Episode #161 – How To Absolutely Guarantee Your Success In Anything

Everyone overcomplicates success. They think they need a mansion, fancy sports car, smoking hot wife, and millions in the bank or they’ll feel like a failure.

Here’s the cold hard truth:

If you think you need all that to be successful, you feel like a failure if you’re missing one ingredient. While someone with a tiny house, beat up pickup truck, average wife, and a grand to their name is more successful than you.


Because they don’t “need” any of those things to feel successful. And that, my friend, is the key to success.

In this episode, you’ll discover how to guarantee your success by “needing” fewer things. Listen now and never feel like a failure again.

Show highlights include:

  • How to become successful at everything you do by flying on a plane ([1:46])
  • Why complex systems with several moving parts are destined to fail (even if each piece is 99.99% reliable) ([10:18])
  • The “simplify your success” secret for never experiencing gut-wrenching failures again ([11:40])
  • How your imagination accidentally sabotages your success ([12:06])
  • Thee profound insight only ancient religions realized for guaranteeing your success ([14:14])

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For more actionable advice like this episode, check out the REI Nerds YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/adwordsnerds.

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the “REI Marketing Nerds” podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of AdWords Nerds, a high-tech digital agency, focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition, and live a freer, more awesome life. And, now, your host, Dan Barrett.

Dan: All right, hello everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com. [00:53.8]

And, look, if you need help with your online marketing and you're a real estate investor, what are you doing? You’ve got to go over to AdWordsNerds.com. We have a whole bunch of blogs. We've got these podcasts. We’ve got free resources, and, of course, you can jump on a call with our team. If you're looking to do some pay-per-click advertising, some SEO, some social media, we can help you out. That's over at AdWordsNerds.com.

All right, this week I want to talk about something that is and has been a real, truly deeply impactful mental model in my life, and I'm going to call that “everything you need to know to absolutely guarantee your success,” which is a big claim, right?

If I'm going to say, look, after this podcast, and I'm going to make this a short one, after this podcast, you will know everything you need to know to absolutely truly guarantee your success in any endeavor. In any endeavor. Pretty amazing. It has the benefit of being true, but it maybe is not going to be what you expect. [02:04.7]

Let's talk a little bit before we get to this success issue. We've got to take a step back and get some basic understanding on systems reliability. Systems reliability. If you're not familiar with this concept, this is something that comes up a lot when you read about safety.

For example, the classic sort of instance of this that most people are going to be familiar with is airline safety. Aircraft safety, right? Flying through the sky in a giant metal coffin, it's a little intimidating, I’ve got to be honest. Every time I get on a plane, I am a little nervous. I'm one of these people that … I don't freak out necessarily, but I do tend to close my eyes and kind of white-knuckle it through the takeoff and the landing, right? And some morbid thoughts tend to filter through my head. [03:01.3]

I know this is irrational because you hear all the time, flight, airline, flying on a plane is actually safer than driving in a car. For the number of people, the sheer number of people that get on planes every day and go from one place to another, traveling thousands and thousands and thousands of miles, the percentage of instances where there is a major accident is actually really, really small.

This is one of these kind of miracles of my honored society that we just do not appreciate. I mean, it really is incredible. We, as a society, have come together and made this happen and it's pretty impressive because there are a lot of things that can go wrong on an aircraft. A lot of things that can go wrong in an aircraft. [04:01.7]

Now, why is this possible, right? Why have we made airline travel so safe? It’s because we spent a lot of time thinking about airline safety, right? We spent a lot of time thinking about it, putting systems in place, putting processes in place. I'm using checklists. There's not just one person in the cockpit, there's two. All these little things that we've done.

Now, out of this kind of field of systems reliability and safety, there comes this basic idea, this basic understanding that I think most people in day-to-day life don't get, but for you, as a business person or as a person trying to move through your life and trying to create success, it is critical to understand. [04:52.4]

Okay, so let's back up. How do we determine the reliability of a system? How do you determine how safe, for example, a system is going to be? All right. Now, let's say a system is just a bunch of units, plus their interactions, right? Everything is a system. Your relationship with your significant other is a system. Your family is a system. Your business is a system. Your body is a system. The economy is a system. It's got a bunch of units, parts, and those parts interact, and the combination of those parts and their interactions is the system as a whole.

