You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn

I do not want to get too philosophical but it is important that you can appreciate the wise words of W. Clement Stone – “You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you ward success – or are they holding you back?”
It is a humbling but powerful and crucial idea to understand that all you can possibly do or achieve is in what you know.
This statement may me elegant in its simplicity but it is also incredibly profound.

All you can possibly do or achieve is in what you know.

It begs the question of what do you know and how did it become to be? Most of what we know was not in our control.
If you stop and really think about it, most of what we believe in was delivered to us through repetition from our parents or mentors at a young age.

We learn what is good or bad; we learn what is ugly or beautiful; we are learn what is acceptable in society and what is not. Most people didn’t choose their religion, language, location or even their own name; but we agreed to all these things.

With the myriad of ways humans learn, the most effective and long term way is through osmosis. Have you ever noticed when you spend time with people with certain ideas you adopt these ideas, when they use certain vocabulary you adopt the vocabulary?

Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them. – W. Clement Stone

Without going into the inner workings of the human brain we know that we are not born with innate information about how we should interact with people, how to play sports, how to read and write and certainly not how to run a business effectively.
Everyone has a different reality and everyone processes information differently; billionaires think differently to millionaires, millionaires think differently to someone making six figure and people that makes six figures think different to those that make less and so on.

We know most of our ideologies came from our environment; so I want to ask you this; are your future ideologies going to be made by chance or are you going to take control of it?

Insanity is defined as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

If you want to elevate yourself from your current reality you must seek external help and adopt ideas and concepts that are foreign to you; it is as simple as that.

To elevate your thinking and results from what they are now you must start associating yourself and absorb ideas from people outside your current comfort zone.

The classic study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning found that the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your cognitive abilities. It proved that people who see extraordinary success are confident but never overestimate themselves; instead they understand they do not know everything and continually seek to learn new ideas.
This does not mean you adopt every new idea and perspective you come across but it does mean you should be open to listen and evaluate.

True progress happens when sacred cows are killed and you must continually test your assumptions to see if they truly hold up.
The latest research from the university of Florida shows that the most successful people are always on a journey to learn new skills as opposed to unsuccessful people who believe they already know everything.

To succeed companies and leaders must continually seek to improve themselves and broaden their views on the world so they come closer to reality instead of being buried within theirs.

Using mentors

A successful life is a life full of mentors.

“Since the 1970s, studies have repeatedly demonstrated that mentoring is the single most valuable ingredient in a successful career for both men and women” – Margaret Heffernan of Fastcompany.com.

Those that do remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Whenever I play my younger cousin in his favourite video game I always find myself severely outclassed. I take my turn and I lose in a matter of seconds. After my laughable attempt my younger cousin takes a turn after a few hours I get my next turn. Why is he so much better than me?
Is it because he has a higher IQ?
Does he have better eye sight?
Is he quicker?
Is it because of some karmic energy that is rewarding him?

The differentiating factor is none of the above; the real key is experience. My younger cousin has played the game before, he knows the road ahead, he knows the ins and outs like the back of his hand.

“You can definitely learn from your mistakes but it is a hell of a lot faster and easier to learn from others” – Warren Buffett

You don’t know what you don’t know; this is why mentors are so valuable. You could be smarter, faster, younger but “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and the mentor does.

Like my younger cousin playing the video game for the 100th time, mentors have experienced the hidden landmines, the inevitable plateau and know how to best navigate through them.

Albert Einstein had a mentor in Max Talmey that he would meet with every Thursday, the Dali lama had a mentor in Ghandi and the Buddha; Ellen DeGeneres had Oprah; Tiger Woods had Hank Haney, Bill gates had Paul Allen, Warren buffet had Benjamin Graham, Jack Welch had Peter Drucker; Alexander the great had Aristotle, Aristotle had Plato and Plato had Socrates, and the list goes on.

Mentors have been the life blood of success.

Mentors are by far the simplest, easiest and highest leverage way to achieve success in the fastest possible time.

Success read read read

While mentors are an incredible asset to have in a person’s journey to extreme growth; books offer a powerful complement.

In my whole life I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time, None, zero – Charlie Munger.

Jeff Bezos’s greatest mentor was Sam Walton when he started Amazon; the only issue was that Sam Walton was dead. Instead of physically being mentored, Bezos kept Walton’s book “Made in America” on his person at all time and looked for guidance within its pages every chance he could.

“Survival machines that simulate the future are one jump ahead of survival machines that learn on the basis of trial and error. The trouble with overt trial is it takes time and energy. The trouble with error is it is often fatal. Simulation is both safer and faster”
Richard Dawkins: “The Selfish Gene”.

Books afford us the luxury simulating outcomes by looking at past experiences in the most convenient, safest and most cost effective way possible.

When we were born each and every one of us didn’t have to circumnavigate the world to learn that it wasn’t flat. When physicists work on tomorrows new problems they do it with knowledge of today and the past; they don’t have to wait for an apple to fall onto their heads to first understand gravity.

