Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

I wrote the post below on July 2006, after watching Brian Tracy talk about his book “The secrets of Self-Made Millionaires”:

My husband brought a DVD copy of the talk of Brian Tracy on the topic “Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires”, a take-off from the book he has written with the same title, for the weekend. As business is a new world for me, I would like to share the insights I gained rather than a review of the talk. These serve as an inspiration for me.

Happily, I noted down that skills are learnable. As a graduate of Political Science and a law student on leave of absence, I was not exposed to the world of business. My father’s business do not count as he believes that what he owns and operates belong to men. With the kind of philosophy my father employed, I can now say that nature had been very good to me, considering that his business style is not what I would idolize. Before I drift further, let me go back to the wisdom of “skills are learnable”. I would like to prove that this is correct. Now is the perfect time for me to learn new things and add new skills. My time is my own, the world of knowledge is for me to explore.

Brian Tracy also emphasized that you may just be “one skill away from doubling your income”. Currently, I have a zero income, unless I consider my favorite line for my husband, “my money, my money, your money, my money”, then I will have second thoughts on being able to double my income. For now, I have the world to gain and I literally have no expense to lose. In my case though, it may not just be one skill away as I am totally a foreigner in the world of business. But for anything that it’s worth, productivity is one thing that I wouldn’t allow myself to be alienated from. So, no matter how many skills I am to learn, then, I will. Learning one skill and another, and using them at the right time under the right circumstances, would make me nearer and nearer that goal. But then again, I may be just really one skill away. Identifying that skill is next after this scribbling.

The talk focuses on, as the title suggests, the secrets of self-made millionaires. When you run down the list, they are not secrets, after all. They are common sense and positivism personified by these millionaires. Why then only a fraction of the world’s population belongs to the millionaires’ bracket? If some people are offended by the word millionaire, let me rephrase it then to “why then only a fraction of the world’s population are financially secured?” Further contemplation brings me back to SELF-DISCIPLINE. In my rational and determined moments, I always believe and I believed I espoused self-discipline. This brings me to look at myself as the perfect illustration of why only a few belong to that group of millionaires. I had moments of pure determination and perfect self-discipline. Then the cycle begins all over again, I would be overcome by laxity and mediocrity. Self-realization would bring me back to the beginning of my motivation. I would vow to have the necessary self-discipline again. The cycle begins. That, I believe is the reason why only a few are classified in that privileged group.

What then are the secrets of self-made millionaires? Brian Tracy started off with “Dream big dreams”. Idealization is very important. Dream small, achieve small. Dream small, chances for some people are, they achieve half of that dream, so they get to have half of that small dream. What do you get in the end? Puny achievement. Dream big, achieve big. Dream big, chances for some people are, they achieve half of that dream, so they get to have half of that big dream. What do you get? Bigger-than-the-small achievement. Going further, why then settle for half when you can actually achieve that big dream? I would love to dream big dreams and achieve big. On the sideline, I wouldn’t want to lose track of Rudyard Kipling’s “If you can dream – and not make dreams your master…. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Another secret, which is really just common sense is “Do what you love to do”. Often, we hear people preach this. In fact, we hear this a lot. But hearing or just listening produces nothing compared with actually living it. So many success stories are launched because the people behind it are living their passion. The author talked about a man who had loved airplanes since he was a kid, played with airplanes, studied airplanes and earned money and prestige out of airplanes. In all those years, he just loved airplanes. In all those years, he never felt he was working. Doing what you love, in the end, is never exhausting. I remember elementary scrapbooks with the question “What is love?” More often than not, the answer would be “Love is self-sacrifice”. So elementary and so self-defeating. Love should never be about self-sacrifice. Love should be about happiness. Love is about getting the best out of an individual. When you pour yourself into something or someone you love, you are filled with an everyday giddiness for something or someone worth living for. At the end of the day, you would never look back and say that your efforts were sacrifices or exhausting to begin with.

In any field, those who belong to the top have committed themselves to one thing in common: “Commitment to excellence”. This is another secret listed by Brian Tracy. Mediocrity is not part of the vocabulary of any of these millionaires. In one of my poems I said “contentment in mediocrity”. It was written in the context of being happy with one’s achievement but not being hard on one’s self if the desired end is not achieved despite the efforts exerted. I still believe in what I had written though I know that commitment to excellence is what drives successful people apart from ordinary mortals. If “Excellence is just a matter of habit” as Plato put it, then it is the never-ending drive to doing what it takes to be excellent which should seal one’s fate to rise above mediocrity.

The author also advised to “Develop your unique talents and abilities”. I have always acknowledged my ability to organize. But this is so seldom used unless I am passionate about the matter at hand. Most often, if matters do not concern or touch me personally I really do not lift a finger to do something about it. If I do and I find some resistance, I back off. I don’t claim ownership and responsibility on things I am not just so interested in. But this scenario is beyond what is being advised about. Whether talents and abilities are inherent or learned is immaterial. It is how one maximizes his strengths, which matters and produces the difference.

