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.


Avoiding Common Mistakes People Tend To Make in Life

Larry M. Jacobson (attachment # 1)Hey Larry,

I enjoy reading your blogs. I have a quick question. You hear a lot about mistakes people make when they are first starting out. Can you please give me some advice on how to avoid some of these mistakes? – Jason K. (Newport, Rhode Island)

Great question, Jason.  I admire you for wanting to learn how to avoid mistakes early in your life.  I wish I had your foresight growing up.  I read a great article recently by Henrik Edberg called “Do You Make these 10 Common Mistakes When You Think?” Below are the headers from his list followed by my own insights, which is good advice for adults of all ages.

1. You Overthink – you overanalyze until you sweat the small stuff and become paralyzed out of fear.

2. You see things in black and white – Your way or the highway. You create unnecessary barriers to your own success.

3. You think the world is revolving around you – You are too consumed by your own thoughts and you ignore the common sense advice from others. Despite what your parents, friends, spouse, significant other or “mirror reflection” tells you, you are not the smartest person in the room.

4. You generalize yourself and your world – Generalizations are often unfounded projections of oneself or others.  Do not let the negative comments or views of a select few dictate how you perceive yourself or what others may think about you. Stop being so hard on yourself.

5. You look for problems even when there are none – You look for smoke when there is no fire. You always expect a shoe to drop, or something to go wrong. This can often lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6. You are addicted to your comfort zone – As I discuss in my book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, one of the main reasons why so many people seem to fail and never achieve their goals and success is because they simply succumb to their fears and never make any real efforts to ever get out of their negative comfort zone. This would involve doing the necessary disciplined work to improve their current situations or, even better, understanding how to avoid their comfort zone altogether.

7. You think about yourself as a victim – No one has control or power over your life unless you give them that power. Take the appropriate actions to own your own circumstances and stop blaming others for poor decisions that you either made or did not make.

8. You think that what you feel now is just how it is – To quote the Chinese Tao 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.”  Enough said!

9. You compare yourself to other people – Stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to lose your own way. Do not cut corners by trying to live outside your financial and personal means. Do not make rash or emotional decisions that only create more drama and delays toward accomplishing your own goals.

10. You think you already know how things work – What possesses normal, intelligent, educated adults (young and old alike) to ignore basic common sense? Like I said earlier, you are not the smartest person in the room. Successful people listen, learn, and lead.

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” ~ Friedrich Nietzche

Best of luck and keep me posted as you grow your future success,


So How’s That Life Working For You?

For anyone who has truly accomplished something important in his or her life, each person had to realize early on that ongoing success was something that did not come automatically, but rather something that had to be earned through a lot of tough commitments and hard work.

It is my personal experience that the true definition between a victor and a victim is simply one’s ability to own one’s mistakes and/or personal obstacles. Rather than acknowledging bad habits, decisions or mistakes, victims blame others for their lack of success and accomplishments. I am sure you have come across these self-loathing individuals that choose to blame the world rather than own their own crap, haven’t you?

I call these unfortunate people “the boggled and debauched” because they prefer to deflect their own negative self-worth issues by simply disclaiming others’ points of view, as well as intentionally diminish the success or character of others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. Unfortunately, unhealthy dysfunctional people often act as emotional parasites by either intentionally or unknowingly manipulating or using others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I share a story about a frog and a scorpion and one’s ongoing need to be aware of others’ intentions despite inconsistent actions and words.

Luckily, successful people become acutely aware of unhealthy individual’s intentions, and as a result, ultimately learn how to engage and maneuver around them in order to protect themselves from potentially sabotaging outcomes.

In addition, successful people do not enable or make excuses for their own failures or bad behavior, but rather learn and grow from them. Recently I read a great anonymous quote, “Sometimes I win, sometimes I learn, everyone should replace the word loser with learner.”

As a life-long learner, my personal transformation for success started with a simple question that I had to look in the mirror and ask myself, “So, how is that life working for you?” A simple question that required no excuses, no blame, but simply a need to be honest with myself and my own fears. Yet despite its simplicity, this one question can elude and prevent the boggled and debauched from getting out of their own way and taking an honest look at themselves because it is easier for some to continue to live in denial and remain in their unhealthy comfort zone rather than accept their own shortcomings and disappointments.

If you are someone that finds yourself stuck or incapable of owning your own crap, STOP! Use this same unhealthy energy to become accountable for your own fears, decisions and outcomes. OWN IT!

If you want to be successful, take the time to look at yourself in the mirror, eye to eye, and ask yourself, “So how is that life working for you?”

Choose to finally be honest with yourself and ask yourself what steps can be pursued that will finally allow you to create your desired goals and passions.

What additional educational pursuits and/or authentic relationships are currently available to you that will help you achieve probable outcomes simply because you asked yourself an overdue question?

Most importantly, it’s time to stop projecting an unproductive victim mentality and the emotional use of others.

Right here, right now: it’s time to commit to fixing the problem, and not the blame. Start growing your future success now.