The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the things we have done and the things we have made of ourselves on the other.
—H. G. Wells
How to Live A Great Life
The Law of Correspondence is perhaps the most important of all laws in determining your success or failure in life. As we’ve dis- cussed in previous chapters, this law says that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. It says that whatever you are on the inside, you will soon see the results of it on the outside. When you change your thinking, you change your life.
This law applies to everything you do. Your inner world of knowledge and preparation will determine your outer world of in- come and career success.Your inner world of personality develop- ment will determine your outer world of friendships and relationships.Your inner attitudes toward health and fitness will de- termine the condition of your physical body.Your inner beliefs and expectations will determine your outer attitudes and your behav- iors toward other people.Your outer world will always reflect your inner world.
Live A Great Life
■ HAPPINESS IS THE SUPREME GOAL
Aristotle, perhaps the greatest of the philosophers, wrote more than 2,300 years ago that the ultimate aim of all human action is happi- ness. He concluded that everything a person does is to achieve hap- piness of some kind. Sometimes they are successful, and sometimes they are unsuccessful, but happiness is always the target each per- son aims at.
He concluded that every act is merely an interim step in the di- rection of happiness. For example, you want to get a good job.Why? So you can earn good money. Why? So you can get a comfortable home and a nice car.Why? So you can have good relationships and a nice family. Why? So that you can have a satisfying home life. Why? The final answer, the ultimate goal, is so that you can be happy. Everything that you or anyone else does is aimed at happi- ness, however you define it and however successful you are at achieving it.
■ THE ROLE OF GOODNESS
One of Aristotle’s greatest insights on the subject of happiness was his conclusion that “Only the good can be happy, and only the vir- tuous can be good.”
This is one of the most important observations in the history of human thought and experience. “Only the good can be happy, and only the virtuous can be good.”
What I have found in my many years of research into philoso- phy and psychology is that only people who are genuinely good inside can be happy for any period of time. And in my years of study of the foundation qualities of self-confidence, I have found that only men and women with clear, positive values are able to develop the kind of unshakable self-confidence that makes it possible for them to deal effectively with anything that happens to them.
The fastest way for you to build or to regain your self-confidence is to become absolutely clear about your deepest values and con- victions, and then begin to live by them.The solution to almost all human problems is a return to values. In many ways, your unhappi- ness and stress are caused by your drifting away from doing and saying the things that you know are right.
■ INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL
The most important single quality for success is the quality of in- tegrity. Aristotle insisted that only a life based on values such as in- tegrity, honesty, courage, generosity, persistence, and sincerity would lead to happiness and personal fulfillment.
I used to think of integrity as only one of the key values, equal to and separate from the others.Then one day a wise and wealthy man pointed out to me that integrity is really the value that guarantees all the others. Integrity is the foundation value on which all of your other val- ues are based. Having true integrity means that you always live and act consistently with your values. If you lack integrity, you will compromise your other values at the slightest temptation.
■ CLARIFY YOUR VALUES
In our strategic planning sessions, both for corporations and for in- dividuals, we start off by asking people to define and clarify their values.You must do the same in your own personal strategic plan- ning. What are your values? What is it that you believe in? What do you stand for? What will you not stand for?
Your ability to clearly define your values is the starting point of your developing the kind of character that causes people to want to be associated with you and which will lead you inevitably to enjoy- ing a good life.When you have a fine and noble character, rooted in solid, life-affirming values, you will be a genuinely good person. As a result, you will be happy inside, no matter what is going on around you.
■ ORGANIZE YOUR VALUES
Once you have defined your values, you should organize them in or- der of priority.To start, you need only three to five key values to cre- ate a foundation for your character and personality. These are thevalues that you personally consider to be more important than any others. The order in which you arrange your values is terribly im- portant as well. This ranking of values largely determines the kind of person you are, and the kind of life you live.
Everything you do is the result of a choice.You are constantly making choices of one kind or another, to do one thing or to do something else.This ability to make choices distinguishes you from all other creatures. Each choice you make is based on your primary values at that time. Each action is based on what you consider to be the most important value at that moment of choice.
