Why aren’t we as successful as we wish to be? Do we lack proper training or education? Did the cosmos simply screw us and the timing was never right? Did other people just have better opportunities than we had?
While all of this might be true…the more likely truth is that we prevented our own success with disempowering, bullsh*t excuses.
Author Brian Tracy implores us to stop coming up with justifications and take full responsibility for our lives. It’s not about the conditions we are in because other people with our conditions have been successful.
So if it’s not the conditions, what separates the achievers and the average person?
According to Brian Tracy, the single most important determining factor is a success is simple; Self-discipline! Fortunately for us, it is a habit and it can be learned. Within his book, Brian Tracy describes 21 rules that will help us to build more self-discipline and therefore more self-respect and self-esteem.
About Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is considered one of the top teachers in self-development. When he was younger, he lived from paycheck to paycheck until he decided to take full responsibility for his life and his success. Once he became a high achiever, he started to teach what he had learned during his own journey to other up-and-coming businessmen and women.
He has now given several thousand seminars and worked with more than a thousand companies worldwide. In his books, blogs, and videos, he teaches personal development, time management, public speaking, sales and business training, and practical tips on book writing. He sold millions of books and regularly writes articles for his website www.briantracy.com.
No Excuses Book Summary
Brian Tracy describes self-discipline as the ability to “do what you should do when you should do it whether you feel like it or not“. The two enemies of self-discipline are the path of least resistance (shortcuts, get rich quick mindsets, etc.) and the concept of instant gratification (pleasure now with no concern for the future).
Generally, successful people pursue activities that will get them closer to their goals while the average person likes to choose tension-relieving activities.
Brian Tracy describes 21 rules in 3 areas of our life where we can apply self-discipline to improve ourselves and our results a hundred-fold.
Self-discipline and Personal Success
The ultimate goal in life is to be happy. You should define your model of happiness and then work towards it.
Independent of your goals, lifelong learning is imperative for any measurable success to be attained. Steadily continue learning and improving on your areas of interest and on everything that will help you increase your happiness. Learn from experts. Read books, listen to podcasts or meet the experts at seminars.
Work hard! Self-discipline means paying the price as long as it takes for us to achieve our goals. Don’t waste time looking for shortcuts but rather concentrate on what has proven to work for countless successful people. That means working your butt off. Everything else is a lie.
Have high standards for yourself. It doesn’t matter what everybody else does. Get clarity on your values. Some examples would be courage, compassion, generosity, persistence, kindness but choose the values that start a fire in your heart and have a deep meaning to you.
One value should always be included independent of the other value; integrity. Integrity guarantees that we actually stick to the other values and in the long run will always lead to success.
Remember that character can only be developed by taking actions under stress. Everybody can act like he or she has high standards in times of ease, but your real character will show in high-stake, high-stress situations.
Use such moments to develop your character.
Accept your responsibility to achieve your goals. Unless you change, nothing else will. This means that you have to stop blaming others for your responses during negative events. You and you alone are responsible for your emotions and how you handle them.
Define your goals and write them down. A seven-step process for achieving your goals is shown below:
– Decide exactly and specifically what you want
– Write it down
– Choose a deadline
– Make a list of actionable steps, possible obstacles, and the resources you need
– Organize this list by sequence and priority
– Take action today
– Do something every day, even if it is only something small
Another brilliant trick Brian Tracy uses and recommends is to come up with 20 ways to achieve a goal. The first 5 will come easy, the next 5 will be a little harder. It is crucial to get all 20, no matter how hard it is to think of new ways to achieve our goal. Not all solutions will be practical or even realistic, but it forces our brain to see opportunities and possibilities.
Choose the reference group you would like to belong to. Get in contact with people from your reference group, ask for their advice and follow the advice!
Invest 3% of your income into your self-development. Also, invest up to 2 hours daily to move from average to superior in your field. This can include coming to work earlier and leaving later, but it can also mean reading a book after you got home instead of watching TV.
Journal your goals, your achievements, and possible areas of future improvement. Do it daily.
Act despite fear. Be courageous, but not reckless. Remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but controlling our fear.
Be persistent. There is no shortcut to success. Win the long game. Always do more than expected, especially during difficult times and setbacks.
Self-discipline and Business
Regardless of what work we are doing, our goal should always be maximum possible effectiveness.
This means we have to prioritize our work and become an expert on time-management. For greater detail, I recommend the book “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy, but in short, this means making a list of all your daily activities and choosing the most important tasks regarding their contribution to the company.
Then start doing those tasks and don’t stop until you are done. This means ignoring the less important, but maybe more pleasant tasks.
Your reputation counts! Make it your goal to get the reputation to be a hard worker.
