I believe that there are basic fundamental common traits among successful and happy people.

I think a key reason why I believe this is my keen interest in the scientific method.  I can imagine that many thousands of years ago, it was not so clear that there are some fundamental similarities among most things we see everyday.  How could people really understand that all of the animals that we see, from birds, to reptiles, to humans have some very basic similarities.  Thinks like internal organs, circulatory system, and nervous systems.  Even things like rocks and humans have fundamental similarities.  We are both build from atoms.

It was only by the regular application of the scientific method of 1)  Formulate some theory that can be disproved, 2)  Test the theory, 3)  If necessary, revise the theory, otherwise go back to #2.  This is quite similar to the success formula 1)  Choose a measurable goal, 2)  Take some action towards the goal,  3)  If necessary, revise the goal, otherwise go back to #2.

I think there is additional information that is not covered by this success formula.  In particular, I'm not sure how well it might work towards more soft skills, like "being happy", or "being agreeable".  The success formula is powerful for things like business, weight loss and learning new skills.  I think the analogy would be, how well does the scientific method work in the arts?  Is the scientific method critical to produce great works of art?

Emotion is an important part of success and that is an area where something more than the Success Formula is required.  I am inspired by what I know about Neurolinguistic Programming, despite my trusted source Wikipedia referring to it as "unsupported by current scientific evidence, and uses incorrect and misleading terms and concepts".

As an example, I just found an article NLP: A New Way of Thinking About Your Relationships which has five great ideas:
  1. You cannot not communicate
  2. Other people’s models of the world are not wrong
  3. The meaning of communication is the response it produces
  4. Everyone does the best they can with the resources available to them
  5. You are in control of your mind and hence your results
  6. People are not their behaviors

For more information about these principals, head over and check out the article.  Each of those concepts really makes sense to me.

The question for today is, how can we introduce emotion and art into the success formula?
The title of this post made me laugh and I happened to find it the day after talking about the power of using the words "and" and "but" to either amplify or negate a previous statement.

When I was growing up, I was often told "There is no such thing as a stupid question."  The idea of this statement is that if you really want to learn, you should speak up and ask questions about what you don't understand.  It is a simplification and there are stupid questions, so it is funny to read someone making fun of this cliche.

In the title statement, the speaker starts with agreeing with the premise and then by cleverly adding the ", but", the first statement is negated and the real meaning is revealed that the writer believes there are a lot of idiots out there.

As with many cliches, there is an almost as popular saying that is practically the complete opposite of this one: 
"It is better to be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

It is up to you to decide if you want to risk being thought a fool by not asking what may be perceived as a stupid question, or to go ahead with the question and remove all doubt about your being a fool, or ask the question and possibly learn something.

Asking questions is also a key part of the Socratic method of learning.  I have been told that I naturally employ the Socratic method, without even knowing exactly what that means.  I think people mean that I like to ask many questions.  I'm sure there is more than one time that I've been considered an inquisitive idiot.

What other humorous sayings have you read lately?
The way that we experience the world is mostly controlled by our minds.  I add "mostly" because there are definite external influences, for example if you are standing outside without shelter and it starts raining you will get wet.  What is produced by our minds is our reaction to getting wet.  We can decided to be upset, neutral or excited at that experience.  I understand for many people this idea that our reaction to the world around us is completely in our control is hard to accept, and I also have times when I seem to lose control of my reactions to external influences.  I still do believe that it is possible for me to learn more about directing my mind to change my experience of the world and as well the results I produce.

Assuming you agree that your mind has a great influence on the results you produce in the world, than the same is probably also true for other people.  The way that your mind experiences the world is through your five senses:  sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.  You can use any or all of these to affect yours and other people's minds.  In the success community, it is my impression that many coaches say that the majority of influence on ourselves and others comes from body language.

I'm talking in this post about hearing.  This would mean you focus on what you say to influence how other people react to you.  The two words that I talk about in the title are:


These two words can be used as a way to amplify or negate statements that you make.  I was shared this secret as a method that "mind readers" use to influence customers to believe that they are accurate in their statements.  This also works for you and me to influence others and ourselves.

The method was that after any statement, we can then say either "Yes, and" or "Yes, but".  If a statement is successful and we want to amplify that statement, than we would say "Yes, and", if instead we want to negate the statement we would say "Yes, and"

An example, if I say "This is a great blog post" I could then follow with "Yes, and I'm sure tomorrow's will be just as interesting".  Or if I said "This blog post is dragging on" I could then follow with "Yes, but the content is interesting"

You can try this when you talk to other people as well as yourself.  If you find yourself saying or thinking critical things about yourself, just as a quick "Yes, but" and then talk about positive things.  When you are complimenting others be careful of every using "but" or you make negate the compliments you have given, instead use "and" to amplify the compliments.