■ ACT ON YOUR VALUES
When you choose, your higher-order values always take precedence over your lower-order values. Every act you take, every decision you make, is based on your dominant value at that time.You can do only one thing at a time, and you always have to choose what it is going to be.You always choose what is most valuable to you at that partic- ular moment.
How can you tell what your values are? It’s simple.Your values are only and always expressed in your actions. It is what you do rather than what you say that tells you, and others, what you value most. Especially, it is what you do under pressure, when you are forced to choose, that reveals your true values and beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
■ THE DETERMINANT OF PERSONALITY
Both your choice of values and the order of your values are critical in determining your personality and your life. Here is an example. Imagine that two people have each been through a values clarifica- tion exercise and settled upon the same three values. Only the order is different.
Person A has decided that his top three values, in order of im- portance, are first, family; second, health; and third, career success. This person is saying that he puts his family ahead of his health and career, and his health ahead of his career.This means that if he has to choose between family and career, family comes first. If he has to choose between health and career, health comes first.
Person B has the same three values, except that his values are in a slightly different order. His first value is career success. His sec- ond value is his family, and his third value is health.
This means that Person B will put his career ahead of his family if he has to choose. He will put his career and his family ahead of his health if he has to choose.
■ THE BIG QUESTION
Now here are some questions for you.Will there be a difference be- tween Person A and Person B? Will there be a small difference or a large difference? Would you prefer to be friends with Person A or with Person B? Would you be able to tell Person A from Person B if you met them socially or in business?
The answer is that Person B, who chooses career success as his primary value, will be a totally different human being from Person A, who decides that his family is most important to him.The order of family, health, and career is a life-enriching organization of val- ues. A person who lives his life consistent with these values will be a far happier person than a person who places his career ahead of his family and especially ahead of his health. This is why you must se- lect both your values and their order of importance with care.Your values and their order determine your whole life.
■ INTEGRITY IS A WAY OF LIVING
Once you have determined your values, your level of integrity can be measured by how rigidly you adhere to them. A value is not something that you compromise when it is convenient. Either you have it or you do not.Your choice of values and your resolution to live by those values form your character and your personality.
Throughout history, great men and women have been men and women of character. They have been people who lived on the basis of high and noble values.They have been honored and respected for the values they stood for and represented.
One of the great problems in our society today is the phenomenon of “situational values” or “situational ethics.” These are the re- sult of people changing their ideas of right and wrong depending on the situation, and often the temptation of the moment.What is even worse is when they fool themselves into believing that they are peo- ple of character when they are really only people of convenience.
■ WHAT YOU DO UNDER PRESSURE
Situational values are demonstrated when people say they believe in one thing, but they do another.They say that they believe in telling the truth, but then they lie when it is convenient, or excuse the lies of another. An individual is defined by what he or she does, not what he or she says.
Some people are confused by their emotions. They believe that if their intentions are sincere, their actions don’t matter. They feel that if they wish or hope something, it is the same as actually doing it. But it is only what you actually do when you are forced to choose, especially under pressure, that tells you who you really are inside.
It is vital to your success and happiness that you are impeccably honest with everyone you know and deal with, both in your personal life and in your career. There is nothing that will earn you the sup- port of people faster than for you to develop the reputation of being a person of character and integrity. At the same time, there is noth- ing that will damage your reputation and sabotage your career faster than for you to get the reputation of being the kind of person that others cannot trust or rely on.
■ BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Honesty means that you are always true to the very best that is in you. As Polonius says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Being true to yourself is the starting point of developing a great character.This begins with your always living in truth with yourself. You do not delude yourself or play games with your own mind.You don’t try to believe things that are completely impossible.You don’thope and pray that things would be different than they are.You deal with the world as it is, not as you wish it were.
■ ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Every job bears the signature of the person who did it. Being true to yourself means that you always do your very best at whatever job or responsibility you take on. Honesty and integrity on the inside are expressed as quality and excellence in your work on the outside.You can tell what you are made of on the inside by the amount of time and attention that you put into doing the very best job possible at everything that is given to you to do. Don’t take it on unless you are willing to do it in an excellent fashion.
Integrity means that you are always truthful, straightforward, and honest with everyone in your life. Just as you are true to your- self, you are true to others as well.You live in truth with others, at home and at work.
