Category Archives: Success

Success is 99% Failure

Sochiro Honda – founder of Honda Motor Company said – Success is 99% Failure.

What did he mean?

When I first read this quote I thought – what a pile of BS double talk. But as I grew, I understood consciously and intuitively what Mr. Honda meant.

To understand Mr. Honda, I turned my attention to my own life. I’ve spent my entire life failing at important stuff…

  • When I first walked, I fell
  • When I spoke I stuttered
  • When I wrote a d it looked like b
  • When I wrote a b it looked like a d
  • When I sprinted I puked
  • When I rode a bike I crashed
  • When I played football I fumbled
  • When I was a student I failed more classes than I passed
  • My first three girlfirends either dumped me or were nuts
  • When I ran for political office I lost – Thank God!
  • When I started a dot com in 1997, I worked 90 hours a week for two years and never made a dollar
  • When I drove a truck, I dumped 2,000 gallons of paint (by accident) in a parking lot and created an environmental hazard (we cleaned it up)
  • When I first drove, I totaled 4 cars
  • When I first used Windows 95, I trashed the entire file system
  • When I first administered data I deleted an entire customer database without a backup – and I lived to talk about it

That’s just a few of my failures. Believe me, I have a lot more. My failures used to haunt me. They used to inhibit me from trying again.

But today I believe…

The day you quit trying and concede to your demons is the day your soul dies.

Read the 10 part series on the 10 things I wish I had never believed:

#1 Why People Believe Money is the Root of All Evil
#2 Why Getting a Good Job isn’t the Best Way to Earn Money
#3 The Secret Great Leaders Know About Emotions
#4 Success is 99% Failure
#5 10 Tips to Secure a Management Position without a College Degree
#6 Always Question Your Doctor – Three Stories Why
#7 How the Public School System Crushes Souls
#9 Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Make you a Better Decision Maker

This post was entered in the Personal Development Carnival at the Balanced Life Center. Thanks Nneka.

Give Me 3 Minutes and I'll Make you a Better Decision Maker

Do you make completely rational, logical decisions when you purchase items? Do you compare prices and features and make the best decision based on the facts? Are these decisions free of emotion?

I don’t think so. They are entirely emotional and I’ll explain why.

A letter writer to Will Femia’s Clicked blog wrote this in response to my 10 Things I Wish I had Never Believed:

Who buys cars or houses because of the way they make one feel? Well, not me. Especially with the car. For both purchases, I made lists of factors for inclusion and exclusion, and then found the best match for the list. None of the factors was “makes me feel good.”

I used to think the same way as the letter writer. I used to believe I was a very rational decision maker and it led me to make poor decisions. To understand how and why you make the decisions you make, you need to recognize how emotional your decisions really are. Let me give you a couple of personal examples…

In 2001, I wanted a new car. I had $12,500 to spend on the car and I didn’t want to borrow any money. I wanted the best car I could get for the price. I desired these things in a car.

  • Less than $12,500
  • Low Miles – Under 30K
  • Four doors
  • ABS brakes
  • Radio
  • Clean service history
  • Clean accident history
  • Neutral color like silver or gray

I bought a Silver 4-door 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue with 22,000 miles, ABS brakes, a radio, and a clean history for $12,100.

Was that a rational logical decision?

No it wasn’t. It was purely emotional.

The first decision to challenge is…

Why do I need a car? Driving is a privilege and luxury. Billions of people live without cars. People without cars don’t shrivel up and die. I could live without a car, but I feel better owning one. So why do I want one? Because a car gives me more freedom and that increases my quality of life. And a better quality of life leads to a happier state of consciousness – maybe.

But let’s say I concede that I am a special case and a car is an absolute life necessity. Why do I want these specific features?

Low Miles – I don’t want to worry about the car breaking. I don’t want to spend money on repairs.

Four Door – I want it to be easy to get kids in and out of the back seat.

ABS Brakes – I want to feel safe on the ice and snow.

Radio – I like to listen to music in the car.

Clean history – I don’t want it to break down frequently. I’d feel like a fool buying a totaled car that was refurbished.

Neutral Color – I don’t feel good in flashy colors.

Every one of my required features is emotional. Couldn’t I have gotten by with a hot pink 1990 Ford Escort with 200,000 miles? Sure, why not? I see people driving stuff like that all the time.

Now let’s look at the house I purchased in 2004.

This is what I wanted:

  • 3000+ Square Ft.
  • Less than 10 years old
  • Cul-de-sac location
  • Good school district
  • Nice neighbors
  • Neighbors with kids
  • Large open room for an internet based retail business
  • Access to high speed internet
  • Less than 30 minute commute to work
  • Low crime area
  • Less than 400K

The first question…

Why do I want a new house?

