I remember a time when I was talking to a small business owner in Asia and asking him some questions about his business. He told me that he bought a certain product from his supplier at about 80 cents and then he sold it for $1.60. I congratulated him and said it was very good that he was making a 100% mark up on what he was selling. Very quickly he turned and told me that, no he only had a 50% mark up. When I pointed out the he was actually doubling his money and had a 100% mark up, he kept pointing out that I was wrong and the mark up was only 50%. No matter what i tried to do to convince him otherwise, he disagreed. I began to make the mistake of thinking this guy is stupid and I could feel that I was getting annoyed at his lack of math skills.
As the conversation went on, one of his sons came along and listened and laughed at our conversation. His son had a very good education overseas and quickly agreed with me that it was a 100% mark up. Not matter what we did to convince his father, the father though we were both stupid. Eventually I had to laugh at the situation and let it go. As i did that, something occurred to me. He was the one making the money. He was the one taking action and even if he didn’t describe in the correct academic way, he was the one getting the results he wanted. From that day on I realized that being smart had a lot less to do with being successful than I had ever thought.
So if intelligence isn’t the answer, what is?
At school we are taught to value intelligence as if it is gold . I suspect that most of us were taught to value it too much. Time and time again when I meet people who have achieved much success in life (both financial and non financial), their success hasn’t come from a great deal of intelligence, its come from the consistent actions they have taken, not from any large source of intelligence.
Look at most self made millionaires and a common theme that you see in many of them is that left school at a young age. Its true that most of them kept learning in the real world after they left school, but I think you would be hard pressed to find one of them that claims they were one of the smartest people in their industry. Many of them would claim though, that they were the ones who took action when other people stood still out of fear or out knowing better. You often hear them say things such as “I was too dumb to know that it wouldn’t work, so I made it work.”
Action Beats Smart
Time and time again when I meet people who are getting results that they want in life, they aren’t the people who are the smartest in the room. They are the people who implement the fastest. It surprises me so often that its not the people who talk the big talk and ask in depth and complicated questions, its the quiet person who comes up after the seminar and says “these are the 10 things I am doing and these are the results I am getting, what can I do next?”. These are the people that I love to talk to, because I know if I show them one small thing that they can do to improve their business or life, they will implement it. They won’t argue whether it will work for them or not. They won’t argue that their situation or location is different, and that that means that what works for others won’t work for them. They Nike it!! They just do it and more often than not they get the results they wanted. I think we all do this when we are achieving in our life.
Even the smallest bit of action will beat immense knowledge with no follow through.
What action have you taken today?
My challenge to you now is what action have you taken today that will take you closer to your goals. What action is getting the most traction in your life. Don’t let the quest for more knowledge or the self perceived belief that you aren’t intelligent enough stop you from taking small actions that will lead to big results. People (often including myself) are looking for the magic strategy or information that we think we need. Nine times out of ten the strategies we need are out there and easy to find, they don’t require a great deal of knowledge but they do require action.
I continually aim to remind myself of this. Re-starting posting to my blog is an example of action that I have needed to take for a long time, yet not followed through on, because I thought I needed to learn more about writing and blogging (and wordpress and plugins) and getting smarter. I was wrong!!! I needed to be posting and getting it wrong and learning from doing, rather than from reading or listening to others. So here it is my first post. I am sure that they will get better the more that I write but at least now I have taken the action, posted this and even have 3 more posts coming along the pipeline.