Wisdom Keys for Life and Business

Part 2

Learn from the Stoic and Zen Masters

Hopefully you have all listened to the last episode where I introduced the first 5 wisdom keys since I may reference some of them in this episode. However, even if you haven’t listened to that one yet, you can still get some value from this episode because wisdom is wisdom and there is no particular order in which one needs to consume or apply wisdom. So, although I have an order to these 10 wisdom keys, take them in any order you wish, just be sure to take them to heart and apply them. With that being said, lets pick up where we left off with the last episode and go right into the 6th wisdom key.

The 6th wisdom key is:

When you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. 

Again, for some of you you will say, duh, that’s a no brainer Blaine. We’ve all heard this wisdom in one form or another but the number of people applying it in their lives is staggeringly low. There are lots of platitudes we hear throughout our lives and many of them are just that, empty platitudes that have no substance behind them. These wisdom keys, however, have been tested and distilled over literally thousands of years and just reworded to make sense for a 21st century mind and ear. I speak with professionals every day asking the same questions and facing the same kinds of problems. Some of them are technical problems and some of them are existential problems. As you all know, changes abound, not just in our industry but in every industry.

If you listened to the first five wisdom keys, number three was that the secret to your future is hidden in something you’re doing daily, your daily routine. What we do daily is what we are always in the state of becoming. Do something habitually over an extended period of time and it becomes, not just what you do, but who you are. The neurons that fire together in your brain also then wire together. If they fire together they wire together and a new pathway is born. When the new pathway is born it eventually becomes well worn if it’s done habitually. Once the pattern or habit is created, the daily activation of that habit eventually becomes part of your personality. When it becomes part of your personality, it becomes your personal reality. 

We’ve talked about this many times before; for most people, including myself, each consecutive day is merely a continuation of the prior day. Some habits and patterns are positive, some not so much. What you do today will look eerily similar to what you did yesterday. Human beings are creatures of pattern and familiarity. We seek patterns and we crave familiarity, it’s a survival instinct that is hard wired in our DNA. This pattern seeking leads to our search for comfort, familiarity of routine, and a fair amount of certainty about what is up ahead for us. If we don’t know what’s up ahead in any given situation, most people will turn back to look for a more familiar path that offers more certainty. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that most people will live each day much like they’ve lived the last 364 or more days. 

If you’re always seeking comfort and familiarity, you will always get what you’ve gotten up to now. When you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done and walk paths you may never have walked before. You all know the saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Why would anybody expect life or business to change for the better if you do the same things over and over. If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before. What is that thing, or things, for you? What is that for your business? What is that for your family?  What is that for the world? What habits and patterns will you have to break in order to experience something different? 

Wisdom key number three reminds us that the secret to our future is hidden in something we do daily. This wisdom key expands on that and says, when you find that thing, or things, in your daily routine that may be holding you back, or taking you in a particular direction, now you need to be willing to do something different from that thing and it might just be something you’ve never done before. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to do that”, or, “where do I even begin?”, those are good signs that you’re probably over the target and positive change is right around the corner. 

The 7th wisdom key is:

What you respect and appreciate, you will attract, what you don’t respect or appreciate , you will repel. 

Some of these wisdom keys are somewhat complex and need some deeper explanation and story telling to give them context. Some of them are simple and straightforward. This one is simple and straightforward. What we respect and appreciate we become attractive and magnetic to. What we don’t respect and appreciate will move away from us. Now, I hesitate a bit with this one because, for many people, when it comes to human relationships, this isn’t always true. There are many instances where we linger among people who don’t appreciate and respect us. If you look around at the people whom you interact with the most, whether that be family, friends, or co-workers, there is a good chance every one of us can pick out one or two people we can honestly say have little to no respect for us, and/or they don’t appreciate who we are, what we do for them, or what we’ve brought to the relationship. 

What this wisdom key reminds us of is that everything and everyone in our lives is an educational opportunity and a mirror being held up to us in order for us to see our own issues. When we identify somebody in our lives that doesn’t respect or appreciate us, for whatever reason, it’s an opportunity for us to ask the questions of ourselves, ‘what is it about me that allows this person to remain in my circle?’ ‘Why am I ok with them not respecting or appreciating me?’ ‘What need or desire within me is keeping this individual or situation around?’ Wisdom key two says to never complain about what you’re willing to permit or allow. If you’re allowing people who don’t respect or appreciate you to remain in your circle, or have access to you, that’s on you, not them.

