The Laws and Secrets of Success
Here it is, all 284 pages below. This book provides a lot of insight into who I am as a person, what I believe, expect and value. Thank you very much for reading, and I look forward to your thoughts.
Three Reviews of the Book:
“Very, very highly recommend this UNIQUE book, it is the best book regarding how to be successful that I have ever read.” — Daisy S., TOP 10 AMAZON HALL OF FAME REVIEWER
“The power of his intuitions is infectious.” — Grady Harp, TOP 50 AMAZON HALL OF FAME REVIEWER
“This is one of those books where you will want to underline something important on each page.” — Rebecca of Amazon, TOP 100 AMAZON HALL OF FAME REVIEWER
The Laws and Secrets of Success
Delving Deeper than You’ve Been Told Before into the Mysteries of Why Some People Accomplish More Than Others, Are Happier, Better Liked, and Yes, Wealthier
By Alex Hammer
What is success, and what causes some individuals to have more of it than others? Many books, articles and examinations have studied these issues. Some have focused on the realm of personal factors, citing for example, motivation or drive, thrift or emotional intelligence. Others examine how we are shaped, by family and upbringing, education, background and socioeconomic factors etc. Some discuss the attributes of choice and decision making, while others make the case for the role of luck or fate.
Certainly all of the above, and more, can and do play a role in success. The question is, collectively, how much of a role, and are there other types of generally under and unexamined factors which are also critical in determining one’s level of success?
I think that there are. The Laws and Secrets of Success will examine new narratives in regard to how we think of success, in ourselves and others.
Narratives are powerful things. We have stories, scripts, concepts and/or memes that help us understand our marriage and our spouse, our job, our kids and our families of origin. We have narratives about our diet, about our exercise (or lack thereof), about our entertainment choices, about our sense of style.
You get the idea. In short, we have narratives about pretty close to every aspect of our lives.Including our notions of success.
This book will lay out nine areas that are typically underappreciated (or in some cases unrecognized) in our understanding of success, each in its own chapter. These are: A Deeper and More Nuanced Understanding of Emotional Intelligence; The Three C’s (Competition, Challenge and Character); The Strength of Your Network Inbox; The Move From Domination to Discovery; The Strength of the Ant; Show, Don’t Tell; The Confidence of No; The Wisdom to Know The Difference and Rising to the Top is Only the Beginning.
A Deeper and More Nuanced Understanding of Emotional Intelligence examines how success goes well beyond a predictive understanding of others and what they are likely to do.
The Three C’s (Competition, Challenge and Character) examines how the successful take responsibility for their lives rather than making excuses or casting blame.
The Strength of Your Network Inbox examines that “birds of a feather do flock together” but that it is much more important who includes you than who you seek to include.
The Move From Domination to Discovery examines how the successful move beyond mastery and leaving their footprint on others and the world to leveraging the strengths of others in a service and partnership model.
The Strength of the Ant details how the successful frame their herculean efforts and results within the context of respect and appreciation for the abilities of others.
Show, Don’t Tell details the importance, as they say, of “backbone over wishbone”. The Confidence of No details the balance of the successful between influencing others and allowing themselves to be influenced.
The Wisdom to Know The Difference examines the role of discernment, judgment and attitude in success. and Rising to the Top is Only the Beginning looks at why some stay on top and continue to rise and excel while other successful individuals fall back down.
While the chapters cover some familiar topics of success, The Laws and Secrets of Success questions conventional contributing factors of success throughout. In doing so, the book accepts some traditional thinking, adds to some, and supplants others entirely. If success were so easy, we would all be there already!
The time for some fresh thinking on this critical topic is clearly well overdue.
Success Area 1 – A Deeper and More Nuanced Understanding of Emotional Intelligence and Success
Emotional intelligence as commonly discussed and understood in regard to success often focuses largely on one’s ability to successfully manage interpersonal relations. For example, how sensitive are we to social cues and what others are trying to tell us? How much empathy do we have? How well do we truly listen to others? And, importantly, how well do we recognize the needs and emotions of others and are able to meet or affect them?
