FINANCIAL DESTINY: SMALL STEPS TO A SMALL (OR LARGE) FORTUNE – DAY FOUR

Your Outcome: Take control of your financial future by learning the five foundational elements for establishing wealth.

Money! It’s one of the most emotionally charged issues of our lives. Most people are willing to give up things that are much more valuable than money in order to get more of it: they’ll push themselves far beyond their past limitations, give up time with their family and friends, or even destroy their health. Money is a potent source associated to both pain and pleasure within our society. Too often it’s used to measure the difference in the quality of lives, to magnify the separation of the haves and have-nots. Some people try to deal with money by pretending it doesn’t matter, but financial pressure is something that affects us all every day of our lives. For the elderly especially, a lack of money often translates into a lack of critical resources. For some people, money holds mystery. For others, it is the source of desire, pride, envy, and even contempt. Which is it, really? Is it the maker of dreams or the root of all evil? Is it a tool or a weapon? A source of freedom, power, security? Or merely a means to an end?

You and I know, intellectually, that money is merely a medium of exchange. It allows us to simplify the process of creating, transferring, and sharing value within a society. It’s a convenience that together we’ve created in order to allow ourselves the freedom to specialize in our life’s work without having to be concerned as to whether others will find our work worthy of barter.

We have learned to associate some of our most debilitating emotions to a scarcity of this commodity: anxiety, frustration, fear, insecurity, worry, anger, humiliation, and being overwhelmed, to name but a few. As we are now witnessing in Eastern Europe, political systems have been toppled by the pressure associated to financial deprivation. Can you think of any country, any corporation, or anyone’s personal life that has not been touched by the experience of financial stress?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that all the challenges in their lives would dissipate if they just had enough money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Earning more money, in and of itself, rarely frees people. It’s equally ridiculous to tell yourself that greater financial freedom and mastery of your finances would not offer you greater opportunities to expand, share, and create value for yourself and others.

So why do so many people fail to achieve financial abundance in a nation where economic opportunity surrounds us? We live in a country where people can create net worths in the hundreds of millions starting with a little idea for a computer that they first built in their garage! All around us there are role models of unbelievable possibility, people who know how to create wealth and maintain it. What is it that keeps us from getting wealth in the first place? How can it be, living in a capitalist country where our forefathers died for our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where economic reform was a major stimulus for independence, that 95 percent of the American population by age sixty- five, after a lifetime of work, cannot support themselves without help from government or family? As I’ve pursued the keys to building lasting wealth, one thing becomes clear: creating wealth is simple. Yet most people never build it because they have holes in their financial foundations. These can be found in the form of internal value and belief conflicts, as well as poor plans that virtually guarantee financial failure. This chapter will not provide you with everything you need to know to master your entire financial life. It would certainly take more than a chapter to do that! But it is designed to give you some simple fundamentals that you can use to take immediate control of this critically important area.

Let’s begin by remembering the power that our beliefs have to control our behaviors. The most common reason most people do not become financially successful is that they have mixed associations to what it would take to have more money, as well as what it would mean to have excess money, i.e., money beyond what they need to support their current lifestyle. As you learned in Chapter 5, your brain knows what to do only when it has a clear association about what it needs to avoid and what it needs to move toward. For money, we often send mixed signals—and so we get mixed results. We tell ourselves that money will provide us freedom, a chance to give to those we love, a chance to do all those things we’ve always dreamed about, a chance to free up our time. Yet simultaneously we may believe that in order to accumulate an abundance of money, we’d have to work so much harder, and spend so much more time that we’d probably be too old and tired to enjoy it. Or we may believe that if we have excess money, we won’t be spiritual, or we’ll be judged, or someone will swindle us out of it anyway, so why even try?

These negative associations are not limited to ourselves. Some people resent anyone who is doing well financially, and often they assume that if someone has made a lot of money, he or she must have done something to take advantage of others. If you find yourself resenting someone who is wealthy, what message does that send your brain? It’s probably something like “Having excess money is bad.” If you harbor these feelings for others, you’re subconsciously teaching your mind that for you to do well would make you a “bad” person. By resenting others’ success, you condition yourself to avoid the very financial abundance that you need and desire.

