a risk worth taking, because the quarter flip will win 50/50 over time. On a dollar bet, you would get paid $3 the 50% of the time that you win, but lose only $1 the 50% of the time you would lose.

The same is true in life. If you invest $1,000 in a growing, successful company that has a current P/E ratio of 10, a historical low for the stock, because of a short-term sell-off, while all its close competitors have P/E’s of 25 – barring any skeletons in the closet, you generally have taken a good bet – odds are much better that your stock will appreciate to $2,500 (probably more (because I’m ignoring earnings growth over time in this example)) rather than falling to $500 in the future. You can further mitigate the risk by investing $1,000 in 10 companies in similar situations – even if you are wrong on 5 of 10 — and 3 of them get halved while 2 tread water and stay at the price paid — if the other five do move up to their historical P/E, your final tally would be $16,000 on a $10,000 in investments, or a 60% return. If you leave that $10,000 in a money market account at Bank of America, you will earn less than $5 per year in this crazy near “interest-free” financial climate.

Yet many people never overcome the fear of risk. My suggestion is start small and gain momentum gradually. A big misconception is that those who take risks are fearless. Not true. People that take prudent risks, after weighing the probable rewards, are courageous and smart.

I really like John Wayne’s definition of courage….the Duke said “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.

It is incredibly important that a person learns to embrace prudent calculated risk during his entire life, learning from experiences as he grows older. There are always risks worth taking, and when you are 40, 50, or 60, you have a much broader base of experience, connections, and resources than when you were but 22. The idea is not to put more than you can afford to lose in any one investment or idea.

My discussion took a financial turn because it is easy to illustrate with numbers, but taking prudent risks is just as vital on your emotional, professional, personal, and psychological facets of life. If you come up with a great idea that is worthy at work, take the risk and land a meeting with your own CEO. Pitch it! You might just make Executive VP after all. Go to that job interview. Ask that girl out. Go ahead and volunteer when they ask. Speak up at the community meeting. Try helping out at the local soup kitchen or Meals-on-Wheels or Big Brothers Big Sisters — seriously! Start that little business on the side and stick to the project to the finish line. Always remember that it helps to fail spectacularly from time to time in order to become extraordinary in the end.

The great Wayne Gretzky is right when he says “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Michael Jordan put it this way: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

What have you ventured this month? What have you ventured in 2015? Take more risks to be all you can be!

I.M. Optimism Man

Dec 142014
 

Are you failing often enough?

This is a very important question to contemplate, especially if you are not in the middle of spectacular, unusual successes.

If you are not encountering failure, you are not pushing the envelope of your abilities or the opportunities that are inevitably present in your life. Trying something new and daring is the only way to significantly accelerate and expand your life, not to mention feel challenged and enthused. As Lou Holtz puts it in this video well worth watching, “you are either growing or you are dying” — there is no longterm safety with maintaining the status quo.

Unfortunately, as people age beyond 30 or 35, they take less risks and try fewer new things. It should surprise no one that most leaps in society come from the young. What’s true for people is also true for companies; as most companies evolve, they often transform from bold and innovative to conservative, plodding, and risk averse.

At the core of the problem is a myth about failure: Many believe failure is bad, embarrassing, and should be avoided at all cost, especially here in America. Even more people try to cover up their failures and hide them from others, immediately blocking them from their own minds in the cover-up process. The truth is that taking prudent risks, daring to fail, learning from failure, and treating every failure as an important learning experience is how one keeps failure in the right perspective.

sam-walton

I see failure and substantial success as gauges of “am I trying enough new things” — if I go six months without some spectacular setback or win, the alarm bells go off in my head, letting me know that I’m not trying enough new stuff, not taking enough new risks, and missing out on the successes and failures that come with pushing the envelope. Doing a few percent better this year than last is a clear indicator of wasted opportunity.

You must fail forward:

Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.
– Denis Waitley

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
– Teddy Roosevelt

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
– JK Rowling

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Before success comes in any man’s life, he’s sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do.
– Napoleon Hill

Forget about yesterday’s failure. Time to try something new, exciting, and at least a little bit risky!

