Avoiding Short Cuts Will Enhance Your Future Success

Short Cuts derail successLast week, I responded to an Ask Larry question regarding the common mistakes people tend to make in life and I enumerated my reply in list form. I was inspired to write today’s blog based on #10,You think you already know how things work.” It made me think about short cuts.

Even though the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, if that straight line happens to take more time than we anticipated, we will forego the obvious and pursue a short cut. It will always be simple human nature for some to try to find hidden detours that will save them time and/or money to help expedite the results they want. Never mind the fact that they have prior knowledge of others unsuccessfully attempting this same short cut, or worse yet, believe they are the smartest person in the room and therefore, will clearly be the first to successfully complete such a unique undertaking. Their ignorance and/or arrogance usually overshadows their common sense and leads them to shun their instincts—shutting up that simple little voice in their head that reminds them that if they choose to pursue such a detour or undertaking, it will most likely fall under the category of, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” Yet despite their rational inner voice, people still manage to ignore their instincts, start their life engines (without a GPS), and embark down their own mental interstates only to find themselves lost and stuck in the middle of life’s nowhere.

Why the urge?! What possesses normal, intelligent, educated adults (young and old alike) to ignore basic common sense? It took me a mere ten years to answer this question, but before I share my answer, I want to tell you a true story.

Back in 1996, I discovered the stock market. Discount brokerage firms such as E-Trade, Ameritrade, and Charles Schwab were enticing the Wannabe Wealthy with a new platform called online trading. For only about a third of what traditional discount brokerage firms previously charged us for commissions, one could now go online, research their own stocks, and execute their own trades. America was in the middle of a raging bull market and we were the Captains of our own financial destiny—only a click or two away from financial freedom.

At this same time, I began studying the investment strategies of value investors, Ben Graham and his successful protégé, Warren Buffett. The tenets of both Graham and Buffett’s investing strategies were simply, be patient and wait for a company’s stock to become undervalued (or cheaper) compared to its fundamentals (e.g. financials) and then as Buffett likes to say, “Be greedy when others are fearful, be fearful when others are greedy.” Simple advice, straight forward… Success was around the corner!

Nonetheless, I chose to ignore these simple lessons, forego patience, and embark on my own investing strategy. Hey, it was a bull market, everyone was making money, and I was, afterall, the smartest person in the room. That lasted until March 10, 2000—the day when the so-called “dot-com bubble” finally burst. Through 2000-2001, those once high-flying, overpriced dot-com technology stocks started tumbling right along with my paper stock profits. Both were in utter free-fall. Here’s the crazy-irony of the story: on May 1, 2000, I attended the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting and listened intently (or so I thought) to Warren Buffett as he answered an attendee’s question. When asked why Berkshire Hathaway was not investing in technology stocks, Buffett replied (as best as I can recall), “The Dairy Queen Dilly Bar will far outlast many of the dot-com companies.”

Sadly, I did not listen. I ignored my basic common sense because I wanted a quick fix. Like so many, I was insistent on taking my own short cuts.

The ten-year lesson for me was simple: stop taking short cuts. As in all aspects of life, there are no quick detours to success. To quote the great Opera singer, Beverly Sills, “There are no short cuts to any place worth going.” Success for normal, intelligent, educated adults (young and old alike) is patience, dedication, determination, and most importantly, persistence.

There is no such thing as an overnight success. It takes MANY years of hard work, learning, experimenting, and failing. Be patient and focused as you design YOUR sustainable life plan with realistic, attainable short-term and long-term goals. By avoiding unnecessary short cuts now, you will definitely enhance your probable outcomes in growing your future success.


Surround Yourself with Success

Protecting yourself in terms of your success is largely determined not only by your thoughts and emotions, but also by people you choose to surround yourself with.  In fact, there is a strong connection between all three of these. Have you ever noticed that you tend to attract certain types of people into your life when you feel happy or sad? Short-term or long-term relationships based on how you perceive yourself at that time?

Not only does surrounding yourself with the right people matter toward your overall confidence and self-esteem, but these same people can actually impact your overall ability to make good decisions, which could probably lead to successful outcomes.

In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I draw attention to the concept of building strong personal relationships based on similar core values. There is a reason why we categorize others in our lives as loved ones, friends or acquaintances. Don’t get me wrong, all of these people serve a very specific purpose in our lives (which I discuss in more detail in the book), but you really need to learn how to differentiate and cultivate the right relationships from an early age, while at the same time quickly recognize and distance yourself from the bad ones. I call this life lesson protecting the castle, or one’s ability to protect oneself from those individuals that can negatively impact you.

Negative relationships often cause us to emotionally shutdown. As a result, we tend to draw all of our conclusions and decisions based on our thoughts only as opposed to including our emotions or how we feel about things. Young children often grow up and lose their ability to “feel” things instinctively. As young adults, they then tend to get in their own way and excuse or ignore their feelings for less rational thoughts. I liken this dilemma to a bigger concept I call the “why” versus the “how”, which I discuss in earlier blogs.

Unfortunately, most adults lose the ability to trust their own instincts (e.g. feelings). They tend to rely more on their own thoughts and get deeper into their own heads. As a result, they begin projecting or forecasting outcomes or responses based on what they perceive others might think. These thoughts are often never grounded in any form of reality, sort of like anticipating a fire when there really isn’t any smoke. This type of unhealthy programmed thinking often leads to fear or, even worse, self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g. outcomes).

