Chart your path

The Smart Manager - - Career Development - RAY­MOND HOUSER IS THE AU­THOR OF THE WIN­NING AD­VAN­TAGE.

Why have you been so suc­cess­ful in reach­ing some of your goals, but not oth­ers? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your con­fu­sion. It turns out that even bril­liant, highly ac­com­plished people are pretty lousy when it comes to un­der­stand­ing why they suc­ceed or fail. The in­tu­itive an­swer—that you are born pre­dis­posed to cer­tain tal­ents and lack­ing in oth­ers—is re­ally just one small piece of the puz­zle. In fact, decades of re­search on achieve­ment sug­gests that suc­cess­ful people reach their goals not sim­ply be­cause of who they are, but more of­ten be­cause of what they do.* So, as Ray­mond Houser says, it is not enough to just dream of be­com­ing a win­ner. One has to plan on it.

Icame up through the school of hard knocks. Lit­er­ally. While I was go­ing to col­lege, I sold books door to door for South­west­ern, a pro­ducer of ed­u­ca­tional books. I knocked on so many doors I thought my knuck­les would break, and had many of those doors slammed in my face.

After eleven years as a sales man­ager for South­west­ern, I started my own book­selling busi­ness, which I even­tu­ally sold to Thomas Nel­son, the largest pro­ducer of Bi­bles in the United States. The same at­ti­tude that en­abled me to per­sist in the face of re­jec­tion when sell­ing books stood me in good stead later in my ca­reer, when I be­came a top­pro­duc­ing com­modi­ties bro­ker.

01 ev­ery time a door closes in your life, an­other one opens

We are all born with unique at­tributes and tal­ents. Un­for­tu­nately, most people never ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of dis­cov­er­ing and us­ing them to the fullest. As a re­sult, they end up stuck in dead-end jobs, which they jus­tify by telling them­selves they have to do it to make ends meet. I have coined a term to de­scribe this sit­u­a­tion— do­mes­tic en­trap­ment.

My dad was an in­tel­li­gent, hard-work­ing man, but he went into a pro­fes­sion—engi­neer­ing—that he hated. When I asked him why he stayed, he said he had a fam­ily to sup­port and bills to pay. I was de­ter­mined to fol­low a dif­fer­ent path for my­self.

My first job re­quired fo­cus and com­mit­ment and over­com­ing lim­i­ta­tions. It also in­tro­duced me to re­jec­tion. I learned how to work and deal with people, which is the most im­por­tant at­tribute in any­body’s suc­cess story.

After I sold my book busi­ness, I started buy­ing and sell­ing real es­tate. But when the real es­tate bub­ble burst in the 1980s, I found my­self stuck with worth­less prop­er­ties and had to file for bank­ruptcy. But as the leg­endary mo­ti­va­tional speaker Zig Ziglar says, “Fail­ure is a de­tour, not a dead-end street.”

If you pur­sue your pas­sion, then you will love it so much that you will create and come up with in­sights that have never been done be­fore.

02 if you merge two in­ter­ests that you know a lot about, you are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion

After fail­ing in real es­tate, I took stock of where I had been and where I wanted to go. My dad had de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in chart­ing prices of com­modi­ties like corn and soy­beans, and taught me how to do this when I was a kid, and I en­joyed it. I asked my­self: What field could I en­ter that would uti­lize both the ex­pe­ri­ence from the book sell­ing busi­ness and my love of chart­ing com­modi­ties prices?

That led me to be­come a com­modi­ties bro­ker in 1988 for Mer­rill Lynch for two years, and then with Shear­son Lehman Broth­ers, where I was the num­ber two pro­ducer out of 12,200 bro­kers world­wide. After two years, I left to join Pru­den­tial, where I was equally suc­cess­ful. I left Pru­den­tial in 1997 to start my own com­pany, which I sold to a hedge fund in 2013.

Had I not failed in real es­tate, I would not have been given the time or free­dom to go into the com­modi­ties busi­ness. And that mis­for­tune be­came a very for­tu­nate thing.

