Highly Successful People Remove Catalysts for Failure

Highly Successful People Remove Catalysts for Failure

Highly Successful People Remove Catalysts for Failure

There are 2 Key mental shifts that occur in the lives of all highly successful people. Many make the 1st, not all make the 2nd.

Both shifts require mental stretching from conventional and societal ways of thinking, these shifts require people to unlearn the negative programming from their youth, public education, and misgivings in adulthood.

The Foundation of the 1st shift is the power of choice and individual responsibility.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Max Planck, German quantum theorist and Nobel Prize winner

Once a you make this shift, you are empowered to pull yourself from poverty of time, finances, and relationships. As the 1st shift allows you to create a happy and prosperous life, where, for the most part, you control how and on what you invest your Time.

Often the results of the 1st shift can be overly-satisfying on 1 hand and/or paralyzing on the other.

Thus, few people ascend to the 2nd shift.

Greg McKeown, bestselling author of Essentialism explains,“Success can become a catalyst for failure.”

The Foundation of the 2nd shift is transcending one’s own independence, wherein thinking stretches beyond one’s self.

The 2nd shift begins with 10X thinking and requires the building of a Team, and a Network that brings ideas to life.

Here I discuss, and explain the process of experiencing the 1st and 2nd shift as I have experienced it during the past 19 years.

Shift 1: The Power of Choice

The following are the core components of your mental model after you’ve experienced the 1st shift:

You are responsible, take responsibility

“If it is to be, it is up to me.” — William H. Johnsen, American painter

In order to make the 1st shift, you must go from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.

Or simply, “stop playing the victim to external circumstances and take responsibility for your life.”

You are responsible for how you respond to life. No longer do you impulsively react. No longer do you blame others for any lack on your part.

You are 100% responsible for your marriage, for example. None of this 50/50 business. It’s all on you. If it fails, it was your fault. You made choices and now there are consequences. Of course others may be involved, but you can’t blame them for your choices.

In the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin explain this level of responsibility as fundamental to true leadership.

Notably, there are no bad Teams, just bad leaders.

Any negative outcomes of a Team operation fall square on the leader. Any positive outcomes are awarded to the Team.

Self-leadership involves the same level of responsibility. If something does notwork out, who or what do you blame?

If you blame anything but yourself, you will remain hostage to things outside your control. Learn to do thing right.

Every choice has a cost and consequence

We are not Free to act however we want, unless you’re willing to accept the consequences of those actions.

Author Stephen R. Covey explains, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”

The only way to avoid negative consequences, then, is to understand the principles governing natural consequences. Hence, highly successful people are continually learning and striving to better understand the world around them.

You cannot be free to act if you do not understand the consequences of your behavior.

Ignorance is not Bliss, it is bondage to negative consequences without understanding the source and reason for those consequences. Combine this ignorance with a victim mentality and you have a destructive time bomb.

Once you realize that every choice  yields an outcome, then you can then decide which outcomes you want.

No choice is Free, very choice is tied to an outcome, every choice has meaning.

The final consequence and cost of every choice is Time

We cannon get Time back.

We can course correct, learn from past mistakes, and solve problems. But, there is always a cost Time Once realized we become very sensitive about spending time on non-essential activities.

Success and Happiness, your choice

Success, health, and happiness are all consequences, byproducts.

They are effectsnot causes.

You cannot control the effects; principles control these.

But, you can control the causes of things, which are your behaviors.

The Big Q: Negative environmental factors?

The Big A: Change them.

A recent meta-analysis shows that most people misunderstand confidence. Confidence does not lead to high performance. Confidence is a byproduct of previous performance.

For example

Start your day well, and you are likely to have confidence throughout the rest of the day. Start poorly and your confidence will be sapped.

So, jump out of bed on purpose, poor a glass of Hydrogenated Water, look in the mirror and say, I am the greatest Guy/Gal in the World and am going to have a Happy, Productive day!

Confidence is a direct reflection of past performance.

Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. So, even if your confidence today is not optimal, your confidence tomorrow is within your control.

Once you have made the 1st mental shift, you know that your emotional state is your own responsibility and the product of your choices.

If you want to be confident, that’s up to you. If you want to be happy, that’s up to you. If you want to be successful, that’s up to you.

Momentum is Key

“When you experience positive momentum, you’ll never want it to stop.” — Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach

People who have experienced this 1st mental shift care about momentum. They have worked hard to develop momentum and know what it feels like not have it.

Being without momentum is really tough.

It is how most people live their lives, and without momentum, results are minimal, even with lots of effort.

Consistency is Key to developing momentum.

You get it by putting intentional effort toward a singular goal or vision, and eventually the compound effect takes over. It is as though several outside sources are working for your good, and they are.