The second most common reason why so many people never master money is simply that they think it’s too complex. They want an “expert” to handle it for them. While it’s very valuable to get expert coaching (which is why we created our own financial company, Destiny Financial Services™), we all must be trained to understand the consequences of our financial decisions. If you exclusively depend upon someone else, no matter how competent they are, you’ll always have them to blame for what occurs. But if you take responsibility for understanding your finances, you can begin to direct your own destiny.

Everything in this book is based upon the idea that we have the power to understand how our minds, bodies, and emotions work, and because of this, we have the capacity to exert a great deal of control over our destinies. Our financial world is no different. We must understand it and not limit ourselves by beliefs about the complexity of finances. Once you understand the fundamentals, mastering money is a fairly simple matter. So the first task I would give you in taking control of your financial world is to utilize the NAC (Neuro-Associative Conditioning) technology to condition yourself for financial success. Become clearly associated with all the great things you could do for your family and the peace of mind you’d feel if you had true economic abundance.

The third major belief that keeps people from succeeding financially and creates tremendous stress is the concept of scarcity. Most people believe they live in a world where everything is limited: there’s only so much available land, so much oil, so many quality homes, so many opportunities, so much time. With this philosophy of life, in order for you to win, somebody else has to lose. It’s a zero-sum game. If you believe this, the only way to become financially successful is to follow the approach of the robber barons of the early 1900s and corner the market on a particular product so that you get 95 percent of something while everyone else has to split the remaining 5 percent.

The truth of the matter, however, is that cornering a scarce supply no longer guarantees lasting wealth. A good friend of mine is economist Paul Pilzer, a Wharton Business School graduate who has become quite famous for his economic theory of alchemy. Paul has recently written a book that I highly recommend—the title itself reflects his core belief and the evidence he has to back it up: we live in a resource-rich environment. He calls it Unlimited Wealth. Paul points out that we are in a unique time in human history, where the traditional idea of obtaining scarce physical resources is no longer the primary arbiter of wealth. Today, technology determines the value of a physical resource and how large a supply of it actually exists.

When I interviewed him for my PowerTalk audio-magazine, Paul gave me a great example demonstrating how the value of resources and their availability is completely controlled by technology, and that technology thus determines the price and value of any product or service. In the seventies, everyone was certain that we were running out of oil. By 1973, people were spending hours in gas lines, and after sophisticated computerized analysis, the best experts in the world were predicting that we had approximately 700 billion barrels of oil left in the entire world, which, at our then-current rate of consumption, would last thirty-five to forty years. Paul said that if these experts were correct, then by 1988 we should have seen our oil reserves dwindle to 500 billion barrels. Yet by 1987, we had nearly 30 percent more oil than we had fifteen years earlier! In 1988, estimates indicated that we had 900 billion barrels, counting only our proven reserves. This didn’t include the nearly 2,000 billion additional barrels of oil that researchers now believe our new discovery-and-recovery techniques may be able to tap.

What made this radical change in the amount of oil that was available? Two things: certainly our ability to find oil has been enhanced by technology, and technology has also powerfully impacted our ability to utilize oil more efficiently. Who would have thought back in 1973 that someone would come up with the idea for computerized fuel injectors that would be installed in virtually every automobile in the United States and instantly double the fuel efficiency of our cars? What’s more, this computer chip cost $25 and replaced a $300 carburetor!

The minute this technology was developed, it instantly doubled the effective supply of gasoline and changed the relative scarcity of oil overnight. In fact, the price of oil today, adjusted for inflation and based upon the distance it will now take you with today’s more fuel-efficient cars, actually costs you less per mile than at any time in the history of the automobile. In addition, we live in a world where, when companies or individuals begin to experience too much economic pain, they immediately look for alternative sources to produce the results they’re after. Scientists all over the world are finding alternatives to the use of petroleum for the powering of factories, automobiles, and even airplanes. Paul said that what happened to the Hunt brothers of Texas is a powerful example that the old strategy of cornering the market on some commodities just doesn’t work anymore. When the Hunts attempted to take complete control of the silver market, they went broke. Why? One major reason is that the largest user of silver in the world was Kodak Corporation, which utilized silver in the developing process. Motivated by the pain of increased prices, Kodak began to find alternative ways of processing photographs, and as a result less silver was needed. Instantly, silver prices plunged, and the Hunts were wiped out.

This is a common mistake made by some of the most powerful people in today’s society who continue to operate using the old formula for creating wealth. You and I need to realize that the value of anything is purely dependent upon technology. Technology can turn a waste product into an invaluable resource. After all, there was a time when having oil on your land was a curse, but technology turned it into a source of wealth.

