Monday, January 18, 2010

Extreme Common Sense

.Would your life be better if you abandoned self-defeating habits and replaced them with others designed to reinforce your success? Obviously, it would. In later postings, we will explore ideas in detail. For now, let's take a survey of the half dozen ideas that are central to my concept of extreme common sense. 

Pay yourself first. Abandon the habit of automatic spending. Replace it with an automatic savings program.

Money cannot solve everything, but the lack of it creates new problems. In The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason offers basic and time-tested advice in the form of a story. The fundamental idea of saving "a part of your earnings is captured in the quote "A part of what you earn is yours to keep." 

A more comprehensive and more current representation of the same message in David Bach's Finish Rich books including The Automatic Millionaire. Bach recommends automatic withdrawal from your wages as the key to his plan, financed by controlling habitual expenditures. If you can replace a habit of automatic spending with automatic savings, your financial outlook can improve dramatically.

Write down everything. David Allen says your mind is a great place to have an idea, but a terrible place to store it. Relieve your stress by capturing ideas and actions instead of depending on your memory. 

Allen has written two books as alternate views of a system that takes you from capturing an idea to implementation. The first, Getting Things Done, defines a five step process for managing your actions and using them to support projects and goals. The second, Making it All Work, offers a different perspective and newer examples. Either book goes far beyond simply capturing ideas, but that's where you need to start.

Decide what you want. Think big, be specific, and yes, put that in writing too. 

There are many books on this subject offering different points of view but conveying the same meGoalsssage. Anthony Robbins focused on the power of decisions in Awaken the Giant Within. Brian Tracy covered the importance of goals in Goals! How to Get Verything You Want--Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. Rhonda Byrne took the perspective of visualization and the law of attraction in The Secret. Check out one or all of these, but in the end you still need to do something. 

Take Massive Action. Think about all the ways your goals can be achieved and pursue as many of them as possible. Share your ideas with people and encourage them to participate. Think leadership, not salesmanship, and you'll be on your way. 

Seek Continuous Improvement. We fikk our lives by doing things, most of them repeatedly. The Japanese offer a philosophy of continuous improvement in those things we do called kaizen. If you aren't fluent in Japanese, check out One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer. It is one small book that will change your life. You understand, I hope, that this habit is pointless unless you've decided what you want and are taking action.

Accept 100% Responsibility. Jack Canfield thinks this is so important he made it the first chapter of The Success Principles. Successful people say "I must do something"; unsuccessful people say "something must be done." I saved this for last because it reinforces all the other habits.

  • Be 100% responsible for paying yourself first. Your employer has already done his part -- more if he offers a financial match in a savings program. 
  • Capture your ideas and actions into a consistent framework. Another quote from David Allen "there's no point in having the same idea twice unless you like having the idea." Asking a good thought to show up twice is a bad iea. 
  • Only you can decide what you want. People can help, but you need to point the way.
  • Nothing says responsibility as loudly as taking action.
  • You are responsible for the quality and speed of your work. Take responsibility and seek to be smarter about how you do things. 
None of these books will help unless you're prepared to follow through on their teachings. Developing improved habits is work, but I hope you can see the extreme common sense in how these ideas relate to each other. Don't thry to adopt all these ideas at once -- pick the one that seems like it might have the biggest payoff for you and start there. Email me at to let me know which one that is.


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