When we see a success story of a person that inspires us in life, we often want to learn how that person has achieved the success that they enjoy.
In the corporate world, the strategy a company uses to achieve results is often highly guarded as an intellectual property secret.
Employee’s sign non-disclosure agreements to keep “what works” under lock and key. Even with non-disclosure agreements in place, often times employees are only told what they need to know to do their jobs and the rest is kept secret from them.
That’s just the way it works in the corporate world.
Your competitive advantage / strategy is what keeps you alive in the business world and able to keep the lights on.
As a former participant in the corporate world, both at the private and publicly traded company levels I was very much involved in doing business this way.
There was no such thing as reading your competitor’s Blog to find out what they were going to do next to compete with you. Figuring out what your next move was going to be, often depended on what your competitor’s next move was going to be, and learning how to observe and anticipate the moves of your competitors was a hugely beneficial skill.
Also, when competitors succeeded in areas you were not doing very well, learning how to observe and identify what it was that they did to produce a result was also very beneficial.
Having the ability to observe, analyze and anticipate your competitor’s next moves wasn’t just beneficial to your business, it was often the only way to stay in business long term.
I feel that I was always good at this part of business in the corporate world.
Enter The Gurus
Shifting my focus to the online world of blogging, affiliate marketing and making money online in general was a very interesting contrast for me.
Bloggers were making money online, and sharing how they were doing it with their readers.
Internet marketers were making millions, and then creating courses to teach others how to make money online as well. Even though they charged for these courses, they were still very inexpensive compared to the potential payoff if what they taught worked.
At first I didn’t really understand why someone would do that.
I mean, if you’re making $500k/month doing something, why teach everyone else the exact strategies you’re using to do so. In the traditional corporate world that would be like suicide.
As I started reading more and more Blogs related to making money online, I started seeing more and more people sharing blogging income reports and giving away all the “secrets” to how they are making their money.
At first I thought this was a very foreign concept, much different from the competitive point of view typically seen in the corporate world, but I really liked it.
The idea of a society where everyone shares everything with everyone freely (not necessarily for free) was very appealing and I really liked it.
As I started to implement what the “Gurus” taught, all of it made perfectly logical sense.
I saw no harm in trying so I followed what they said.
After months and months of frustration though, I was not able to produce the same results they were producing. Not even close.
That’s when I made a shift in my thinking.
Putting My Competitive Goggles Back On
After spending 15+ years reading hundreds of personal development books and studying successful people, there is one thing that I learned along the way that was a huge paradigm shift for me.
The thing I learned is that most successful people don’t know what made/makes them successful.
Actually I would say that is the case with all people, not just successful people.
As human beings we are absolutely horrible at identifying the factors that make us successful.
In the majority of most cases, what makes people successful is not what they think it is.
So, even though I left the competitive style nature of the corporate world and entered the world of Blogging, and Internet marketing, and starting getting around people who are much more into the “co-operative” model of reality, rather than the “competitive” model of reality, at the end of the day I realized that nobody is going to hand you the secret to success on a silver platter.
You have to figure it out on your own, for yourself.
Are you willing to accept that?
I hope so.
The way I was finally able to achieve results online was to think about making money online through the same goggles I used to wear in the corporate world.
When I wanted to learn how to make money as a Blogger, I started studying successful Bloggers.
I didn’t listen to what they were WRITING on their Blogs, I watched and paid attention to what they were DOING.
For example, if a particular Blogger wrote a post about 10 awesome free WordPress theme sites, but at the same time they were having a custom theme designed for $1,500, guess what I did?
Did I go and try to find a free WordPress theme on one of those sites they wrote a post about? No.
I did what they did. I invested in a premium WordPress theme.
If I read an article by a Blogger who was writing about how they achieved a certain result, I assumed that was only half of the story. I investigated further to find out what else was happening.
That is the way to find success.
Find someone you’re inspired by and then model and emulate what they DO and HOW they do it, not what they SAY they do how they SAY they do it.
If there is some kind of result that I have achieved, that you would like to achieve, don’t listen to a word I say – because I may have no clue what I’m talking about. Instead, pay attention to what I’m actually doing and the “secrets” will be revealed to you.
Why Gurus Lie
Some of the most successful, warm-hearted, nicest people in the world are lying to you.
It is not because they mean to. It’s not because they want to lie, or to teach you the ‘wrong’ way to do things, or because they want to see you fail.
In almost all cases, most of the “gurus” teaching anything, genuinely want to help people to succeed.
However, the challenge is that they don’t know what actually made them successful, so they teach what they think made them successful.
And a lot of times what they teach is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing.
Examples of Not Knowing What Works
One example of not knowing what makes people successful that has been popping up for me lately is related to marketing.
Because people come to me for marketing advice, one of the first questions I always ask people is what works for them right now.
I’ll ask people “How are you getting clients right now?” and they’ll typically give me an answer right away.
Some will say “Oh, most of my clients come from word-of-mouth advertising.”
Or they will say “Oh I advertise in _________“, etc.
If I dig deeper and ask them a question like “What do you think makes your word-of-mouth advertising so successful?” people will often tell me a whole story about it.
Often times a lot of these people actually go around saying things like “Word of mouth advertising is the best type of marketing” etc.
They really DO believe that their most effective form of marketing is “word of mouth“.