If you ask people whether they are honest, almost everyone will say that they are. Most people do not lie, cheat, steal, or engage in dishonest behaviors of any kind. But being truly honest means that you are honest with everyone in your life.This means that not only do you never lie; you never live a lie.You never stay in a situation that is wrong for you or in a condition that undermines your in- tegrity or makes you unhappy.You never compromise your integrity by biting your lip and refusing to say what you truly think and feel.
■ YOUR HIGHEST GOAL
One of the hallmarks of the truly honest person is that they set peace of mind as their highest goal. Once you have set peace of mind as your primary aim in life, you organize your other goals and activities around it. Being truly honest means that you refuse to compromise your peace of mind for anything or anyone.You only do and say the things that you feel to be right in every situation.
Honesty and integrity mean that you listen to yourself and that you trust your inner voice.You listen to your intuition and you let it guide you to do and say the right things at the right time.When you are disturbed or unhappy, you sit quietly by yourself in solitude,waiting and listening for the guidance that always comes.When you get an idea or insight into the right thing to do, you put it into ac- tion.You trust your higher mind. This is the key to living in truth with yourself and others.
■ THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR OWN MIND
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay “Self-Reliance,” said, “Guard your integrity as a sacred thing.” He went on to say, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
Truthfulness is the indispensable requirement for the develop- ment of character, and the development of character must be a cen- tral aim of your life. Aristotle said, “The purpose of education is the development of the character of the young.”Today, in the United States, many young people have not been brought up with a clear sense of right and wrong. Many people have been told that values are rela- tive. Many people have been told, for example, that if they like to shoplift, then that particular value is just as good as a person who believes that shoplifting is wrong.
This form of value relativity leads down a blind alley. It leads to failure, frustration, and unhappiness. The fact is that values are not relative.There are values that are life-enhancing and there are values that are life-destroying. If a value is positive, living by it improves the quality of your life and your relationships with others. A negative value hurts your relationships and detracts from the quality of your life.You can easily tell the difference, because living by a positive value makes you feel happy, and practicing a negative value makes you feel unhappy.
■ FACE THE TRUTH
Living in truth means that you face the truth about yourself and the world around you. You face the truth about your work and your relationships. You look yourself directly in the eye and you live consistently with your innermost convictions.You do not play games with yourself or wish and hope that things could be differ- ent than they are.
Integrity means that you accept that your world can only get better when you get better. No one is going to come along and change things for you. If you want things to change, you are going to have to make the changes yourself.
Integrity means that you accept that your marriage gets better only when you become a better spouse. Your business gets better only when you become a better manager or executive.Your sales re- sults and customers get better only when you become a better sales- person. Your financial life improves only when you become more intelligent and disciplined about money.
■ ACCEPT PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE
Especially, honesty means that you accept people the way they are, not demanding that they be the way you want. You do not go through life wishing, hoping, and expecting that people will change and be different so as to suit you. One of the basic principles of hu- man life is that, with few exceptions, people don’t change.
In fact, under pressure, people not only do not change, but they become even more of what they already are inside. If a person has a difficult personality, under pressure he will become even more diffi- cult. If someone is stubborn or inflexible, when she is put under pressure she will become even more stubborn and inflexible. If a person is slightly dishonest, when he is subjected to pressure or temptation he will become totally dishonest. People don’t change.
■ BUSINESS AND COMPETITION
Honesty in our fast-moving world also means that you see the world of business and competition as it is, not as you wish it were, espe- cially with regard to the explosion of information and technology. Many people think that they can make a token effort to keep up with the growth of knowledge in their field and the growth of tech- nology in their work. But this minimum effort is not acceptable to the honest person. The truly honest person realizes that today you have to run just to stay in the same place. The truly honest person realizes that knowledge is doubling in every field every two to three years, and this means that your knowledge has to double every two to three years as well.
Jack Welch, the past president and CEO of General Electric, once said, “If the rate of change outside your organization is greater than the rate of change inside your organization, the end is in sight.” This principle applies to you as a person as well. If you are not con- tinually learning and upgrading your skills, you are in danger of be- coming obsolete.
■ WHAT ARE YOU WORTH?
