Friday, February 18, 2022




“You must hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anyone else says to you, don’t let ’em get your goat. Try fightin’ with your head for a change.” 
— Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

There is a third type of learning; it is knowledge through modeling.

All the great learning traditions say the same thing: if you want to learn how to do something well, go find someone who has already mastered that skill, and apprentice yourself.

Learning pure information is not enough, and while adding the street smarts you gain from applying that information through personal experience can take you far, even that is not enough to go all the way toward the successful achievement of your goals. You need some way to process all that information and experience and integrate it. And there is only one reliable, solid way to do that: find someone else who has already achieved mastery in the area you’re looking at, and model your behavior based on their experience.

Personal development is not something you can pursue as an armchair expert, not something you can master from the sidelines. It has to be a contact sport — one where you are in contact with others who can help you on your journey. What we’re talking about here is the power of a mentor.

It’s amazing the impact one person can have on your life, just from the influence of how they see you, and what they see in you that you may not even see in yourself.  

The quickest and surest path to raising the quality of your life is to start hanging out with people who have been there and done that. If you want to be a great public speaker, spend time with great speakers. If you want to be a success in business, then find a way to spend time in the company of successful businesspeople. If it’s important to you to be a terrific parent, the best thing you can do to further that aim is to spend lots of time with men and women who have mastered parenting.

Who are your heroes? Who are you modeling yourself after?

Too often we make heroes out of people who can’t really help us, whose lives are fantasies, not genuine role models. Take a look at who your heroes are — write down a list and examine it. Ask yourself, “Can I become like them? Are these people doing the kinds of things that I aspire to do and living the kinds of lives that I aspire to live? Can they really help me become who I want to become?”

Whatever goals you aspire to, seek out people who have achieved the same or very similar goals or who are well along that path, and go camp on their doorsteps or do whatever you can to associate with them, emulate them, and let their grasp,  understanding, and mastery of the subject rub off on you.

The same is true for personal development and any change we want to see in our life. It has to consist of information and a supportive environment.

The Law of Association

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that your income tends to equal the average of the incomes of your five best friends. It’s true, and the same principle applies not only to your finances but to every aspect of your life. Your relationships, financial health, attitudes, level of success in your career, and everything else about your life will tend to be very close to the average level of each of these conditions in your five closest friends and associates.

You are the combined average of the five people you associate with most — including the way you walk, talk, act, think, and dress. Your income, your accomplishments, even your values and philosophy will reflect them.

Become acutely aware of who you are modeling. This has everything to do with your philosophy and your attitudes, which have more to do with your actions and what you’re creating in your life than any other factor.

You know why birds of a feather flock together? Because they’re all heading in the same direction. Look at the people with whom you flock, the company you keep: what destination are they headed for? And is that where you want to be headed?

Look at the people around you:

Are they more successful than you are?

Are they people who live the kinds of lives you aspire to live, or the kinds of lives you hope to leave behind?

On what side of the slight edge are they living — on the success curve or the failure curve?

Is the slight edge working for them or against them?

Where will they be in twenty years?

Are they pulling you up or dragging you down?

This is a pass or fail test; there is no maybe about it. Remember, there is no standing still. Everything curves. We’re all going in one of two directions, either up or down. Your association with each person you know is either empowering you, or it’s not — taking you up the success curve or down the failure curve.

If your relationship with someone has a theme of blame and feeds on the past, it’s disempowering. If it has a theme of responsibility, self-reflection, and change and feels like something moving into the future, it’s empowering.

Longevity experts are now telling us that keeping a positive outlook is just as critical a factor to health and long life as diet and exercise! You can’t afford to have people around you who are consistently acting as a drag on your positive outlook.

That may not sound like the most compassionate philosophy in the world, but let me tell you, there’s nothing compassionate about letting yourself get sucked into a vortex of negativity. The best thing I can do to serve the world around me is to keep myself in a state where I can best contribute — and I can’t do that if I’m being dragged down by an environment of cynicism and self-pitying complaint. I want to spend my time with people who have an infectiously positive attitude, who bring energy and vitality to the table, and who brighten the room.

There may be some people with whom you’re now spending two days a week where you might decide you need to take that down to two hours. There may also be people with whom you’re spending only two minutes, where you’ll realize you need to spend far more time with them — two hours or two days. And you will find times when what you really need to do is simply disassociate yourself from someone. That’s a part of the Law of Association, too. 

Casual relationships deserve casual time — not quality time. There are people with whom you can spend two minutes, but not two hours. There are people with whom you can spend two hours, but not two days.

Having compassion and having direction are not mutually exclusive; they just take careful thought and discernment. You’re not judging those people; you’re simply asking yourself to be honest about whether or not those relationships are empowering you and helping to support your purpose and realize your dreams.

“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind,” 
- Napoleon Hill. 

A group of like-minded, achievement-oriented individuals, he explained, could come together to create an association far greater than the sum of its parts, thus dramatically leveraging each other’s success.

Applying Hill’s principle is simple: surround yourself with people of like mind and different talents and temperaments with the purpose of serving the goals of every member of the group. Associate with these people on a regular basis.

Apply the Law of Association. Create your own mastermind, a group of those who have chosen to live among the 5 percent, and let them support you, let them be the lift beneath the wings of your dreams.

Leadership is not something you do; it is something that grows organically out of the natural rhythm of learning. When you start at the beginning of anything, you’re at the highest level of anxiety. As you learn — through study and doing, information and experience, book smarts and street smarts — you gradually lower your level of anxiety by raising your level of mastery. As you continue climbing that ladder of knowledge, you keep your eyes on worthy mentors, always using learning through modeling as your learning gyroscope to keep you on track.

Using those three dimensions of learning — study, do, model — with slight edge persistence, in time your level of mastery rises to the point where you turn around and realize others are modeling you. You have yourself become worthy of emulating, of serving as a guide and hero to others. You have grown into leadership — and now you’re the mentor.

Essential Points from Chapter Thirteen

* If you want to learn how to do something well, find someone who has mastered that skill and apprentice yourself.

* Choose your heroes carefully: are they genuine role models you want to emulate?

* Choose your associates: everything about your life will closely reflect the lives of your five closest friends.

* Sometimes you need to let go and disassociate. 

* Form and use a mastermind: two minds are better than one, and five are even better.

Slight Edge | Chapter 12

Slight Edge | Chapter 14

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