by Frederick Mann
Robert J. Ringer has written five books that I know of: Winning Through Intimidation, Looking Out For #1, Restoring the American Dream, How You Can Find Happiness During the Collapse of Western Civilization, and Million Dollar Habits. I've found them all very worthwhile reading and I recommend them highly. Copies of Ringer's books which are still in print can be ordered by clicking on the links.
Million Dollar Habits is a systematic organization of Robert's success principles. In this report I can provide only a brief outline of Robert's principles. To get full value you need to study Robert's complete original.
Ringer's first major premise "is that success is not dependent upon one's being blessed with superior intelligence or special skills, nor does formal education, hard work, or luck play a major role in an individual's climb toward success."
His second major premise "is that the difference between success and failure is not nearly as great as most people believe." About two years before I became so successful with Build Freedom, a friend several times said to me that he thought I just needed to change a few minor things to become spectacularly successful, but he couldn't put his finger on what I needed to improve. This supports Robert's premise that the dividing line between success and failure is slim. (I believe that the specific thing I improved that played the most important role in my success is that I greatly improved my "Human Relations Habit" - which is described below.
It's important to realize that sometimes a small action can have huge consequences. A small mistake while driving could kill you. You are free to choose your actions, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions.
In this report you're being presented with many success principles. If you're not already spectacularly successful, it's up to you to discover the minor or major improvements you might have to make in order to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Robert's third major premise is that: "Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success."
A fourth major premise is that all these habits can be learned and constantly improved.
1. The Reality Habit
By "reality" Robert means "existence" - which is the same for everyone. In contrast, there is perception of reality, which is unique to each individual. We tend to fail because of our faulty perception of reality.
Most people live in a fantasy or unreal world. They find it difficult to distinguish between the real world and their interpretation of the world.
There are certain principles or natural laws that describe the essence of reality. In contrast, "[m]ost man-made laws are nothing more than legalized aggression against the sovereignty of peaceful individuals, and rarely bear any relationship to natural law, reality, or moral soundness."
The most basic principle is: "Actions Have Consequences." [emphasis added] The results you produce, be they success or failure, are the consequences of your actions.
According to Robert, we live in a "world of delusions" and most of us suffer from self-delusions. My own view is that human consciousness (as indicated by Nietzsche) is, in evolutionary terms, in its infancy. Intellectually we are like babies trying to learn to crawl. We delude ourselves into believing that we are fully conscious, when in reality we operate in a trance induced by a multitude of delusions.
To overcome these delusions we need to develop the habit of questioning everything and considering the opposite of every proposition.
The fact that most people live in a world of delusions has important implications for anyone interested in success. Robert says:
"[T]hat the success of most advertising is directly related to the degree to which it is able to delude the viewer, listener, or reader... An old marketing axiom states: If you want to do well, sell people what they need; if you want to get rich, sell people what they want. How? Simple. Just invite the prospect to do something realistic like "Come to Marlboro Country." Marlboro Country, we are led to infer, is about halfway between Shangri-La and Brigadoon. Once you get there, you know you're going to be sitting atop a beautiful horse, wearing a rugged suede jacket and cowboy hat, puffing away on a lighted cigarette, looking like Robert Redford. The first step toward making all this happen, of course, is to buy a pack of Marlboros. Realistic, right?
Now, I know what you're thinking; No one possibly could be stupid enough to be deluded by such silliness. Question: If that were true, why have cigarette companies - not to mention numerous other advertisers - been running this same type of ad for years? Certainly not because the results are so bad they're on the verge of going broke! It's because they are delightfully aware that man inhabits a world of delusions, and that it's in their financial interests to keep feeding those delusions so customers will continue to buy their products."
Now consider the possibility that all political systems are totally based on delusions. Lincoln said that government should do for people what they can't do for themselves. But government consists of people. So Lincoln's statement can be translated: people should do for people what they can't do for themselves. Maybe if you were to critically question the "justifications" for government, and consider the opposite to every "reason" for government, the whole political structure would dissolve into absurd delusions. Maybe the "justifications" and "reasons" for government are as real as the "advertising reasons" for buying cigarettes or beer.
Robert covers several factors related to the Reality Habit: fear of truth, the something-for-nothing urge, delusions of grandeur, and naivety. The constant search for truth - or the correct interpretation of reality - is essential to developing the Reality Habit. We need to learn from both our successes and our failures. Most of all, we need to learn from the experiences of others.
