1. We’ve Been Taught to Compete.
We’ve been lumped into teams our entire life and sold the idea that there isn’t enough to go around, so we’d better get our share first. “Survival of the fittest” and all that.
Competition has been the goal. This keeps top athletes very well paid until they wear themselves out at the ripe old age of 40. And then, with no real people skills to speak of, they disappear into the woodwork to sell used cars or hopefully manage investments of all the millions they were paid.
Those who weren’t consistently first tier learned other skills early, or reverted to the neighborhood average that sports had helped them climb out of for a little while. That meant entry-level jobs or sales positions, or working for a relative who had taken over the business from another relative.
2. We Aren’t Taught Creativity.
Music and Art are taught as something kids should be “exposed to” in order to be “well rounded.” And are the first to be cut back when the budgets get severe.
Like all other schooling, you are lumped into big classes by physical age which have nothing to do with actually improving your skills or talent at anything.
What is interesting is that the truly successful are so creative that they have a hard time at school, or work out how to deal with that culture in order to blend in and be ignored. Mostly, they drop out as soon as they can and start getting their real education outside. Hard Knocks University, it’s called.
Count the number of really rich people in the U.S. (Forbes’ list, probably) and you’ll find the vast majority are either college dropouts, never went, or attended some fairly unknown college in the Midwest.
These people are creative at finding solutions and solving things. The businesses they start and manage then expand like crazy and reward them for their unorthodox approaches.
3. The Business Buy and Dwindle Model.
The history of businesses is big fish swallowing the smaller ones. Businesses which are successful will buy direct competitors, or companies in a related area, so they can keep expanding. They’ll swallow their physical, personnel, and technical assets so they can grow. Anything they can’t use, they will sell off.
Big businesses buy other successful businesses. They may (or probably won’t) get the founder to work for them. Success in business is an individual leading a team.
Then, after the big businesses are too big to be bought, they’ll age. The original founders will exit, stage left, leaving new players on the stage who don’t have the drive and ambition they did. Things will roll along for awhile, usually after the board hires and fires several CEO’s in succession. Meanwhile, the big company is slowly trending down. J.C. Penney, Sears, Montgomery Wards – these all made their name with their annual catalogs which enabled them to expand without having to have a lot of physical buildings in every single town. Yet they have all declined and are still dwindling.
Other businesses, like Wal Mart and Amazon, are taking their place. But Amazon is really just Jeff Bezos. As long as he is there, it will continue to expand. Wal-Mart continues because Sam Walton had a lot of children and invested them all in the business (for tax reasons and others.)
McDonald’s continued to expand for quite awhile after Ray Kroc left it. This was mostly due to the amount of training they had built in, so that the policies and practices were genned into every worker they ever had. It’s not just the huge amount of prime real estate locations they own corporately. Businesses are people, always. One extremely talented person is the core, who is cross-trained in different areas, or knows how to find people he can hire to get the needed jobs done.
Once that creative core is gone, the business will start rotting from the inside out, regardless of appearances.
4. Fine Art Failures
Another extreme of how we mis-train our creatives is found in academia again.
I once had the short-lived experience of working in a college town with a handful of Masters of Fine Art (MFA’s) I didn’t even know that that term existed before then. (In a farming community, this was the Missouri Farmer’s Association, a co-op for grain sales.)
These MFA’s were taught all the fine points of artwork, but none of the business skills that were needed to pull it off. They were never required to take a class in writing business plans. All their training and examples were in mounting shows where they could display their art. Hopefully, they’d sell some. Yet they complained of their teachers who showed the same art year after year, with few new original pieces.
Someone who knows art needs to know or hire someone to sell it for them. Maxfield Parrish was a multi-millionaire during the Great Depression because he actually sold the same original six times.* And could be seen painting a half-dozen or more paintings all at the same time, applying one color to each one and then coming back around with another.
Both Thomas Hart Benton and Charley Russell were brilliant artists. And they married wives who were brilliant marketers.
And none of those artists got an MFA from anywhere.
5. Navigating the Book Publishing Swamp
Writing is probably worse off. All you have to do is to look at the amount of courses and services available to help authors part with their money in order to get their books into publishers hands. For all the good that does anyone. In the “old days” of traditional publishing, about 1 percent of the authors actually would get their books published and selling. This was out of the 3 percent who were accepted and published (meaning 2 out of the 3 didn’t actually sell well or at all.)
But today, when anyone can get their books published, you’ll find that the statistics are now even worse. To make a living from ebooks, you’d have to sell about 10,000 books a year at the $3 average commission. That would be about 30 per day. This means on Amazon you’d need a sales rank of about 3000 to 5000. What that means is that you have that many people selling better than you. Now, look at the total number of books available for sale. If you add all the Kindle categories up and divide by two (as each book can be in two categories) you’ll now find that your single book is competing with over 5 million other titles out there.
Now, if you look up all the surveys that authors have answered, you’ll find the same numbers keep coming up year after year:
- The vast majority only write a single book. Ever.
