“Our greatest internal obstacle is our ego.” -Ryan Holiday
Ego: an unhealthy feeling of one’s own importance, arrogance.
Ryan Holiday, #1 bestselling author, writes on the topic of ego to address our addiction to the drug-like effects of buying into our own awesomeness.
Why would you pick this book off the shelves? This book gives practical applications to individuals interested in maintaining their success and avoiding failure due to ego.
We consistently find ourselves in three stages in life, aspiring, succeeding, or failing. In chapter 32, Holiday concludes a thought, “…ego makes all three stages harder, but it has the potential to make failure permanent.”
Holiday’s writing is highly influenced by stoic thinkers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. From a Christian perspective, this book is spot on, and Holiday points it out in chapter 9. He says that Christians approach the topic of ego by simply labeling it pride… and then agrees that you don’t have to be a Christian to agree that it is a bad idea all around. Over 2500 years ago King Solomon wrote,
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
He gets it.
In this week’s book review video, I point out that the idea that “you can be lesser, but still do more” is foreign to our culture and is worth reclaiming.
If you choose to read this book, you will be regaled with stories from throughout history of ego hindering the success of great men and women. Check out the three links below for a sample of the book: the first is the introduction and Ryan Holiday’s personal story; the second is a recording of a chapter entitled “What’s Important to You” one of the best of the book; the third is a review from Derek Sivers because he has 200 high quality book summaries on his site and he loves this book.
We tend to focus on a single piece of information when making choices.
Most of the time this helps. Here’s how.
Recently, on a flight from Singapore to the US, I was eating sushi with my brother in the Tokyo airport. I’ve never had saké before and wanted to try. However, when the waitress placed a box and chilled shot glass in front of me and filled both the glass and the box with alcohol, my enthusiasm waned. I realized I had no idea of the “right” way to drink saké.
I cast searching glances at every patron in sight but no one had a box of liquid in front of them.
Divorced from the internet because of airplane mode, I had no one to model proper drinking technique. Finally, I turned to the well-dressed businessman next to me at the bar and confessed,
“Hi sir, I’m a dumb American, how am I supposed to drink this? Right out of the box?”
He assured me that I was on the right track and I enjoyed the cold saké out of the box and munched the Narita roll with my brother before our flight.
We often use “social proof” (the actions of those around us) to figure out the right way to act in uncertain situations. This allowed me to enjoy saké in a foreign airport….but there are ways to hack these systems to influence. Imagine if I had seen someone pouring the box back into the shot glass, I would have blindly followed suit, assuming it was correct.
This book is about the six most powerful ways in which humans tend to develop automatic responses. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a cognitive psychologist, has spent his life exploring and testing these tactics. He’s even gone undercover into organizations that cleverly use our human nature to gain compliance from us.
Again, most of the time these mostly automatic responses are beneficial, like looking around to figure out how to eat foreign foods. Yet sometimes others exploit these tactics to get us to bend to their will in ways that we may not realize.
As I said in my video on this topic, “[read this book] if for nothing else than to understand how to withstand some of these tactics.” Please remember though all of the compliance tactics discussed in the book or this post can be employed for good or for evil, depending on the motives of the person using them.
Here’s the list of six and a .gif to help you understand each.
Reciprocity.. Free samples at the supermarket are a subtle favor for passers-by and often individuals will buy even if they didn’t like the sample. We are compelled to respond in kind to favors and concessions we receive from others.
Of course, Vice President Biden munching Costco samples is always relevant.
Consistency.We have an almost obsessive desire to act and appear consistent with what we have already done. Our self-image is one of the most reliable factors we can look to when making decisions.Writing something down can help change the way we view ourselves.
Remember Bart writing line after line.
Social Proof.Especially when in uncertain situations, we look to the actions of those like us to figure out how to act. This was the saké situation or the BBQ Stingray I referenced in the video.
Those cats are as much affected by each other’s reactions as they are startled by the moving paper bag.
