How could you reach your financial goals faster? It is simple: use leverage. Out of all the tools you can access, leverage is the most powerful.
I’m using the term leverage broadly here as I’ll explain. All leverage is a tool. It can be used for good or bad. It is like jet fuel that can propel you to your destination. Of course, if the pilot isn’t paying attention, this jet fuel will more quickly crash you into the ground.
I owe much of my success to the practical work of the prolific author, Brian Tracy. His life has been a rags-to-riches story. Fortunately, he is willing to share what he learned and coach the rest of us. This post is inspired by his “Wealth Building Made Simple” which is currently unavailable on Amazon. If you like this post, you may also like his Million Dollar Habits.
Top Ten Success Power Tools
You can continue to learn. There is no limit. Your education doesn’t need to stop when you graduate. In fact, it has never been easier to acquire knowledge.
Location is no excuse since many schools are virtual or can be accessed online. Lack of money is not an excuse since many online options are free. Even studying at Yale or acquiring the knowledge of an MBA can be free. Age is an arbitrary chronological cutoff and should have no bearing on whether you keep learning.
Acquiring specialized knowledge in your field will eventually pay off. Brian Tracy recommends setting a goal to be in the top 10% of your field. Who are in the top 10% of your field? How could you learn from them or model their success? Consider signing up for a course or conference right now.
Often what we are paying people for isn’t necessarily the vast knowledge in their head. We want them to have the skills to translate that knowledge into something that helps us. What skills could you acquire that would add more value to other lives?
What skills could you acquire over the next year? This works in medicine with CME dollars and hands-on ultrasound or cadaver courses. Maybe you could also take 1% or 2% of your income and invest in a skills development program. Many skills can be developed fast and are high-yield: business writing, coding, marketing, sales, negotiation, real estate investing, and public speaking. If you set a budget of $3K – $6K and focus on developing one of these skills per year, you will blow away your competition.
More importantly, you will become a better version of yourself. Now, pick the skill you will work on next year.
If you consistently follow steps one and two above the money will follow. As Warren Buffett said, “The more you learn, the more you earn.”
If the money doesn’t flow to you, take a hard look at the value you are creating. Are you producing enough? Are you capturing the value you produce? If so, plenty of money should be flowing to you. That money will, in turn, allow you to grow your business, take restful time off, and reinvest in more knowledge and skills.
Money is itself a tool. Using other peoples money (OPM) or debt can boost your cash-on-cash returns. That 8% real estate investment produces a 16% return with a 50% mortgage. How could you better use financial leverage?
We are strongly influenced by our peers – mostly friends and family. As my college English professor, Vernon Gooch, said: “We choose our goals by who we choose as our friends and advisors.” How big is your social network? The larger and more robust that network is, the more financial success you will have. Humans are social animals. Being disconnected from others will not grow your wealth. Being part of a successful tribe will propel you to success. The more you serve the more your success will grow. How could you grow or improve your tribe? Reach out to someone today.
How can you tap into your own unique creative juices? We all have unique gifts and insights within. Many fortunes (or at least small income streams) come from applying creativity to a known problem in the marketplace. Did you love photography as a kid? Can you get lost in time when writing in your journal? Could those be clues to future avenues of growth?
6. Good Work Habits
Poor Richard (Ben Franklin) wrote: “Early to bed, Early to rise: makes a man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise!” How true that still is? Most highly successful people are early risers. They conquer the day by having a productive morning after a good night’s sleep. Some tease me for going to bed early, but I’m okay with that. I love being well-rested and productive.
Some of those who tease me admit to staying up too late watching shows that don’t enrich their lives. They are too groggy in the morning to accomplish much early. Some also text friends during the day and go home at the earliest opportunity. They then wonder how they could be so unlucky when it comes to finances. How could you work on wasting less time? Simple changes like batching e-mail or getting up 30 minutes earlier can become some of your tools for success.
7. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)
One powerful tool for success is always within our power. We cannot completely choose our circumstances, but we can always choose our attitude. Your attitude can become the internal power tool that makes you unstoppable. You will enjoy our day more be looking for the brighter side of life events.
With an optimistic view, we are more likely to see opportunities (e.g. investments) when they arise. Having a PMA also makes us more enjoyable to be around. That helps build our social network – another powerful tool of wealth building.
We need to accept that luck is a big part of success and life. We cannot claim complete credit for every good thing in life. On the other hand, we can “create” some luck. The quote generally attributed to Samuel Goldwyn applies here: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
We know from the law of large numbers that good luck is a game of volume and repetition. When the odds are only slightly in our favor, large volumes of grinding effort is required before rewards come our way. Having a lot of grit (passion + perseverance) will get you through the necessary grind.