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Here’s a list of rather famous and successful that failed forward:

Roland Hussey Macy

He failed at selling ribbons, provisions to miners and at a general store before going bankrupt in 1855. His next effort, Macy’s became the world’s largest store.

J. C. Penney

First store went bankrupt when he refused to give whiskey as a kickback for orders from a large customer. Penny went belly up and got a job in a drapery shop that he later purchased and expanded into 1100 department stores nationwide.

Henry John Heinz

Started his first company in 1869 selling horseradish, pickles, sauerkraut and vinegar. In 1875 the company filed for bankruptcy due to an unexpected bumper harvest which the company could not keep up with and could not meet its payroll obligations. He immediately started a new company and introduced a new condiment, tomato ketchup to the market. This company was, and continues to be, very prosperous.

Milton Snavely Hershey

Started four candy companies that failed and filed bankruptcy before starting what is now Hershey’s Foods Corporation. Mr. Hershey had only a 4th grade education, but was certain he could make a good product that the public would want to purchase. His fifth attempt was clearly successful.

Conrad Hilton

Lost all his hotels when he could not pay his bank during the Great Depression. Later, he bought them all back and built a few more. Things worked out pretty good in the end. Just ask Paris.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Famous architect lost his home, Taliesin in Wisconsin and was thrown on the street when business dried up in 1922. During the following decade, he designed some of his most famous projects.

Henry Ford

First two automobile manufacturing companies failed. The first company filed for bankruptcy and the second ended because of a disagreement with his business partner. In June 1903, at the age of 40, he created a third company, the Ford Motor Company with a cash investment of $28,000.00. By July of 1903 the bank balance had dwindled to $223.65, but then Ford sold its first car, and as they say the rest is history

Harry Truman

Opened a shop in Missouri after the First World War only to have it fail miserably. He was further humbled by having to move in with his mother-in-law. Truman later settled his debt for pennies on the dollar when the bank at which the underlying note was written actually went bankrupt itself. He is said to have learned a lot from the misadventure. And it all turned out OK in the in end. You may have heard, he eventually got a good job, in Washington, DC.

Walt Disney

His name is synonymous with Mickey Mouse and the “happiest place on earth,” Disneyland. However, Disney’s career wasn’t always a moneymaking venture. In 1921, he began a company called the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri but was forced to file for bankruptcy two years later because his financial backers pulled out. It must have been fate because Disney then headed to Hollywood and became one of the highest paid animators in history.

Sam Walton

His first store was a Ben Franklin discount shop that he made among the most profitable and successful in the chain. Walton’s problem was a short lease. When it expired, the building’s owner canceled his lease and took over the store himself. Walton was broke had to start over from scratch. You may have heard, however, that things turned out pretty good in the end. After these early financial difficulties were behind him, he later created the largest company in the world and became a billionaire.

 

Jun 242014
 

Regret is often the product of not taking a chance, not embracing an opportunity, when we had it. While people offer a lot of excuses for why they missed out as they express regrets, the underlying truth is most often a failure of courage. If you are not making mistakes, it is a clear indicator that you are not trying enough new things. But it takes courage to try anything new, to embark on any new exciting journey, to try a road less traveled by the rest of the human herd.

The hardest step is always the first — getting started comes before getting motivated — and getting started takes courage.

Nothing gets in people’s way more often than fears, and fears are usually quite silly once one looks back on them and sees them for what they really are. It is often more than just the fear of failure that prevents people from trying the new. Others have fear of success, for with success comes far greater responsibility. Others yet fear change or the unknown, simply because they assume the the unknown is worse than where they are today. Small minded people fear people that are not like them, or people that think differently than them. In every case, those who decide to risk in the face of small fears or large fears, expand their lives and their horizons. This is courage and like every key to success, courage can be learned, courage can be practiced, courage can be expanded through experiences.

skydiving

This is not to say that all fear is bad. Fear is what drives prudent decision-making, in other words balancing the chance of success versus the chance of failure. But those without courage allow themselves to become paralyzed. Fear prevents so many things that are good. A person with a fear of rejection doesn’t stick their hand out and introduce themselves to new people. Similar fears convince people to not try out for the team, to not run for class president, to not put in for that promotion, to not decide to have kids, to not be all they can be. In each of these cases, the upside potential usually outweighs the downside risk but those who have not developed the courage to take risks, shrink away from opportunities.