In a work environment, especially in large corporations with many employees laxity is a danger. Employees tend to work within limits because of the fixed monthly income. Seldom does it happen that employees go the extra mile. I used to be passionate with my work, even went beyond the working hours without charging overtime so I can finish what I have set myself to do. In a lot of instances, I was more demanding of myself than my superiors were of me. I wanted to do well more than what was expected of me. My standard was my capability. Then the teasing would begin. A lot of working people have developed the mentality that employees only work hard when the bosses are around. Even most bosses think that way, too. And they do not hesitate to make that mentality known. As a result, those who would want to do further and even work beyond the required working hours may be discouraged to do so and will be pulled down by the dominant work culture. It would take huge effort to “see yourself as self-employed” in this set-up. Seeing yourself as self-employed means you take ownership and responsibility of the things you do, therefore products will not always be half-baked. I would like to see myself as self-employed in the literal sense, which brings us up to another level…

I need to “develop a clear sense of direction”. My desire to be a lawyer could be traced back to high school. The passion just developed within me in no exact way, time or incident. It just dawned on me. My sense of direction was clear. There were no other options, no other considerations. Events along the way didn’t bring me to the fulfillment of that high school dream. It continues to be a dream… but not given up. Reevaluation of that direction is a luxury that I have time to ponder upon while on my pregnancy.

Failure always looms in every endeavor. For the weak, to “refuse to consider the possibility of failure” would take a lifetime of strength to endure. The thought appears so energy-sucking, most would settle for the ordinary. For the strong, it is a challenge worth pursuing. No wonder, successful people finds commonality in their firm refusal to accept failure.

Brian Tracy also emphasized “lifelong dedication to learning”. Indeed, learning cease not in the four walls of the classroom or upon receipt of a college degree. Technology has paved the way for limitless learning. These days, people have options for the absorption of knowledge. Either you enroll in formal study, attend conferences or finger your way through the internet, knowledge sources abound. It’s up to us to seize and make use of. If I will be going another direction far from the legal profession, I know that I did not waste my money, effort and time. Someway, somehow I will put my learning to good use. I believe that I am even currently using my learning in my everyday existence. Learning a new language now using a whole new set of characters is fun. But I know I need to quadruple my effort to be able to learn faster.

A “workaholic mentality” is most often shunned off by a lot of people. This explains exactly why only thousands among the millions inhabitants of this earth are successful. This explains why only a few percentage is on top. Others only receive a trickle. It all goes down to attitude towards work.

If you want to be successful, “get around the right people”. Let’s face it, if you want network, go with people who can give you that network. If you want inspiration, go with people who can give you inspiration. Why allow yourself to be stuck up listening to other people’s whining and clamoring when you know that they do not go and do beyond that?

Success is not just one peak to climb, “be prepared to climb from peak to peak”. This suggests endurance and staying power. Indeed, contentment in the peak will put you in danger of going into no other direction but down. But conditioning yourself to conquer one peak and another will energize you to do just that. In the process, it won’t be just smooth sand to traverse, that’s why Brian Tracy also shared another secret, which is to “develop resilience and bounce back”. Surely, there will be many setbacks. At the end of the day, those setbacks will not count, will not even be noticed, if the bouncing back is with grace. As the popular adage goes “it is not how many times you fall but how you stand after every fall which matters”.

Optimism is a very important weapon through all the challenges which will definitely come along. Brain Tracy talked about becoming an “unshakeable optimist”. He shared that optimists learn more things, try more things and to top it all, persist. No matter where we stand today, we could try to set goals for ourselves. In his talk, he advised his audience to write down ten goals. From among those goals, there is really that one goal which stands out. To get to that goal, write twenty things that you plan to do. From among those twenty, there is that one goal which could change your life and lead you to that goal. Identify that and set your mind to doing that… immediately. It may be easier said than done. Well, that explains again why only a percentage of the world’s population belongs to the top. As said earlier, others only receive trickles.

Having the optimism, it is also important to “develop the qualities of courage and persistence”. Upon setting a goal, one hard thing to do is to begin. The courage to begin is the very first and most important part of the process. I belong to the rest of the population who currently receive just a trickle from the privileged few and I know first hand how hard it is to even have the courage to begin. It is not even the act of beginning the process, it is having the courage to begin. It would surely take up a lot of strength of character.

The final secret shared by Brian Tracy is the “quality of self-discipline”. That brings us back to where I began. I have recognized, even without these great authors telling me, the importance of this quality. But, back to where I began again, it would take a lot of strength of character to actually have and eventually sustain this quality.

Having noted down all these, I hope this time lessons learned and inspirations gained won’t be put to waste. It would be with great joy and pride if one day I will chance upon this write-up again and would be able to say, “I learned well”. If I get to read this again in the future and will still be confined to the feeling of being inspired (because I didn’t do anything after writing this), then that would just reinforce the fact that indeed, only a few have the strength of character for success.

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