The Reality Habit is the foundation for all the other "Million Dollar Habits."
2. The Attitude Habit
Some people are convinced that life is random, therefore we can't really do anything effective about anything. Others believe in "predestination," therefore the future is fixed and we can't do anything about it.
Then there are people who believe that we have the power of choice and that our actions have consequences. Robert quotes William James: "The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." [emphasis added]
One of the most important attitudes is the belief that in order to produce results we have to take actions.
Robert identifies four principles that form the core of the success attitude:
(a) In life there are always problems. Once you intellectually and emotionally grasp that problems are simply part of life, you don't get knocked down by them so easily. A problem is simply the next challenge to handle.
(b) There's a natural law of balance. There is an offsetting positive for every negative. For every problem there's also an opportunity.
(c) The law of averages. This is very important. Take for example, a salesman. In the long run you may find you have to present an opportunity to 30 people to make one sale. Colonel Sanders apparently had to contact more than a thousand restaurants before one would put his chicken recipe on its menu.
Reality is that not every prospect will buy your product. You have to contact the necessary number of prospects to make a sale. Of course, you can qualify your prospects, you can improve your sales pitch, and the product can be improved. As you learn and improve your success rate increases.
(d) Through the power of your mind you exert a great deal of control over your destiny. Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich said, "Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve" and "When you're ready for a thing, it will make its appearance." Robert says, "through the power of the mind, you possess the capacity to draw to yourself the things, people, and circumstances necessary to achieve your objectives."
Robert advocates "alternative thinking" as a method for breaking out of our self-limiting ways of thinking.
3. The Perspective Habit
Imagine a twelve-year old, starving Ethiopian girl being gang-raped by twenty terrorists, and then having her throat slit. When we think we have serious problems, it might help to consider, "serious relative to what?" Robert describes the "catastrophe illusion":
"Life is lost jobs, loans that aren't granted, sales that don't close, people who treat us unfairly, and deals that fall through at the last minute. None of these are fatal; they're just life...
It is also important to understand that the offsetting positives to a negative situation not only can be subtle in nature (i.e., the association to the original negative may not always be apparent), they also may not appear until a much later date, or they may appear in small increments over a long period of time.
Put another way, misfortune and setbacks are often, if not always, nothing more than illusions, because we fail to connect the long-term benefits to the negative occurrence."
4. The Present Living Habit
To develop the Present Living Habit you have to find a game worth playing. And when you've found it, you have to play it with intensity because your life and sanity depend on it. You need to regard life as a journey rather than a destination.
Robert suggests five questions to aid you in finding your game:
(a) What do I enjoy?
(b) What am I good at?
(c) What do I want out of life?
(d) What's the price?
(e) Am I willing to pay the price?
"... I'd like to point out that one of the nice bonuses to having a meaningful purpose in life, and in turn being able to live in the present, is something I refer to as the Success Cycle. The Success Cycle is the antitheses of the so-called vicious, or failure, cycle. As with the habits that bring it about, the essence of the Success Cycle is quite simple:
The more certain you are about your purpose in life, the more focused you'll be on living in the present and the more focused you'll be on living in the present and the more enthusiastic you'll be in your day-to-day work; the more you display the Present Living Habit and enthusiasm in your daily work, the more likely you will attract the attention of positive, enthusiastic people; the more positive, enthusiastic people you attract, the more successful you'll be; and the more successful you are, the more present-living oriented and enthusiastic you'll be. Thus you set in motion a self-perpetuating cycle of enthusiasm and success. This cycle in turn adds fuel to the dynamic mental process that draws to you the things, people, and circumstances needed to translate the mental image of what you want out of life into physical reality."
5. The Morality Habit
Robert agrees "with the philosophy that every individual should have the right to take whatever action he chooses, so long as he doesn't forcibly interfere with the rights of others."
However, in the real world few people understand this philosophy; most have never even heard about it. Most people live in the delusional world of so-called "man-made laws." Robert says:
"... [R]egardless of whether or not they are rational or moral, and regardless of whether or not you like them... within reason, and to the extent possible, you should attempt to obey man-made laws if only because it is pragmatic to do so. It's extremely difficult to achieve any great degree of success from inside a prison cell."
