The Commodity of Kings
"The great end of life is not knowledge but action."
Thomas Henry Huxley
I had heard about him for many months. They said he was young, wealthy, healthy, happy, and successful. I had to see for myself. I watched him closely as he left the television studio, and I followed him over the next few weeks, observing as he counseled everyone from the president of a country to a phobic. I saw him debate dieticians, train executives, and work with athletes and learning-disabled kids. He seemed incredibly happy and deeply in love with his wife as they traveled together across the country and around the world. And when they were through, it was time to jet back to San Diego to spend a few days at home with their family in their castle overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
How was it that this twenty-five-year-old-kid, with only a high school education, could have accomplished so much in such a short period of time? After all, this was a guy who only three years ago had been living in a 400-square-foot bachelor apartment and washing his dishes in his bathtub. How did he go from an extremely unhappy person, thirty pounds overweight, with floundering relationships and limited prospects, to a centered, healthy, respected individual with great relationships and the opportunity for unlimited success?
It all seemed so incredible, and yet the thing that amazed me most was that I realized that he is me! "His" story is my own.
I'm certainly not saying that my life is what success is all about. Obviously, we all have different dreams and ideas of what we want to create for our lives. In addition, I'm very clear that who you know, where you go and what you own are not the true measure of personal success. To me, success is the ongoing process of striving to become more. It is the opportunity to continually grow emotionally, socially, spiritually, physiologically, intellectually, and financially while contributing in some positive way to others. The road to success is always under construction. It is a progressive course, not an end to be reached.
The point of my story is simple. By applying the principles you will learn in this book, I was able to change not only the way ! felt about myself, but also the results I was producing in my life, and I was able to do so in a major and measurable way. The purpose of this book is to share with you what made the difference in changing my life for the better. It is my sincere hope that you will find the technologies, strategies, skills, and philosophies taught within these pages to be as empowering for you as they have been for me. The power to magically transform our lives into our greatest dreams lies waiting within us all. It's time to unleash it!
When I look at the pace at which I was able to turn my dreams into my present-day life, I can't help feeling an almost unbelievable sense of gratitude and awe. And yet I'm certainly far from unique. The fact is we live in an age where many people are able to achieve wondrous things almost overnight, to achieve successes that would have been unimaginable in earlier times. Look at Steve Jobs. He was a kid in blue jeans with no money who took an idea for a home computer and built a Fortune 500 company faster than anyone in history. Look at Ted Turner. He took a medium that barely existed - cable television - and created an empire. Look at people in the entertainment industry like Steven Spielberg or Bruce Springsteen, or businessmen like Lee Iacocca or Ross Perot. What do they have in common other than astounding, prodigious success? The answer, of course, is...power.
Power is a very emotional word People's responses to it are varied. For some people, power has a negative connotation. Some people lust after power. Others feel tainted by it, as if it were something venal or suspect. How much power do you want? How much power do you think is right for you to obtain or develop? What does power really mean to you?
I don't think of power in terms of conquering people. I don't think of it as something to be imposed. I'm not advocating that you should, either. That kind of power seldom lasts. But you should realize that power is a constant in the world. You shape your perceptions, or someone shapes them for you. You do what you want to do, or you respond to someone else's plan for you. To me, ultimate power is the ability to produce the results you desire most and create value for others in the process. Power is the ability to change your life, to shape your perceptions, to make things work for you and not against you. Real power is shared, not imposed. It's the ability to define human needs and to fulfill them - both your needs and the needs of the people you care about. It's the ability to direct your own personal kingdom - your own thought processes, your own behavior - so you produce the precise results you desire.
Throughout history, the power to control our lives has taken many different and contradictory forms. In the earliest times, power was simply the result of physiology. He who was the strongest and the fastest had power to direct his own life as well as the lives of those around him. As civilization developed, power resulted from heritage. The king, surrounding himself with the symbols of his realm, ruled with unmistakable authority. Others could derive power by their association with him. Then, in the early days of the Industrial Age, capital was power. Those who had access to it dominated the industrial process. All those things still play a role. It's better to have capital than not to have it. It's better to have physical strength than not to. However, today, one of the largest sources of power is derived from specialized knowledge.
Most of us have heard by now that we are living in the information age. We are no longer primarily an industrial culture, but a communication one. We live in a time when new ideas and movements and concepts change the world almost daily, whether they are as profound as quantum physics or as mundane as the best-marketed hamburger. If there's anything that characterizes the modern world, it's the massive, almost unimaginable, flow of information - and therefore of change. From books and movies and boomboxes and computer chips, this new information comes at us in a blizzard of data to be seen and felt and heard. In this society, those with the information and the means to communicate it have what the king used to have - unlimited power. As John Kenneth Galbraith has written, "Money is what fueled the industrial society. But in the informational society, the fuel, the power, is knowledge. One has now come to see a new class structure divided by those who have information and those who must function out of ignorance. This new class has its power not from money, not from land, but from knowledge."
The exciting thing to note is that the key to power today is available to us all. If you weren't the king in medieval times, you might have had a great deal of difficulty becoming one. If you didn't have capital at the beginning of the industrial revolution, the odds of your amassing it seemed very slim indeed. But today, any kid in blue jeans can create a corporation that can change the world. In the modern world, information is the commodity of kings. Those with access to certain forms of specialized knowledge can transform themselves and, in many ways, our entire world.
