Today I want to talk with you about a subject that many people have been talking about for a very long time. And that subject is called “success.” Success means different things to different people, but what is success might mean to me is different than what it may mean to you. And what it may mean to you, is different than what it means to a kindergartner who is just trying to get a star on his homework assignment. Or perhaps to a housewife, who has been trying to get her five kids in bed be 9pm. Or maybe even a corporate executive who’s been working for his or her corporation for 20-plus years, and only wants to become the CEO of their organization.
As you could tell, we have so many different definitions of this word success, but the greatest definition I can give you today is this, “Success is all about self-expression.” It’s about being who you want to be, doing what you want to do, going where you want to go. Because when it comes to your life, you are the boss, and you have a choice. In fact, you are who you are today because of all the choices that you’ve made in your entire life. But as we are growing up we have a lot of people who try to tell us how to make these choices; our parents, our teachers, our bosses, our friends, even our neighbors. They try to tell us how to live our lives, what we should do, where we should go, how we should walk, how we should talk. But my question for you is this,
“If you’re trying to be what other people want you to be, then who will be you?” So the key to success is to stop conforming to other people expectations, and start performing to your own level of expectations. Is to believe in yourself. Is to know that what you want will eventually come to fruition, as long as you believe it. You see, you have to have faith, and faith is knowing that what you want will eventually come to fruition as long as you believe it. And if you feed your faith, you will find often times that your fears will starve to death, because if you believe in yourself, everyone else in the world will believe in you. Fortunately, for a long time, I didn’t quite believe in myself. Actually, I used to be the kind of person that mothers would often warn their daughters about, and fathers would tell their sons, “If you keep doing what Daniel Ally is doing, you are going to end up where Daniel Ally is going.”
They had some credence to what they were saying, because as you can imagine, your reputation really is your best advertisement. I really didn’t have a good reputation, because I was living so far below my potential, I was actually living in my mother’s basement. By the age of 21, I’d worked over 40 different jobs. I got fired from more jobs than more people had. In high school, I graduated second to last, the last guy; well, he was in jail. I was on drugs for eight years, and I was confused. I was broke, busted, and disgusted, and I knew that I wanted to change; the only problem was I didn’t know how. Can I see a show of hands if you’ve ever been in a situation where you wanted to change, but you just didn’t know what to do? Well, we all have been there, maybe we are there right now.
I discovered there are only three ways that I can make a change in my life. Three ideas I wanted to share with you today that can absolutely revolutionize your life from today. I know these steps work because I’ve been able to do them myself. By the age of 24, I became a self-made millionaire. I have been able to write three books and travel to dozens of countries. I now reach millions of people with my work. I believe that these three key principles can change your life, no matter how do you define success whether you want to live to age 100 or even have a dozen kids, or just have a house on the mountaintop somewhere no one knows about.
These three key principles will help you to realize the success in your life. The first one is to read more books. All the books in the world can help us to solve all the problems in the world. But the truth is that we don’t have to read all the books in the world, because we don’t have all the problems in the world, but we do have to read the books that help us to solve our problems. So, for instance, if you wanted to learn about money, you better be reading books that talk about money. Or if you wanted to learn how to manage your relationships, or to become a better communicator, there are a lot of books on that. What I am saying basically, is there are libraries that are paved with gold, and library cards are free. Books are the tools that release the heavens of your mind.
And leaders are readers. If you want to succeed, you have to read. Most people in the world read about one book every single year, that book, I would suppose, would be Facebook. And before people even get up and do their things, before they drink their coffee or read their paper, they read Facebook. But the truth is that if you study miscellaneous things, you get miscellaneous results; you become what you study. What do you study, and where is it taking you? A lot of people come up to me, and they say, “Daniel, I don’t really have time to read. I have kids, I have work, I am student. I already have so many textbooks, I am doing so many things, I am too busy.” But if you don’t have 10 minutes a day, you’re basically saying you don’t have a life.
We all have time to read, we all have time to pick up a good book and read for ourselves so that we can learn. Look! If you read 10 minutes a day, for 30 straight days, that is one book a month. One book a month, in 12 months, is 12 books a year. You can do in one year what most people do in five years. Talk about not having time. We all have time to read. Remember, readers are leaders, and the only way you can succeed is if you read. My second suggestion is about getting around the best individuals you can. We’re the sum total of five people in which we surround ourselves with the most. We earn the same income, we go to the same places, we do the same things, we think the same thoughts.