These are important aspects of emotional intelligence and success. Emotional intelligence IS critical to success. Some argue that it is as or more important than general measures of intelligence or cognitive ability. We’ve all heard the examples of Ph.D.’s driving cabs and the difference between “street smarts” (including common sense, which has been said to be not that common at times) and “book smarts”. Although they are by no means mutually exclusive, neither are they inherently highly correlated.
If they were, we wouldn’t have the universality of the “school of hard knocks”. We’d just learn everything we need to be successful in school. We all know that that isn’t close to being the case.
But is emotional intelligence, in regard to one’s success, a lot deeper and multi-faceted than is often considered? I will argue here for a resounding yes.
If life, meaning life experience, is the greatest teacher, and many feel that it is, then by traditional conceptualizations of emotional intelligence we will become more and more successful the better we understand other people and how they react. And that is true to a point. But herein lies the first major consideration, rather obvious but not often discussed in detail. You’re you and they are them. You can understand another person up to a point, and certainly increase in that skill, and doing so is critical, even vital to one’s success. However there are physiological barriers that impose obvious limits to how far this can be taken.
One could ask a fundamental question, which can be considered philosophical in nature but has practical applications in this realm. Are you fundamentally even understanding another person or are you in fact increasingly developing your conceptualization of another instead? That is, can you ever really get outside of your own mind to see what the “objective” reality is, in this case another person?
What about intuition and empathy you ask? I do give these a lot of credence, but we must also examine our own filters and biases to better understand how we view and
understand other people. This will allow us to better understand the role of emotional intelligence, in regard to learning about both others and ourselves, in success.
Knowing Others and Knowing Ourselves
What if emotional intelligence, as it relates to success, is a lot broader than commonly considered? And different?
I believe that it can be convincingly demonstrated that understanding other people is the smaller part of the battle in terms of our success, and that understanding ourselves and our own thoughts, wants and behaviors is the larger part of emotional intelligence related to our success.
And that the blind spots that we have in this inner observation and maintenance are much larger than in understanding others. And in fact that our blind spots in understanding ourselves are a, and likely the, major contributing factor in our misunderstanding and misperceiving others.
And that these types of factors are critical to the role of emotional intelligence in success.
This is far from a distinction without a difference in regard to emotional intelligence and success. Rather, it is a critical difference.
Let’s examine first the notion of self-fulfilling prophesies. Have you ever noticed how angry people tend to elicit angry responses from others, and loving people more kind responses from others? There is, possibly, enough evidence for any type of mindset that you bring into the world to be verified, such that you can find (or importantly, elicit) confirming evidence for those beliefs. While it feels as if we are being effected by the world and others, and sometimes perhaps even at their mercy at the worst of times, might it also be possible that we are in fact more active participants in our experience than this and shaping events, including responses from others, more than we
realize or know?
It is famously said that twenty years of experience is different than one year of experience twenty times. Are we learning or are we reacting?
Let’s think about patterns? What is a behavioral pattern? Do people engage in them in relationships, serious and otherwise? Is there something in us that elicits certain types of behavioral responses from others in certain situations? Is there an element called personality, while not universally perceived in uniform by others, which does demonstrate elements of this principle such that many of us can agree that “Charlie is an angry guy” (overall or in spots) or that “Tom gets taken advantage of easily by bosses and women and family”.
Are we living and reacting to the world or are we repeating our behavioral expectations with others over time in patterns?
Certainly, it does not need to be either/or. One can believe, at the same time, in both the ability for growth and learning and also in our being “creatures of habit”, as incompatible, perhaps, as these two traits may appear to be.
But it is worth looking into in regard to emotional intelligence and success.