Good artists copy while great artists steal – Picasso.

A majority of the problems you face in your business has most likely been faced by thousands of other people in history. Reading as many books as you can will give you the ability to download the mindset and experiences of the greatest minds that have gone before you.

The more you learn the more you earn.

Warren Buffet knew he wanted to become an investor at the young age of seven and immediately started reading.
When Buffet was 12 he went down to the Omaha local library and they told him that he had read every single book on financing there was. He had not just read all the financing books in the local library but he had read every book in the whole Omaha library system.

Munger and Buffett dedicate most of their working day to reading. They understand that the more they learn, the more they will earn. They strive to acquire as much knowledge as possible as a key part of their work. Munger says he wasn’t born a business genius but honed his investment savvy through countless hours of reading and absorbing information daily for years.

Their company Berkshire Hathaway is the number four company on the fortune 500 list with revenues over $210-billion in 2015 and yet that they still spend over 80% of their work reading.

It really is a tragedy that more people do not read. In study after study of self-made millionaires and highly effective people it is evident that it is not IQ that is the result of success. It is observed that on average, millionaires read at least 50 books a year while those who aren’t as successful read only a handful.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants – Isaac Newton.

Almost every successful person in the world can donate most of their success to reading. Whether it is Einstein, Bill Gates or Nikola Tesla, they all read books of other people and built on what they said. This is why humans are advancing. We have the ability to learn from history and other people’s experiences and then go beyond. We are learning faster, shaving decades off of our learning curve. We don’t have to wait until we create a billion-dollar empire to learn what the common problems are; we can learn them at any time.

Stand on the shoulders of the giants that have gone before you, do not waste time trying to figure out things that are already figured out, take the wisdom and progress forward.

The excuse of not having enough time is absolutely ridiculous if your goal is to be wealthy.

Warren Buffet has said he religiously reads 8 hours a day. Alexander the great rode around with a library of books even though had Aristotle as his mentor. If you go to Bill Gates website, it reads more like a blog for a book club rather than an IT geek.
The great Jim Rohn once said “the difference between a rich man and poor man is the rich man always has a library full of books at home”.

Understand that you will be limited on your potential if you are too egotistical in your approach to business. The more you learn the more you earn; if Warren Buffet and most of the greats believe they are still a student of business and life there is no excuse for anyone to take books and mentors lightly.

Masterminds and fresh eyes

Progress happens when sacred cows are killed

“innovation resides where art and science connect is not new. Leonardo da Vinci was the exemplar of the creativity that flourishes when the humanities and sciences interact. When Einstein was stymied while working out General Relativity, he would pull out his violin and play Mozart until he could reconnect to what he called the harmony of the spheres.”
― Walter Isaacson

Great progress happens from external sources; when you question current beliefs and apply new ones. Most of the greatest breakthroughs that have happened in business resulted from different industries combining ideas. Fiber optics was not created for telecommunications instead it was made for aerospace and then appropriated. Fedex exists because they replicated a model that the U.S banking system used. There was a system called hub-and-spoke to send out cheques so banks could have all the cheques in the right bank by the morning and this is where Fedex found its mark. Rogain was supposed to be a cure for pimples. Viagra was created by looking to help blood pressure. Velcro was invented when George de Mestral saw how burdock seeds stuck to his dog’s fur thanks to the tiny hooks that covered them; he used this observation to bind materials together.

Let ideas have sex – Matt Ridley.

The only way to see massive growth is to embrace new ideas and a new way of thinking.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton

It is not enough to understand your point of view and then have your team believe in that too. If everyone had the same ideas where on earth will new progress comes from. Charli Munger is often caught talking about “Worldly Wisdom” and how you should draw your ideas from a myriad of disciplines such as psychology, history, mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology etc.
Every business I have invested in, consulted or coached for has been able to increase prices and at the same time increase volume of orders. This would fly in the face of the academic business principle of supply and demand. However, by being able to understand psychology I can use principles like the Giffen Paradox where as to increase price and demand at the same time. The most effective business ideas and results I have been able to produce have stemmed from disciplines such as human psychology, philosophy and biology.

Even the best and most trusted authorities in a market are wrong sometimes and are hampered with tunnel vision.
While being a pioneer in computing even the great Thomas Watson found himself going down in history having uttered one of the most incorrect statements of all business history.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, president of IBM.

When Bill Gates and Steve jobs lead the modern day computer revolution it certainly left a few people chuckling about Watson’s prediction. However, the buck doesn’t stop their even Bill Gates remembers when he said no to the internet. Experts and fellow employees continually told Gates how the internet was going to be the next big thing; yet he dismissed the idea as he did not think the internet would ever work with what Microsoft does. To this day Gates admits this myopic thinking about Microsoft during the rise of the internet was one of the biggest regrets of his and the company’s life.

