WISDOM OF THE MASTERS - PART 2
Wisdom, it typically comes with age, life experience, making mistakes and learning from them, having adventures, learning to subjugate the ego in exchange for knowledge, and having some level of humility. It means different things to different people, but all would agree that wisdom connotes some level of common sense, good judgment, and the accumulated learnings that come from life’s experiences.
Welcome to part 2 of Wisdom of the Masters. If you haven’t listened to part 1 of this series yet, stop everything you’re doing and listen to it right now! In all seriousness, these pieces of wisdom all stand on their own, so you can listen to this episode first and then go back and listen to part one and you’ll be just fine, although you get a little more context of where all these ‘wisdom keys’, as I like to call them, came from.
For just a brief recap of that context, these wisdom keys are simply pieces of wisdom I have been given from a variety of teachers, coaches, and mentors over the years. As most of you know, I am an avid note taker, journaler, and documenter of my life. I love to sift through my journals from 30+ years of note taking and memorializing my life and out of those journals often come new insights and revelations. These wisdom keys are just a few of some the better life lessons I’ve gathered over the years and I wanted to share them with all of you.
So, on to the sixth piece of wisdom from the masters:
- When you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.
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?
- 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 storytelling 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 take a hike. What you respect and appreciate, you will attract more of and what you don’t will eventually move away from you.
- 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 today. 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, its brand, it's awesome customer or client service, maybe intellectual property, or maybe a proprietary way of doing things. Apple, for example, has built up a tremendous amount of brand equity and intangible equity. Whether you like their products or not, nobody can deny the equity they’ve built up based on their current market value and the amount of cash they have in the bank, which, as of March of this year was around $50 billion dollars.
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.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying not to get paid for what you do, nor am I 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?
Of course, we have to also ask ourselves the more difficult question, which is, ‘have I actually built any equity, or have I been destroying wealth and value in the market by not innovating, not solving bigger problems, not keeping up with advances, and not having the foresight to see the trends on the horizon? I just did a podcast a few weeks ago called ‘Value Siphon or Value Creator?’ wherein I talked about this very thing. Have you simply been extracting value from the market as a commoditized service offering, or have you actually been creating new value by solving bigger problems. If you listened to that episode, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where I stand on the issue.
If you always focus only on the income side of the ledger, 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 often lie 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.
- Your network is your net worth, and the quality of your network grows when you do.
This one is a two-parter, almost a little bit of a bonus piece of wisdom within a piece of wisdom. You’ve probably heard the first part, that your network is your networth. If you haven’t heard this before then I’m honored to be able to bring this one to you. What this means, quite simply, is that, by almost all measurable metrics, one’s net worth, which is the amount of financial wealth one has, has a direct correlation to the type and quality of people they have as part of their network. This is not to say that if your network is primarily made up of hardworking blue-collar workers, for example, that you can’t have an exceptional net worth.
I know several people within my own circles that worked their whole lives in the auto and furniture industries at the factory level who have what most would consider to be an exceptional net worth. By that I mean to say that they’re both worth more than a million dollars, they’re both retired, they’re both living very well and will be set for the remainder of their lives, and they don’t have what we might call a stacked white-collar network. They aren’t hanging with hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. Their network is decidedly blue-collar, and yet they’re doing better than even many white-collar workers with higher levels of education and potentially even much higher salaries.
No, this piece of wisdom doesn’t mean you have to hang out with rich people to be rich. What I know about the two people I just mentioned is that they’re both very smart, well read, well studied, and they made really good decisions with their income and investments over the years to be able to enjoy the lifestyle of their choice after work.
However, what this one does say is that, as a rule, the people you surround yourself with have an effect on your trajectory in life. Whether or not you work in a factory or in an office may have some kind of effect on how much you have in the bank at the end of the day, but what is even more likely is that, if you have some real estate investors in your network, you’re more likely to overhear some conversations about investments. If you have someone successful in some area of life or business in your network, you’re more likely to be around conversations, thinking patterns, and behaviors that align more with some kind of success than if you’re surrounded by people who tend to always attract bad luck and make poor decisions with their time, money, and health.
This has been called the Proximity Principle in some teachings, which essentially says that, if you want to go to the next level of business or life in some way, it helps tremendously to put yourself in proximity to others who are doing the same or have already done it.
This is one of the reasons our coaching programs exist. They exist because I learned about the proximity principle and these concepts about the quality of my network, which put me on a path of gathering people around me that were doing more than me. At first it happened quite by accident as some of those people came to me to study Aikido and Zen principles under me. My network of really successful people started to grow, not because I was seeking them out, per se, but because of proximity. I was accidentally in very close proximity to these people every week during class and then afterwards when we’d go out to eat and drink. Eventually we would become friends and, as I mentioned a minute ago, I found myself being part of conversations about leadership, investing, mentoring, real estate, and business of all kinds.
Although I probably wasn’t cognizant of it at the time, I know now that my beliefs and thinking was being shaped by people who thought much bigger about the world and about life than I had up to that point. That’s the proximity principle in action. Whether you want to believe it or not, who you have in your network will be reflected in some way in your decisions, as well as your bank account.
The first part of this wisdom simply says that your network is your networth, which is a bit of hyperbole since your networth is the total value of your financial wealth. But, as we’ve just clarified, your networth can be helped along greatly by making sure your network is supportive and aligned with what you want to do. The second part is a simple statement highlighting the importance of growing internally if you want to grow externally.