You need to create your own moral or ethical standards. In choosing your code of behavior you could consider the Code of Build Freedom given in our other reports.
Honesty is an important value. Robert defines integrity as "adherence to your code of moral values." He says: "Unwavering integrity makes a person free, and nothing could be a more positive result than that."
6. The Human Relations Habit
At almost everything you do, in order to succeed you have to deal with other people. You have to learn to get along with others and to cooperate with them. You can acquire the skills to do so.
If you understand:
"... [T]he techniques involved in successful human relations, you attract others who appreciate these same techniques ... [W]hen you're strong in... human relations, you gain the cooperation of others, and this cooperation is the shortest distance between you and your goals... Actions have consequences: If you treat people in negative ways, they will act negatively toward you; if you treat people in positive ways, they will act positively toward you.
... There is no better catalyst for getting results than gaining the goodwill of others."
Robert identifies and covers these keys to cooperation: brevity, compassion, decisiveness, discretion, genuineness, graciousness, refinement, responsibility (including keeping commitments), self-sufficiency, tactfulness, tolerance, and value-for-value exchanges.
7. The Simplicity Habit
In general, simplicity is the best approach to achieving results. It's necessary to eliminate unnecessary thoughts, projects, and activities. We need to identify the most important things and concentrate on them. You can ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" Other important questions are: "Does it matter?" and "If so, how much does it matter?"
Robert describes how he met "an elderly gentleman named Paul" who had amassed a fortune of $500 million. When asked how he did it, he replied, "You know, making money really is a very simple proposition. All you do is charge the highest price for your product or service that the market will bear, keep your expenses as low as possible, and in between is your profit."
What's very interesting about Paul is that he wanted to buy 70,000 hardcover copies of Robert's book Restoring the American Dream to start a grass-roots campaign to "change the course of Western Civilization." How does the plan to distribute one particular book square with the Reality Habit?
Maybe there is no simple way of "changing the world." But, then, maybe there is! Anyway, Robert says, "The simplest, safest approach to financial success is to be an accommodating free-enterpriser and make it a habit to sell people what they want." (What they want, as opposed to what they need.)
8. The Drain People Elimination Habit
Robert says, "Drain People are people who drain you of time, energy, peace of mind, relaxation, comfort and/or money." He also says, "if you associate with the wrong people, it's virtually impossible to succeed." He classifies Drain People into these categories: the Burr "Person," the "Changer," the "Chiseler," the "Conditional Person," the "Deal Grabber," the "Desperate Person," the "Destroyer," the "Hallucinator," the "Liar," the "Rudemonger," the "Skinflint," "Legalman," the "Complainer," the "Fingerpointer," the "Guiltmonger," the "Irrational," the "Sadist," the "Self-Righteous," the "Silver Tongue," the "Territorial Person," and the "Thin Skin."
Your chances of success increase dramatically to the extent that you eliminate these people from your life.
9. The Self-Discipline Habit
Self-discipline has to do with becoming a master of yourself, acting according to your intellectual conclusions rather than your emotions. Robert writes:
"Freedom comes from triumphing over your emotions and proving to yourself that you can be master of your destiny. When you allow your emotions to rule, you subject yourself to emotional enslavement, and never is a person less free than when he is enslaved by his emotions."
Self-discipline involves self-control, sometimes foregoing instant gratification for long-term benefit. It means acting according to the ongoing analyses of the probable long-term consequences of your actions. It means restraining the urges to act impulsively.
Self-discipline means being careful to not fall into the "too-good-to-be-true" trap. When you're presented with an offer that seems too good to be true, analyze it very carefully and rationally before jumping in at the deep end.
Once you've chosen your project, you need to focus intensely and consistently on it. Robert says:
"The most successful people in history rarely, if ever, have had side occupations. Hobbies, yes, but not occupations. Laserlike focus is perhaps the most common trademark of the supersuccessful...
If you aspire to play in the big leagues, you must be prepared to play every point as though it were match point. In other words, you have to be consistently focused. Dabblers are rarely, if ever, successful. It's when you focus totally, intensely, and consistently on one project - a project that has the potential to yield a worthwhile payoff - that you have the greatest chance of success." [emphasis added]
Self-discipline also means that you make certain rules for yourself, to which there are no exceptions. For example, I have strict rules regarding what I eat and what I don't eat. I make no exceptions. Even if someone offered me $1,000 to eat a small morsel of what's on my forbidden list, I wouldn't even consider it.