I have found this technique to be quite useful, how about you?
Who are you?  How do you see yourself?  Are you a happy person?  A successful person?  Upper class, middle class, low class?  Outgoing?  Strong?  Confident?

There is this idea that each of us has a comfort zone and as hard as we may try, unless we change this comfort zone, we will consciously or sub-consciously do anything we can to return to this state of anxiety-neutral condition.

This idea of  identity is means that there is a big difference between doing something stupid and being a stupid person.  Even really smart people still do stupid things and they don't assume the identity of a stupid person, they just realize that at that moment they did something stupid and it does not change their identity of a smart person.

One idea of being successful is enforce a positive identity despite what our actions may indicate.  You can then use this identity as a guide of where you want to go.

A different way to look at this is to accept that it may be difficult to truly change our identity.  Instead, we can acknowledge our identity and reinforce each day our goal to learn new skills, or "possibilities".  You can start each day by saying something like "In the past I have done some stupid things, but I am open to being a person who makes smart decisions." or you can leave out the look into the past and just say something like "I am open to being successful."

The point is that if we don't either change our identity or at least open up the future possibility of having a new identity then we will most likely continue to return to our previous habit.

What is your identity?
For authors, there is a common condition referred to as Writer's Block.  What this means is that the person trying to do writing is unable to come up with anything to write.  No matter how hard they try they just can't seem to make the words flow from their pen or computer keyboard.

I suggest that this feeling of being stuck and unable to proceed is common to many things we do, not just writing.  If you are trying to be successful, or achieve your goals, it is possible that at times you may experience "Success Block" or "Goals Block", meaning you just can't seem to come up with ideas of what you could keep doing to move you towards your goal.

Here are three ideas of how to help you get over your "Success Block"
  • Search online about what you want
  • Just do it
  • Detach yourself from the outcome
Search online about what you want

   The first idea is to go online and do a search about what you are trying to achieve and see what others are saying and doing to achieve what you want.  Let's say you want to make money selling some products you make online.  Try doing searches for things like "how to sell products online", "increase sales at my online store", or "how to sell [product] online".  Read and look what others are doing and it may give you some ideas.

Just do it

  The second idea may be considered hard core in that it can be thought of as "Stop your whining and get to work."  I seem to remember a profile of Richard Marx, and he was complaining about being unable to come up with any song ideas to his father Dick Marx.  It turns out that his father was also a professional songwriter, who wrote commercial jingles.  The supposed advice was something like, "Look I have to create a new jingle on a deadline.  If I don't create the jingle on time then there is no food on the table for the family.  I don't have time to complain about any type of writer's block.  Stop complaining and just do it."

Detach yourself from the outcome

   The third idea is to do your best to remove yourself from the results of your actions.  Don't worry about the quality or content of what you are doing.  Instead of trying to do the right thing, just do anything.  You can do again something you have done before.  If you are trying to sell something, you could ask a completely random person if they know anyone who would want to purchase your product.  It is likely the probability that a random person would know anyone who wants your product, though it is better than doing nothing.

  Have you ever experience "Success Block"?  What have you done to overcome it?
Yesterday we talked about three catchy phrases or cliches about your environment.  Today let's share another cliche: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."  In China they call this guanxi.

This idea of knowing people is a universal concept because it is true.  It is extremely rare for someone to be successful by themselves.  Most all people that you consider successful, even the ones that maybe look like they did it on their own, most likely had many people helping them along the way.

How can we get to know more people?  There are three ways I see you expanding your network:
  1. Someone introduces you
  2. You approach strangers
  3. Strangers approach you

Someone introduces you
  One way to get to know more people is to have people you already know introduce you.  There is a pretty painless question I have found as a way to achieve this.  You can approach people you already know and ask them "Who do you know that needs ...." or "Who do you know that does ..."

  The "Who do you know ..." type of question is powerful because it does not easily allow a person to say "No".  For example if you ask them "Do you know anyone that needs ..." many people will quickly respond with "No"

   You can start by making a list of your closest relatives, then make a list of your friends, then a list of co-workers past and present, and finally anyone else that you currently know.  You can then work to contact them asking them if they know anyone that can help you achieve your goal.