Liking. All things being equal, we do more for those people we like. All things aren’t equal, but we still do more for those people we like. We also tend to like attractive people, people who seem similar to us, and those people who like us back.
President Obama has both likability as well as an every-man quality that many find appealing. Plus he takes selfies..
Authority. If a man in a police uniform came up and berated you for jaywalking, it wouldn’t likely occur to you to ask for his badge number. The appearance of authority is often enough cue for us to comply. Even if the appearance is just a well tailored business suit.
Leonardo DiCaprio could convince anyone with that pilot’s uniform.
Scarcity. You remember wanting the last cookie just because your brother wanted it, right? Even if you were full, the value of the cookie went up because other people might take it. We often act like grabby kids.
Think Black Friday shopping.
Thanks for checking out what I can almost 100% guarantee is the only blog post explaining Cialdini’s influence tactics with .gifs
Here’s a mildly academic takeaway from John Stuart Mill to make you feel smart because of your access to the internet.
John Stuart Mill, the British economist, political thinker, and philosopher of science, died more than a hundred years ago. The year of his death (1873) is important because he is reputed to have been the last man to know everything there was to know in the world. Today, the notion that one of us could be aware of all known facts is only laughable.
Influence, pg. 207
Keep reading Friends!
Until next time (I’m switching to every other week with the blog, due to other projects taking off). Follow along on twitter! @jondelange
If you’re like me, you too have tried to “get into” a finance course or personal finance book. You may be realizing, like I am as well, that a failure to learn good financial principles compounds throughout your life and that not knowing what you’re doing is an incredibly bad idea.
Last week we talked about why stories drive change. This book, The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason, presents useful financial principles in story form. I won’t reprint the stories here, so you’ll have to settle for a quick bullet-ed list of the “7 cures for a lean purse.” The audiobook version is $1.95 and only 4 hours long too!
This book was published in 1926 a few years before the great depression. Clason was the owner of a prominent map company and applied the principles he writes about throughout his life.
This small paperback is the seminal work on personal finance and entrepreneurial thinking. These lessons address topics such as avoiding debt, seeking out mentors and protecting assets. The short, allegorical book struck a chord with Depression-era readers, who clamored for its easy-to-read financial advice and wisdom on building wealth.
This book is concise, it delivers financial principles in story form, and it provided a basis for many authors and speakers of the 20th century as they wrote books and delivered seminars on financial success.
You may actually prefer a change of pace from the dry financial tomes that tell us how to pay down debt, buy a home, invest in stocks or other strategies like flipping houses or starting a business. Then the stories of Arkad, Dabasir, and Sharru Nada set in the exotic gardens of Babylon or the deserts of the Middle east will be a welcome change of pace.
NASA photo of Euphrates River, along which Babylon grew up.
If that sounds interesting, and you want more than these 7 quick points to overcome being broke we are going to cover, then go get this book on amazon for 4 dollars for a paperback or 1.95 on audiobook.
Think about this for a second, Og Mandino, one of the most successful personal development speakers and authors of the 20th century called this book the greatest text on personal finance and thrift of all time and it’s 1.95 on amazon. The problem isn’t lack of information, people, it’s lack of implementation.
Another personal-achievement expert, Brian Tracy, explained in his book Getting Rich Your Own Way that Clason’s message, despite its age, is still valid today. “The book is a primer on financial success because its principles are simple, direct and effective,” Tracy says. Pulled from Success Magazine, April 13, 2011
Here are the seven bullet points on overcoming a lean purse from the Richest Man in Babylon.
Set thy purse to fattening
Specifically, hold 10% of your income for your own future.
Control the expenditures
Live on 90% of your income or less and don’t deviate from the budget.
Make thy gold multiply
Straightforward, don’t let it sit there, invest wisely. Parable of servants matt 25.
Guard thy treasures from loss
Invest only where the principle is safe, where it may be reclaimed if desirable, and where you earn reasonable interest. Also seek counsel from wiser heads when investing.
Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment.