- That one book sells an average of 250 copies.
- The average author (including all the high roller successes with the wannabes) makes about $5,000 per year.
Note that poverty level in this country is about $25,000 per year.
What do the real successes do? Multiple books, multiple pen names. This then reaps the long tail, since you aren’t trying to get that one book to do incredibly well, but spreading out a lot of just-better-than-average books to sell nicely for you. Even Author Earnings can’t estimate who is making a hidden killing, by their own admission.
But Author Earnings does report (in their May 2016 edition) that about 4,600 authors are at least making some nice side money with their book sales ($25,000 or more.) And there are 1,340 who are making more than $100,000 annually.
Again, before you get your hopes up, this is out of over 5 million books available. The clue to any author making a decent income is in the above, though.
6. Real Success is All Around Us, in the Real World.
The secrets to success are hidden in plain sight. But you have to learn to look, and how to winnow the chaff from the grain.
If you do, you’ll find out that every generation has someone writing essentially the same book as some one did a decade before them. And most of these authors who are successful with their self help book on success has an overlapping lifetime with someone else who did the same. If you track their back-trail closely, you’ll find they studied others works along this line in order to create their own version.
All the rules for becoming successful have been written up time and time again. If you look closely, you’ll also find that these principles (laws) are found in the oldest religious texts we have. They are that old and that ingrained in our living.
Napoleon Hill had several bestsellers based on the same material that it took him 20 years to distill the first time. He can be traced back to Charles F. Haanel, who wrote the Master Key System (a bestseller in its time). Haanel can be traced back to another bestseller author, Judge Thomas Troward of the late 1800’s. And Troward said he got it from studying all the main religions in their own language while a judge in provincial India.
More recently, you’ve got Stephen Covey, who distilled his 7 Habits book from studying 200 years of American self-help literature. And there’s Dale Carnegie, who evolved his How to Win Friends and Influence People while critiquing over 150,000 speeches in his speaking course.
If you study and distill, you’ll find the same answers coming up over and over and over. The same success principles, repeated in different words.
7. Your Own Mindset is the Culprit or The Master Key.
Your mindset is stacked like your habits. Your earliest trainings will either support the weight, or it will collapse. This is where failures come from, as well as nervous breakdowns and addictions.
People who build their mindsets on principles instead of dogma can succeed better than anyone else. Because principles have to be tested in life in order to be kept. The easy way out is to memorize a bunch of facts or affirmations, or aphorisms. But if this were a stable route to success, then you’d find people who said that the morals out of Aesop’s Fables were the key to their success. (But if you pick up that book today, you’d see that a lot of the morals simply don’t work to make real success. They do help you keep your day job, though.)
Schools and academia don’t train success principles. Or they’d follow their own urban legend studies and have courses on goal selection and attainment. (One academic did actually do a study on goals and found it was actually true, just not the outrageous “fake news” number reported for the fictitious Harvard and Yale studies.)
When about 2 percent of people make goals, you’ll then see why this number of 1 percent controlling 80% of the wealth on this planet (which actually is yet another urban legend. Yes there was one study sponsored by the U.N., but the numbers were massaged to get that click-bait headline.) The real truth is somewhere around an average of 3% become financially independent, even wealthy. The top 10 percent do OK or keep working. Everyone else is dependent on government dole to some degree after a 40-year working career. The Social Security statistics bear this out and haven’t changed much in decades by their own surveys.
The point is to test every “truth” you operate on and see if it consistently gives you results. The derivation of the word “success” actually means “results.”
If you build your world view and belief system on fake news and faulty conclusions, then your world will collapse on you at some time or the other. Sooner or later. Eventually. There is no real reason you should experience your world collapsing on you because of external events. Your world really only collapses because of how you put your mindset together. (Test that datum for yourself, don’t take my word for it.)
But if you start today to eliminate dogma and replace with tested principles, then you can re-stack your mindset, like you can re-stack your habits. Then you’ll be able to have success on tap. Turn it on or off, bigger or smaller flow as you want or need.
The point to all this is from Earl Nightingale (who distilled it from multiple earlier authors, including Napoleon Hill) when he said, “We Become What We Think About.”
Your action is to review your thinking. Then you can change what you want to be and have out of life. Change your thinking, and you can get whatever you really want. Keep thinking the same way and you’ll keep getting the same results.
Good luck – and have fun with this.
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*Maxfield Parrish became one of the first artists smart enough to copyright his art work originals and license his images for “a one-time use only.” He said that: …”these other artists paint a picture and just sell it, I paint a picture for use as a calendar, an art print, playing cards, a greeting card, and a puzzle, and then I sell the painting. I sell my painting five or six times.” (Sothebys.com – https://goo.gl/18ORu7)
Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret Library – contains complete versions of
- The Strangest Secret transcript
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol
- Wake Up and Live by Dorothea Brande
- If You Can Count to Four… by Dr. J. B. Jones