Keeping the momentum once you have it becomes very important, as you must maintain a thirst for continual learning and growth.

Most people get stuck at the 1st shift

If you take complete responsibility for your life and choices, you will develop a love for learning. You will come to understand and live principles which will Organically facilitate success in your life.

There is a much higher level beyond the 1st shift, most people never get there.

In the book, Tribal Leadershipauthors Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright explain the different cultures of organizations.

Most organizations operate in a Stage 3 culture, meaning that everyone is out for themselves.

The goal of Stage 3 cultures is competition not collaboration.

This competition occurs between people within the same organization. Everyone is trying to climb up the ladder.

Hence, there is “sucking up”, backstabbing, secrecy, and the other shortcomings of politics.

People within these cultures do not care about the organization as a whole. They only care about what the organization can do for themThey also only engage in relationships so far as those relationships benefit them, and for this reason, they suffer. As, they cannot think beyond their own needs and desires.

Thus, their vision for themselves and the world is actually small and limited.

The primary ‘pot holes on the Path” for successful people who have made the 1st shift are, as follows:

  • It is all about “Them”
  • Their vision doesn’t extend beyond their own needs and goals
  • They become satisfied with and distracted by their success
  • They stop doing the very things that created their success
  • They forget their “Why”
  • They become perfectionist, and lose their drive to fail and learn
  • They over-attach themselves to their success and perceived identity
  • They go from offense to defense ,  rather than seeking more they focus their energy on maintaining what they have acquired
  • They become obsessed with constant affirmation from themselves and others, and stop seeking genuine feedback
  • They do not learn how to work well with others
  • They think their way is the “right” way
  • They cannot trust other people enough to delegate or collaborate

If you are seeking a life of individual happiness and prosperity, you need read no further.

So, if you want a much higher degree of growth, relationships, and contribution, here is how the 2nd shift works:

Shift 2: The Power of Context

Synergy is what happens when 1+1=10 or 100 or 1000.

“It is the result when 2 or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” — Stephen R. Covey

In the book, Ego is the EnemyRyan Holiday explains that many successful people “stop being a student.”

“Never stop being a student, never stop learning”– Paul Ebeling

Once you have developed the confidence and skills to do incredible work via the 1st shift, you may realize you can only get so far by yourself, going it alone is overrated and really hard (lonely).

You may be able to rock life by yourself, but you could rock life a lot more with the help of the right people.

This is the ascent Stephen R. Covey explains in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The first several habits are to help you experience the first mental shift, or what Covey calls the “Private Victory.”

The habits author Covey outlines to experience this private victory are:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put 1st things 1st

Once these habits are active, people will go from dependence on others to a high state of independence,  the 1st shift.

However, 3 Key habits of Mr. Covey’s book are intended to take us beyond independence to a state of interdependence, where we experience synergistic relationships in all areas of your life. 

What I have dubbed the 2nd mental shift and Mr. Covey calls “Public Victory.”

The habits to experience Victory are:

  1. Think Win-Win
  2. Seek to understand, then to be understood
  3. Communicate the Truth

People that do not do all 3 of the above are not Team-players, they are not teachable, they do not set up relationships that are mutually beneficial, they care little about other people.

Below are the core components of your mental model after you have experienced the 2nd shift, as follows:

10X Thinking = means bypassing the other along the way

Becoming “successful” requires taking personal responsibility for your life and choices. By nature, it is beyond average, since, to be average is to not take responsibility.

Thinking 10X is much different, though, than simply taking responsibility. It involves a grand vision wherein others must also be responsible.

Moreover, 10X thinking involves far more boldness and creativity than simply “being proactive.”

10X thinking takes you from the goal of earning $100,000 a year to earning $1,000,000, or, from helping 100 people to helping 1,000.

When you do this, your strategy immediately shifts.

In his book, Tools of TitansTim Ferriss explains that 10X thinking can come from asking “absurd” questions, such as the question billionaire Peter Thiel asks himself: If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t I do this in 6 months?

Of this type of questioning, Ferriss continues: “For purposes of illustration here, I might reword [Thiel’s question] to: ‘What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next 6 months, if you had a gun against you head?’ Now, let’s pause. Do I expect you to take 10 seconds to ponder this and then magically accomplish 10 years’ worth of dreams in the next few months? No, I don’t. But I do expect that the question will productivity break your mind, like a butterfly shattering a chrysalis to emerge with new capabilities. The ‘normal’ systems you have in place, the social rules you’ve forced upon yourself, the standard frameworks — they don’t work when asking a question like this. You are forced to shed artificial constraints, like shedding a skin, to realize that you had the ability to renegotiate your reality all along.”