True wealth, Paul says, comes from the ability to practice what he calls “economic alchemy,” which is the ability to take something that has very little value and convert it into something of significantly greater value. In medieval times, those who practiced alchemy were trying to convert lead into gold. They failed. But in attempting this process, they laid the foundation for the science of chemistry. Those who are wealthy today are truly modem-day alchemists. They have learned to transform something common into something precious and have reaped the economic rewards that come with this transformation. When you think about it, doesn’t the magnificent processing speed of a computer really reduce down to dirt? After all, silicon comes from sand. Those who’ve taken ideas— mere thoughts—and turned them into products and services are certainly practicing alchemy. All wealth begins in the mind!

Modem alchemy has been the source of financial success for the wealthiest people in the world today, whether it is Bill Gates, Ross Perot, Sam Walton or Steven Jobs. All of these individuals found ways to take items of hidden value—ideas, information, systems—and organize them in a way that would enable more people to use them. As they added this value, they began to create tremendous economic empires.

Let’s review the five fundamental lessons for creating lasting wealth. And then I’ll immediately put you to work on beginning to take control of your financial destiny.

1. The first key is the ability to earn more income than ever before, the ability to create wealth. I have a simple question for you. Can you earn twice as much money as you do now in the same amount of time? Can you earn three times as much money? Ten times? Is it possible that you could earn 1,000 times the amount of money you do now in the same amount of time? Absolutely!—if you find a way to be worth 1,000 times more to your company or your fellow man.

The key to wealth is to be more valuable. If you have more skills, more ability, more intelligence, specialized knowledge, a capacity to do things few others can do, or if you just think creatively and contribute on a massive scale, you can earn more than you ever thought possible. The single most important and potent way to expand your income is to devise a way to consistently add real value to people’s lives, and you will prosper. For example, why is a doctor paid more than a doorman? The answer is simple: the doctor adds more value. He has worked harder and developed himself so that he is worth more in terms of his capacity to add measurable value to people’s lives. Anyone can open a door. A doctor opens the doors of life.

Why are successful entrepreneurs so well rewarded financially in our culture? It’s because they add more value than virtually anyone around them. There are two primary benefits that entrepreneurs create. First, they obviously add value to their customers by increasing the quality of their lives through the use of their product. This, by the way, is critical for any company to prosper. So often, companies forget that their real purpose for being is not just to make a profit. While a profit is an absolute must for a company to survive and flourish—like eating or sleeping, a necessity—it’s not the real purpose. The true purpose of any corporation is to create products and services that increase the quality of life for all the customers they serve. If this is achieved on a consistent basis, then profit is absolutely assured. However, a company can profit in the short term and not be here in the long term if it doesn’t continually add value to people’s lives. This holds true for corporations as much as individuals.

The second thing that entrepreneurs do is that, in creating their products, they create jobs. Because of these jobs, the employees’ children can go on to higher education and become doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, and add more value to society as a whole—not to mention the fact that these families spend the money that they earn with other vendors. The chain of value is never-ending. When Ross Perot was asked for the secret of his wealth, he said, “What I can do for this country is create jobs. I’m pretty good at that, and Lord knows we need them.”* The more value you contribute, the more you will earn if you put yourself in the position to do so.

The lesson is simple. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to add more value. But what you must do every day is to continually expand your knowledge, your skill, and your ability to give more. This is why self-education is so critical. I became a very wealthy man at an extremely young age for one reason: I mastered skills and abilities that could instantaneously increase the quality of life for virtually anyone. Then I figured out a way to share that information and those skills with a huge number of people in a short period of time. As a result, I have prospered not only emotionally, but financially as well.

If you want to earn more money where you are today, one of the simplest ways to do so is to ask yourself, “How can I be worth more to this company? How can 1 help it to achieve more in less time? How could I add a tremendous amount of value to it? Are there some ways that I could help cut costs and increase quality? What new system could I develop? What new technology could I use that would allow the company to produce its products and services more effectively?” If we can help people to do more with less, then we truly are empowering others, and we will be empowered economically as well, as long as we put ourselves in a position to do so.