A Mirror Doesn’t Lie
I would argue that we are projecting as much as we are perceiving in regard to our experiences of others in this world, and that this is a significant factor in our varying outcomes that we would associate with success. How many times have you heard that success is a mindset, a way of thinking, a set of beliefs? That the rich think a certain way and the poor another. Or the famous saying that whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
If this is true, or partially true, then emotional intelligence as it pertains to success is substantially, if not fundamentally, a measure of the views that we have towards others and how these influence – I would say often actually dictate – our behaviors in the world and towards others which determines the results we obtain which we quantify and describe as our level of success.
Traditional notions of emotional intelligence, to be fair, have not always focused on increasing our understanding of the other. They have also, to a lesser degree, focused on ourselves, for example our ability to self-regulate and self-control our reactions based upon the social information that we have developed and
receive from others. However, notions of emotional intelligence and success have primarily focused on understanding and managing our relations with others rather than an understanding of our own thinking, projections and behavioral styles.
Are you with me so far?
What I am saying is that if you want to understand another person that you have to understand yourself. Just as it is famously said that “charity begins at home” and you can’t love another if you don’t first love yourself, how can you accept anger in another while you struggle with your own anger issues? Can you allow another to feel vulnerable if you hate the vulnerability feelings in yourself?
I believe that life, including other people, is a big mirror of how we see ourselves. And that a mirror doesn’t lie.
Further, experiences are like receipts. When you go into a store and purchase something, the receipt tells you what you have purchased and how much you have paid. Experiences are the same. What happens to you in life, that is the life experiences that you have, are, I would argue, to some measure and I believe a significant one, a receipt that demonstrates to you what your thinking patterns are.Experiences are the mirror that show you (to the degree that you are open to seeing) who you are.
So, Are We Responsible For Our Lives?Another way of asking that question, at least some element of it, is, are we responsible for our success?Yes and no I would argue, but more often I would say yes. You may have heard the famous expression, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with it” (i.e. how you react to it). That does feel about right, scary (or empowering, or both) as this may sound.
Certainly it would be wrong to be totally absolutist. The infant who died of cancer who never had the ability to really live much less develop an adult mindset.
Certainly some of us have more “luck” than others (good luck or bad, you may have heard the saying, “if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all”), and some of us are born with more advantages than others (both material and life-given in other ways). I wouldn’t dispute that at all. But the funny thing is that if we live long enough, most if not all of us tend to encounter the same types of things, even if the details differ. Losses and challenges of various kinds.
We did not come from identical circumstances but we are all part of the human condition, and while we face different situations we also face many that are similar in kind.
And we each also have the same 24 hours per day.
Emotional Intelligence and Success
Perhaps more successful individuals are, all things being equal, more optimistic and positive. Not naively positive, but positive backed up by effort and action. More of the “I can’t solve every situation but I can work hard and find the best or silver lining in every situation and generally have things work out ok”. Perhaps the optimistic, on the whole, get better reactions and more help from others because they elicit it. There is a tendency to be nicer to people we like. Perhaps optimistic people are more likeable. Perhaps they are friendlier. Perhaps they give more before expecting in return (you’ve probably heard the famous saying from Zig Ziglar “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”).
Perhaps successful people are more resilient. Jesse Jackson famously said, “I may have been born in the ghetto, but the ghetto was not born in me.” As has been demonstrated in study, resiliency is a, perhaps even the, critical factor in success. How many times have you heard successful people say in interviews that they simply got up one more time than life knocked them down?
I believe that we need to stop looking at emotional intelligence as primarily the ability to read and influence other people. I believe that not only does this have a potentially manipulative element to it – “managing others” – but it also is less effective than working and learning to increasingly manage ourselves.
When we are growth oriented we are learning to deal with our own blind spots, and this is a, and perhaps the, critical factor that allows us as we grow to see the world with fresh eyes and thus have that twenty years of experience rather than one year of experience twenty times.
As has been famously said, if you want to walk around in comfort, you can carpet the world or instead place a piece of carpet under your own feet.
Or, just as famously, “wherever you go, there you are”.