And if you were to look at your five closest friends, you’ve got to ask yourself this one question, “Who are my leaders, and where are they taking me?” In other words, “Are my leaders taking me to the place I’d most likely want to be?” If the answer is no, then you need new leaders. You need people who are inspiring, people that can help you, lift you up to the goals that transcend your own possibility and your thinking. You have to realize your goals, and you can only do that by getting around the right people. Many of us have what I like to call “defult friends”. Default friends are basically people that we see around the neighborhood, people at the grocery store, the gym, the mall, at church, at work, everywhere we go. These are people that we naturally befriend as we start to gain their trust and acceptance.
And what tends to happen is, if you are a highly ambitious person, and you have really high goals, a lot of these people can help you reach your goals. So you have to look outside, you have to search for people. I’ll give you an example, I had a friend, his name was John, and he was actually a plumber, and his father and him had a pretty successful business, at least it seemed like it. So I asked John, “I want to start a business, what exactly do you think I should do?” John pulled me to the corner and said, “Daniel, I don’t think you want to start a business, 98% of businesses fail within the first three years.” Then he proceeded to tell me about all the reasons why I couldn’t do it, and why it won’t work.
He told me how was so hard working over 100 hours a week, how hard it was to manage payroll, and why the recession was holding him back from getting more clients. As he told me this, I became a little discouraged, a little dejected, and I went home, and I thought about it. When I get to my journal, I usually reflect, and I wrote down in my journal, “The 98% of statistics are made up.” Including that one. You have to realize that no one’s opinion of you can become your reality. And in order to change your reality, you’ve to change your mentality and the people you surround yourself with. You have to get yourself around people who can help you, people that are smarter than you, people who have gone further than you; people who know what you need to do to get to that next level.
The truth is that the people that you are looking for are also looking for you, but you have to find them. Sometimes, we surround ourselves with strangers and family members who tell us what we can’t do, they limit us. A lot of people have the right intentions, but often times, they provide the wrong directions. In other words, they want to help us, but they just don’t know how. So get around people who can. A lot of people ask me, “Daniel, how do you find these people?” It is easy. If you flow step one, which is to read more books, you’ll find that in the back of the book there is the “About the Author” section. What I used to do is I used to reach out to the authors. Thankfully, we live in a new millennium which allows us to get on their social media, their websites, and so we can have a conversation with them. We can change by actually understanding what it is that they teach.
And if we ask enough questions, we can make great progress in our life. Remember that people you’re looking for are also looking for you, so get yourself around those people. My last and final suggestion is to set higher goals, because goals make you stretch, they help you to become more of who you are. And in this enormity of conformity, so many people don’t know how to set goals, they get confused about the process. A lot of people use New Year’s resolutions, but the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that the person often tries to do too much, too fast. Let’s say Doug wants to stop smoking. On December 31st, he says, “I’m done.” January 1st, “I’m clean, never again.” He hasn’t created a plan of action to achieve his goals, and therefore, it isn’t reasonable.
Bucket list is something else that people do, and usually, when someone creates a bucket list, they’re giving themselves too much time. There is no urgency, and most of the time, they don’t write their goals down. So, “What do you suggest?” Well, I am glad you asked. What I do suggest for you is to write your goals down. I believe that a dull pencil is better than a sharp mind, and to impress your subconscious mind, you have to write your goals down, so that you can hold this steadfastly to who you are. I have this method I teach all around the world, that’s called, “The 20 Idea Method”. Basically, what you do, is you select one overarching goal that you would like to accomplish, analyze 20 ideas correspond with that particular goal. Let’s say, for instance, you wanted to be a better public speaker. What are some things you can do? Well, you could watch TED talks, like you are now, you could practice your speech, look in the mirror to challenge yourself, you could read the dictionary every day.
There are so many things you can do, but could I come up with 20 ideas? The answer is, “Yes, I can come up with a 100 if wanted to.” Imagine if you did this in every area in your life: financially, for promotions, for your family, and you wrote your goals on every day. You would be able to accomplish so many things in your life. We have everything we need in order to succeed, but we have to take the things we have to get more of the things that we want; from the cars that we drive, to the clothes that we wear, to the food that we eat, and the people that we meet. In this depository of diversity, we have everything we need in order to succeed, But we have to believe. When you believe in yourself, you will find that everyone in the world will believe in you.
And you also have to think big. When you think big, you will do big, and you will win big. Well, B-I-G is actually is the 3 ideas that I want to share with you today: B — the books that you read, I — the individuals that you meet, and G — the goals that you set for yourself. Books, individuals, and goals: that’s all you need to accomplish success, because when you think big, you will do big, and you will win big, my friends.