Real growth comes from outside your industry, companies must stop ignoring what is happening outside their comfort and knowledge zone. The truth is that most companies in every industry are doing the same thing as each other with maybe only a few percentage points worth of differentiation. They have the same advertising methods, same vendors, same method of operations, same cost cutting techniques etc.
There is very little leverage by seeking growth within your industry; for the most expansive and unique growth you must look outside where your competition isn’t.

Discovery is the fuel for competitive advantage – Jay Abraham

Your future growth is linked to the external

Everyone in every industry and every walk of life has some degree of myopic thinking. In a lot of cases this form of tunnel vision is a severe bottleneck for greater success.

A ‘fresh pair of eyes’ brings a new perspective to a situation when we may believe that we have exhausted all the options. I cannot count how many times I have walked into a company where the simplest processes are not being followed. Just by pointing out a simple process it can produce incredible results.
The fact is that business requires many moving parts and it is easy to miss many critical areas. It is always a good idea to consult with someone outside of your company that isn’t hampered by tunnel vision just to make sure you are not missing anything.

Mastermind your way to neural and unparalleled growth

This is where masterminds are incredible. Creating a group of driven and high performing individuals produces a breeding ground for new and innovative ideas. While many would suggest that you should seek a group within your industry I am a great advocate of searching for a diverse group of people in a wide variety of industries.
Mentors are a great way to keep you focused on your industry while creating a mastermind full of different people can spark incredible innovation for your company.

Even on a neurological level it can be seen that introducing new ideas is a bed rock for creativity even if they are not remotely tied to each other.
We know that thought is a pre-cursor to action, but what is the pre-cursor to thought? There are neurons constantly firing through the connections in our brains; thought and then action is a result of these neurons firing in a specific way through these connections. New ideas, creativity and innovation are the result of neurons firing within new connections that are formed in the brain. Thus for new ideas we must create new connective paths within our brain. So how do we create these new paths?

Remember; everything we know is moulded by our experiences and the information we choose to take in.
Putting ourselves in a position where we take in new ideas and unknown information is the best way to do this. When our brain takes in this new information it creates new links that let our old information travel through these wires in our brains. It is truly like ideas having sex; new pathways are created that give opportunity to broader ways of thinking.

All your competitors are creating the same connections as each other, because they are all in the same myopic environment. By having an eclectic variety of learning inputs you will be able to create different connections to produce unique thought which will give you an unparalleled competitive advantage.

Even the most farfetched and seemingly indiscriminate links can create new opportunities and frames of thinking that could give your company a great advantage. By introducing these new ideas from different disciplines it will give you some of the most serendipitous and greatest impactful results.

Henry Ford revolutionised the automotive industry with the introduction of the assembly line. However, if you knew about his associations with several key figures in the meat industry you would not think it so revolutionary. It was only after being introduced to the methods and strategies that the industry used to pack the meat that Ford come up with the eureka moment to use a similar process on cars. The neurons in his head developed new pathways which made new connections that other companies in his industry could not create. Combining ideas from different industries Henry Ford created a revolutionary system.

Proctor and Gamble were founded in 1837 and if any company had the best chance of being rigid and inflexible it would be them; however, this is not the case. They sit firmly in the S&P 50 in 2015 after nearly two centuries because they are not too proud to look externally for new ideas. They created strategic alliances with other companies, vendors, colleges, niche and major research labs. They even started investing in relatively unknown “garage” inventors so they could always have an influx of new ideas.
One of their great findings was when they used the same electrostatic technology that was used in the automobile industry to paint cars. They took this technology and translated that into their cosmetic lines to change how makeup was applied to the skin. Many of their product lines which created entirely new markets are to a large extent a culmination of ideas from different areas of the world.

Do not take this for granted as I can guarantee that there are principles, strategies and methods in other industries and areas of life that can be used in yours that will give your company an incredible edge.

Go to war with a multitude of counsellors.

Most entrepreneurs and business owners love the feeling of being the lone wolf; the idea that they can do anything. In the end as we see from the overwhelming statistics that most of them fail.

For a company, CEO, or solopreneur to fully develop their potential they need to have a team of people on their journey.
There is no such thing as a perfect person, but there is such thing as a perfect team.
Surround yourself with people who will elevate you. Surround yourself with a library of books, mentors who can see your vision clearly; create masterminds that will fuel you with new ideas and consultants that will make sure you stay profitable.
Have at least two mentors for each business you have; preferably one who is 10-20 years ahead of you in your industry; and one who is on a similar level to you that you can discuss ideas with.

Join masterminds with other CEO’s, entrepreneurs or business owners from other industries; many times principles that work in one industry can be translated into another effectively.

Have at least five advisors; people who are wise, skilled in certain areas but don’t necessarily need to be in your industry or business. They can come in all shapes and sizes such as high performance coaches, lawyers, CPA, phycologists, general consultants etc.

Read as many books as you can from all walks of life; health, wealth, love. Most of my greatest business ideas have come when I mix ideas from behavioural phycology and classical business tenants.
Build your perfect team and watch your growth soar.