Managing One’s Fears
It says in Scripture that “He who controls his temper is better than a war hero, he who rules his spirit better than he who captures a city.”
The ability to manage one’s fears productively is perhaps the hallmark quality of the successful individual, and is, I believe, the fundamental expression of emotional intelligence. All successful people (that I have heard about) detail their coming up with some effective way of managing their own doubts and fears. Including those imposed on them from other people on the outside.
I believe that being able to act responsibly, effectively and courageously in the presence of one’s fears is the most important factor in emotional intelligence.
And the greatest contributor of emotional intelligence to success.
One critical difference between those who are more and less successful is focus on fear. It has been well demonstrated that what we focus on grows stronger. Those who are more fearful are risk-averse. They play it safe. They try to protect the downside. Their fears control them because they feel weak and vulnerable, and scared about how it will affect them if something very bad or painful happens to them.
But what if an abundance of fear brings failure into our lives? We know that in the animal kingdom predators smell fear, and pounce upon it. The “blood in the water phenomenon”. As much as we don’t like to recognize it at times, there is a strong “survival of the fittest” element at times.
Those who are more fearful serve those who are less fearful. Employees, who take less personal risk and are given more structure, work for business owners who engage in a
greater degree of professional risk and work in a lesser degree of structure.
Fear constricts. When we live in our fears and give in to our fears it limits our choices and opportunities in life. Not only career opportunities, but opportunities with our mates and in mate selection, with our kids, and in all areas of life.
Those who are more fearful are cautious. They are “protecting the downside”. They don’t want to be hurt. As a result, they may not suffer catastrophic loss as much as they will “death by a thousand cuts” in lost opportunities. When you have that slow, drip, drip, drip sense of loss and missed opportunities, it can fuel negative beliefs such as disappointment and despair. And there may come a tipping point at which incremental losses start to accelerate.
The more successful, in recognizing, accepting but managing their fears, do not fear failure as much and instead recognize that failure is integral to success (e.g. trial and error). So they are focused on learning, “failing early and often”. They don’t conceptualize failing as being a failure. There is less catastrophic thinking, which is a fear based notion. The successful have a larger notion of self than a present circumstance, and as such an unexpected or poor result doesn’t define them or necessarily limit their options.
They realize that success is a process containing failure, and that they can remain focused to live and fight another day.
While the less successful play not to lose, the successful play to win.
This may be the critical difference.
In this way, managing fears is a critical element of emotional intelligence and success.
Accommodation and Assimilation are the two ways that one acts in the world. Certainly both are necessary for survival, mental health and success. The fearful rely heavily on accommodation. They are trying to figure out what is going on in the world and react to it, and this is the traditional notion of emotional intelligence and success. Assimilation, by contrast, is the incorporation of the world into oneself. While favored to a greater degree by the successful, this process is done far from blindly. Instead, emotional intelligence is used to better understand oneself and one’s actions, fears, biases and styles such that one can interact with the world more intelligently.
Emotional intelligence IS critical to success. But we first need to understand ourselves before we can understand others. What we think we know about others can be, instead, a projection of our own biases and what we elicit from others (including related to our fears), which, based upon our level of self-understanding and emotional intelligence, we may realize more or less well.
As we broaden the notion of emotional intelligence to include how to relate to and understand ourselves, we can be more effectively served by emotional intelligence in its important role in success.
Success Area 2 – The Three C’s (Competition, Challenge and Character)
The Three C’s and Success Most of us avoid or dislike obstacles, but not the most successful.
Successful people realize that it is important, to quote from Joyce Meyer, to use the hardships in life to “make themselves better rather than bitter”. This mindset is a critical difference between highly successful individuals and those less so. Successful individuals recognize and in fact appreciate that life can be, and often is, difficult, but that this is not something to be
feared or criticized but embraced. Less successful people instead make excuses and cast blame. If only they’d gotten better breaks
or not been mistreated. A victim mentality. By contrast, successful individuals take responsibility for their lives and the results in it, and do not blame other people.