All over the country today, people are being laid off or fired by the thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, each year. In many cases, these people have allowed their levels of knowledge and skill to decline to the point where their companies could no longer af- ford to keep them on the payroll.
Many of them were not completely honest with themselves. They did not continually upgrade their knowledge and skills so they could continue to add more and more value to their companies. They hoped that the dramatic changes taking place in the national and international economies would not affect them. And as a result, they got caught in the layoffs when the market for their products or services slowed down.
It takes the average white-collar professional two to seven months to find another job, usually taking a pay cut of 14 to 40 per- cent. Some people get laid off from highly paid jobs and never make that kind of money again. And if they don’t get busy upgrading their knowledge and skills, it can happen again.
■ FOCUS ON ADDING VALUE
Honesty means that you accept that your income is totally deter- mined by your ability to contribute value to your company and, through your company, to your customers. An individual must gen- erate three dollars of bottom-line profit for every dollar of salary or income that the person earns from the company. If you are not cur- rently generating three dollars of profit or cost savings to the bot- tom line for your company, your job is a prime candidate for outsourcing, downsizing, or eliminating. Honesty means that you accept this as a fact and then do everything in your power to main- tain and increase your value.
True honesty means that you never expect to get out more than you put in.You never expect to get something for nothing.You don’t gamble or buy lottery tickets, which in a way is an act of dishonesty. It is an attempt to get something that you have not earned. The truly honest person never attempts to get rewards without working, or to get rich quick or easy.In the United States today, millions of people are attracted to the quick fix. If they are employees or executives, they want new and bet- ter jobs, and they want them immediately. They are always looking for shortcuts, and as a result they are always frustrated and unhappy. They hope that problems that have taken many months and years to develop can be solved with a silver bullet of some kind.They are impatient and they want immediate results. But being an honest person requires that you resist the temptation of the quick fix in any part of your life.
■ TRUST IS THE GLUE
Relationships are central to a happy, healthy, satisfying life. All rela- tionships are based on trust. Trust is the glue that holds relation- ships together. You can have all kinds of problems and disagreements with another person, but as long as the trust and re- spect are still there, the relationship can endure. But, if anything ever happens to the trust, the relationship can fall apart quickly, like a house of cards collapsing.
All business relationships are based on trust. All relationships that involve money are dependent on the word of the borrower or the creditor. All relationships with your bankers, your suppliers, your customers, your staff, and everyone else in your financial world are based on that critical element of trust.
Men and women of high integrity are fastidious about the levels of trust that they have built and maintained.They are careful about their credit, and about their financial commitments and arrange- ments. They always keep their word. They are careful about their banking relationships, their credit cards, their bills, and any money that they owe at any time.
■ A TALE OF TWO BANKRUPTCIES
Some years ago, two people I knew well, in two different businesses, were forced into bankruptcy because of the economic downturn. But the outcomes of their bankruptcies were completely different.
The first of my friends had been meticulously careful about all of his bills and finances throughout his career. He had always paid at least the minimum amounts on his charge cards. If ever he had a financial problem, he went to the person affected and rearranged payments and interest.When he was finally forced into bankruptcy, by a massive and unexpected financial default over which he had no control, he had no choice but to go to court, give up all his assets, and walk away penniless.
But within a week, people were approaching him and offering him money, loans, offices, credit cards, a place to live, and a new car. One of his previous business associates, quite wealthy, mailed him a blank check already signed, saying, “Just fill in the amount you need and let me know for my records; I have complete faith in you.” Aside from removing a great burden of debt from him, his bankruptcy hardly affected him at all.
The second businessman, however, had a completely different experience. When he started to have financial problems, he con- tinually misled and deceived his creditors, people who had trusted him. He neglected to make payments he had promised, and wrote checks that he couldn’t cover. He avoided his creditors when they phoned, and he eventually changed his telephone number. He moved and didn’t tell anyone his new address. He treated people who had trusted him by lending him money as if they were stupid. When he finally went bankrupt, no one wanted anything to do with him. It will take him years to recover, if he ever does. He can’t even get a credit card; he now has to pay cash for everything.