The interesting thing is that when we actually quantify the reality of where they are getting their customers from and why, we find that their “word of mouth” marketing sucks. The real source of their current customers is something totally different and they just don’t realize it.
I’ve worked with clients who had a huge growth in their overall revenues due to SEO efforts, but they attributed the increases to a new sales person they hired. Business people especially are always making many different changes in their businesses at the same time, but very often they attribute any successes to the sexiest ideas they implemented or the ones they came up with themselves.
Take any business that’s succeeding and thriving, and ask their programming department why the business is succeeding. All the programmers will tell you it’s because of the recent changes they made in their software.
Ask the marketing department the same question and they’ll tell you it’s because of the new marketing strategy they just implemented.
Ask the accounting department and they’ll tell you that it’s because of the right decisions the CEO is making due to the financial information that the accounting department is providing them.
Ask the janitor and they’ll tell you it’s because he switched cleaning detergents.
It’s human nature to take credit for success. And to shift blame onto someone else when things are failing.
When the were competing for the Stanley Cup this year, I would often ask people “How was the game?” since I hardly watched any of them.
It was always interesting to hear that when the won a game, people would say “We won!”, but when the lost a game, people would say “They lost.” 🙂
I guess nobody ever considers themselves a part of the team when they lose, but they do if they win.
Why Success is Hard to Figure Out
Whenever I achieve some sort of result in life, I’m always inspired to share it with others.
I really honestly look back at what it is that I did in order to achieve something and then I try to teach it to others.
Because I keep a semi-daily journal of all my successes and failures, I often refer back to where I was in the past and try to compare it to my current situation to try to figure out what changed.
Once I become aware of what I think it was, I often share it with others via conversation, Blog posts, videos, or by mentoring others.
What very often happens though is that even though people make those same changes in their lives, they don’t always produce the same results.
Sometimes it’s just because they don’t even come close to emulating what I did, but sometimes they do yet it still doesn’t work.
For example, in the last 20 years whenever I have ever wanted a job I simply printed off my resume and applied for a job. I only had 3 actual jobs that I had to apply for (besides the business I ran myself), and each time I simply printed the resume off, faxed it in or brought it in in person, and I got the job.
In the last 20 years I have never applied for a job and not gotten it.
But if someone wanted to get a job and I told them to simply print off a resume and fax it in, that might not work for them.
So the advice of “Just print a resume off and fax it in.” is rather useless for most people.
What works for one person might not work for another.
So if listening to Guru’s is not the answer, then what is?
What I have found to work for me is a formula of getting your information from three sources:
Listen to what Guru’s say. Sometimes people DO know what works. They tune into the exact thing that made them successful. And often times even when they don’t know everything that made them successful, what they do communicate WILL help you out. It just might not be the full story.
Observe and model what Guru’s do. Learning to be an observer is very important. You can learn SO MUCH about how to succeed in life just by opening your eyes and watching people and modeling what they do. That doesn’t just mean watching what they do when they are doing what they do, but what are they doing in their off time. Larry Bird practiced taking shots for 4 hours a day when he was a kid – every day. Model THAT, and not just what he did on the court if you want to improve your shot percentage. Model his breathing, his physiology, his workout routine, his visualization process etc. Not just what he does on the court.
Listen to your intuition. Above all, tune in to your intuition and follow it’s advice. If a “guru” tells you that the only way to achieve X is by doing Y instead of Z, but your intuition is telling you that Z is the right path for you, then chances are that Z *IS* the right path for you. And even if eventually you end up doing Y, just like the “guru” said, maybe you learn a lesson by doing Z that you wouldn’t have learned if you tried to do Y. Always trust your intuition.
With the above formula you can’t go wrong. See, in the above formula, what “gurus” say only accounts for 33% of your decision making process. So even if they are wrong, because they don’t know what made them successful, or even if they are lying to you on purpose, it doesn’t really matter because your observations (2) and your intuition (3) will be there to override that decision anyways.
One Last Piece of Advice
One last piece of advice I’d like to throw in for good measure when it comes to emulating people.
When studying the success of someone, try to connect with the version of who they are which is just a few steps ahead of you, not light years ahead of you.
For example, let’s use making money as an example since it’s easily quantifiable.
Let’s say you are currently making $0/month and you want to make your first $100/m online.
If you look at someone who is making $10 million dollars online and try to emulate what they do RIGHT NOW to make their next $20 million, chances are you won’t succeed.
Instead, try to look at what they DID to make $100/m in the first place.
A lot of “guru’s” who are making a million dollars per year are learning the lessons they need to learn to make two million a year.
However, those lessons might not be the same lessons you should be learning to go from $0/m to $100/m. Make sense?
Try to emulate those who are a few steps ahead of you, or who work with people and teach people who are a few steps ahead of you.
I am much more interested in learning from people who make $1,000/m more than me from their Blogs than from people make $1 Million in one day doing a launch.
I listen to both, but the person a few steps ahead of you is the one that’s easier to emulate and produce results by emulating.
They are the closest vibrational match to who you want to be next.
I’m more interested in learning how a fat guy lost 20lbs and reduced his body fat % from 35% to 30% as an example, than how a bodybuilder who has been fit for 15 years dropped from 12% body fat to 10% body fat.
In martial arts training I’m more interested how a white belt finally committed to showing up to training every week, twice a week, than how a black belt would go about disarming someone with a gun.