Written by Vincent Lee
[A huge part of this article is inspired by Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. It’s the book that I have read over, and over, and over again to enhance myself with the right mindset towards success. I am no way near my goals now but I am definitely a few steps closer to my goal every single day applying his principles of success. I have also included my experience as a teacher that is very similar to Jack Canfield.]
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Self-made millionaire and successful author
When Tim Ferriss was 12 years old, an unidentified caller left the above Jim Rohn quote on his answering machine. It changed his life forever. For days, he couldn’t get the idea out of his mind. At only 12 years of age, Tim recognized that the kids he was hanging out with were not te ones he wanted influencing his future. So he went to his mom and dad and asked them to send him to private school. Four years at St. Paul’s School set him on a path that led to a junior year abroad in Japan studying judo and Zen meditation; 4 years at Princeton University, where he became an all-American wrestler; a gold medalist of the Chinese Kickboxing (Sanshou) National Championships; and eventually starting his own company (BrainQuicken) at the age of 23 that brought him $40k a month after working on it for a year. Tim knew what every parent intuitively knows – that we become like the people we hang out with the most.
Why else are parents always telling their kids that they don’t want them hanging out with “those kids”? It’s because we know that kids (and adults!) become like the people they hang out with. That is why it is so important to spend time with the people you want to become like. If yo want to be more successful, you have to start hanging out with more successful people.
There are lots of places to find successful people. Join a professional association. Attend your professional conferences. Join the Malaysian Chapter International Youth Council and the World Assembly Youth . Join Malaysian Global & Creativity Centre (MaGIC). Find and join a charity or cause you care about from Hati.my. Join civic groups like Kiwanis, K.L. Rotary International, and Malaysian Red Crescent to serve with other leaders in your community groups, church, temple, or mosque. Attend lectures, workshops, seminars, clinics, camps, and retreats taught by those who have already achieved what you want to achieve. Chat up strangers at the LRT and Bus stations just in case they could be your next contact to land on the opportunity that you need to propel your career. Fly first class or business class whenever you can.
“Pay any price to stay in the presence of extraordinary people.”
Author of The Leadership Secrets of Jesus
John Assaraf is a successful entrepreneur who has seemingly done it all – including travelling the world for a year in his twenties, owning and operating a franchising company whose annual real estate revenues topped $3 billion, and helping to build Internet virtual tour pioneer Bamboo.com (now IPEX) from a team of 6 people to a team of 1,500 in just over a year, netting millions in monthly sales and completing a successful initial public offering on the NASDAQ after just 9 months.
John was a street kid who had been entangled in the world of drugs and gangs. When he landed a job working in the gym at the Jewish community center across the street from his apartment in Montreal, his life was changed by the powerful principle that you become like the people you spend the most time with. In addition to earning $1.65 an hour, he received access to the men’s health club. John recounts that he got his early education in business in the men’s sauna. Every night after work, from 9:15 to 10PM, you’d find him in the steamy room listening to successful businessmen tell their tales of success and failure.
Many of those successful men were immigrants who had come to Canada to stake their claim, and John was fascinated as much by their setbacks as by their successes. The stories of what went wrong with their businesses, families, and health gave him inspiration, because his own family was experiencing tremendous challenges and difficulties, and John learned that it was normal to have challenges – that other families also went through similar crises and still made it to the top.
These successful people taught John to never give up on his dreams. “No matter what the failure,” they told him, “try another way; try going up, over, around, or through, but never give up. There’s always a way.” John also learned from these successful men that it makes no difference where you are born, what race or color you are, how old you are, or whether you come from a rich family or a poor family. Many of the men in that sauna spoke broken English; some were single and some were divorced; some were happily married and some were not; some were healthy and other were in terrible shape; some had a college degree and some didn’t. Some hadn’t even been to high school. For the first time, John’s realized that success is not reserved just for those born into well-to-do families without challenges and to whom every advantage has been given. He realized that no matter what the conditions of your life, you could build a life of success. He was in the presence of men from all walks of life who had done it and freely shared their wisdom and experience with him.
Every night, John attended his own private business school – in a sauna in a Jewish community center. You, too, need to be surrounded with those who have done it; you need to be surrounded with people who have a positive attitude, a solution-oriented approach to life and who know that they can accomplish whatever they set out to do.
“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
Head coach of the Green Bay Packers who led them to six division titles, five NFL championships, and two Super Bowls (I and II)
“There are two types of people – anchors and motors. You want to lose the anchors and get with the motors because the motors are going somewhere and they’re having more fun. The anchors will just drag you down.”
World-renowned marine artist
I remember when I was a temporary teacher at SMK St. John/SJIKL., I quickly stopped going to the teachers lounge, (coincidentally, Jack did the same too when he was a teacher at Chicago high school), which I soon dubbed the “Ain’t It Awful Club”. Worse than the heavily polluted haze you find in the KL city was the cloud of emotional negativity and the “relax je” attitude. “What a drag… You know Pn. Zuhirah is taking maternal leave for the 7th time. How many babies is she going to have? Thanks to her, now I have less time to rest during my recess period.” “I got Chong** kid again this year in science. He’s a holy terror and his mom keeps visiting to complain about his results.” “Class 2K is hopeless. There is no way you can teach these kids. They are useless and totally out of control.” Blah, Blah, Blah… It was a constant stream of negative judgments, criticisms, blaming, and complaining.
Not too long after, I discovered that there were a few dedicated teachers that do not hang out with the “Ain’t It Awful” Club. They were either constantly around students or in their individual cubicles reading additional materials about educating the new generation. I tried my best to have lunches with these teachers to pick their brains. I quickly found out that they were positive and believed they could overcome and handle anything that was thrown at them. I implemented every new idea they shared with me, as well as a few more that I picked up from my reading of Jack Canfield’s and Rhonda Byrne’s books. As a result, my name was mentioned by a very well-respected teacher in his speech on Teacher’s Day as the youngest teacher (I was only 18 years old at that moment and I was waiting for my STPM results) who cared about the students’ well-being more than the other more experienced teachers who have Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education. This happened only within a short four months period of my job as a substitute teacher.
“I just do not hang around anybody that I don’t want to be with. Period. For me, that’s been a blessing, and I can stay positive. I hang around people who are are happy, who are growing. who want to learn, who don’t mind saying sorry or thank you … and [are] having a fun time.”
Author, The Street Kid’s Guide to Having It All
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