I lived in a 920 Sq ft. house for ten years. It met most of my requirements. I could have lived in my old house for the rest of my life, without a problem. In fact, I could live my life in a much smaller space without a problem. But I wouldn’t have felt as good about it.

We wanted the house because we wanted more room. We didn’t like to feel crowded. I wanted to buy more toys. My wife wanted to expand her business and buy new furnishings that wouldn’t fit in the old house.

My point is we could have stayed in the old house or even moved to an apartment in the slums and saved a lot of money, but we wouldn’t have felt as good.

The features:

3000+ Square Ft. – We didn’t want to feel crowded.

Less than 10 years old – We didn’t want to be bothered with time consuming and costly renovations.

Cul-de-sac location – Wanted to feel safe when the kids played outside.

Good school district Wanted the kids to get a good education.

Nice neighbors – We wanted to enjoy our neighborhood.

Neighbors with kids – We wanted the kids to enjoy their neighborhood.

Large open room for an internet based retail business – We wanted to expand our home based business.

Access to high-speed internet – OK, I would shrivel up and die without internet access. I don’t know how I lived my first 25 years without it.

Less than 30 minute commute to work – I wanted to spend more time with my family instead of on the road.

Low crime area – We wanted to feel safe.

Less than 400K – I didn’t want to worry about debt. My loan officer said I could have borrowed 700K. But I didn’t want the stress of a large mortgage. I felt better putting my money other places.

You can see that every one of my housing requirements is emotional. I think most people would say that these are logical desires. Desires most people have. But they still meet emotional needs.

Many people brag about their bargain hunting ability as a testimony to how rational and logical they are. I have never met a man that was taken to the cleaners by a used car salesman. I always hear the story about how he took the used car lot to the cleaners. Listen to a group of men discuss their big-ticket purchases and you will hear story after story about how they paid less than all the other poor suckers. Your desire to believe you got the best price is purely emotional. It makes you feel smart. With men it’s competitive. The guy that gets the best deal is smarter, tougher, and more masculine. With women it’s a little different. They don’t brag about their negotiating prowess. Don’t kid yourself that your focus on price isn’t emotional. It is. Good marketers and sales people know it. Many people shop at Wal-Mart because they’d feel stupid paying a dollar more for diapers even though they feel like vomiting while they shop there. They value feeling smart more than they value feeling healthy.

An economist once told me that all human decisions are irrational once we have met the basic needs for food, shelter and clothing. Once you have those base needs met, everything else is an emotionally driven desire for status, comfort, and entertainment. After all, we could all wear gray sweat suits, eat beans and powdered milk three times a day, and live in 300 sq ft apartments, but we wouldn’t feel very good about it – would we?

Read the 10 part series on the 10 things I wish I had never believed:

#1 Why People Believe Money is the Root of All Evil
#2 Why Getting a Good Job isn’t the Best Way to Earn Money
#3 The Secret Great Leaders Know About Emotions
#4 Success is 99% Failure
#5 10 Tips to Secure a Management Position without a College Degree
#6 Always Question Your Doctor – Three Stories Why
#7 How the Public School System Crushes Souls
#9 Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Make you a Better Decision Maker

How This Blog Attracted 100,000 Visitors in the First 30 Days

This blog was born on 9-17-2006. 30 days latter it surpassed the 100,000 visitor mark.

I know this blog has a long way to go, but we are off to a good start. I am not an expert. I don’t have the experience. I gleaned good ideas and/or inspiration from each of these people and sites. If you intend to create a high traffic blog, apply the knowledge provided by these people.

I am grateful for the following people, websites, and blog posts:

If you were looking for specifics…
I don’t have any except these:

  • I read the stuff above
  • I contacted other bloggers
  • I wrote my posts
  • I participate in and submit to social web 2.0 sites (Reddit, Digg, Delicious, Netscape, Stumble Upon) and blog carnivals.

I’m sure there are other sites and people that contributed to reaching this milestone, so I apologize for forgetting and thank you all.

Oh! I want to thank one more person…

Alex Pippit – Without your inspiration I would have never found my passion for writing. It is a privilege to know you.

Season of GratitudeThis has been submitted to the Season of Gratitude Series. You can participate by sharing your gratitude moment, reading about others, or commenting. Click here for details.

What the Oracle e-Business Suite and Steve Jobs Taught Me

I’ve been a chronic paranoid worrier most of my life and this week I discovered a couple of things I want to share with you about combating worry, fear, and anxiety.

On Saturday, we moved our Oracle e-Business Suite (hardware, software, and data) from our corporate server room to a data center thirty miles away. We dismounted 5 high-end HP Linux servers and an HP SAN, put them in my van, drove them thirty miles, and reassembled them in the new data center. The VP of Information Services made the decision to move our Oracle instances to the new data center because it has multiple power sources, sits on several fat bandwidth pipes, and has state of the art security and fire protection. It was a great decision that added value to our company.