Competition Successful people are often portrayed or considered as ruthless. As competing with others and taking whatever they can grab in a win-lose proposition.
You’ve heard the expressions: “Who did you step over (or sleep with) to get to the top?”
“It’s a dog-eat dog world”
“No good deed goes unpunished”
Despite this conventional wisdom, this is not, in fact, how most successful think and act.
Far from it.
You may not be used to thinking this way about successful people, so it may sound a little surprising at first, but consider this:
Successful people realize that the real competition is actually with oneself. Others just serve as a mirror, and a measuring stick, for us to allow us to see where we are at and improve. This is part of taking responsibility for one’s life.
And for one’s success.
Life created each of us differently. An oak tree will never be a better maple tree than a maple tree. It will never be a better bird than a bird. But if it takes advantage of its surroundings to the maximum, plays well the cards it is dealt (or can acquire), then it can be the best oak tree that it is capable of being.
As corny as this may sound, successful people realize that success involves being the best “you” that you are capable of being. That is why successful people are not jealous or envious of other people. Envy and jealousy are negative emotions emanating from a feeling of lack. We wouldn’t be jealous of others unless we felt that they have something that we do not. It is this inner feeling of lack that gives rise to a corresponding poverty or other form of lack in the world – for as within, so without. By contrast, gratitude is an expression of fullness and wealth. How can you be grateful unless you are already full and have a lot to give. The same
applies to all feelings of fullness or completeness versus feelings of lack. For example love versus hate (or apathy). Love is a
sense of I have enough for myself, and even extra that I can give to you. Hate by contrast, is a feeling of lack, you took something from me I need, or you have something that I need, etc. Apathy is much different than contentment. Contentment is feeling that what I have is enough, it is all that I need. Apathy is there is nothing of value that can be gained nor to share, and hence I have no interest in other people.
Why feel bad that another type of tree has some “desired” characteristic that you do not. Or that something comes easier to another than it comes to you. “Variety is the spice of life” and successful people realize that is important to focus on what you have, and make the most of it, rather than what you do not. This does not mean that one cannot nor should not work on one’s “weaknesses” as well as one’s strengths. Certainly we should seek to improve in all areas that are important to us. But to waste time and worry in comparison to others when we each are unique and on our own individual path in life is not something which successful people are prone to do.
Competition in the World And yet life does have a highly competitive element. Seen from a spiritual perspective, this involves the notion that the lower is always subservient to the higher. From a carnal perspective it can be expressed, for example, through the notion of “the survival of the fittest”, a “will to power” or a need to dominate.
This is real, but far different than aggression. While the successful are often viewed as the most aggressive, they may instead, perhaps, be seen as the most focused or determined. They are certainly not easily swayed away from their goals. In addition, not only are they NOT more aggressive, but they are in fact most able to withstand the intrusions of others. In short, they have a balanced mood and temperament that is not easily displaced, even within the highly competitive challenges of the world.
Unsuccessful people become moody, angry and upset. They strike out at others when they do not get their way or seek to overtly dominate them. Successful individuals, by contrast, stay calm and professional and withstand the strongest blows. They possess the centeredness and inner confidence and calm not to be easily ruffled. This is a major component of success.
Not responding when others are asserting their will to power against you can seem like weakness, but many times it reflects a superior strength in that such a successful individual is not allowing oneself to be distracted to become engaged by the other who is generally less successful. Successful individuals are calm because they are confident. They are not overwhelmed by the will to power intrusions of others because they recognize the reasons why they occur as being from a source of weakness from the other.
The most successful individuals may well be the most competitive but they are able to do this largely, rather than through overt competitive actions but through, interestingly, the self-control of avoiding the competitive acts of others. By not becoming engaged, and thus not wasting valuable energy and resources, including time.
Success by ignoring others!!
(So, now you know why the very successful never return your calls).