All the great leaders of the last century have observed the extraordinary importance of courage. Winston Churchill, perhaps the greatest leader during world war two, proclaimed “Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.” He is right. I have often written about the crucial importance of integrity. Is it possible to be a person of integrity if you do not have the courage to stand up for what you believe is right? Is it possible to have extraordinary character if you don’t have the courage to stand up to peer pressure? Your faith will be tested, as will your sense of duty. Even your purpose will be questioned and you will have to have to courage to swim against the ever-changing winds of “popular” thinking.

Courage takes practice. One doesn’t typically have the courage to speak in front of an audience of thousands if they have never spoken in front of an audience of five, then ten, then thirty. One doesn’t step onto a basketball court and hit two game winning free-throws unless they have played thousands of games first. The trick is to take every small opportunity you can, at least every one that makes prudent sense along the road of life, so that when the time comes, you have the experience and the courage to give it your best shot.

speaking-well

Fear is often driven by perceived risk, not necessarily actual risk. Irrational fear is driven by an irrational perception of risk and it leads to paralysis or irrational failure. Healthy fear — lets call it apprehension — is healthy, because it is driven by an accurate assessment of risk. It does not immobilize us, but helps us make good decisions when it is critical that we must. A great example is a person trapped atop a burning building. While most of us have a fear of heights, the prudent and courageous person can evaluate the situation, and decide that sliding down a wire over the yawning abyss is less risky than staying put on top of the inferno.

Courage therefore is not lack of fear but rather mastery of fear and risk. Mastery of fear and risk starts with doing your research, your homework, evaluating your situation. Preparation helps an extraordinary amount, yet many people are lazy and do not prepare. Using my example of speaking in front of a large crowd, it is far easier to master your fear and succeed if you have developed great material, written down a crisp opening, made some backup notes to keep in your pockets, and practiced your speech once or twice. Courage is bolstered through preparation.

Preparation may not put you completely over the top, but it makes that last bit of courage far easier to muster. Courage allows a person to become decisive, to grab opportunities that others do not, to take chances when the odds are good.

Take every prudent risk, face the world with courage, and your world will be a far bigger place, with far more expansive horizons, with plentiful opportunities. Don’t listen to your peers for you must realize that smart, courageous people are rare – most everyone you will know will have far more limited horizons than you.

The world can be your oyster if you embrace it. Envision yourself courageous. Take smart risks. Embrace opportunities with little hesitation. Most importantly, realize that courage requires practice.

Here is a quote I love:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Embrace opportunities. Life is better when you have the courage to live life large, with few regrets.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Watch Jim Carrey in Yes Man once a year.

yes_man

Nov 252013
 

Jim Rohn is one of my favorites. His philosophies and mine are most often in harmony.

In my opinion, Jim is the perfect guy to listen to when you decide a three day retreat to some lonely, beautiful mountain top cabin would do you a lot of good. Mr. Rohn was not the most succinct, but his message was absolutely outstanding. Here are my choices for a Jim Rohn Top Ten Quotes of all time.

jim-rohn

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

I would argue that discipline and execution are where most of us fail. We all have ideas. Few ideas are ever converted into written goals, a failure of discipline right out of the gate. Those written goals then need to be distilled into written missions with due dates, missions are distilled into projects (with due dates), and projects into readily achievable tasks (with due dates). Tasks need to be managed on the calendar, and discipline is needed every step of the way.  That is execution.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.

I would rather suffer the pain of discipline. Let’s take staying in shape as one small example. Staying in shape takes a discipline of eating well and keeping a fitness routine. Yes, there is pain to get up a bit early and fight the bitter wind to get to the gym. But would you rather lose your mobility at 70, and spend your golden years stuck in a senior center? I’d bet the pain of regret is worse than the pain of fitness.

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.