The second part of this piece of wisdom, that the quality of your network grows when you do was some wisdom was added on for me many years after learning about the first part. What this part of this wisdom key is saying is that you don’t just go out and start hanging out with people you admire and want to learn from. You don’t get to call up Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos just because you suddenly want to be a billionaire.
Wherever you are in life or business at the moment is the perfect place to begin, but you have to grow internally before it shows up in any significant way externally. The flip side of this, however, is that once you start to grow internally, you’ll see it manifesting and showing up externally if you’re tuned into it. In essence, it’s two sides of the same coin. Your network won’t really grow until you do, but when you do, it will, or at least it can if you’re motivated to expand it in both depth and breadth.
I want to add a little bit of nuance to this one that I think is super important for anyone listening to this, but especially my appraiser brothers and sisters, and it’s this: studies have shown time and again that the number one predictor of success is the size and openness of your network. What that means is that the number of people you could count on to respond positively to you if you reached out, as well as the diversity of that network from a beliefs, ideas, industries, titles, and mindsets standpoint will be directly correlated with how successful you can become in some way.
Size of your network is just that, the number of people you could call on and have them pick up the phone excited to talk with you. Openness is the breadth of industry representation within your network. This means that appraisers don’t just network with other appraisers. Realtors don’t just fill their network with other agents. Coders don’t just hang out and network with other coders. There is a direct and indirect correlation with the size, as well as the diversity, or openness of your network and your success, and your success has a direct correlation on your networth. That, my friends, is what the phrase, ‘your network is your net worth’ means. This one piece of wisdom alone could be the difference between trading your time for dollars until you no longer can, and building a life of meaning, purpose, pleasure, travel, and deciding when you want to stop working to enjoy more of your people and the world. Your network is your net worth, don’t ever forget this one.
On to the final piece of wisdom of the masters, at least in this series. This one comes from thousands of years of wisdom from the world of Zen, the Stoics, warriors from eons past, and some of the world’s greatest philosophers. And it’s this:
- Comfort is a trap! Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I’ve talked extensively on this topic in many prior podcasts, so I won’t go too deep. Suffice it to say that, as we age, as we advance in our careers, and as our level of success increases, one of the natural drives we all have as humans is to reduce our struggles over time while also increasing the level of comfort we might be experiencing. Whether it’s from societal programming, programming within our DNA, or just trying to keep up with the Joneses, almost everyone seeks more comfort.
We know, of course, that there is a biological component to all of this since comfort seeking at one point early on, and closer to the time of our lowly origins, meant avoiding dangers that could end our existence. There was a time for our species when laying your head on a rock, a log, or a soft pile of grass wasn’t the biggest concern around comfort. It was finding shelter in a cave so that we were less likely to be mauled by a hungry grizzly or eaten by a saber-toothed tiger. Comfort was defined quite differently than what you and I likely face day to day. The drive, internal directive, and biological imperative is still there, hard-wired into who we are as a species, but to a large degree today, it’s harming us more than it’s helping.
Nowadays, our logical and rational brains strive for success, adventure, purpose, and meaning, while our biology is simply looking to keep us alive. Our brain’s main purpose is to conserve calories by keeping on the lookout for dangers that often don’t actually exist. Its main job is to keep us alive, not help us create the next cool TikTok video.
Our desire for comfort causes us to make decisions at times that may lead to a little bit of perceived security and some level of increased comfort, but by what standards do we judge this comfort? We seek more income, a bigger house, a more secure job, better insurance, and maybe a nicer, more comfortable car to drive, and the question we should always be asking ourselves is, ‘at what cost?’ What is the true cost to our freedom, our purpose, the meaning we seek from our relatively short existence on this planet?
If you want to have a truly fulfilling life; one filled with purpose, meaning, excitement, and adventure, your comfort zone needs to become the worst place on earth. Sure, you’ll be cozy, warm, and safe; but you’ll also be sacrificing growth, experiences, adventure, and potentially a life of considerable significance and meaning.
Comfort is a trap, friends! Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that comfort and familiarity is where the prize is, it’s not. If you want to be truly fulfilled live a life filled with growth and adventure, seek discomfort, not comfort. Summon that soft part of your being that wants to sleep in, have the temperature just right, eat whatever you wish, lay around with nothing to do, and avoid all the scary stuff in life, and kill it. You kill that soft part of you by doing the exact opposite of what it’s telling you to do. Become comfortable with discomfort.
If you’re ready to get a little uncomfortable, reach out! I have free coaching calls with people every single week. You’ve been thinking about it for some time because you know you could be doing more, experiencing more, building more, and having more adventures, but some soft part of you always forces you back into yourself seeking comfort. “Oh, I’ll do that next week, next month, next year once the market gets better, once I have more money, once my wife or husband does X, Y, or Z…’ No, friends, it’s time to eliminate your ‘once I’s’ with extreme prejudice. There is no ‘once I’, in reality. If you don’t do it now, you’re not likely to ever do it!
Go to www.coachblaine.com/freemonth and start your free 30 day journey to a life of increase, a life of adventure, a thriving business, better people, a more compelling network, and a more compelling future. You have nothing to lose but a little bit of comfort.
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