Learn the skills of leadership. Take responsibility for results and have a vision. Act as a role model and set standards. Be action-oriented and act as if you own the company. According to Brian Tracy, the seven aspects of leadership are:
– Clarity (on your personality, vision, goals, and values)
– Competence (on the technical aspects of your work)
– Commitment (putting in effort and working harder than expected of you)
– Constraints (identifying obstacles)
– Creativity (seeking new ideas and solutions)
– Personal learning (lifelong self-development)
– Consistency (showing integrity even in high-pressure situations )
Challenge your assumptions. We all love to be right and after gaining some expertise and having some success we like to believe we know it all. But this is the fastest road to disaster.
Be honest and be strict. This means to question core believes and it might hurt to admit we were wrong, but it is necessary in order to thrive. Look at your business, your work, and yourself as an outside consultant or coach.
When it comes to money, delay short-term gratification. We associate spending money with getting happy, but we should condition ourselves to be happy when we save money.
We want to strive for financial freedom (for more on this check out the book summary of Tony Robbins’ “Money – Master the Game” here at Menprovement). In short, this means to “pay yourself first” and save 5%, 10%, or even 15% of your income before you spend anything.
Become a problem solver. This might be one of the most important skills for your career. Be solution-oriented and stop the ultimate time-waster called the “blaming game”. Stay calm in a crisis and don’t get emotional. Remember that every crisis is the perfect opportunity to grow. There is no progress without problems. Brian Tracy gives us a nine-step formula to solve problems:
– Define the problem clearly
– Ask if it is really the problem
– Ask what else is the problem
– Ask how the problem occurred
– Ask what are all the possible solutions
– Ask what is the best solution at this time
– Make a decision and take action
– Make sure responsibilities are clear
– Measure the success of your action and the results
Self-discipline and Happiness
As mentioned before, happiness is the true measure of success in life. Your level of happiness depends on the degree to which you feel you are in control of your life. Taking full control and accepting responsibility is the foundation for living a happy life.
Brian Tracy says that success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get. It is a byproduct while you are doing what you want to do. Important aspects are your health and energy, your relationships, doing meaningful work, financial independence, and self-actualization.
As health and energy are likely the most important aspects, you should take care of them. This means exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting enough sleep at night, and rest. Join a gym or go for a run. Anything that gets your body moving (unless you overdo it) will increase your health, mood, and also intelligence.
Watch what you eat and avoid the three white poisons sugar, salt, and flour. Sleep 8 hours a day and use the weekend and regular vacations to recharge. Also, be optimistic and positive, as this can also influence your health. Your goal should be to become 85, 90, or even 100 years old.
Take care of your relationships. Those include your marriage, kids, and friends. Learn communication skills and put in the necessary effort and time with the people most important in your life. Having solid and strong relationships with your family and friends is the easiest way to increase your happiness.
This will also help you during stressful periods at your job or in case something disastrous happens in your private life.
In the last chapter of the book, Brian Tracy talks about the peace of mind. Peace of mind is what true success looks and feels like. Self-mastery and self-control are important, including the ability to let go of anything that makes you suffer.
Remember the Buddhist’s teachings about attachment and how it is the cause of most suffering. Also, stop yourself from having to be right all the time. Brian Tracy asks what is more important to you: to be right or to be happy? Stop blaming and don’t take things personally.
Stop justifying why it is ok to be angry. Instead, practice forgiveness. Remember that you don’t forgive so other people feel better, but so that you feel better. Detach from material things and make peace of mind your highest goal.
Another way of describing self-discipline would be the mindset of aiming for long-term achievement while being able to sacrifice a short-term pleasure. This includes self-mastery (emotions, actions, behaviors) and self-denial (not choosing the easy way, no instant gratification).
Personal Thoughts and Putting Knowledge Into Practice
I consider myself one of the most talent-less people to ever walk the planet. In case sleeping 14 hours straight is not a talent, I have no talent at all. This is why I had to develop self-discipline early on in my life in order to keep up with all the talented and bright kids.
To me, it is a fascinating topic, and I believe, Brian Tracy really wrote a comprehensive book. He does not only tackle the business and work part but includes our personal and also our spiritual life. I like the idea of how our conditions and our current situation is not the deciding factor for future success and also future happiness.
It is empowering, but also puts the responsibility back where it belongs: in our hands. Some people will like it and some won’t, because, with the knowledge of this book, we can no longer make poor excuses. But if you really spend the time to read the article, I don’t think you are a person looking to come up with reasons why you aren’t successful. This book should provide the necessary tools to develop the self-discipline that will help you to take your life to the next level. So, no more excuses.
Let’s all get what we want and become who we want to be.
To purchase No Excuses! by Brian Tracy on Amazon, click here.
Lenny Hu is a scientist at day and a self-improvement addict at night. He believes presence, gratitude, authenticity and continual personal growth are the four ingredients for living a fulfilled life. He is interested in fitness, meditation, neuroscience, psychology, studying languages and learning from everyone he meets.