In our Financial Destiny seminars, participants brainstorm ways they can add more value and therefore increase their income. We ask them to consider whether they have resources they’ve been failing to use. The key question to ask yourself is: How could I help touch more lives? How could I do it at a deeper level? How could I give a better quality of product or service? Inevitably, some people will say, “There’s no way that I could add-more value; I’m already working sixteen hours a day as it is!” Remember, I didn’t suggest you work harder or even that you need to work smarter. What I’m asking is what new resources could you employ that could add more value to other people?

For example, I remember a massage therapist who was one of the most successful in his field in the San Diego area, and he wanted to know how he could increase his earnings when he was booked solid. He couldn’t see one more person a day, and he was already charging the highest rates in his field. As he began to brainstorm new ideas, focusing on how he could take the resources he had to help his patients and others, he began to realize that if he could team up with someone who owned a physicaltherapy unit, and refer his patients who needed help, he could receive a referral fee. His income is now almost double, working the same number of hours a day. All he did was find a way to add more value to both his doctors and his clients. Since he knew the doctors well, and they understood his form of therapy, there was a greater consistency of care between them, and he benefited financially in the process.

In Phoenix, Arizona, one of the top radio salespersons is a woman whose primary marketing strategy is not merely to sell radio time, but to constantly look for opportunities to help local companies prosper. For example, the minute she hears that a new shopping center is going to be built, she contacts potential vendors for the shopping center and lets them know about the opportunity, allowing them to get a jump on the market. She then contacts the developer, and introduces herself as a radio-station representative who works with people in their industry all the time. Would the developer like to see a list of the top vendors in their fields?

Out of this strategy, several things result. She’s adding value beyond the radio time people would purchase to promote their companies. She’s found a way to give them much more than anyone else around, so they usually buy a significant portion, if not all, of their radio time from her. This motivates them to reciprocate value for value. This does not require a great deal of her time, but it makes her more valuable to her customers than any other radio salesperson in the region, and her income reflects it.

Even if you work in a large corporation, you can add more value. I remember a woman who was a claims processor for a hospital. She saw how slowly things were going and, knowing that claims processing was the economic lifeline of the hospital, she discovered that she could be much more efficient and potentially process four to five times as many claims as she had previously. She asked her supervisors, if she could do the work of five people, would they increase her salary by 50 percent? They said that if she proved she could consistently produce results over a period of time, they would do so. Since then, not only has she increased job efficiency and her income, she has a newfound sense of pride.

The key to increasing your income with your company is remembering that you can’t just increase the quality of what you’re doing by 50 percent and expect a 50 percent increase in income. A company must profit. The question to ask yourself is, “How can I increase the value of what I do by ten to fifteen times7′ If you do this, in most cases you’ll have no trouble increasing your income.

THE DISTRIBUTION WAVE OF THE FUTURE

One of the most powerful ways of adding value in the nineties and beyond is understanding that in today’s society, wealth is created by distribution. Products and services are changing constantly, but those who’ve figured a way to take something of tremendous value and deliver it to a mass number of people will prosper. This has been the secret of the richest man in the United States, Sam Walton. He became wealthy by creating a distribution system. Ross Perot did the same thing with information at EDS. If you can figure out how to take something that already has great value and distribute it to people, or distribute it at a lower cost, then you’ve found another way of adding value. Adding value is not just creating products; it’s finding a way to make sure that more people experience an increase in the quality of life.

But of course, if we really think about it, you and I know why people don’t do well financially. Yes, they have limiting beliefs. But more importantly, there’s a core belief that most people have: they should get something for nothing. Most people, for example, expect their income to grow each and every year, whether they’ve increased their contribution to their company or not.

Raises should be tied to increased value, and we can easily increase our value as long as we educate ourselves and expand our repertoire of skills. Any company that continually gives people raises without its employees finding ways to add more value is a company that’s going deeper in the hole and will eventually find itself economically troubled or destroyed. If you’re asking for a raise, you’ve got to find a way to add at least ten times more value than what you’re asking for in return.

Companies, too, must realize that as they’re looking to invest in equipment, equipment gives a limited return. As Paul Pilzer says, labor is capital. If someone makes $50,000 a year and can generate $500,000 in value, why not fake this person and increase their skill, ability, talent, attitude, and education, so that they can add a million dollars in value? A $50,000 investment that brings a $1 million return is a very, very valuable asset. There is no better investment that companies can make than in the education and development of their own people.

“Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think.” AYN RAND

For years I helped people throughout the nation increase the quality of their lives by taking ideas that were valuable and delivering them in a way that people could truly utilize them. By creating a technology for change and delivering it in an impactful way, I prospered. But my prosperity exploded when one day I asked myself, “How can I reach more people than ever before? How can I reach people while I sleep?” As a result of those empowering questions, I discovered a way to expand my influence in a way that I had never even considered before: by offering my audio-tapes through television. That was two years ago. Since that time, we’ve now distributed over 7 million audiotapes of my Personal Power program around the world, sharing ideas and information that continue to impact people twenty-four hours a day! My partners at Cassette Productions estimate that, in the last twentyfour months, the amount of tape that’s been used to carry my message is enough to circle the earth twenty times at the equator! In the process, I’ve had the joy of knowing that we not only impact the quality of life for all those who have used our tapes, but we’ve also provided about 75,000 hours of employment in the manufacturing process. This does not include all the hours that other vendors have spent as well.

You’ve heard many examples of how adding value creates wealth. The formula is simple and powerful. Ask yourself, “How can I add more value to any environment I’m in?” In your work environment, ask yourself the question, “How have I made or saved my company money in the last twelve months?” True contribution makes life richer, so don’t limit yourself to adding value strictly for personal gain. How can you add more value in your home, in your church, in your school, in your community? If you can figure out a way to add at least ten times more value than what you’re looking for, you’ll always feel fulfilled. Imagine what life would be like if everyone followed your example.

2. The second key is to maintain your wealth. Once you have an effective strategy for accumulating wealth, for earning large sums of money, how do you maintain it? Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t maintain wealth simply by continuing to earn money. We’ve all heard of the famous people who’ve made fortunes and lost them overnight: the athletes whose talent allowed them to make huge sums but who have created lifestyles that depleted it the moment their income changed. When their income dropped, they often had tremendous demands that they couldn’t possibly meet, and they lost it all.

There’s only one way to maintain your wealth, and that is simply this: spend less than you earn, and invest the difference. Without question, although this is not a very sexy principle, it is the only way to secure wealth over the long term. What never ceases to amaze me, though, is to see that no matter how much money people earn, they seem to find a way to spend it. The annual incomes of people who attend our Financial Destiny seminars range from $30,000 up to $2 million, with the average being around $100,000. People from even the highest-earning categories are often “broke.” Why? Because they make all their economic decisions based on the short term rather than the long term. They have no clear-cutspending plan, much less an investment plan. They’re on a course for Niagara Falls.

The only possible way to build wealth is to pick a specific percentage of your income that you will invest each year up front. Now, many people know this; we’ve all heard about the virtues of saving a minimum of 10 percent and investing it. But very few people do it—and, interestingly enough, very few people are wealthy! The best way to insure that you’ll be able to maintain your wealth is to have 10 percent taken out of your paycheck and invested before you even see it.

To maintain your wealth, you must take control of your spending. But don’t develop a budget; develop a spending plan. How’s that for Transformational Vocabulary? Truly, if a budget is done effectively, it is a spending plan. It’s a means for you—or if you’re married, you and your spouse—to decide what you want to spend money on in advance rather than get caught up in the moment. Too often opportunities come up and out of a sense of urgency we make decisions that later on we regret. I can also tell you that if you and your spouse get a clear plan for how much you need to spend each month in each category of your life, you can save yourself a lot of arguments.

Unfortunately, most Americans live far beyond their means. In 1980, Americans owed over $54 billion on credit cards. By the end of 1988, the total had more than tripled to over $172 billion! This is a system that guarantees financial disaster. Be intelligent: spend less than you earn, and you will maintain your wealth.

You may ask, “But won’t my investments cause me to grow?” Yes, but you’ll also have to deal with inflation. You must go to the third step of creating lasting wealth.

3. The third key is to increase your wealth. How do you accomplish this? You add another simple yet powerful factor to the equation I just explained. In order to become wealthy, you must spend less than you earn, invest the difference, and reinvest your returns for compounded growth.

Most people have heard about the exponential power of compounding, but very few understand it. Compounding allows you to put yourself in a position where your money goes to work for you. Most of us work our entire lives to fuel the machines of our lifestyles. Those who succeed financially are those who set aside a certain percentage of their money, invest it, and continue to reinvest their profits until they produce a source of income that is large enough to provide for all their needs without ever having to work again. We call this accumulation of capital that frees you from the necessity of work critical mass. The pace at which you achieve your financial independence is in direct proportion to your willingness to reinvest—not spend—the profits of your past investments. In this way, the “offspring” of your dollars will grow and multiply until you have a solid economic base.

