Why Philosophical Advice Trumps Practical Advice in the Big Picture

When I was in my 20s and just starting off in my career, I wasn’t nearly as interested in “big picture” advice as I was in the “how to” advice.  Even dating back further than my 20s, in high school I used to buy courses like “buying real estate with no money down” or “how to start a 1-900 business” in the hopes that if I could just follow a program step by step that I’d be a millionaire in a relatively short amount of time.

But there was always something in common with many of these programs as well as tips and advice from the top minds in business.  As much as these programs gave information on the ABCs of actually setting up and running these businesses, they were just as big on the motivational and philosophical elements of running said businesses.   So as much as I might learn about placing a classified ad in a newspaper, there would be equal instruction on having the right mindset to run a business.

There would be sections on motivation, hard work, maximizing output, all the mental things necessary to running a business.  I hated that.  Let me repeat what I just said.  I hated that.  In my young and naive age, I didn’t believe any of that stuff.  I just wanted to know how to do it, and I didn’t care about all the other garbage.  I just figured that if I could be like a robot and do each step like they said in the books, the money would come to me in an instant.  20 years later I realize just how wrong I was.

The mental outweighs the practical

After having been in the corporate world and running my own business for the last 20 years (my own business being 13 of those years), I smile at how naive I really was at the time.  I never paid attention to the mental aspect of building a business.  I didn’t realize that without mental preparation, without the attention to my mental state, that all the practical advice I was given wouldn’t mean shit if I couldn’t execute it on a consistent basis.

I smile now when people as me how to do what I do.  The first thing I tell people is that “you have to have the temperament for it.”  I’ll say that you need to have discipline.  I’ll tell people that you have to be prepared to fail a ton.  I’ll tell people that there will be days you feel like quitting.  I’ll tell people to be prepared to work extremely long hours on some days.  I’ll tell people to be prepared for unexpected things you never though possible.  See where I’m going here?

I’ll tell people all of these things well before I even get into the “how to” stuff.  And yet I smile again because I can tell how frustrated the younger people get.  They don’t want to hear that stuff.  They want to just jump in and become rich.  What they don’t realize, just like I didn’t realize, is that all the practical advice in the world will never amount to a hill of beans if you can’t handle doing it day after day, month after month, and year after year.  You can and will suffer burnout before you know it.  I did.

Be your best self first before moving forward

Ask any professional athlete why they are successful and ultimately they will always tell you that it came down to how well they were prepared.  In other words, nearly every extremely successful athlete will talk about how much they practiced and prepared for each game they played.  They’ll talk about all the physical and mental preparation as well.  They always give credit to people who inspired them.  They’ll always talk about the “before” stuff that gave them the best chances to perform when it was game time.

It’s the same in business and it’s the same in life.  If you want to succeed in business, you’ve got to be your best self.  You’ve got to be ready for game time, just like an athlete is.  And that means taking all of the necessary preparatory steps to do so.  And in business many of those steps can be mental.  You’ve got to be prepared to mentally handle the stress that’s coming your way.  You’ve got to be prepared mentally and physically to undergo potentially awful hours.  In essence you need to be prepared for war (so to speak).  Without this necessary preparation you are doomed to fail no matter how great the practical advice you are given is.

Of course these are things I talk about all the time, so stick around to find out how to do the mental, as much as the practical.

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