I came to the conclusion that I had screwed up my life many years ago. Then I did it again…and again…and again. So where does one begin “un-screwing up” life and not repeating the process of “screwing up” one’s life?
I had determined that I wanted to get my undergraduate degree in business and go on to get my MBA while I was attending Florida State University. It was not “in the cards,” and I joined the Navy in January 1986. I graduated from the U.S. Navy’s nuclear training pipeline and became a real-life nuclear mechanical operator in the fleet. It was insanely hard work. After I got out of the Navy, I had already proven (at least to myself) that I was just as smart (if not smarter) than other people with college degrees. I did not pursue my degree after receiving my Honorable Discharge. After all, I was already “smart enough.”
I went into business for myself immediately after getting out of the Navy. I didn’t realize that I could fail. I had what I thought was plenty of money from investing when I was in the Navy. I had a string of successes that indicated to me that I had the “Midas touch.” I fell flat on my face after about 3 months. I quickly came to the realization that I had no idea what I was doing. I got a job as a manager in a jewelry store chain and was promoted to manager in about 7 months. I understood the basics of running a business. I was somewhat successful again and I thought I had the “Midas touch” again.
Then, another business oportunity found me and I went for it. Someone had told me about a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I read it and applied the reading to my life the best I could…and nothing happened. I saw the book as a mystical sort of thing. Just think about wealth and wealth would come…kind of like praying for wealth and my prayers would be answered. Nothing happened. I asked my mentor at the time what the problem was. He told me that I wasn’t successsful in my chosen business because I hadn’t paid the price of success yet. I asked him what that price was. He replied that I would have to determine that myself. A few months later, I quit my job and failed again…this time with disastrous results. I again blamed it on what I didn’t know.
I became a big fan of reading books and improving who I was mentally. After all, the people I admired the most at the time were all “self-made” entrepreneurs. Along with my initial successful business experience as a retail manager, I had begun investing in building a great personal library, reading Success magazine and learning as much as I could in business. I joined a business book club and once or twice a month I would recieve books like The Portable MBA series. I didn’t realize I was investing in myself.
Now, my personal development library is quite large. Some of the authors that are in my library include Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, Steve Farber, Denis Waitley, Sun Tzu, Miyomato Musashi, Dr. Joe Vitale and more. I have read almost all of the books in my library. Some had a great effect on me and my results and some didn’t. Some kept me awake at night and some didn’t. Some changed my life and some didn’t. I’ll return to a book I had read or an audio that I had listened to and learn something I hadn’t noticed before. That book or recording that didn’t change my life a year ago is all of the sudden having a profound effect after a year.
That last sentence sums up what I think is the importance of having a personal development library. The object is to improve my life, to get a little better everyday. Some people want to make the world a better place and I think that’s great. However, I have noticed that the people who are most effective at making their world a better place have begun with improving themselves and adding one more better person to the world.