Never stop learning. Too many folks stop learning after school. Yet, all the people that knock it out of the park have three things in common:

  • they have the discipline to set written goals and plans while driving toward accomplishment,
  • they prefer to suffer the pain of discipline over the pain of regret, and
  • they embrace learning new things, seeking out knowledge at every life’s turn.

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Prudent risks must be taken. This one element stops 99% of people on this planet. Choose to be one of the one percent.

Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.

If you are not making mistakes, you are not taking risks. All progress involves failing forward, never giving up while taking chances. The US Marines teach the idea of adapt and overcome, and they are dead-on right. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

People think they can’t change. Change involves a decision made in a millisecond. If you don’t believe you are shackled, you are not.

Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.

Becoming a remarkable person is your responsibility and your duty. Read my previous article here.

You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.

Few people understand this simple economic truth. I would add that supply and demand of your value-added abilities matters too, because the marketplace is quite efficient. But, in the end, find a way to offer more value than most others, improve yourself in valuable ways, and you will make a lot more income in the end. Financial success is not a mystery.

Make measurable progress in reasonable time.

Too often a week goes by, and I don’t make a first down that matters. Sometimes a month goes by. Sometimes a year… Keep a log, keep a diary. Measurement requires pale ink to stay honest with yourself. Make sure that you are making meaningful, measurable progress. No one will worry too much about your lack of progress except for you.

And my all time favorite Jim Rohn quote:

Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rohn. Job well done.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Taking a three day contemplation weekend — without T.V., without radio, without noise, without crowds —  is something we should all do, at least once every three years, but it is easier said than done.

mountain-cabin-in-winter

Welcome

 

Hi, I’m Bob Sakalas.

I believe that you can achieve and maintain true happiness throughout your life if you:

  1. first figure out what you stand for – what your true unwavering principles are, and then…
  2. choose to be optimistic,
  3. discern lots of exciting goals,
  4. create clear plans to reach your goals, 
  5. take decisive action, giving every day your best, honest effort, and, above all
  6. be truly grateful for all the gifts, all the little details, in your life.

My mission is to teach and inspire. I hope to inspire you to think clearly, make positive decisions, define your goals, and take fully committed actions. Do your very best, take some prudent risks, be all you can be, be thankful, and you will be remarkable and happy.

I do not believe in searching for happiness. Happiness is not a finish line. Happiness is not found at the end of a quest but rather, in the challenge, quality and appreciation of the daily journey. Success and happiness is truly created by our chosen positive attitude, our resolve to stay true to our principles, and the daily choices we make during our life’s journey. Peace-of-mind, critical to happiness, is found in maintaining our personal integrity and being grateful for the gifts already in our lives, not our bank accounts.

We are often surrounded by pessimism, which is fueled by the media which all too often celebrates low moral standards. A person needs to see it for what it really is, and rise above.

I believe four of the most important decisions you can make are:

  • to be a contrarian, questioning everything you hear while thinking for yourself,
  • to be unquenchably optimistic, 
  • to be loyal and true to your principles and your family, and
  • to be a bold, decisive person defined by enthusiastic action and tenacity.

A few of the items you will find here on my website include:

  • My blog where I share my observations each week,
  • Links to other websites in my sphere of influence,
  • A few of my Seven Great Minutes podcasts from 2002 (I was podcasting before they had a name for podcasts),
  • The complete text of Seizing Sharemy book about improving a sales organization from good to great,
  • The complete Twenty-One Keys, my e-book about teaching kids the fundamental keys to a successful life,
  • The ability to contact me.

Best of luck and vaya con Dios,

Bob Sakalas a.k.a. Optimism Man

Jun 272012
 

Do you want to be a remarkable person?

Contrary to popular and incorrect “birthright thinking”, remarkable is well within your reach. You do not have to be born with a castle in the family! Small steps can make a huge impact on the trajectory of your life.

How much better would your life be, how remarkable would you be…

1 – if you decided to life a life of pure optimism and gave up all complaining – really – day in and day out?

2 – if you decided to really “go for it”, to jump in with both feet, take prudent risks, and be all you can be?

3 – if you completely gave up making excuses to others and inside your own head?

