How to be Successful: The Explosive Truth

Remember those paint-by-numbers kits we got as kids for so too many birthdays? They had the allure of any typical get-rich-quick scheme. Each package featured the finished painting on its cover. It looked like a masterpiece. You just knew the Louvre had a space just for it, probably right next to the Mona Lisa. And – here’s the kicker – in just a few short hours you will have created an exact copy, suitable for hanging on your mother’s refrigerator!

Oh, joy, rapture! I got artistic talent!

And it was so easy, wasn’t it? Each kit came with clearly numbered paints, each number corresponding to a numbered shape on the heavy cardboard canvass supplied. It was as simple as 1, 2, 3… Picasso!

Picasso?!

You dreamed Monet and you got Picasso. And that was being generous. As you painted, you saw nothing but a series of random splotches of color. You might see an image, but only if you stepped back – far, far back. Embarrassed and frustrated, you tossed the (usually) unfinished picture aside and vowed never to be taken in again.

Until you saw/received/bought your next paint by numbers kit…

Eventually, most of us outgrew such immature urgings associated with these arts and crafts store staples. We moved on, knowing we’d never master the art of painting and consigning ourselves to the more mundane world of reality. Yet we still look for short cuts. As students, we buy Cliff Notes instead of reading the assigned books. We search the internet for hidden “cheats” in our favorite video games. At work we often rely on a “tried and true” system instead of looking for efficiencies. In our personal lives, we constantly perk our ears when we hear of a way to earn “thousands a month working out of our home.” We’re more likely to buy lottery tickets than increase our savings in the company 401k plan. Even the wealthy succumb to these temptations. Look at how many of them were taken in by Bernie Madoff, who made off with millions in an elaborate Ponzi scheme that targeted the rich and famous.

Why do so many keep grasping at straws when so many claim to understand the lessons of Aesop’s famous fable The Tortoise and The Hare. The awful reality is, while slow and steady wins the race, fast and furious gets all the headlines. And it’s far easier to read the headlines and believe them than it is to read the full story and do a little independent research.

We see this “madness of crowds” phenomenon all the time, but it’s most readily identifiable in the investing world. In the late 1990’s everyone bragged about their internet stocks – until they crashed in 2000. In the mid 2000’s, the headlines screamed of the ever increasing value of real estate – until the credit crises of 2008. Through the years, various charlatans, connivers and even a few honest salesmen have touted the elixirs of investing in index funds (which ended up losing money in the first decade of the new millennium), commodities (which, speculative at best, ride a wave of hysteria once every generation or so before crashing when there are no more buyers) to the franchise de jour (usually something that can be operated out of your home in your spare time so you can keep your day job and continue to earn the money needed to pay the ongoing franchise fee).

What do all these dreadful hustles have in common? They all depend on the mark submitting to the idea with a merely superficial review. In other words, the victim’s due diligence is only skin deep.

How significant is the failure to dig deeper?

Think about this for a moment: Which would you rather hold close to you: a stick dynamite or an atomic bomb? It probably doesn’t matter, right? Now consider this: If you had to pick one thing to explode fifty miles away, which would you rather choose: the dynamite or the atomic bomb? In this case, the choice is clear. You’d rather have the dynamite blow up in the next county. That won’t hurt you. A nuclear weapon, on the other hand, can still hurt you even if it detonates that far away.

Here’s the meaning of the difference. An explosion involving dynamite represents a chemical reaction. An explosion involving a nuclear bomb represents an atomic reaction. Both deal with atoms, but they make use of different part of the atoms. The chemical reaction relies on the outer electron shell of an atom. If you’re used to the “solar system” model of an atom, this is the part where the electron “planets” are rotating around the nucleus “sun.” Relative to the bond between protons and neutrons (the atomic nucleus), the bond between the nucleus and electrons is superficial. It doesn’t take a whole lot of energy to knock an electron out of its orbit or force one into an orbit. That’s a chemical reaction.

Contrast this with an atomic – or nuclear – reaction. These reactions involve changing the core in some way, and we’ve already said the bond in the heart of the atomic matter requires much more energy to change. How much more energy? Think Einstein’s equation E=mc2, where E is energy, m is mass and c is the speed of light. Now, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. In other words, it’s a big number. And when you square a big number, you get an even bigger number (I believe the technical term is a “way bigger number”). So, no matter how small the mass (m) is, you’re multiplying it by a way bigger number, which will result in a way bigger number for Energy (E).

That’s the power of going beyond skin deep and getting to the heart of the matter. When you’re looking to be successful, you need to establish the strongest possible bond between your actions and your objectives. This translates into three steps. These aren’t easy steps, I won’t kid you. When I share the Lifetime Dream Process with people, I often find the presence of an objective observer well trained in the process (usually me) helps the people maintain the discipline necessary to achieve their most desired dreams. Yes, there are people with enough self-discipline to accomplish this by themselves (after all, that’s how I discovered this process), but it sure comforts to have a helping hand nearby.

As you go through this process, the first thing you’ll do is go through these three steps. In a nutshell, you’ll:

  1. Engage in a serious self-assessment that goes far beyond a merely superficial Cosmo-like psychological profile test
  2. Delve into your inner-most heart-felt desires, including some you might be too afraid to admit to; and,
  3. Extract your most potent wants, dreams and aspirations, including things that have always been inside you but you never knew about.

Do you possess the fundamentals necessary to begin this journey, or do you only think you possess them? In the next several chapters, we’ll take you back to the basics. We’ll no doubt reveal things you already learned, but you’ll likely be surprised to discover they fit together in such a perfectly obvious way you’ll wonder why no one ever told you this before.

The Lifetime Dream Process may not be paint-by-numbers easy, but it’s certainly not as difficult as thermonuclear physics, either.