Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness. He’s a dynamic and entertaining speaker with a wonderful ability to inform and inspire audiences toward peak performance and high levels of achievement. Originally from Canada, Brian started on his own road to success in his twenties when he left Canada to travel across the world. His goal was to cross the Sahara Desert. He worked his way through Canada and throughout the United States before securing a working passage on a freighter to England.
Brian worked his way through England and crossed the English Channel over to France. From there, he traveled through Europe, heading for his destination – The Sahara. Experiencing some of the most arduous and life threatening conditions in his life, Brian successfully crossed the Sahara, and for eight years, worked and traveled in over 80 countries on five continents before returning to Canada. During those eight years, Brian worked with the renowned Dr. Albert Schweitzer, trained under some of the world’s most famous martial arts experts earning his black belt in Shotokan Karate, and laid the foundation for the success he enjoys today.
He is an avid believer in controlling one’s own destiny, daily goal-planning, hard work, and perseverance. One of his favorite sayings is, If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly at first! With a Bachelors Degree in Communications and a Masters Degree, Brian is extremely well read and regularly studies management, psychology, economics, metaphysics and history. He also speaks four languages.
Brian is an internationally known and respected authority addressing 450,000 people each year on leadership, management, sales, personal development, strategic planning, goal-setting, time management, creativity, and many other diverse topics. And he’s able to capture and hold audience attention with a fast-moving combination of stories, examples, humor and concrete, practical ideas that get results – fast!
Traveling to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and Canada several times each year, Brian is a well-known speaker all over the world. He is the author/narrator of countless best-selling audio learning programs and the author of 16 books, including Maximum Achievement, Advanced Selling Strategies, The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success, and The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires. Brian has been on countless television and radio shows, and is featured regularly in major publications across the country, and overseas.
We are very honored to have him with us in the pages of Healthy Wealthy nWise this month.
Liz Thompson: Many of our values are shaped in childhood. Who or what were some of your early models when it came to health, wealth and spirituality?
Brian Tracy: Well, I really didn’t have any. My parents were not particularly healthy. I just sort of learned myself. I became interested in physical fitness as a very young man – physical fitness, eating properly, resting properly. And, over the years I studied fanatically, so I have developed my own philosophy towards health, which embraces everything-proper weight, proper nutrition, proper diet, proper exercise, proper rest, stretching, aerobic exercise. I work out about 300 minutes a week and eat lots of good food. I developed my entire philosophy myself, I had no role models.
Liz Thompson: Fascinating. So that’s what happened as far health is concerned… what about wealth and spirituality?
Brian Tracy: Well, much of that I learned myself over the years, as a result of trial and success, and trial and error.
Liz Thompson: Trial and success… that’s a good way to look at it…
Brian Tracy: Yeah, sometimes…people are always asking me, who influenced you when you were young? Basically there was no one. It was always, very much self-directed. I learned my lessons by myself through reading. I’ve read thousands of books and articles. And I practice everything that I do. Everything that I teach other people to do, I practice it, to make sure that it works. So I am very much self-educated.
Liz Thompson: What about a balance between the three? Do you tend to see yourself moving more towards health or more towards wealth or spirituality? Or do you try to maintain a balance?
Brian Tracy: No, I do maintain a balance between the three. My family is more important than anything else. And then it is my business, and then it is my writing and more spiritual development. I work on all three simultaneously. This morning, I got up did some exercises, did some spiritual reading, saw my kids off to school. Now I am working on my 28th book.
What I do is I focus on one area. I focus on that area exclusively. And I chunk my work, which has been very helpful to me. If you don’t chunk, what happens is you end up trying to do a whole lot of little things at once. But when I chunk it, I do one thing at a time and I complete it. And then I go on to the next thing and I complete it.
Liz Thompson: And is that something you learned over time or have you always done that?
Brian Tracy: It is something that I’ve learned. If you want to get a lot done, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to do anything by doing it in chunks rather than try to do pieces of it. You can cut the time requirement down on any project by about 80 percent. That’s just based on lots and lots of research. Of course, I teach time management, personal management, executive effectiveness, and entrepreneurial effectiveness. And so, in teaching, I have learned those key skills.
Liz Thompson: You say you’ve learned most things through self-education and reading. What are some of the major books that float to the top?
Brian Tracy: I’ve read thousands of books to get one paragraph or to get one single idea – Not just one single book. And I’ve read tens of thousands of articles. I’ve spent about 50,000 hours in study over the years so there is no single influence.
