When I was 21 years old, I was a college dropout working a dead-end job at a department store.
I was also crippled with shyness, I’d barely left Ireland, I’d never had a girlfriend, and I was still a virgin.
If you had met me then, you would have pegged me as a very passive person, someone who let life happen to him.
- I wasn’t naturally assertive.
- I wasn’t one of those natural-born entrepreneur types.
- I didn’t have any social skills.
- I wasn’t super-smart.
I was a bit of a loser, to be honest.
Over the years though I’ve managed to shape myself into the kind of person my 21-year-old self would struggle to recognize.
- I’ve been running my own business for 7 years, regularly doing work I love.
- I’ve visited almost 50 countries around the world.
- I’m very comfortable in social situations, even in rooms where I don’t know anybody or speak the language.
- I’ve been dating the woman of my dreams for the past ten months.
And someday soon, I fully expect to lose my virginity.
What I hope you’ll take from my story is that it’s entirely possible to change your life and become whoever you want to be.
If you want to make a change, the first step – the most important step, really – is believing that you can do it, that you’re in control of your life and not some leaf blowing in the wind.
It’s only when I started believing that, at age 21, that I began living life on my own terms and making my dreams come true.
So what I’m saying here really, is that it’s all in your head.
Or at least that’s where it starts.
I read a fascinating article in The Economist recently related to this.
Researchers ran a 30-month experiment comparing folks who received psychological training (e.g. setting goals, dealing with feedback, facing setbacks, etc.) versus business training (e.g. accounting, finances, marketing, HR, etc).
An earlier, smaller trial in Uganda had suggested that the psychological training was likely to work well. It did: monthly sales rose by 17% compared with the control group, while profits were up by 30%.
It also boosted innovation: recipients came up with more new products than the control group. That suggests that entrepreneurship, or at least some mental habits useful for it, can indeed be taught.
More surprising was how poorly the conventional training performed: as far as the researchers could tell, it had no effect at all. Budding entrepreneurs might want to avoid the business shelves and make for the psychology section.
Speaking of bookshelves, when I think about which books have had the biggest positive impact on me psychologically over the years, two in particular come to mind:
The first was…
I first read this in my early 20’s, and it completely shifted my thinking.
Growing up, I’d always operated with the idea that fear (or anxiety) was a sign that I was going the wrong way, that I should stop and turn back, find an easier path.
Or at least wait for the fear to go away before proceeding.
This book taught me to see fear not as a roadblock, but as a signpost, pointing me towards growth opportunities.
I didn’t have to wait for the fear to go away before moving forward.
I could feel it, accept it, and keep going.
A quote from Joseph Campbell sums it up nicely:
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
The second book that had a huge positive impact on me psychologically was…
There’s plenty to criticize in this book, but before reading it in 2008 I was still operating with the typical employee, tell-me-what-to-do-and-I’ll-do-it mindset.
After reading it, I began to see the world through entrepreneurial eyes.
Suddenly everything seemed negotiable, opportunities everywhere.
But perhaps the biggest belief this book instilled in me was this:
If something was possible for someone else, if other people were already out there doing it, then it was also possible for me.
I just had to adopt the correct mindset and the correct habits, think and act that way consistently, and I’d eventually get there, too. 1
These and other mindset shifts have made such a difference in my life that I dedicate a whole module and a dozen lessons to the topic of Mindset inside my 3 Months → $1,000 course, which helps people earn their first $1000/month online consistently.
Building a successful online business, just like achieving anything worthwhile, isn’t simply a matter of doing X, Y and Z and checking a bunch of boxes.
It requires a different way of thinking.
Because, as the saying goes:
If you always do what you’ve always done, or always think how you’ve always thought, you’re always going to get what you’ve always got.
So hey, do me a favor.
If you’re not happy with something in your life right now…
- STOP doing what you’ve always done
- STOP thinking how you’ve always thought
- START doing and thinking differently, and become whoever you want to be.