4 – if you simply did everything you say you will do?

5 – if you decided to live in the present, never worrying about tomorrow
or thinking about past events?

6 – if you decided to do everything with 100% focus and effort –
in other words, your absolute best?

7 – if you started to ask good questions, then really listen and remember what people said,
instead of talking about your own stuff most of the time and thinking about what you will say next?

8 – if you sincerely looked for and found “what’s special” in every person you meet?

9 – if you planned one important thing to do each morning – by important I mean that it contributes to long-term progress in your life – and did it before nightfall each day?

10 – if you never told a lie from this day forward?

11 – if you limited your passive, time-wasting TV watching to one hour a day or less?

12 – if decided to not worry about what other people think or what they say about you?

13 – if you stopped for just 15 minutes each day, in peace and quiet, to think, to plan, to write down the things you are thankful for, to say a prayer or two?

Pick any one. Would you be better off? Pick any six. Would you be MUCH better off? Pick the entire baker’s dozen. Would you become truly remarkable?

How long would it take to make all of them indelible habits? Less than one year, right? Maybe a year and a half? The opportunity to become a remarkable person in one to two years seems great to me.

Most people think of “remarkable” people in flawed ways – remarkably famous, remarkably rich, remarkably intelligent, remarkably connected, remarkably talented, remarkably beautiful – yet all of these qualities have to do with God given characteristics, family birthright, and a healthy dose of luck – three things we cannot choose ourselves. So most people decide that they will be not remarkable, and strangly admire those few that fit in the categories above.

Yet, if you did just these thirteen small steps, do you agree that “remarkable” is quite accessible to anyone that wants to be?

Be Remarkable! It is your choice.

I.M. Optimism Man

May 252012
 

I believe that choosing to embrace optimism leads to success and happiness. What many people do not realize is that, scientifically speaking, we are born optimists, with a clear and measurable bias toward optimism.

Optimism can cure your life, but, as with medicine, optimism has some potentially negative side-effects. There is no doubt that the benefits are huge. There is also no doubt that we must accurately consider the risk/reward of any endeavor if we are to succeed. A wise person must become aware for his or her “optimism bias” and factor this bias into their analysis to make wise bets and take prudent risks.

Please watch this video to gain better perspective on the neuroscience of optimism:

The key, in the end, is to take lots of calculated risks and decisive actions. Reward must be likely and risk must be minimized. One’s bias for optimism must be factored into the equation.

Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.
— Maxwell Maltz

In all thy getting, get understanding,

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Want more from Tali? Here is her book: The Optimism Bias

May 232011
 

Financial success is not as elusive as many people think — but you must follow some basic strategies to stack the odds in your own favor. Here are my 22 Commandments for financial success (not to be confused with my twenty-one keys for overall success in life 🙂  ):

1. Never compromise your integrity.

Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not gossip and trash others. Do exactly what you say you will do (or even 10% more). Integrity is integral to any long-term success. Many think this is a short-cut to financial success but there is not — those with gray areas in their ethics may enjoy temporary success but usually flame out before the game is over.

2. Focus on one strategically important project at a time, until the project is finished.

Multi-taskers do not outpace intense, single-minded, driven individuals. The fable of the tortoise and the hare is the most important story each of us must remember from our youth. Discipline is a very important quality to foster in your life.

3. Write down and fine-tune your goals on paper.

Keep your goals with you and review your goals every morning for 15 minutes without fail. Goals enable you to focus, to plan, to be in charge of your life’s destination, to avoid distractions. Do not make your primary goal your own wallet — financial reward is a side-effect of producing economic value for others — help others succeed to be a lasting success yourself.

4. Pay careful attention to where you invest your time.

Time is your most precious resource.  Keep a detailed written log of where you invest your time.  When at work, focus on work.  When with your family, focus on the family.  The better you manage the investment of your time, the better the quality of your life will become.

5. Work harder and smarter than everyone you know.

Working smart starts with goals, then plans, then supporting tasks… yet very few are serious about their planning and task management process.  There is no substitute for doing your planning homework first and following through with genuine hard work and effort. Be disciplined every day.