Own your home. Here’s the thing, I take issue with this one to some extent but in almost all cases it’s better to own if you can do it without debt.
Insure a future income
Provide in advance for your family and/or retirement
Increase thy ability to earn.
Build your capacity, study and become wiser and more skillful, and act as though you respect yourself.
Those are the 7 cures for a lean purse from The Richest Man in Babylon. The audiobook is 4 hours long and costs less than a cup of coffee. If you can’t handle some Thees and Thous don’t bother, but with experience comes wisdom and many experienced individuals highly recommend this book.
If your goal is to be a likeable person, these 6 points are for you.
Warren Buffett, currently the third wealthiest man in the world, has a diploma up on his wall. But it isn’t from an Ivy League university, or an honorary doctorate from a prestigious admirer, no, he has a Dale Carnegie course completion certificate that cost him $100 back when he was 20 years old. Check out his story on this topic here:
The book that Dale Carnegie put together, and the one the Buffett read and gives reference to is How to Win Friends and Influence Peoplethis classic, first published in 1936, has sold over 15 million copies and contributed to the rise of many famous individuals.
Most of us will immediately recognize the single sentence summarizing the first chapter, “Never criticize, condemn, or complain.” Yet, I for one struggled to recall all six of the ways to make people like you from section two of the book. Central to success in dealing with people is their ability to tolerate or their enjoyment in interacting with you, and these six points have a great deal to do with making one a more likeable person.
Despite reading the book several times over the past few years if you were to ask me what the 6 ways to make people like you are, up until now I would have had a hard time remembering them. I put together a list of 6 keywords all beginning with “S” and hopefully it helps you remember them like it has helped me.
Here they are.
1. Straightfoward interest.
Be genuinely interested in the other person.
Carnegie uses the everyday example of a dog because a pooch doesn’t have any ulterior motives or wants to get anything out of you. They are genuinely happy to see you. This straightforward approach is the most innocent tactic you can use in dealing with others.
Hopefully it is abundantly clear what is meant by this statement. 🙂
Remember, the sweetest and most important sound in any language is that of the other person’s name. This keyword serves a double purpose, the first being that people like to hear their name and when you use it when you are with them they appreciate you for it. The second is that when trying to remember names it is extremely important that you get the cadence and the sound of their name correctly in your mind. If you simply let the pronunciation of their name wash by you when they introduce themselves, you are unlikely to get it correct later on.
4. Shut Up
Certain people are more prone to overtalking than others, but in general, when in conversation you can practice generosity by letting the other person talk more.
Cultivate the art of listening well!
Listening is much more than only not talking, but that is outside of the scope of this point, you can read a great section on “empathic listening” in Stephen Covey’s bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
5. Special Interest
Most of the time I don’t favor special interests, but in this case what I mean is that your interests should reflect those that the other person holds when you talk with them.
As they talk about things that they are comfortable with, the walls begin to recede and the capacity to relate is strengthened.
If you are passionately interested in building houses out of cards, but the other person is into dirt-biking, ask them more about dirt-biking! You might learn something interesting.
6. Sincere Importance
When you deal with others, remember that one of the base desires of individuals is to feel important. This need is insatiable and will be filled either in healthy ways or unhealthy ways.
If you motives are pure, you can give others a feeling of importance and they will love you for it.
You can make someone’s day or even week by sincerely giving them a feeling of importance. In some cases that becomes a touch-point of their self-identity, and you, by doing something that could have been an off-hand remark changed a bit of that person’s self image.
I remember several times throughout my childhood on the family farm my father put me in situations where I knew that he was trusting me with something important. I remember driving a truck from one farm to another at 12 years old (very illegal, do not recommend) and I felt like a man. My parents let me drive by myself to Wisconsin from Michigan at 17 and I loved it. Things like that built my own sense of capability and I hold those experiences of responsibility to this day.
Warren Buffett said that the Dale Carnegie course changed his life, judging by his results, it seems like it did.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t this person be normal… like me?”