To someone practicing self-discipline, the idea of making new year's resolutions is very strange. If you know you have to do something, you do it. Why wait until January 1 to decide to do it?
10. The Action Habit
To produce results you have to act. You have to learn from your actions. You have to improve the quality of your actions. Actions that produce no or negative results need to be changed.
This report you're now reading is a collection of ideas. For you to make a fortune or become more successful at something, you have to take actions. For these ideas to produce results in the world out there, you have to take actions. You have to persist with your actions.
Robert identifies six obstacles to action:
(a) Resistance to change
(b) Waiting for something to happen
(c) Feeling overwhelmed
(d) The time is never right
(a) Resistance to change. Life is change. Change is the essence of life. The circumstances of our lives change every day. That means our actions need to change. Even if we hit on a winning formula, the actions we take in applying the formula need to change from time to time. And a winning formula does not remain a winning formula forever. Someone can always develop a better formula that makes your "winning formula" obsolete.
Robert regards fear of the unknown as the main reason why people tend to fear change. "... [P]eople get stuck in dead-end jobs, professions they dislike, and other conditions that make their lives miserable. What usually keeps them from taking life-changing action is fear of the unknown."
Maybe you need to develop what I (Frederick Mann) call the "breakthrough habit." You think so much about improving your thinking and actions, that you make a significant breakthrough at least once a week, and a major breakthrough at least once a month.
(b) Waiting for something to happen. You need to operate on the principle that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. Many advocates of freedom come up with plans to increase freedom that include steps like "Congress must do so-and-so." Well, maybe Congress will do it and maybe they won't. How long are you going to wait for them to do it?
You have to personally take actions to make things happen. And there need to be observable results to your actions. My action is to ask you the reader to take certain actions. The success of my action is measured by the number of people who buy this report. Based on the observable results of my action, I constantly seek to improve my action. I ask you to do the same.
At the same time, I don't depend on you specifically to do anything. I know that if I ask a hundred people to take action, three, four, or five will. So if I want 30,000 people to take action, I have to ask 1,000,000. I also need a profitable way to ask a hundred people, so I can use the profits to eventually ask 1,000,000. I ask you in a way that's profitable; so, irrespective of what you do, I can use the profit to ask other people. This principle is a very important ingredient of creating an unstoppable movement.
I can do all this without depending on anyone but myself. So my power and destiny are in my own hands. If I ask Congress to do something, I surrender my power and I put my destiny in the wrong hands - to say the least!
(c) Feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes there are so many things we think we need to do, that we become overwhelmed. It seems impossible to do even half of all the things we need to do. If we feel overwhelmed we may do nothing.
Sometimes we think that to make a particular project work, we have to do a million things. But in ten years we can only do a thousand of these things. So how can we possibly make the project work? Build Freedom is such a project. What needs to be done to straighten out the people of this planet seems overwhelming.
Furthermore, I've read several hundred books on "how to fix the world" in one way or another. Each author who thinks his book is going to "change the world," probably underestimates the task by a factor of a thousand or more! (Robert's friend Paul - mentioned earlier under the Simplicity Habit - who wanted to buy 70,000 hardcover copies of Robert's book Restoring the American Dream to start a grass-roots campaign to "change the course of Western Civilization," suffered from this very underestimation.)
We can never do all the things that need to be done. Personally I operate on the assumption that one person can set in motion a process whereby all the things necessary to "change the world" will eventually be done. Build Freedom is my attempt to set this process in motion. I have to persuade other people to do some of the things that need to be done. In creating and expanding Build Freedom I need to carefully, deliberately, and consciously choose the most effective actions to take. I need to do this every day.
Robert suggests nine specific and powerful steps to take to overcome the overwhelm problem. I recommend that you purchase his book Million Dollar Habits.
(d) The time is never right. Procrastination is probably the most insidious obstacle to action. There are always a thousand "reasons" to postpone an action or to wait for the "right time." Also, when people say they "didn't have time" to do something, they are really lying, albeit unintentionally or unknowingly. The truth is that they didn't do it because they decided something else was more important.
So the first step in overcoming procrastination might to be to start getting into the habit of telling ourselves (and others) the truth. For example, "I don't want to make that phone call because I'm scared she'll turn me down." "I didn't finish the report last night because I decided it was more important to relax and watch the ball game."
