To transform from entrepreneur to billionaire, one must have the perseverance to never quit, manage one’s emotions and never fear loss.
Twenty years ago, when I began studying the types of people who have become hyper-successful, I thought that anyone could transform themself into a competent business person capable of managing large and even global projects and systems. But, over time, I found that is absolutely not the case.
There is a personal quality which I call one’s ‘inner woodpecker’ – a consistent and persistent draw towards achieving goals. Then there’s that constant anxiety, where every result becomes an intermediate step in moving toward the next result. I believe this quality is inborn. It can manifest itself early or late, under the influence of another person, prevailing circumstances, or even just spontaneously. Without such an inner woodpecker, extended success is impossible.
I used to think that having a high IQ is the hallmark of a successful person. Now, I believe that high IQ is third or fourth in the order of importance. Many people who are not burdened with a huge analytical intellect achieve quite exceptional results. IQ is an ‘expert’ quality and can always be ‘hired.’ However, personal charisma, communication skills, leadership skills – those qualities that define one’s emotional intellect – are practically impossible to hire. An emotional intellect, just like the inner woodpecker, either exists or it doesn’t. In order of importance, the two qualities are roughly equal and work as a pair. Any large project involves many people – employees, contractors, suppliers, creditors, regulators, and so on. Most often, this includes people who are complicated, inconsistent and with huge personal ambition. The effectiveness of their actions depends directly on how correctly they are motivated. The construction of such motivation is a challenge for any leader’s emotional intellect.
If a business process is set up in a way where the people involved in it are satisfied and happy, each in his or her own way, then beneficial results will follow. Emotions are a powerful driving force – they’re the single universal currency of humankind. Therefore, if you can manage your emotional strength, you can manage just about everything. In effect, the entire biosphere of consciousness.
Emotional intellect can, of course, be trained. Some are born with it fully formed, most with a few rudimentary elements. If those elements exist, it is feasible to train up emotional intellect to a certain point, depending on the person in question. Professional coaching is the most dependable, perhaps the only correct, method of achieving this. Of course, you can always perform self-analysis and read the relevant literature, but in order to really increase skills, it’s always best to learn from life’s examples, preferably with a teacher.
What else distinguishes successful business people from the rest? It’s really a case of having ananalytical intellect coupled with a large helping of creativity, as well as, of course, inventiveness and an ability to think out of the box. The histories of most billionaires share a common point – each did quite familiar things, just rather better than anyone else. Even Steve Jobs, for the most part, produced no new discoveries.
Entrepreneurship is impossible without an appetite for risk. Making business decisions invariably involves making risky decisions, several times a day, every day. If you run your business hyper-conservatively, constantly taking precautions against potential losses, then there will never be a big breakthrough. Risk is the engine of evolution, and all of civilisation has been developed only by risky forward steps. Business, just like sport, science, art, and world exploration, is a competition with nature, fate, yourself, and your environment. A person cannot avoid competition – it’s a fundamental instinct of society. Furthermore, there is no competition without the prospect of a loss.
People often compare business to gambling. There is an ideal strategy for playing in a casino, which always allows for a win. It is understandable that in a roulette game, a player’s number will come up one out of 36 times on average. By doubling his winnings every time this happens, a player can quickly earn back his money and more. However, this requires a sufficient financial reservoir while awaiting that lucky number. When it will come up is unknown. Casino rules do not allow such tactics.
Patience is one of the paramount manifestations of high emotional intellect. That ability to sequentially arrange the relationships and logic involved in the development of a process. The ability to wait out any conditions. Imagine you agreed to an important meeting, but you get stuck in traffic on the way. You have a choice between two models of behaviour: you can stress out, and try somehow to force your way through to your destination, or you can calm down and maybe even read a book, understanding that you are powerless to change anything at the moment. Personally, I prefer the second option because the first will not achieve any results other than exhaustion. There is an understanding of correctly controlling one’s emotional sphere in Eastern martial arts – it’s known as ‘spirit like water.’ A person views the world as a reflection of his or her own consciousness, like looking at the surface of a lake. Emotions are like waves. If you are agitated, then you see a distorted version of the world. In such a state, it is impossible to battle well and impossible to win.
Patience is also the ability to overcome losses. Losses are statistically inevitable. If there are ten players on the field, they cannot all win. Someone has to lose. The market destabilises a bit, the management team weakens its control a bit, the competition raises the pressure a bit – suddenly, you’re on the verge of bankruptcy. This happens, regardless of your abilities or knowledge.
In fact, it also happens that some people come into big money due to chance, and they simply do not have the wherewithal to hold on to that money. Why? Because they just don’t possess the mindset to manage that kind of circumstance. This is the proverbial ‘Shura Balaganov effect’ – it’s where a person has been riding a bike all his life, then gets lucky enough to find himself behind the wheel of a racing car. More often than not, such a person cannot effectively cope with such a situation because he’s just not familiar with this type of transport. So sooner or later, he’ll end up having an accident.
Big money and runaway success cannot but influence a person’s nature. A person is, in some ways, a chemical robot whose actions depend on what is in his or her blood and the ambient, emotional environment experienced at the moment. Having ‘big money’ induces a heightened level of psychological stress, requires strengthening of the will, and ultimately leads to a sharp increase in the acumen to solve complex and pressing problems. Suppose you just fall into a favourable happenstance, where you coincidentally made more money than is in your nature to make. In that case, it can be a burden to you psychologically, and you can overheat. As a result, you end up in a situation which is uncomfortable by definition. Such a scenario leads you to make mistake after mistake until your newfound wealth slips through your fingers.
However, such a fall to hard earth can lead to learning important things if, of course, the misfortunate soul possesses the right emotional and analytical intellect, and that inner woodpecker keeps hammering away. You see, I have a skill that I developed long ago: I do not get upset at losses – that would be counterproductive. Instead, I draw my conclusions from it, flip a switch, and carry on. For an entrepreneur, the very process of creating something large and meaningful is paramount. Nobody has discontinued the Tao – happiness, as we all should know, lies in embracing the pathway.
Quotation from Oleg Boyko’s article “How to become a billionaire: ‘an inner woodpecker’ and other necessary qualities”