You approach strangers
  Approaching strangers is sometimes a difficult activity.  Many successful people that I know and that I have heard talk, say that they had to approach strangers to be successful.  You can use the same "Who do you know ..." type of questions when you approach them.

  The key is that you may want to consider thinking of ways to approach people you have never met before.  This can be giving them a call on the phone, sending them an email, or going to some event like a conference or networking event and walking up to them in person.

  I can understand the fear of approaching strangers and the fear of rejection.  One thing you can try to remember is that you don't know this person right now.  There is not much you will lose.  If they tell you to "Get lost" you haven't lost much because you had no relationship.

Strangers approach you
  The third way to meet new people is to have strangers approach you.  This is usually done by marketing and advertising.  You can put an ad out that people will respond to, or you can do marketing like speaking in public or creating some online content that is highly ranked in the search engines that would attract strangers.

  There you have three methods to increase your circle of influence.

  What are you going to do to increase the quality and quantity of people you know that can help you be successful?
"Birds of a feather flock together."
"You can't fly with the eagles if you continue to scratch with the turkeys."
"If you lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas."

Each of these statements is about checking our environment and seeing how it is in relation to how we want to be.  People often think in terms of the other people they have around then and I think it can also be about the places we hang out and the things that we see and do.

When it comes to where we hang out or the things that we see and do, people tend to be more open about changing those areas.  For example, if you wanted to learn how to speak a foreign language, most people would understand if you decided to move to an area where that new language is spoken.  They would also understand if you started reading and watching material in that foreign language.

A young man that really inspires me is Khatzumoto, he learned Japanese in 18 months, including reading and writing.  What's even more amazing is that he was living in the United States, attending an English speaking college, with a major that was not Japanese.  He did not take classes.

How did he do it?  In short, he made his environment as 100% Japanese as he could.  He spent 18-24 hours per day surrounded by Japanese, as he says he "became Japanese".  He did this all while having fun!

Khatzumoto includes quite a bit of self help advice and mentor information on his site.  He used that knowledge to motivate and educate himself about how to be a great success at learning Japanese.

He took the environment advice pretty much to the extreme.  I seem to remember him telling a story about how in the cafeteria he would not hang out with his fellow English speaking students and they maybe said things about him.  He was not too concerned as his priority was to learn Japanese and speaking English with his classmates would not help him towards that goal.

Now, as word of caution.  Khatzumoto also had an English speaking girlfriend at the time.  He did not immediately break up with her, just because she did not speak Japanese.  There are some relationships that have other benefits besides just contributing to us achieving our goal.

I think you should think very carefully before telling any close friends or family members that you don't want to hang out with them because they don't contribute to your success!  Besides close relati0nships and family members, there may be many other people that are not contributing to your success and you may consider spending less or no time with them. 

Another option instead of trying to spend less time with these people, try and spend more time with people that you think will be a positive influence on you.  A challenge for you can be try try and make a list of people you think would be a good influence on your success and see what you can do to hang out more with them.  These might be people that already have achieved what you want to achieve, or maybe others that are also of a similar mindset, trying to achieve like you are.
I read an interesting article at Inc.com recently, called "True Secret to Success (It's Not What You Thing)".  The point of the article is summarized in the first sentence:

"I'm utterly convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude."

This seems reasonable, and even on a larger scale, I think emotions in general are a key component of success, that is not currently specified in the Success Formula.  I have heard before something like having a high EQ is more important than a high IQ.

A general understanding of EQ is Emotional Quotient or maybe more specifically now, EI or Emotional Intelligence.  According to Wikipedia, EI is defined as:

"Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups"

I think the key words and starting point in this statement are "control" and "oneself".  One theory is that all emotions that we experience are ones that we generate internally.  It is all about how we interpret our surroundings.  Nobody or no external circumstances can make us feel a certain way.  This is difficult for some people to accept.

It is common for us to say "That person made me feel this way", or "Because this event happened I feel this way".  It is probably more accurate to say that "Because of my interpretation of that person's actions I feel this way" or "Because of the meaning I attach to this event, I feel a certain way".  If you accept the second two statements, then this means that it might be possible for us to choose different interpretations or meanings to events that are helpful.

This way of thinking of trying to find alternative, helpful meanings for events is a skill that we can develop.  How can we practice developing this skill?  One way is to ask questions.  When we experience destructive emotions, we can try asking "What else could this mean?"  or maybe "What is so great about this?"  If those don't work for you, then try questions that do work for you that help you to think of other possibilities.  I know I have used the question "Is this going to kill me?" before.  It at least can help keep me from going overboard and realize that "This too shall pass."