To help others get back in touch with their own instincts and emotions, I often recommend the following exercise to help get them out of their own way, or more specifically, out of their own heads. This exercise should be repeated daily for 45 consecutive days.


During each session, choose a quiet, uninterrupted place where you can sit down and reflect upon your own feelings for as long as it takes. This is “not” a thinking exercise. This is all about re-acquainting yourself with long-lost feelings, while also re-engaging and trusting your own instincts (e.g. raw emotions), especially whenever you contemplate making decisions or allow others to draw upon your personal energy and space.

Reflect and handwrite these 5 different emotions you are currently feeling at that time in a notebook. Do NOT over think this exercise. Just simply write down the first five emotions that immediately come to mind. For example, “I feel happy today because ………………”

Take your time and write out each of these five separate emotions (good, bad, etc.). Then briefly describe why you are feeling that way. The purpose of the exercise is to really help you get back in touch with how and why you are feeling a certain way before you endeavor to make any type of decision or, even worse, project a potential outcome based on any future conversations, encounters or confrontations with other people that haven’t happened yet. Unfounded projections are merely fears with no basis.

Fear is often the number one cause of failure that prevents you from achieving your desired success and outcomes.

To quote the Chinese Taoist Philosopher, Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

In the future, before you choose to attract or surround yourself with others, ask yourself one simple question, “What value does this person bring to my life?” In other words, does this person support your relationships? Does this person support your goals? Does he or she provide you with any emotional support and/or friendship, or does this person simply drain your energy like an emotional vampire?

Letting go is not the same as giving up; it’s okay to let people go as you enter into this New Year. I suggest that you at least consider re-categorizing each person’s status (acquaintance, friend or loved one).

Surround yourself in 2013 with the people that will definitely provide you with mutually beneficial energy and the ones who will continue to grow your success.


T.I.M.E. for Success

With the New Year quickly approaching, many of you are probably asking yourselves, “Where did all the time go?” Others like to say, “Time is short”, “Time is money”, “Time heals all wounds”, “The time is now to help” but most importantly, time is the only thing you can never get back! Cars, houses, money, and jobs are all replaceable. That is why time should never be taking for granted or squandered, as I explain in my new book Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School.

Throughout the book, I provide young adults with compelling theoretical and practical knowledge that reinforces why it’s now T.I.M.E. (Timing, Intentions, Motivation and Empowerment) for Success.

Timing, which I also refer to as identifying opportunities, is something that I recently discussed in my blog Sliding Doors for Success. To become successful, you need to always enhance your awareness of potential opportunities that may directly or indirectly align with your path. To help ensure that you take advantage of such opportunities, you need to take the time to really focus on what you want to achieve or accomplish in both the short and long term. Recognizing your passions, desires and goals from a young age will help you to distinguish and align potential opportunities that will enhance your outcomes for success.

Intentions help you to reinforce why you are pursuing such passions, desires and goals, which also serves to confirm your ability to spot opportunities whenever they arise.  As I discuss in my blog Success Is Never Being Afraid to Ask Why!, most people today simply live life in a world of “how”. “Just tell me how to get the job” or “how do I make money?” or “tell me how to do this and I will just do it.” “How” is the ‘poster-word’ for status quo! There is no creativity in how. “Why” empowers an individual with the confidence and creativity to challenge the status quo and go beyond the “how”. In my experience, truly successful people always go the extra mile to figure out the “why” because it enables them to consistently recreate their successes over and over again.

Motivation represents the action behind the success. It is the process of aligning internal passions, desires and goals with external resources (mentors, knowledge, financing, etc.) in order to achieve the desired outcomes for success.  Many successful people often create what author Napoleon Hill describes in his book, Think and Grow Rich, as Masterminds, a group of hand-picked individuals that provide advice, support and even financial resources that help enhance one’s chances for success.  In the article, Five Secrets for Growing Success, that you can receive for free when you sign up for my newsletter, through my website, LarryMJacobson.com, I explain why successful people often turn to mentors or others in times of uncertainty or despair. Your mastermind can be a combination of both mentors and/or others (e.g. accountants, lawyers, etc.) that serve as excellent role models and/or sounding boards. They not only model the way for your potential success, but they also serve as great resources for information and advice. Their input can help you to choose the appropriate action steps to take to achieve your short-term and/or long-term success.

Empowerment is what I like to refer to as one’s ability to confidently trust their instincts to ensure that their decisions positively impact their desired expectations and probable outcomes for success. Too often, people get swayed by various negative or unsupportive comments made by others despite what their own instincts might be telling them to do. They often allow others to ‘get inside their heads’ and thus, overthink, or even worse, predict or forecast how others might respond or react to their decisions or ideas. Unfortunately, these people rarely proceed as they initially intended, either out of fear of another’s reaction, or even worse, to appease the other person at their own expense.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” ~ Jesse Owens

Successful people “go for it!” They check their fears at the door. They trust their instincts by spotting the opportunities and then re-affirm their intentions to motivate and empower themselves to take the necessary actions steps. As a result, they make necessary decisions that lead to probable (not possible) outcomes for success. To quote the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones, “Time Is on Your Side”. The sooner you begin to incorporate these concepts of t.i.m.e. into your strategic life planning, the sooner you will begin to grow your success.