If you want to think bigger, ask better questions

These types of questions lead to creative breakthroughs and different avenues of thought. They also organically facilitate a very different strategic approach.

Delegate everything but Genius.

When you begin thinking 10X, you realize you cannot do it all on your own. You need to be far more focused.

Thus, it becomes essential to build a Team around you immediately, the network is your net worth.

The sooner you build a Team around you, the faster, wider, and deeper will be your results. In almost every case, you won’t feel ready to build this team.

Do not get caught-up with any preconceived notions of what building a Team means. It does not necessarily mean hiring people in the traditional sense.

It could mean that you exchange favors.

It means you develop unique collaborations with people in other niches and make crazy connections other people have not seen.

The better the collaboration, the more “impossible” the goals you can pursue.

These are mutually beneficial relationships wherein you focus on your superpower and have those around you who focus on theirs’.

Collaboration and synergy in all areas of life

“Collaboration means flexibility, change what can be changed, accept what cannot.” –Paul Ebeling

Examine your life.

When you go to the gym, do you have a workout partner?

Surveys show that most people prefer working out alone.

However, if you have experienced the growth available by pushing yourself with someone else, the idea of working out alone seems somewhat comical.

In a Darwinian sense, most people compete with others on their own level.

Those seeking rapid growth compete with others who are far advanced, what Josh Waitzkin calls “investing in failure.” An even higher order principle is collaborating with others who are far advanced of your current level.

For instance, if you want to get stronger or faster really fast, exercise with people in far better shape. If you want to do incredible work, work with more talented people than you. If you want to become a better person, date or marry someone up.

When there is true collaboration, you will need to bring much to the table yourself. This isn’t about social loafing. It’s about intensive growth, and must therefore, be both win-win and synergistic.

Andrew Carnegie, the steel mogul, among the richest Americans of all time, explained,“Teamwork appears most effective if each individual helps others to succeed, increasing the synergy of that team; ideally, every person will contribute different skills to increase the efficiency of the team and develop its unity.”

In everything you do, there should be collaborative and synergistic elements. Of course, there is work which is your work. However, that work should be embedded within a group of others and toward something much bigger.

Again, a big difference from the 1st shift to the 2nd is that you are responsible for more than just yourself. Because others depend on you to show up and do what you do best, you are responsible to your Team.

These others could be customers, fans, family, a workout partner.

The point is, you are responsible for other people’s success. Moreover, in many ways, their success is your success. Their growth and development is just as satisfying as your own — sometimes more.

Rest and Recovery, aka R&R

Working with a 10X goal and game-plan requires that your brain is relaxed, rested, and rejuvenated, no stress, no anxiety, no worries or concerns.

Deep, creative, and strategic thinking and work is exhausting. An essential component of the 2nd shift is doing less, better and R&R, if your body tell you to sleep 12 hours, sleep 12 hours.

Where the 1st shift is often about quantity of work, the 2nd shift is all about quality.

To experience the 1st shift, you often just need to throw a bunch of darts at a board. Simply throwing a dart is seen as a huge win, initially. Eventually, some of those darts start hitting the board and getting some attention.

Once you make the 2nd shift, you are among the world-class. It is not about hitting the board, it is about hitting the Bulls-eye, consistently.



Conservation, rest, and recovery, then, becoming increasingly essential. This is true at all elite levels.

Similarly, to build mass and strength, many people need to workout lessand give their body more time for recovery and sleep. Yet, during their workouts, they need to push themselves harder and heavier.

Less, but better.

The same is true of mental and strategic work.

Recovery is more than just physically resting. It’s also being completely unplugged from “connection.” For instance, a recent study found that constant smartphone use stops people from properly recovering from work and life. In a sense, people are always “on” to distraction and connection. They never disconnect. People keep their smartphones on them constantly.

In the study, the experimental group, who became more conscious of their smartphone use, and took adequate breaks from it, were able to experience psychological detachment from work (which is essential for recovery and engagement), relaxation, and mastery.

The Take Away

Set healthy boundaries on your smartphone and Internet use. When possible, keep your smartphone away from your person. If it’s in physical proximity, you will unconsciously use it. Keep it in your car when you get home from work. Or keep it in a drawer in a separate room.

Allow yourself R&R, so you can engage in life. 

This is absolutely essential if you want to truly make the 2nd shift.

In Conclusion

These mental shifts really work.

When you are on your Path, you can intensify and deepen your understanding of the principles at these various marks, you are the only one who is responsible for stepping off of the Path.

Shred whatever paradigm you have and get a new 1, because when you change the way you see things, the things you see change.

Do not stop being a student, do not stop learning, and

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively


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