If so, you’re experiencing a difference in personality that manifests itself in different ways based on several different things in that “odd” person’s nature or nurturing.
Florence Littauer in her book, Personality Plus, has laid out a wonderful framework for understanding yourself first in a quest to figure out what motivates the “other guy.”
Everyone is created unique, and yet as a whole, people are predictable. There are four main temperaments which each person has to a greater or lesser extent. You definitely have an extremely unique blend of these four temperaments but the single traits that you choose to embrace can also be observed in many others, leading those who understand the four temperaments to make roughly accurate predictions when dealing with others.
We will briefly touch on the four personalities, and then dig into a couple things on how to deal with others.
If you have ever wondered why you’re the smartest person in the room and everyone else is acting dumb… you’re probably Choleric.
The Choleric individual is out-going, task oriented and can always be happy if other people would just figure out that she needs everything done her way… NOW.
They are happiest when they are getting results.
If you’ve ever had a hard time remembering what someone else literally just said to you because you were singing a song in your mind… you’re probably Sanguine.
The Sanguine personality is constantly upbeat, forever singing, dancing the night away, enthusiastic about everything, and maintains a childlike innocence throughout their life. They will always be on the lookout for the next thing to do, and wear their emotions on their sleeve.
They are happiest when they are having fun, in fact they don’t do anything willingly unless it has an aspect of fun in it.
If you’ve ever rolled your eyes and compulsively changed the toilet paper roll in someone else’s bathroom so it would be on “the right way” … you’re probably Melancholy.
These individuals are the smartest, most meticulous, people you will ever meet. If you are of this personality, you find yourself in the company of the greatest geniuses of history who disciplined themselves to adhere to perfection.
You are happiest when you are getting quality answers, when things are in order, and when you are correct.
If you don’t know what it means that a toilet paper roll could be on “wrong” or if you haven’t figured out what personality you are yet… you are probably Phlegmatic.
These individuals are the most relaxed of all the temperaments. If you are a phlegmatic person you enjoy rest, it’s not uncommon for people to enjoy being with you, but at the same time you could be fine on your own. It’s a great day for you if nothing crazy happens, no arguments happen and you’re able to relax.
You are happiest when everyone is getting along.
How to Get Along with Others
This section is from one of the most helpful chapters in Personality Plus. p. 171-186
Take what you will from these headlines, they can be applied in various different ways.
Choleric – I can remember a time where I was dealing with a choleric individual who needed correction. After we had a talk they turned to me and said something along the lines of, “Yeah I know you’re right but I’m really not happy about it and I don’t like you right now.” Take this sort of thing in stride 🙂
Recognize they are born leaders
Insist on two-way communication
Know they don’t mean to hurt
Don’t push your luck
Try to divide areas of responsibility
Realize they are not compassionate
Know they are always right
Sanguine – I grew up with a buddy who would exaggerate, I could never figure out why it was that he would lie to everyone about what he had done. Then when learning about personalities I realized I wasn’t friends with a pathological liar, I just had a sanguine for a buddy.
Recognize their difficulty in accomplishing tasks
Realize they talk without thinking first
Realize they like variety and flexibility
Help them to keep from accepting more than they can do
Don’t expect them to remember appointments or be on time
Praise them for everything they accomplish
Remember they are circumstantial people
Bring them presents, they like new toys
Accept that they make fun out of what would be embarrassing to others
Realize they mean well
Melancholy – When dealing with Melancholy individuals, their process is very important to them. While reading this book, I came to a realization that I was consistently interrupting a melancholy’s process with my interruptions and it was putting them on edge when they dealt with me. They do their best work in their own way, and generally it’s the correct way to do it 🙂
Know that they are very sensitive and get hurt easily
Realize they are programmed with a pessimistic attitude
Learn to deal with depression
Compliment them sincerely and lovingly
Accept that they like it quiet sometimes
Try to keep a reasonable schedule
Realize that neatness is a necessity
Phlegmatic – I naturally have quite a bit of this personality in myself and I can attest to the helpfulness of the suggestion in the book that phlegmatic individuals should start by forcing themselves to get enthusiastic about one thing a month and work up from there.