Let me offer you a simple and dramatic example of the power of compounding. If you fold a cloth napkin (1/32 of an inch thick) upon itself once, how thick is it? Obviously, it is 1/16 of an inch. Folded upon itself a second time, its thickness measures 1/8 of an inch. On the third fold, it equals 1/4 of an inch. On the fourth, 1/2 of an inch, and by the fifth fold, the thickness equals 1 inch. Here’s my question for you: How many times would you need to fold this napkin upon itself (compound it) before its thickness would touch the moon? Here’s a clue: the moon is 237,305 miles away. Amazingly, you’d reach the moon on the thirty-ninth fold. By your fiftieth fold, theoretically, the thickness of your napkin would be enough to go to the moon and back 1,179 times! This is the power of compounding. Most people don’t realize that a small amount of money compounded through time can be worth a fortune. You might say, “This is wonderful. I’d love to begin compounding my investments, but how do I know what to invest in?”

There is no simple answer to this question. You must first decide what your financial goals are. What do you want to accomplish, and in what period of time? What’s your risk tolerance, the amount of risk that you’re comfortable with? Without a clear understanding of your desires, your needs, and your potential concerns, what to invest in is not clear. Often, would-be investors allow financial experts to advise them even though these experts frequently have no idea what their clients’ true needs are.

The most important thing you’ll ever do in your financial life is to decide to truly understand the various types of investments and what their potential risks and returns are. Responsible advisors will make certain that all of their clients thoroughly understand the kinds of investments that are available and that they take part in the development of their own financial plans. Without a clear-cut investment plan, you will eventually fail financially. According to financial newsletter editor Dick Fabian, “Evidence shows that investors—investors in anything—make no money over a ten-year period. There are several reasons for this tragic statistic, including:

1) Not setting a goal;

2) Chasing after trendy investments;

3) Relying on reports from the financial press;

4) Blindly taking advice from brokers or financial planners;

5) Making emotional mistakes, and so on.

Fortunately, the answers to your financial questions are easily accessible. They’re available in books from the masters, from the Peter Lynches to the Robert Prechters to the Warren Buffets, and there are effective financial coaches who can assist you in developing a plan that will help you to meet your lifelong financial needs. Make certain, since finances play such a large role in the amount of pain or pleasure you have in your life, that you model the best financial people. If you don’t, you’re going to experience pain. If you do, you can have a level of financial abundance that’s far beyond what you’ve ever dreamed of before.

Now that you’ve really begun to create and expand your wealth, you’re ready for the fourth key element to financial success.

4. The fourth key is to protect your wealth. So many people who have wealth are equally or more insecure today with an abundance of money than they were when they had none. People often feel less secure when they think they have more to lose. Why? It’s because they know that in any moment, someone could sue them for completely unfair or unjust reasons, and decimate their assets. Would you like to know how bad the current climate is in the United States? According to an article in the London Financial Times, June 22, 1991, of all the lawsuits that were filed around the world in 1988 and 1989, a staggering 94 percent were filed in the United States alone. There are 18 million lawsuits filed per year; in fact, current statistics from the American Bar Association show that if you live in California and make more than $50,000 a year, there is almost a one-in-four chance that you will be sued.

From the European perspective, it seems that Americans are always looking for someone to blame when anything goes wrong, and this is the genesis of this incredible number of lawsuits. These are harsh words, but, unfortunately, they’re true. This attitude is not found anywhere else in the world, and it is destroying our nation economically, tying up our time, capital, and energy in wasteful and nonproductive ways. For example, as recently reported in The Wall Street Journal, a man who was driving his vehicle while drunk tried to move the shotgun on the seat next to him, and it accidentally discharged and killed him. His widow, rather than acknowledge her husband’s inebriated state, sued the shotgun manufacturer for $4 million on the grounds that the gun did not have safety devices for drunk drivers, and won!

Knowing that the wealth that they’ve spent years of intense work to create could be claimed by people who have no right to it understandably makes most people feel edgy. It makes them wary of the liability of business and often impacts their follow-through on investment decisions.