We're left with an obvious question. Surely in the United States the kinds of specialized knowledge needed to transform the quality of our lives is available to everyone. It's in every bookstore, every video store, every library. You can get it from speeches and seminars and courses. And we all want to succeed. The bestseller list is full of prescriptions for personal excellence: The One Minute Manager, In Search of Excellence, Megatrends, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, Bridge Across Forever...The list goes on and on. The information is there. So why do some people generate fabulous results, while others just scrape by? Why aren't we all empowered, happy, wealthy, healthy, and successful?
The truth is that even in the information age, information is not enough. If all we needed were ideas and positive thinking, then we all would have had ponies when we were kids and we would all be living our "dream life" now. Action is what unites every great success. Action is what produces results. Knowledge is only potential power until it comes into the hands of someone who knows how to get himself to take effective action. In fact, the literal definition of the word "power" is "the ability to act."
What we do in life is determined by how we communicate to ourselves. In the modem world, the quality of life is the quality of communication. What we picture and say to ourselves, how we move and use the muscles of our bodies and our facial expressions will determine how much of what we know we will use.
Often we get caught in the mental trap of seeing enormously successful people and thinking they are where they are because they have some special gift. Yet a closer look shows that the greatest gift that extraordinarily successful people have over the average person is their ability, to get themselves to take action. It's a "gift" that any of us can develop within ourselves. After all, other people had the same knowledge Steve Jobs did. People other than Ted Turner could have figured out that cable had enormous economic potential. But Turner and Jobs were able to take action, and by doing so, they changed the way many of us experience the world.
We all produce two forms of communication from which the experience of our lives is fashioned. First, we conduct internal communications: those things we picture, say, and feel within ourselves. Second, we experience external communications: words, tonalities, facial expressions, body postures, and physical actions to communicate with the world. Every communication we make is an action, a cause set in motion. And all communications have some kind of effect on ourselves and on others.
Communication is power. Those who have mastered its effective use can change their own experience of the world and the world's experience of them. All behavior and feelings find their original roots in some form of communication. Those who affect the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the majority of us are those who know how to use this tool of power. Think of the people who have changed our world - John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi. In a much grimmer vein, think of Hitler. What these men all had in common was that they were master communicators. They were able to take their vision, whether it was to transport people into space or to create a hate-filled Third Reich, and communicate it to others with such congruency that they influenced the way the masses thought and acted. Through their communication power, they changed the world.
In fact, isn't this also what sets a Spielberg, a Springsteen, an Iacocca, a Fonda, or a Reagan apart from others? Are they not masters of the tool of human communication, or influence? Just as these people are able to move the masses with communication, it is the tool we also use to move ourselves.
Your level of communication mastery in the external world will determine your level of success with others - personally, emotionally, socially, and financially. More important, the level of success you experience internally - the happiness, joy, ecstasy, love, or anything else you desire - is the direct result of how you communicate to yourself. How you feel is not the result of what is happening in your life - it is your interpretation of what is happening. Successful people's lives have shown us over and over again that the quality of our lives is determined not by what happens to us, but rather by what we do about what happens.
You are the one who decides how to feel and act based upon the ways you choose to perceive your life. Nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it. Most of us have turned this process of interpretation on automatic, but we can take that power back and immediately change our experience of the world.
This book is about taking the kinds of massive, focused, congruent actions that lead to overwhelming results. In fact, if I were to say to you in two words what this book is about, I'd say: Producing results! Think about it. Isn't that what you're really interested in? Maybe you want to change how you feel about yourself and your world. Maybe you'd like to be a better communicator, develop a more loving relationship, learn more rapidly, become healthier, or earn more money. You can create all of these things for yourself, and much more, through the effective use of the information in this book. Before you can produce new results, however, you must first realize that you're already producing results. They just may not be the results you desire. Most of us think of our mental states and most of what goes on in our minds as things that happen outside our control. But the truth is you can control your mental activities and your behaviors to a degree you never believed possible before. If you're depressed, you created and produced that show you call depression. If you're ecstatic, you created that, too.
It's important to remember that emotions like depression do not happen to you. You don't "catch" depression. You create it, like every other result in your life, through specific mental and physical actions. In order to be depressed, you have to view your life in specific ways. You have to say certain things to yourself in just the right tones of voice. You have to adopt a specific posture and breathing pattern. For example, if you wish to be depressed, it helps tremendously if you collapse your shoulders and look down a lot. Speaking in a sad-sounding tone of voice and thinking of the worst-possible scenarios for your life also helps. If you throw your biochemistry into turmoil through poor diet or excessive alcohol or drug use, you assist your body in creating low blood sugar and thus virtually guarantee depression.
My point here is simply that it takes effort to create depression. It's hard work, and it requires taking specific types of actions. Some people have created this state so often, though, that it's easy for them to produce. If fact, often they've linked this pattern of internal communication to all kinds of external events. Some people get so many secondary gains - attention from others, sympathy, love, and so on - that they adopt this style of communication as their natural state of living. Others have lived with it so long that it actually feels comfortable. They become identified with the state. We can, however, change our mental and physical actions and thereby immediately change our emotions and behaviors.
You can become ecstatic by immediately adopting the point of view that creates that emotion. You can picture in your mind the kinds of things that create this feeling.