Let’s flip this one on to you. What you don’t respect or appreciate will eventually move away from you. And, conversely, what you respect and appreciate will eventually make its way to you. If you don’t respect money, for example, it will always find a way to slip through your hands, so to speak. You’ll never have enough of it and you’ll never be happy with the things you acquire using it. If you don’t respect and appreciate time, you’ll always be wasting it and you’ll never have enough of it. If there is somebody in your life that you have little to no respect for, or that you don’t appreciate, eventually that person will move further and further from you. If it’s somebody you don’t respect or appreciate and they continue to hang around, you just end up having even less respect for them for not having the guts to tell you to piss off. What you respect and appreciate, you will attract more of, what you don’t will eventually move away from you. 

The 8th wisdom key is:

It’s not just about the income, it’s also about the equity

What is equity? In simple terms, equity is the difference between what you owe on something and the value of that thing. In real estate, your equity is the difference between what the house is worth in an open and competitive market and what you owe on the mortgage. However, equity can also be an individual’s ownership stake in something. You can have equity in a company in the form of shares of ownership. Those shares might be positive or negative on any given day, but the ownership interest is called equity. I have equity in a variety of different company stocks and I can tell you If I look at my brokerage apps whether or not my stock equity is up or down today. Equity can also be an unknown and intangible thing like goodwill in a company. Goodwill is that intangible thing contributing to the value of something because of, say, it’s brand, it’s awesome customer or client service, maybe intellectual property, or maybe a proprietary way of doing things. 

While most people tend to focus on how much they’ll be paid for something, smart money looks at the equity side of things as well. Taking an equity based approach to life and business is to focus on what is being built, what value is being created for yourself and for others, and what future value something might have if real problems are being solved, the market perceives value in that thing, and somebody’s life is getting better as a result. 

Don’t get this one wrong, it’s not saying not to get paid for what you do, nor is it saying that you shouldn’t also be paid what you’re worth. However, the market gets to determine what something is worth, which leaves a lot of people disappointed and complaining. Appraisers, especially, complain about this one all the time. “We’re being paid what we were paid back in 1980!”, “the fees are going down, not up!”, and so on. This view comes from a purely income based mindset where the only thing being calculated is income today. But what about equity tomorrow? What about the value you’re creating by improving your systems and processes? What is the value you’re creating in the market by having killer client service? What about the equity that is being created to almost guarantee a future financial return by giving more than the cost of your product or service?

If you always focus only on the income, you’ll lose sight of the opportunity to increase the equity, or the sometimes intangible value created from doing more than what is expected or paid for. Having an equity based mindset is to shift the thinking from transactional to relational. It’s to recognize that, when you always and only focus on income, your time is simply being traded for dollars. If your mentality is that an hour of my time today is worth $X, and you have to pay me $X today or else I won’t do it, you’ll always miss opportunities to create exponential equity value later on. There are times to be paid today in cash, and there are times to see that opportunities lie and in creating more value in the future. 

In a now famous story from the world of pop culture, the rapper 50 Cent was offered a rather large sum of cash to endorse Vitamin Water. Instead, believing in himself, his own personal brand, and in the quality of the product, he traded his endorsement fee for roughly a 5% stake in the company. In May of 2007, Coca-Cola bought the company that owned Vitamin Water for $4.1 Billion dollars, making 50 Cent’s equity stake worth somewhere between $50,000,000 and $100,000,000 after taxes. He traded $5,000,000 of ‘today’ money for a 5% equity stake in a company, which is called ‘tomorrow’ money. That equity mindset is what allows us to step back and look at something called opportunity cost, which essentially asks, what else could I spend this hour, this dollar, this mental output, this idea time, or this resource on that might net more than the ‘today’ dollars, or whatever medium a potential return may come in? Are there opportunities to trade actual dollars today for something more valuable in the future? Absolutely! They’re all around us if you’ll just shift your mindset from just income to both income and equity. 

The 9th wisdom key is:

The quality of your network grows when you do. 