However, the good news is that there are legal avenues for protecting your assets as long as you’re not currently involved in a lawsuit. This philosophy of protecting your assets is not one of trying to avoid your legitimate debts, but simply to protect yourself from frivolous attacks.

People with dishonest motives will sue you for only one of two reasons: because they want a share of your insurance, or they want to seize your assets. If there are no assets to touch, it’s much more difficult for them to retain an attorney based merely on a contingency fee. If you act judiciously in advance, you can protect your assets, and the guidelines for doing so are very clear and concise. In my quest to understand finances, I began to study the John Templetons of the world and began to gain distinctions on how they structure their finances in a way that protects their assets from illegitimate claims.

As in any situation in life, it’s important to find out what the “big players” are doing, and model their evaluation procedures and strategies. I spent two years pursuing and understanding the best assetprotection systems available in the United States for the doctor clientele of my Fortune Management company. One common misperception is that asset protection involves mystery and deceit. The reality is that honesty is the best policy. Your assets do not need to be hidden, just protected. If asset protection is not a major concern for you today, it will be as you begin to build your wealth. Just know that there are many things you can do to make changes in this area.

5. The fifth key is to enjoy your wealth. So many people have gone through the first four stages. They’ve figured out how to earn wealth by adding real value. They’ve discovered how to maintain it by spending less than they were earning. They’ve mastered the an of investing and are experiencing the benefits of compounded interest. And they now know how to protect their assets, but they’re still not happy; they feel empty. The reason is that they have not yet realized that money is not the end; it’s only a means. You and I must make sure that we find a way to share its positive impact with the people we care about, or the money will have no value. When you discover ways to contribute that are proportionate to your income, you will tap into one of the greatest joys in life.

I can tell you that unless you link a certain level of pleasure to creating value and earning money, you’ll never keep it long term. Most people wait until they’ve accumulated a certain amount of money to start enjoying themselves. This is a great way to teach your brain to link pain to wealth creation. Instead, reward yourself emotionally along the way. Occasionally, you need to give yourself a jackpot (as we talked about in Chapter 6), where you give yourself a financial surprise so that your brain is taught that earning money is enjoyable and rewarding.

Also, remember the power and value of tithing. I can tell you that my financial world began to turn around the day I gave a little more than twenty dollars to someone when I really didn’t have the twenty dollars to give. That day, I felt so good about myself that the feelings alone transformed my performance and my capacity to earn even more. Most people say, “I’ll tithe when I have more money.” But which do you think would be more difficult to do: to give a dime out of a dollar or to give $100,000 out of a million? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? I’m not suggesting that 10 percent is a figure that should be etched in stone, but do make a commitment to consistently take a portion of what you earn and give it in a way that gives you joy. The beauty of tithing is that by giving away a portion of what you earn, you are teaching your brain that you have more than enough. You’ll be beyond scarcity, and that belief system alone will change your life.

True wealth is an emotion: it’s a sense of absolute abundance. Our heritage alone makes us wealthy. We have the privilege of enjoying great works of art that we didn’t paint, music we didn’t compose, great educational institutions we didn’t build. Feel the wealth of the nation’s parks that you own. Know that you’re a wealthy person now, and enjoy that wealth. Realize that this is a part of your abundance, and this feeling of gratitude will allow you to create even more.

Let me simply say this to you in closing: changing your beliefs and mastering your finances can be an incredibly rewarding experience in personal development. Commit yourself now to begin the process.

“Charity and personal force are the only investments.” WALT WHITMAN

Today’s Assignment:

1. Take a look at your beliefs, see if there are any that are out of alignment, and change them with NAC.

2. Institute a process for adding more value in your place of employment, on a major scale, whether you’re paid for it or not. Add ten times more value than you do currently and prepare for the processional effects of your actions.

3. Commit to save a minimum of 10 percent, and have it deducted from your check and invested in your planned portfolio.

4. Get some good coaching. Whether you contact our Financial Destiny Group professionals, or your own local financial “coach,” make certain that whoever works with you helps you to develop a detailed financial plan that you understand. Pick up some great financial books. There are many that can teach you how to make intelligent, informed investment decisions.

5. If you’re concerned about your assets being under attack, take action to develop an asset-protection plan.

6. Create a small jackpot to start the process of linking pleasure to financial success. Who could you do something special for? What could you do for yourself as reinforcement for getting started today? Now you’re ready to …

-Tony Robbins

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