But putting millions of dollars worth of data, software, and hardware in my van and hurling it down the freeway at sixty miles per hour seemed like a huge risk. In the days preceding the move – I had the feeling I get just before I speak to a large group, the sweaty palms, the shakes, and a knotted stomach. I imagined different disaster scenarios: Car accidents, fires, theft, etc.

I repeatedly told myself, “Don’t be silly. Nothing will happen. Everything will be fine”, but those thoughts didn’t relieve my worry and anxiety.

Then I thought, “Sure an accident may happen, but we have verified backups so we can recover from a disaster. It might take a couple of days, but we can recover.” This thought didn’t help either; the anxiety was still there.

Then this thought occurred to me – I drive my family around in the van without fear, worry, or anxiety. An accident could kill or maim any one of us. Then I asked myself this question – If I am not afraid of losing my family, why am I afraid of losing a bunch of hardware, software, and data that can easily be replaced?

I pondered that question for a few days and an answer came to me – three hundred employees, the executives, my boss, and the shareholders are counting on us to get this right. If something goes wrong, they may think I am an incompetent boob and that would be a shameful embarrassment. I wasn’t afraid of losing the hardware or software, I was afraid of what people would think if I lost it.

Fear of public shame or embarrassment is at the root of many of our disabling irrational fears. Fear of public speaking is the most obvious.

Identifying the root of my worry helped. During the move, I was free from fear and we executed flawlessly. During the planning process, I somehow convinced my sub-conscious that I had nothing to fear, but I don’t know exactly how.

The reason I write this stuff is – I intend to transcend fear and I intend for you to transcend fear as well.

Steve Jobs has some good advice:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

– Steve Jobs at Stanford 2005

How to Break a Negative Thought Pattern

The power button on my flat screen monitor broke yesterday.

  • My first thought was – How stupid, a little #%#@! plastic button has ruined my monitor.
  • My second thought was – I am such an idiot. I know better than to keep turning the monitor on and off. I know I should leave my monitor on. I know the most common problem with a monitor is the power button. I work in IT for crying out loud.
  • My third thought was – What kind of manufacturer makes junk like this? They should be ashamed to make this garbage.
  • My fourth thought was – I bet Chris (my wife) screwed up the power button. If she was more careful this crap wouldn’t happen.
  • After learning the monitor was just days out of warranty, I thought – Jerks, I bet they built it so it breaks after a year, then they can sell me a new one.
  • My last negative thought was – Why do I buy all this stuff? It all breaks anyway. I’m a slave to my stuff. I should sell it all and go live in a tee-pee.

You can see where this was going. My first thought attracted similar thoughts – all negative. My thoughts were not leading me to a solution, they were leading me away from one. So how did I break the spiral?

  1. The first step (also the hardest step when you are caught up in the emotion of the moment) is to identify that you are in a negative thought spiral. My first clue I was in a negative thought spiral was my use of profanities and words like idiot, stupid, jerks, and disgusting. My second clue was I was blaming. Name calling and blame never lead to a solution. I consciously thought – I have identified I am in a negative thought spiral and I need to break it.
  2. I Interrupted my negative thought spiral by consciously forcing a positive thought into my mind. Any positive thought would work. I looked around the room for something positive, saw my son and thought – I love you. Then I said it out loud.
  3. I took a deep breath and waited for more positive thoughts so I could build a positive thought pattern. I expected more positive thoughts. The next one came – Those area rugs make this room look great. That one wasn’t forced – it floated up from my sub-conscious. More and more positive thoughts followed.
  4. Once I felt I had established a positive thought pattern, I focused back on the monitor – my problem at hand.

My sub-conscious handed me these thoughts about the monitor:

  • A monitor isn’t that important. Don’t fret. It’ll be fine
  • Get the old monitor you have in the basement and use it until the broken one is fixed
  • Bring the broken one to work tomorrow and ask your hardware savvy friends if they have any idea how to fix it

Today I fixed the monitor with help from my smart friends.

How do you define success?

After reading Paul’s post at Homeowners Blog. I asked myself the question – how do I define success? Here is my answer:

  • Success means knowing I do the right things for the right reasons.
  • Success means not compromising integrity.
  • Success means I share with those who need my help.
  • Success means I give my time to my family.
  • Success means providing value to others.
  • Success means living up to my commitments.
  • Success means building a community – not a network.
  • Success means looking in the mirror and liking what you see.

Notice how money and title isn’t in my definition? Title means nothing to me.

I believe money is the by-product of living a successful life – not the measure.

I want to know your definition of success. Go ahead and post it in comments.

For more on the definition of success, check this out.