9. Personal Power
Do you have what it takes to perform for decades? It isn’t easy to grind out highly productive days and weeks for years or decades. You may benefit from understanding sports psychology and the concepts of energy management.
We need cycles during the day, not a harsh linear pressure for 12 hours straight. Good nutrition and exercise are keys. We need prayer, meditation, or some similar means of deeply connecting. The more you master these, the more you develop your energy reserve and your personal power. Maybe you could commit to a daily 10-minute workout in the morning? Or a brief meditation break before the stress of afternoon clinic wears you down?
10. A Job You Love
It is easier to flourish and perform at high levels when you love what you do. There will always be parts of our work that we don’t enjoy. But if we can decrease or ignore those parts, we can gain leverage to succeed. Enjoyable work adds challenge, growth, connection, meaning, and an income stream.
If that isn’t your current view of work, could you adopt that view? Or maybe more than an attitude change is required. How could you improve or change your work environment? Could you improve your hours or responsibilities? Is there a better employer in town? Could you transition to part-time?
Focus on these ten tools and you may find your work more worthwhile and enjoyable. You can grow your marketplace value through your tremendous knowledge, skills, and personal power. Then use those tools as leverage to negotiate your ideal job and life. You have more opportunity than you think. What will be your next step?
The three biggest takeaways here for me are
1) we are who we hangout with…. Choose wisely.
2) you “should” never stop learning…but you definitely can… Have to put the work in here.
3) choosing a job you love is key. Otherwise we are ripe for burnout, which will inevitably lead to less success professionally, personally, and monetarily.
Thanks for the solid advice, Wealthy Doc!
Yes, Yes, TPP
Thanks for the great takeaways!
What a nice summary of what it takes to succeed. You used some of my favorite quotes. Early to rise? I woke up today at 3am and it seemed I would not be getting back to sleep, so I got up and started my work day. Sounds funny coming from a retired guy, but since I’m actually repurposed, I guess it’s OK. I had time to read your article when the house was quiet. Maybe I’ll take a nap later today. Is there any room for naps in your success plan?
Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
Prescription for Financial Success
Love your comment, Cory.
Naps for sure! I love naps. That is the beauty of being in charge of your schedule and to live your life how you want it.
Being well-rested is key to maximal productivity – at least in the long term. We can go with little sleep for a few days, but beyond that, it seems to exact a toll. There are plenty of productive people who stay up late and sleep in and they are most productive in the afternoon. Some people need only 5 hours sleep and never nap. I need a lot of sleep (I shoot for 8.5 hours minimum, but could use more for sure). I’m more of a night owl by nature but there is nothing like those quiet early mornings for reading, meditating, planning, writing, and/or exercise.
I try to not get up before 5 or 5:30 because I usually briefly wake up my wife. She wasn’t happy when I started getting up at 4:30 a while back.
I’m glad you got up early today, Cory, because I appreciate your comment.
I also am a early riser. I set an alarm for 5 but I am usually up before it goes off. I enjoy reading the WSJ and a few blogs and getting exercise before most people get up.
I forced myself to become a “morning person” many decades ago. I just know that I’m more likely to be productive and healthy if I keep up that habit. Since I need a lot of sleep it does force me to go to bed early also. A few people (like Tim Ferriss) seem to be able to pull off staying up late and sleeping in and still be productive, but it just didn’t work for me. That consistent block of quiet time before the loud crazy day begins is a key to my success and sanity. Especially since I’m an introvert doing extroverted work most of the day.
With the exception of luck most of these tools are available to everyone who takes time to find utilize them. You can even increase your odds of good luck by always putting yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Warren Buffet has large stores of cash to take advantage of buying opportunities when they occur. There is no reason we can’t do this on a smaller scale.
I agree. These were many of the power tools that I used to leverage my growing successes. If I’m honest though I acknowledge I received a lot of helping hands and good fortune along the way. Although we can’t control the outcome, we can control the process. Becoming the best version of your unique self is always a worthy goal.
As far as Warren Buffett, well, he is an interesting character for sure. I enjoy learning more about him, but he is a different species from me. In 2009 he was investing madly. I was on the verge of panic looking for short-term government bond funds to salvage some of my losses.
What you are describing here is process. Successful people take action and make a lot of little things happen. The aggregate result is success. Most people count on events – a bonus, an inheritance, a lotto ticket. Luck has something to do with success of course, but it’s the other stuff that sets you up to ‘get lucky’.
Yes, I agree, Millionaire Doc
That is a key insight.
The more I look for it, the more I see examples of this process vs. outcome issue. Just because you have a great process, it doesn’t guarantee a great outcome and vice versa. It can be really challenging to focus on the process when it is hard and the outcomes aren’t great. Eventually, things will turn in your favor though and better outcomes will appear.