Realize they need direct motivation
Help them set goals and make rewards
Don’t expect enthusiasm
Realize that putting things off is their form of quiet control
Force them to make decisions (lovingly)
Don’t heap all the blame on them
Encourage them to accept responsibilities
Hope you enjoyed this brief overview! Feel free to reach out to me to continue the conversation, this is one of my favorite topics.
Welcome to the Why Should I Read series. This is the companion site to the YouTube channel Why Should I Read That.
I’m Jon DeLange and I’ll be breaking down a concept or two from a series of books in order to answer questions I believe, most of us are asking.
Today we are going to be looking into a book entitled The Magic of Thinking Big, by Dr David J. Schwartz. This book was first published in 1959 and the things that Dr Schwartz talks about in that book are as true today as they were then. I’ll point out a couple things that I learned reading this book, but believe me there are thousands more lessons and applications to get from reading this classic.
Define success… Why?
This step is key in many personal development literature, one of the original works in the genre, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, lays out a process of writing down stated goals and creating a mental picture of oneself achieving that goal. This method was pulled from Hill’s interviews of 500 early 1900’s millionaires.
Dr. Schwartz also recommends this process so that by having stated goals, you automatically decide based on your end-game. If I’m driving down the freeway, any exit is the best exit until I know where my destination is. If I drive from Detroit to Chicago, unless I know I’m driving to Chicago, I won’t follow the clearly marked signs that say Chicago.
As you go through this process of defining what your goals are, a great framework can be used, I found it in Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. They state that material goals, recognition goals, and missional goals are the three levels of motivation. Each person is motivated differently by items in these categories. For example, I am highly motivated by recognition from those that I have respect for. If a mentor of mine tells me that I have done a good job, I generally respond more strongly to that than the thought of being rewarded with a material bonus of some kind.
Action Cures Fear
This is probably one of the biggest things I learned reading this book. Chapter 3 is entitled Build Confidence & Destroy Fear.
On Pg. 48 of Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. Schwartz states, “The traditional ‘It’s only in your mind’ treatment of fear assumes that fear doesn’t exist. But it does. Fear is real. Fear is success enemy number one.”
In the rest of the chapter, Schwartz goes on to state that there is always some sort of action to take in response to a fear reaction. This conscious exercise of the muscle of courage in the face of fear builds a habit of overcoming that one can use to conquer increasingly larger fears in life.
If you fear making a certain phone call, make it! And the fear dissipates.
If you fear being out of shape, go to the gym or do exercise and over time your fear disintegrates.
If you fear something totally out of your control, pray, and then put it out of your mind by taking a positive action in some other area.
In a personal example, when I have told some people that I am starting a youtube channel based on my book-a-week reading list, some have responded by saying “That’s a lot of work to choose to do.” I don’t know if they were trying to put fear into my thoughts of starting, but at some point I had to start this series despite never, repeat: never, filming or editing video.
Eventually, later, some point, those are all failure words. The only acceptable way to not do something now is to have a definite point by which you will do so! If I have a great idea for a blog post or video, but never post it, was it really a great idea??
If for no other reason, read this book to expand what you believe to be your potential.
If you have a goal for yourself that doesn’t stretch you or scare you, what kind of thinking are you teaching yourself? Have you ever accomplished far more than you set out to do? I’m not always about cheesy motivational quotes, but it bears repeating, “If you aim for the moon and miss, at least you’ll be among the stars.”
I see people every day that are uninspired or of my generation that give up on the dreams that they have.
If you read this book, define success for yourself, consistently take action towards that goal, check and adjust as you go, there’s no reason you cannot accomplish what you set out to do, regardless of how far it may seem at the present time.
Thank you for your attention, time is the only resource we don’t have the opportunity to reclaim and as such it is the most precious commodity… but that’s a post for another time.