The author recommends spending time each day to be grateful.  I'm cautious about recommending adding too many things to your schedule.  If we add too many things, there isn't much time for a life.  Maybe you and I can start by trying 5 minutes of just asking something like "What is great in my life right now?"  Maybe we could also do some reflection about "What has been great about my life so far?"

What questions or methods do you use?
I was talking with a friend last night about self-help and success teachings.  He mentioned that he had read some of this material, like The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.  He also mentioned something that I have always agreed with that it is difficult to read a book and change a habit.

Upon further reflection he mentioned that there was one program that made significant changes in his life and that was Toastmasters International.  I have heard of Toastmasters though never participated at any significant level.

As I was thinking about Toastmasters, it struck me that maybe this is a good model of how our Goals Workshop can be organized.  Some of the things I like about Toastmasters are:
  • Structured learning program
  • Members can come anytime
  • Professional image and clients
  • Positive feedback of results from program
  • Peer evaluation of progress
I think the biggest challenge for the Goals Workshop is to find out what could be the structured learning program such that members can come and go as they please and still get value from the program.

I guess I can develop a simple progress track, something like Goal Setting basic and advanced, Action basic and advanced, Review, and Success expert.  Or maybe different areas of success like Physical, Mental, Relationships, and Financial.

This is what I'm still working out.  The good thing about Toastmasters is that it has been able to survive since 1924 and has spread around the world because there is obvious interest in learning to speak in public.

The next closest example I have is Landmark EducationLandmark is probably the closest example to what I'm trying to learn, though they have a little bit of a cult aspect to their organization.  If it were possible to capture the benefits of Landmark without the cult aspects, that would be great.

A key difference I see between these two organization is that Landmark is a profit oriented company and Toastmasters is non-profit.  I think it is clear that the profit oriented organization reaches more people.  There is such a stronger incentive to attract new customers that they end up reaching a much larger audience.  Non-profit organization, though they have a noble image, in general tend to reach a smaller audience.

I guess those are my two closest models of what I would want the Goals Workshop to be, a combination of Landmark and Toastmasters.  How can I accomplish that?
I was thinking the other day about how it is easy to have a great goal, take positive actions and still not achieve the goal.  In other words, fail.  How can that be?  I thought the Success Formula was a secret plan to guarantee everyone will get whatever they want out of life.  What gives?

First of all, you might want to remember that failure is a critical part of this formula.  Every "successful" person I know has experienced some failure.  There do appear to be some exceptions, like Ron Howard.  I mean, here is a guy that was a celebrity continuously from the age of six, married his high school sweetheart at the age of 21, has 4 children and as far as I know has never struggled with alcohol or drugs.

I admire Mr. Howard, and it is difficult for me to compare my life to his.  I have many more wrong turns and times where my life was not going in the direction I wanted.  I accept this and believe that, unfortunately, Mr. Howard is the exception rather than the rule.  Most people, including successful people, are like me and have setbacks and times where their life is going in a direction they would like to change.

This brings us to where I was thinking about a difference between these other successful people and those who have less success.  The successful people realize that even when their life takes an unexpected turn that if they follow their plan and take actions to improve that they can depend on the fact that they can improve their situation.  They may not be able to predict exactly when things will improve, though they can be confident and depend on the fact that it will improve.

Another way to think about it is like flipping a coin.  When flipping a coin it is not possible to predict what will be the result.  Each flip of the coin is a new flip and there should be about a 50/50 chance of either heads or tails showing up.  Although it is not predictable, it is dependable that if you flip the coin 100 times that, on average there will most likely be a 50/50 distribution of heads and tails.  Of course it is possible to flip 100 time all heads or all tails, though that is going to happen extremely few times.

The same goes for being successful.  If you have a quality goal, take positive actions towards your goal, you may not be able to predict if you will receive the results we want.  Maybe you have a 70% chance of getting the result you want.  What is dependable is that if you repeat this activity 100 times, that you can depend on the fact that more than likely you will get the results we want.

Try and keep that in mind when you are feeling down and think you are failing.  Review your goals, check that your actions are moving you closer towards your goal, and assuming these are true, then realize you can depend on the fact that a little failure is OK because even if you can't predict exactly when you will succeed, you can depend on the fact that you will eventually success.