03 re­gard­less of the job or busi­ness, if it is your pas­sion, you will create ways to be­come suc­cess­ful and de­velop con­cepts that have never been thought of be­fore

One of my men­tors, Mort Ut­ley, once said to me, “If you ever find a job or a ca­reer that you love so much that you’d do it for noth­ing, but that you do it so well that people want to pay you to do it, you’ve found your niche in life.” And very few people find their niche in life. If you pur­sue your pas­sion, then you will love it so much that you will create and come up with in­sights that have never been done be­fore.

While I was a com­modi­ties bro­ker, I de­vel­oped a new way for people to in­vest in com­modi­ties. Rather than use cash as col­lat­eral, they could use stocks they al­ready owned. This en­abled them to en­joy the re­turns from both the stock and the com­modi­ties at the same time.

I did well in com­mis­sions be­cause I fig­ured out the con­cept of putting up stock in­stead of cash. I could not have made that much as a bro­ker if I just had clients putting up cash.

I never signed up think­ing I would do col­lat­eral of stocks in this way. This is some­thing I came up with be­cause I was in a busi­ness that I loved so much I would do it for noth­ing. That is the key. You have to find your pas­sion and that ex­hil­a­rat­ing feel­ing.

04 you will have ev­ery­thing in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want

How do you know when you have found your pas­sion? You will know it when you find some­thing that is not only sat­is­fy­ing to you, but that helps en­rich the lives of oth­ers.

What you want to do and what you ac­com­plish are cen­tral to your well-be­ing. How­ever, there is an­other

as­pect of suc­cess, an ad­di­tional se­cret that you should never for­get. My en­thu­si­asm for in­vest­ing cou­pled with my abil­ity to con­nect with people’s needs per­suaded people to trust me with their money, which en­abled me to build my port­fo­lio and reap the mone­tary re­wards.

Doc­tors might study medicine be­cause they want to find a cure for a cer­tain ill­ness. Their com­mit­ment not only in­creases qual­ity of life but also may lead to other dis­cov­er­ies. This will lead to more fund­ing for re­search and a more re­ward­ing ca­reer.

Cavett Robert, a noted mo­ti­va­tional speaker, has said that ev­ery­one has an in­vis­i­ble sign on his or her back that says, “Make me feel im­por­tant.” This means that at­ten­tion must be paid to what people need, whether they are stand­ing in front of you, speak­ing to you on the phone, or com­mu­ni­cat­ing via com­puter. The mes­sage, not the de­liv­ery sys­tem, is the part on which you need to con­cen­trate.

05 do not let the chal­lenge over­take you. In­stead, over­take the chal­lenge

When you look in the mir­ror, you need to like what you see. What you should see is a per­son who is ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing. All of us are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing more.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” It is hu­man na­ture to un­der­es­ti­mate our own abil­i­ties. If you think of your­self as a win­ner, then that is what you will be­come.

But you first have to rid your­self of all the neg­a­tive think­ing that gets trans­ferred to us from an early age in the form of crit­i­cism by well-mean­ing but mis­guided par­ents and teach­ers. These mes­sages in­still feel­ings of neg­a­tive self-worth by com­par­ing us to oth­ers, when what they should be do­ing is try­ing to bring out our best qual­i­ties.

There is a fa­mous say­ing: “The only chains are those we forge our­selves in the fires of doubt and ham­mer on the anvils of lack of be­lief.”

A pos­i­tive self-im­age al­lows you to create a plan for your life, se­cure in the knowl­edge that even if the plan goes awry, your in­ter­nal com­pass will al­ways be there to get you back on track.

You should be telling your­self, “I am a unique in­di­vid­ual, with unique tal­ents and abil­i­ties.” Do not judge suc­cess by what oth­ers ac­com­plish, but by your own ac­com­plish­ments, how­ever in­signif­i­cant they may seem. The out­ward signs of suc­cess—money, pres­tige, fame— may or may not come your way, but if you find and stick to your goals, you will have a bet­ter chance of achiev­ing suc­cess.

You first have to rid your­self of all the neg­a­tive think­ing that gets trans­ferred to us from an early age in the form of crit­i­cism by wellmean­ing but mis­guided par­ents and teach­ers.

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