■ THE KEY TO SALES SUCCESS
In sales, trust is the foundation of all relationships. A person will not buy from you until he or she trusts you completely. All top sales- people invest a good deal of time building high-quality, trusting relationships with their clients before they ever attempt to sell their products or services.
An association to which I belong commissioned a $50,000 survey of customers last year. Since most of our organizations sell forms of training and consulting services that are somewhat similar, they wanted to find out what caused a purchaser to buy from one company and not another.
One of the questions they asked the customers was what they were most concerned with in making a buying decision. More than 80 percent of the respondents to the survey said that the honesty and integrity of the salesperson was more important than any other factor.
When they asked them what they meant by honesty and in- tegrity in a salesperson, the customers replied that this meant that the salesperson put their interests first.They believed that the sales- person would keep his or her word.They believed the salesperson’s claims about the product.They believed that the salesperson would do what he or she promised, and that the company would fulfill any commitments that the salesperson made. They had a high level of confidence in the word of the salesperson and in everything that he or she did or said in interactions with them.
An interesting fact that came out of this survey was that the quality of the product or service was hardly mentioned. When cus- tomers were asked about their concerns over product quality, they replied that they felt that most products or services at a particular level were fairly similar and would achieve the results offered. The key to the sale was how they felt about the character of the salesper- son, and through the salesperson, the company itself.
■ TRUTHFULNESS IS THE KEY TO CHARACTER
The real essence of character, and the most recognizable expression of honesty and integrity, is truthfulness. If you are completely truth- ful with yourself and others, you will almost always be viewed as a person of high character.
In our society, men and women of character seem to attract op- portunities. Doors are opened for them wherever they go. They are
introduced to people who can help them. Money and other re- sources are made available to them.This is why the most important quality you can instill in your children is a sense of honesty and the habit of truthfulness in everything they do or say.
■ PARENTS AND CHILDREN
I have four children. Each of my children has been brought up hav- ing the importance of truthfulness drummed into them from an early age.Today, all four of them are adamant truth tellers.They are completely honest. I can ask them any question and they will always tell me the truth.
When they were growing up, I made them each a promise. I said, “You will never get into trouble with me for telling the truth.” And I kept my word. When they did something foolish, as all chil- dren do, I would listen to their stories without judging or criticizing and then ask, “Well, what did you learn?” They soon learned that they could always tell the truth and never suffer criticism or disap- proval.They loved it.
Sometimes they fool around, but all I have to do is ask them for the truth and they will always give it to me, whatever it is. I’m very proud of them. It is absolutely amazing how much better relation- ships are between parents and children when they absolutely trust each other.
■ HUSBANDS AND WIVES
What is true for communications between parents and children is even more important for husbands and wives. One of the best defin- itions of love that I have ever heard is by Ayn Rand: “Love is a re- sponse to values.”
You love another person because he or she represents values that you respect and cherish. The other person embodies qualities that you admire. In short, you love another person for his or her character. All else will change or fade away over time, but character remains.
Truthfulness and honesty between couples requires fidelity and straightforwardness between the two at all times. If a couple is ide- ally suited, they absolutely trust each other and are each other’s best friends. There is no one that they would rather talk to or express themselves more honestly with than the other. Character, integrity, and honesty are the foundation qualities of a loving relationship, and are more important than anything else.
■ THE UNIVERSAL MAXIM
There is a wonderful test that you can give yourself on a regular ba- sis to measure whether an act is good or bad, right or wrong. It is simple and you can use it throughout life. It is based on the Univer- sal Maxim of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, postulated more than 200 years ago. He said that you should live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.
In other words, before you make a decision or take an action, imagine that everyone else was going to do exactly the same thing. Imagine that your decision was going to become a law for yourself and everyone else.This is the true test of whether your decision is a good one. It is the true test of a value or behavior.What kind of so- ciety would we have if everyone lived and behaved exactly the way you do?
Many of the problems in our society would not exist if this test were applied regularly in debates over public and social policy. Gov- ernments would be slower to approve certain actions in the areas of crime, education, welfare, and business if there was a likelihood that everyone would engage in those actions.
■ SET HIGH STANDARDS FOR YOURSELF
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself on a regular basis: First, ask yourself, “What kind of a world would my world be if everyone in it were just like me?” Just imagine! If everyone in the