I do have some favorite poems though – some that I’ve written and others that I just love
Liz Thompson: Great! Can you give us a poem or two?
Brian Tracy: Certainly. This first one is by an unknown author, but it sums up one of my core philosophies:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will.
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not QUIT.
Liz Thompson: I love it!
Brian Tracy: The second is one that I wrote called Change Your World
You cannot change the world,
but you can present the world with
one improved person, yourself.
You can go to work on yourself
to make yourself into the kind of person
you admire and respect.
You can become a role model
and set a standard for others.
You can control and discipline yourself
to resist acting or speaking in a negative way
toward anyone for any reason.
You can insist upon always doing things the loving way
rather than the hurtful way.
By doing these things each day, you can
continue on your journey toward becoming
an exceptional human being.
Liz Thompson: Beautiful.
Brian, you do so many different things. You ran for Governor, you’re a speaker, you’re an author, and you’re a mentor. You’ve done hundreds of courses written dozens of books… To the typical person, it would seem that you would have to go out of balance simply by focusing on all these different things at once.
Has being out of balance ever stopped you or held you back from reaching your goals, have you ever been focused so much in one area that you became out of balance?
Brian Tracy: No, I don’t get out of balance. I practice what I preach. In my book Focal Point, I explain how to develop a high level of effectiveness and simultaneously a high level of balance in every area of your life.
Once you get into it, it is very much like brushing your teeth every morning. You just simply get into a rhythm of living your life more and more effectively.
The interesting thing is that everything is hard before it is easy. Developing habits is always hard, but once you develop the habits, they are automatic and easy to follow and you get more and more effective at them.
You get more and more done in less and less time as you develop these habits. One of my big pushes in life is to help people develop excellent habits for themselves as their lives evolve so that those habits just lock in. Then they can concentrate on other things, but the habits of personal effectiveness, just simply go along like Old Man River.
Liz Thompson: Great.
I know a lot of successful people have had many challenges and some really crummy sections of their lives, but that they have learned from those though times and then they have built up from there. Has your life been like that or has it been more of a gradual process of taking one good thing and making it better and better and better?
Brian Tracy: Well, I’ve had as many reverses as anybody else but I never look upon them as great reverses. I just look upon them as learning experiences.
Liz Thompson: And have you always done it that way?
Brian Tracy: Yes I’ve always had that attitude. It’s just a learning experience. You recover from it and you go on.
Some people ask, What was your great tragedy?
Many people make a life story of I had this great tragedy. I overcame this tragedy, and now I am a great person.
Well, that may or may not be true. So often it is exaggerated.
The fact is in your teenage years and in your twenties, you go through a lot of ups and downs. In your thirties you stabilize and go through your family and different business challenges. In your forties you go through that set of issues and so on.
It’s no big deal. That is just the way life is – you have challenges. If you live in a monastery then maybe you don’t have any problems. But since most of us don’t just look upon your life as a series of learning experiences.
I love the idea that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Feedback just tells you that the particular direction that you are going in is not a great direction so you need to do something different. Sometimes people get lots of feedback, and sometimes they just accept it optimistically and learn from it. And other people allow themselves to become traumatized by it.
Liz Thompson: So, if you had to start all over again, if you had to go back to your early twenties or your early thirties and you could take some of the knowledge that you have now, what would be those three or four most important things that you would want to take with you?
Brian Tracy: Well, they are the same things that I teach.
- First you have to be clear about what you want at each stage of your life. Fortunately, when I was in my twenties, I stumbled across goal setting and began to set goals. So I have had goals all my life.
- The second thing I would say is focus and concentrate on your most important activities and opportunities.
- The third thing I would say is, force yourself to complete things. Discipline yourself to complete things that you start. Rather than starting too many things. So basically, it is just that.
Focus your shots, concentrate on them, and complete them one after another.
The great tragedy that many people have is that they try many things and then they don’t follow through or they don’t complete. As a result of that, they have a whole lot of half started things.
I would say the most important part of completion is persistence. Because you have to have the persistence to keep on keeping on.
You know, George Bernard Shaw, who was considered a great man of letters in England, didn’t publish anything until he was 42. He wrote for 20 years and submitted articles for 20 years. He wasn’t published until he was 42. And after that he sort of became a superstar of writing. Well, you have to be able to persist. So I think persistence is really important.
Liz Thompson: Great. Here at Healthy Wealthy N Wise, we believe strongly in the principles of intention and manifesting outcomes, so is there any particular intention that you would like for us, and our readers to hold for you as we move forward?