I have a few books on the subject of procrastination. A few times I tried to read one of them, but I never got past the first few pages!
The simplest method for overcoming the obstacle is to make a list of the things you need to do, prioritize your list, and perform the actions. I know that for some strange reason I haven't been able to fathom, it seems impossible for some people to even make a list of things to do. I've tried to work with several people on joint projects, who've refused to sit down and attempt to agree on a list of actions to take.
Making new year's resolutions is simply a disguised form of procrastination. It's in fact a method of programming yourself to be a procrastinator. If there's something you need to do, then decide immediately to do it, and do it!
(e) Self-doubt. Robert says that self-doubt is a much more common problem than most realize. Everyone has some self-doubt and suffers from insecurity. Maybe this has something to do with why, for most people, their greatest fear is public speaking.
Many rich and famous people sometimes feel very insecure. Barbara Streisand apparently didn't give a public concert for twenty years because of stage fright.
The first step in overcoming self-doubt is to realize that everyone suffers to a greater or lesser degree from it. The second step is to make an objective analysis of what would happen if you were to take an action and fail; what would be the maximum downside?
"Third, we live in a very negative world, a world in which we continually meet people who try to convince us that what we want to do can't be done. In truth, every successful person in history has been told - many times - that what he wanted to accomplish couldn't be done. In an article about Fred Astaire the day after he died, I was amused by a quote from a critic's review early in Astaire's career: "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." Such is the story of life. The important question is whether or not a person will allow such negative input to prevent him from taking action."
Fourth, you need to realize that a lot of the time you will fail, sometimes in a big way. So what? You learn from these failures and you become more competent, until eventually you succeed. If you persist the law of averages is on your side.
Robert tells the story of Marsh Fisher. At age forty-four he got involved in a franchise business. After two years the business failed. He then came up with a new franchising idea. He spent about two years to find someone to back his idea. Eventually, at age forty-seven he found someone who put up $6,000 to get the new idea off the ground. Within six months about sixty franchises were sold. Within a few years, Marsh's company, Century 21 Real Estate, had become a household name and was purchased by Trans World Airlines for $89 million. And a few years after that, TWA sold Century 21 to Prudential Life for $250 million.
There are two lessons here. First, an idea coupled with persistent action is a powerful success force. Second, the lessons Marsh learned from his first franchising failure enabled him to eventually become spectacularly successful.
More extensive methods for overcoming self-doubt are covered in Report #TL04A: The Most Fundamental Human Problem.
(f) Adversity. The five obstacles covered above are all mental or self-generated. They form part of our mental makeup. They are obstacles inside our self. Adversity, in contrast, is external. Government with its licenses, taxes, and regulations constitutes an external obstacle to success. We can only control a small part of our environment. Generally, adversity refers to bad things outside our control: storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, accidents, government, etc. - calamities that may unexpectedly strike us from time to time.
Robert says "there's no such thing as success without adversity." In general we can't control adversity. But we can control how we interpret it and how we respond to it. The law of balance tells us that every negative has a positive. Adversity gives us the opportunity to learn, grow, and become stronger. Adversity tests our commitment to our goals. Adversity teaches us long-term success through perseverance. Robert writes:
"Given what's involved; it's easy to understand why most people do not display a great deal of perseverance. That's unfortunate, considering that perseverance probably is the ultimate manifestation of the Action Habit, because it is continual action. Perseverance means being able to handle massive rejection, massive disappointment, and massive frustration. It's what makes you persist long after the other guy has given up. In fact, if you stop to think about it, no one can defeat you. Defeat can occur only when you decide to quit... Whatever success I've managed to achieve, I attribute to being perhaps the most relentless, resilient, perseverant individual I know."
(Obviously, there are actions not worth persevering with. For example, David Koresh and his followers persevered with their folly to the point that they were wiped out. Perseverance in a wrong direction can be taken too far.)
Robert suggests seven specific and powerful steps to take to overcome the adversity problem. I recommend that you purchase his book Million Dollar Habits.
The most important reason for failure is not taking action. If you take no action, you may suffer consequences by default. You need to take the initiative. You have to take a chance to get a chance. Many people fail simply because they never start or they quit. Action is life; inaction is death. It's your choice.
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