6. Adapt and overcome.

Every project will have set backs. Assume there will be setbacks and pre-plan what your “Plan B” and “Plan C” will be — pre-planning is an important step to not getting discouraged. Never look at a roadblock as a dead-end. Those that are determined to succeed, to adapt, to overcome, win.  The US Marine Corp teaches this principle better than any other organization on the planet. Excuses are for the less successful.

7. You will not succeed long-term, without good health.

The formula is 70% smart eating, 30% daily exercise.  Order fish and steamed veggies at every corporate dinner.  Drink only a little.  Work out every day possible, even if it is only for 30 minutes.  Those that weigh the same that they weighed at 21 when they are in their 50’s and beyond have an 80% chance of avoiding the major diseases that will topple so many people. Self-discipline matters in every facet of your life.

8. Add personal knowledge weekly.

Your mind needs fuel too, and not just in your chosen field. Read good stuff no less than five hours each week. Take notes while you read. Take a class or workshop every year. Watch lectures on the web. You will find that ideas of economic success come quicker if you feed your mind daily. 99% of television idles the brain while carefully selected reading strengthens it.

9. Search for and develop as many trusted mentors as you can.

You must invest a lot of time to search, find, and develop excellent mentors.  A mentor must be an optimist.  Once you have them, consult with them, often.

10. Choose to be a gung-ho optimist.

Preach optimism and convert others. Stop all complaints — it can be done. You will be amazed at the difference choosing to end all complaints will make on your own attitude. People that believe a project will work out, people that believe they will succeed, do.

11. Look for opportunities and embrace prudent risks.

You must first search if you expect to find. Risk is why so few people spank life’s ball out the the ball park. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Make prudent risk your best friend.

12. When in doubt, take decisive action.

The world belongs to the focused, driven, determined person with a solid plan and a lot of action.

13. Never walk alone.

Reserve a bit of time each day for solitude and pray for wisdom and making the right choices. We have so much opportunity and so many choices to make. God helps those that ask for help.

14. Plan big.

Set your sights and expectations high. You tend to hit what you aim at. Aim too low and you wind up underachieving by a lot.

15. Play the hand you are dealt to the best of your ability.

Did Helen Keller fold or play her hand? Life dealt her a pair of threes and she still changed the world. Don’t torpedo yourself by not given each and every day your best possible effort.

16. Don’t get swayed by other people’s opinions.

There are a lot of naysayers. That is why there is so much opportunity that other’s don’t see. There will be a day when people start complimenting you, as you success grows. Don’t let that sway you into big-head-syndrome either — stay true to yourself.

17. Create solutions to problems that have economic value.

The more you practice creativity, the more creative you become. Creative solutions are always in demand.

18. Ask great questions, then carefully listen to what people say.

Most people are so wound up about they want to say next, that they rarely hear what others are saying. A person that pre-plans great questions, asks great questions, and listens attentively is 1 in a 100. Make notes as soon as you can in your written journal. No memory is a match for pale ink. Stay disciplined on this core questioning, listening, and taking notes strategy and it will serve you well.

19. Specialize.

It is hard to become a financial success if you are just like everyone else.  Every industry offers room to specialize and differentiate yourself.  The specialist in a niche with excellent profit characteristics wins the game.

20. Engage in areas where you have true passion.

Work on stuff you genuinely care and are passionate about — passion greatly improves your odds of success.

21. Spend less than you make, and always invest your savings.

If you want to stay ahead, you must live on 80% of your income and invest the rest, unfailingly, year after year. If you start when you are 18 or 21, you will build up your wealth by the time you are 50 so that many of your dreams and goals can come to life.  The longer you wait, the greater the headwinds for financial success.

22. Measure progress and be very honest with yourself.

What gets measured gets improved. Businesses watch their income statements and their net worth statements for good reason. You should too. Create monthly statements for your family. You will find that when you will start paying attention to your income, expenses, and net worth, improvement soon follows. Don’t follow the “big hat no cattle” herd (I am from Texas after all).

There are more facets to financial success, but if you adopt just these 22 commandments, you will go far and prosper.

I.M. Optimism Man