Brian Tracy: Not really, I think I am very spiritually in tune. I take time every day to stay in tune. And I confidently believe that everything unfolds, as it should.
I would say to your readers, that it is very important for them to be very clear in who they are and what they want. And then, just trust in a higher power. Trust that everything will evolve. I love the old saying, Pray as if everything depended on God, but work as if everything depends upon you. I think that is the most important thing.
The way that people get out of balance is that they sit there and expect that by centering themselves in the universe that things will just happen for them. But what will happen, while they are being centered, the phone will ring, or they will get an idea, or see an article in the paper that requires that they work. And they say, Oh no, no, no…I am just waiting for my good to come to me. These people are always impoverished they are always poor. Successful people are active and they are busy and they are really acting on the guidance that they get. And that’s the most important thing of all.
Liz Thompson: So what you’re saying is that there are a lot of people who think they are completely in balance but are actually completely out of it.
Brian Tracy: That’s right. The simplest of all principles is the law of sowing and reaping – The Law of Cause and Effect.
The reverse of the law is that you can tell what you have sown by what you are reaping today.
If you are not happy with your harvest today…the quality of your life, relationships, health, bank account, and so on it means that you have not sown well in the past. Therefore, it is time for you to start sowing something different.
If you’re not happy with your crop, you don’t curse the sky and the sun. You plant a different crop.
People need to realize, it takes a long time to be successful.
It takes a long time to raise a happy child.
It takes a long time to build a great relationship.
It takes a long time to build a great career.
And you have to work at it. There are no shortcuts. But there is a direct relationship between how hard you work and how committed you are to what you want to accomplish and what you achieve.
You can always tell how much you’ve paid. Your current rewards are the result of the price you’ve paid in the past. So look around and ask Am I happy with this level of rewards?
If not, then you can control the price you pay in the future – always work on yourself and work on your opportunities.
Liz Thompson: Right, I have read in some of your writings that if someone is unhappy where they are now, especially financially, they need to learn more to earn more.
Brian Tracy: That’s right, you need to increase your ability to render value to your fellow man.
And it’s a remarkable thought, that we are in this world; that we do not live on an island by ourselves where we raise and eat our own crops.
We live in a society where we serve other people, and our society is a service society.
Therefore, your job is to incorporate yourself into the service of society and to work on yourself to increase the value of service.
Now one of the most important questions you could ever ask is What can I do to increase the value of my service to my customers today?
And everybody has customers. Whether it’s your boss or people who buy your product, people who use your services, or whoever is dependent upon you, and whoever you are dependent upon. They are your customers.
Well you ask yourself if I want to increase my rewards, how do I increase my service to my customers? And keep focusing on that.
We call it an obsession with customer service, but basically it is an obsession with serving other people. The more you concentrate on serving other people, the better and more confident you become. As a result, the more respected and more valued you are, the more you are paid, the more you are promoted, the better you feel, it is just a wonderful upward spiral.
Liz Thompson: And that would key into all areas of life then?
Brian Tracy: Of course, it has to do with your family and everything else. But, most people’s concerns tend to be with their material well being. So, if you want to improve your material well being, then you have to find ways to serve people better.
Liz Thompson: Do you find that once people feel they have that material well being under control that the importance they place on things begins to shift?
Brian Tracy: Absolutely, you go up a hierarchy of values as Maslov said, once you take care of security, survival, belongingness, and self esteem, you move to self actualization-into developing into the higher realms of your nature.
But you have to satisfy the economic needs first. Which requires that you perform some sort of service that helps or benefits other people.
Liz Thompson: If you could give our readers only one piece of advice, what would be the most important thing that you just had to tell them?
Brian Tracy: I would say, be absolutely clear about who you are and what you want. Throw your whole heart into doing your current work, the very best that you possibly can. And never give up.
Liz Thompson: And never give up. Be completely 100 percent clear and never give up.
Brian Tracy: Exactly.
Liz Thompson: Can you give me an example of times in your life where this clarity and persistence exploded you to success?
Brian Tracy: No, most success does not explode. People take decades to succeed.
You find that the overnight success, has been working on Broadway for 20 years and so on.
There seems to be some idea that people come across a book or a talk and their whole life transforms like Paul on the road to Damascus. But, that is just not the way it happens.
Successful people – 99.9% of them based on exhaustive research – take years and years and years to become successful. They start off and they work hard. They learn. They get feedback. They upgrade and change their goals. They try something else and they persist. They work hard and 10, 20 years later they are a millionaires and multi-millionaires.