I’ve talked extensively about networking and the idea of digging your well before you’re thirsty. But there is a difference between networking activities, like mixers and networking events, and actually building a million dollar network. Actually having a network is something you work for and build with sweat and value it as a form of capital. Your network can be built by doing networking activities, but a true network is built based on the prior wisdom keys: respecting other people’s time, efforts, and professions, doing something you’ve never done before, never complaining about what you’re willing to accept, seeing everybody as a teacher, celebrating people’s differences and not their similarities and solving bigger problems than anybody else has solved for them prior, adding value above and beyond the cost of your product or service, helping other people get theirs before you get yours, and so on. A network built on these principles is a rock-solid network of people that will move mountains to make happen for you what you have been making happen for others. These are commonly called ‘raving fans’. 

When you treat your network as a whole separate relationship that deserves your time, respect, love, and effort it will grow exponentially faster than your individual growth. It’s simply a universal principle that has always been true due solely to human nature and human drive. It’s been said that the greatest human desire is to be in connection and relationship with another human being. When you know that and you do life and business with that mindset, word spreads! When we’ve been treated well and somebody looks out for our best interest, we want to tell other humans about that person or business. It’s an innate survival behavior to spread the word about what’s safe and what’s beneficial for others in our tribe. It’s also survival behavior to spread the word when we don’t feel safe, when we feel we’ve been taken advantage of, or when we’ve been treated unfairly. 

Build and nurture your network! One of the ‘dig your well’ principles I teach is that your income will be in direct proportion to the size and quality of your network. This wisdom key also connects with the last one in that your network relates directly with the equity mindset. Not that you consider your network only in terms of how much it’s worth, but you recognize that a wide and powerful network allows you to get stuff done for others at a much greater capacity than if you don’t have those connections. When you think more about the future value you’re building with your network, instead of just the ‘today’ income it can provide, you’re building something real, and it will grow in proportion to how much you grow.

 Alright my friends, the 10th wisdom key is: 

Comfort is a trap! Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

This wisdom key is the one that I wake up with every morning. It’s the one that gets me out of bed around 4am almost every morning to begin writing, studying, researching, meditating, and exercising. When I’m walking from house out to my garage gym at 7am and it’s 3 degrees below zero I’m telling myself this is what it’s about. It’s about being comfortable with the discomfort and recognizing that through intentional discomfort comes some level of freedom. This wisdom key is something of a nod to the great Stoic and Zen masters who frequently told us that decline is always chasing us. If we give in we’ve given up and the decline wins. There is some kind of false wisdom floating around that one of the benefits of financial freedom is the ability to live the ‘good life’, which entails, at least in the movies, drinking good champagne, eating high quality caviar, walking around in a silk smoking jacket, and finally taking it easy. While I will never judge somebody for wanting those things, or for striving for an easier life, I would lean more towards the wisdom of those who figured a few things out in this regard. 

Life can be a difficult endeavor at times and the more one practices and trains for being comfortable with discomfort, the more discomfort gives contrast to pleasure and comfort. This means that the more one undertakes intentional discomfort inducing activities, the greater comfort feels and becomes like a dessert. Comfort, like a paycheck, is a drug that far too many people seek. Becoming comfortable with discomfort simply means to recognize that decay and decline is nature’s way of removing weakness from the system. Comfort eventually leads to decay and decline. 

I’m not saying that when you sit down on the couch after a long day, or you crawl into bed at the end of the day that you shouldn’t be comfortable. That’s not what this wisdom key is referring to. Being comfortable with discomfort is simply a call to keep pushing the bar of discomfort up on the scale so that we’re always one step ahead of decline and atrophy. Don’t use a muscle for a period of time and that muscle gets weak. Don’t use your brain in a taxing way for some period of time and connections start to wither and die. Don’t push your cardiovascular system beyond its current capabilities and it sets the new level lower than before. Why? Because you’re telling it that it’s not needed to perform at any higher level. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable for some period of time every day, in whatever form that may take for you. Read on information and topics you wouldn’t normally consume. Do things with your body you haven’t done before. Undertake travel and moves in life that scare you a little bit. Take an assessment of your life and ask yourself, ‘where have I become comfortable? And where could I begin to introduce a little discomfort?’

There they are, my friends, 10 Wisdom Keys for life and business. I hope I’ve been able to add some value for you and that some of these wisdom keys spark something in you. Remember that time is our most valuable currency and it must be invested wisely to get the greatest return. Until next week, I’m out…

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