To transform from an entrepreneur to a billionaire, one must have the perseverance to never quit, and to 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 any person could transform oneself into a competent businessman, managing large and even global projects and systems. As I found, that is absolutely not the case.
There is a personal quality which I call one’s “inner woodpecker” — a consistent, persistent draw toward achieving goals; a constant anxiety, where every result becomes an intermediate step in moving toward the next result. And this quality is inborn. It can manifest early or late, under the influence of another person, prevailing circumstances, or just all by itself. However, without such an “inner woodpecker,” continued success is impossible.
I used to think that one’s proverbial “IQ” is the main hallmark of a successful person. Now I believe that IQ is third or fourth in order of importance. Many people who are not burdened with a huge analytical intellect achieve quite exceptional results. IQ is an “expert quality” — it can always be “hired.” However, charisma, communication skills, leadership skills — qualities that define one’s “emotional intellect” — are practically impossible to “hire.”
One’s emotional intellect, just like one’s “inner woodpecker,” either exists or doesn’t. In order of importance, the two qualities are roughly equal, and work as a pair. Any large project involves a large number of people — employees, contractors, suppliers, creditors, regulators, etc. Most often, this includes people who are complicated, capricious and with personal ambitious. The effectiveness of their actions depends directly on how properly they are motivated. The construction of such motivation is a challenge for a 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 results will follow. Emotions are a powerful driving force, the single universal currency of humankind. Therefore, of you can manage your emotional strength, you can manage everything. The entire, in other words, biosphere of consciousness.
Emotional intellect can be trained. Some are born with it in full, and most with a few rudimentary elements. If those elements exist, it is feasible to “train up” one’s emotional intellect to a certain point, which depends on each person. Professional coaching is the most dependable — and perhaps only correct — method. One can always perform self-analysis, read the requisite literature, but still, to increase one’s skills, it is always best to learn from live examples, and preferably with a teacher.
What else distinguishes successful businesspeople? The simultaneous possession of an analytical intellect together with creativity, as well as inventiveness, and an ability to find unorthodox approaches. Most billionaires’ histories share one common point — each of them did quite familiar things, but 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 is to make risky decisions many times, every day. If one runs one’s business hyper-conservatively, constantly insuring oneself against potential losses, then a breakthrough will not happen. Risk is the engine of evolution, and all of civilization has been developed due to risky forward steps. Business, just like sports, science, art and world exploration, is a competition with nature, with fate, with oneself and with one’s environment. A person cannot avoid competition — it is a fundamental instinct. Furthermore, there is no competition without a chance of 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, on average, a player’s number will come up one out of 36 times. By doubling one’s winnings every time this happens, a player can quickly earn back his money and more. However, this requires a sufficient financial reservoir to await one’s lucky number. When it will come up is unknown. And, casino rules do not allow such play.
Patience. That is one of the paramount manifestations of a high emotional intellect — the 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 standstill traffic on the way. You have a choice between two models of behavior: you can stress out, try somehow to force your way through, or you can calm down and maybe 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. In Eastern martial arts, there is an understanding of correctly controlling one’s emotional sphere — “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 especially 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 must lose. The market destabilizes 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 are not in the state to hold on to that money, because they are unable to manage that kind of circumstance. This is the proverbial “Shura Balaganov effect,” where a person has been riding a bicycle all his life, then gets lucky enough (or just mixes up the garage doors) to get behind the wheel of a racing automobile. More often than not, such a person cannot effectively cope with such a situation, because it is not his or her familiar mode of transportation. Sooner or later, that person will get into an accident.
Big money, and big 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 at the moment. The possession of big money induces a heightened level of psychological stress, requires the mobilization of one’s will, and ultimately leads to a sharp increase in the complexity of solving pressing problems. If you just fall into a favorable happenstance where you coincidentally made more money than is in your nature to make, then it can be a burden to your psychological organism, and you can overheat. As a result, you end up in a situation which is uncomfortable by definition, leading you to make mistake after mistake, until your newfound wealth slips through your fingers.
However strange, such a “fall to earth” can lead one to learn important things, if, of course, one possesses the right emotional and analytical intellect, and one’s “inner woodpecker” keeps hammering away. I have a skill that I developed long ago: I do not get upset at losses — that would be counterproductive. I draw my conclusions, “flip the switch,” and proceed farther. For an entrepreneur, the very process of creating something large and meaningful is paramount. Nobody has discontinued the Tao — happiness, as we know, lies in the path.