It’s never a single thing or a big explosion. It’s thousands of little things that nobody ever sees or appreciates.
Liz Thompson: You know that’s very refreshing to hear. So many people will say that there is a secret you have to know, or barring that if you haven’t made a success of yourself by the time you are 35 or 45 then you’re just never going to get there.
Brian Tracy: The average self-made millionaire in America is 67 years old. This is based on interviews with tens of thousands of them.
It takes an average of 22 years of hard work, from the time you find yourself in the right field, and you put your head down and you dedicate yourself single-mindedly to financial success.
People say, ‘Twenty two years?!’
This is what I teach. I say look the time is going to pass anyway.
In 22 years, 22 years will have passed.
The biggest regret they have is that they didn’t start sooner.
If you would have just saved 10 percent of your income from the age of 20 to the age of 60 you will be a millionaire.
Just put it away every month and don’t spend it. No matter what happens. You’ll become a millionaire.
There was a study done in Washington a few years ago, which was quickly covered up. It was called ‘One Hundred Million Millionaires?’ The study showed with a small adjustment to the laws of taxation and social security, people could accumulate in private accounts-every single adult American could be worth more than a Million Dollars by the age of 60 or 65. Of course, they covered it up completely because it required that people become independent. No longer dependent on government services. So they didn’t want that, because the government wants people depending on them.
Regardless, the fact is, you can become financially independent, but you don’t do it overnight.
You’re not going to invest in some super stock, or publish a book and sell a million copies. You’re going to have to become financially independent a month at a time. Over many years, and you might as well get on with it!
I have a friend who weighs 250 lbs and he should be 170. He is overweight. Finally, he made the decision.
And this is the turning point in everyone’s life…you make the decision…He made the decision to lose the weight.
So he’s been losing about 1/2 a pound to 1 pound a day now for about 2 or 3 months. And he is down 45 pounds. The next 20 or 30 pounds are going to be extraordinarily hard and it is going to take another 3 to 6 months. He just works at it every single day. He diets and exercises, every single day. He follows a formula, and he loses the weight, but it takes month after month after month. Then he will have to get his weight down and hold it there for a year to develop a new set point in his body so that he doesn’t go back up.
Liz Thompson: There are many people who preach that all you have to do is make the decision and things fall into place. And then there are those that say, no you just have to work hard… work hard and just hammer away and you’ll be successful.
But you just melded the two. Saying 1) you make the decision and, 2) you work hard, and hammer away once you’ve made that decision.
Brian Tracy: That’s right. Make the decision and stick to it.
Liz Thompson: You don’t usually see those two put together. Obviously, in your work you do, but in a lot of teachings of the gurus, they take a piece of the whole concept and work on that. You seem to be working on the whole.
Brian Tracy: Many of the gurus are dishonest, in that they are as poor as church mice.
They don’t have any money they’re broke. And they are out there telling people nonsensical things.
They tell people, all you have to do is see it to believe it, all you have to do is visualize, and you will attract it into your life. All you have to do is to get in tune with the universal substance… the science of getting rich stuff… its all nonsense.
Most of those people died as paupers and they never had any money. The only money they ever got was from telling people they didn’t have to work in order to be successful.
Unfortunately, even Napoleon Hill died broke.
He had a great influence on people. But he practiced, and then he didn’t practice, and he practiced, and then he didn’t practice what he was learning and teaching. So he had some successes, but in the final analysis, at the end of his life, he was just an angry old man, and he was broke.
Liz Thompson: I wasn’t aware of that.
Brian Tracy: Someone wrote a book on it recently. They went back and actually looked at Hill’s life and found that, even though his books had enormous influence on people, he wasn’t able to practice what he preached.
He was able to write about it well – he was a good writer – but he wasn’t able to practice it.
Therefore, if anybody ever tells you that there is any kind of success that is easy, remember that you just have to work for it.
Liz Thompson: That I can believe, definitely, and whole-heartedly.
Brain, thank you for taking this time with us. Do you have any parting thoughts? Any words of wisdom you would like to leave our readers with?
Brian Tracy: One thing that I am convinced of is that we live in a wonderful world – absolutely full of opportunities if you will reach out and grasp them.
And you have to be willing to reach out for them. Grab them like a football on a football field, and realize that every thing that happens is a lesson. And there is no such thing as failure only feedback. If you learn from every experience, you get smarter, and smarter, and smarter but you remain optimistic. Look upon life as a constant classroom. Then you constantly remain optimistic. Never get negative or unhappy.
Liz Thompson: Wonderful. Thank you very, very much.