All right, now let's imagine a very simple system. Okay? And that's a light switch. Light switch is a relatively simple system. You switch the light switch up in the on position, the lights turn on. You switch it down, the lights turn off. That is what the system is designed to do, and there are a variety of pieces in that system, but we're just going to make this as simple as possible. Let's just say the switch, it's one thing, one unit inside this system. [06:02.1]

There's one discreet part of this system. It’s the switch, and if you're an electrician—investors have a lot of electrical knowledge typically—you’re probably yelling at me that that's not the case. There's all these pieces behind the wall, Dan. It's not just the switch. I get it. We're making it simple, okay? We're making it simple. You'll see why in a minute. The switch is the only part of that system.

Okay, and let's say that switch is 99.9 percent reliable. What do we mean by that? What we mean is that 99.9 percent of the time when you switch the light switch on, the light turns on, and when you switch it off, the light turns off. You get the expected result 99.9 percent of the time and 99.9 percent is pretty darn good. They're very rare to have things in real life that are that reliable, right? 99.9 percent of the time. That's amazing. [07:03.0]

Now, let's say we want to add something to this system. We want to add an element. Okay, and the element we're going to add is human beings. All right? Now let's imagine that we have a human being. You ever do this thing where you walk into a room and you hit the light switch the wrong way? Sometimes I do this, right, so I don’t know. It's like, ah, I hit the wrong one or whatever. There's some kind of variability in my behavior towards this light switch. Sometimes I hit it right. Sometimes I don’t. Okay?

Now let's assume you've got a very, very reliable person. A very reliable person and this person is 99.9 percent reliable, the exact same reliability as the light switch. The light switch was 99.9 percent reliable. The human is 99.9 percent reliable, okay, because we've got a really, really, really reliable human. What is the ability now of the system that is composed of the light switch with 99.9 percent reliability and the human who is 99.9 percent reliable? [08:15.5]

Now, what we tend to think as people, right, our sort of default mode of guessing what's going to happen here is that since you're combining something that's 99.9 percent reliable and you're combining something else that's 99.9 percent reliable, the overall reliability of the system should be 99.9 percent. But it isn't. It isn't, because to find the reliability of a system, we multiply those two numbers together and neither of those numbers is a hundred percent. [08:57.1]

If the light switch breaks 0.01 percent of the time and the human's behavior changes 0.01 percent of the time, guess what? It's 0.02 percent of the time, now that we have issues—or to put this another way, “99.9 percent reliable” times “99.9 percent reliable” is 99.8 percent reliable.

0.999 x 0.999 = 0.998001 x 100 = 99.8%

The entire system is less reliable than its least reliable piece.

Let's think about this again. Let's say we add a third element to this system. Let's say there's some kind of device we put on top of the switch that the human being has to operate. The switch is 99.9 percent reliable and the human is 99.9 percent reliable, but let's say that the new device that we added is only 80 percent reliable. Still pretty good. [10:03.0]

Now we have “99.9 percent reliable” times “99.9 percent reliable” times “80 percent reliable.” The entire system is now 79.8 percent reliable.

0.999 x 0.999 x 0.8 = 0.7984008 x 100 = 79.8%

Even though those first two elements are 99.9 percent reliable, the entire system is less reliable than its least reliable piece—and the more pieces you add, even if every single piece is 99.9 percent reliable because nothing is perfect, even if every single piece is 99.9 percent reliable for every single additional thing you add into the system, the outcome becomes less reliable. Here is the profound truth. You need to internalize from systems reliability. [11:04.8]

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The more things that need to go right, the less reliable the system is. If the light switch needs to go right and the human's behavior needs to go right, and the device we put on top of the lights switch needs to go right, that system is less reliable than if we only needed one thing to go right. The more things that need to go right for you to be successful, the less likely you are to be successful. [12:15.8]

Let's take this out of light switches and let's bring this into your life specifically. Let's say that, in your head, you have a very specific idea of what success looks like. You need to have a $10 million house. You need to be married to a supermodel husband or wife. You need to have exactly two kids and they both need to be blonde. You need to have a black-and-white spotted dog and you need to have a job where you only work four hours a day. [12:50.2]

Now, that's a great dream life. That would be awesome. That would be awesome and I think it's fine to imagine a life like that, but if that's what you “need” in order to be successful, meaning that you have to have the house and the husband or wife, and the kids and the dog, and the job, that means this system of your life has five components, each of which are not a hundred percent likely to occur—and we know the more elements you add to a system, the less reliable that system becomes, and so by creating this fantasy that “has to” happen for you to feel successful, you have created a situation in which you are unlikely to be successful.

Maybe you get the house. Maybe you get the husband and wife. Maybe you get the kids. Maybe you get the job. Maybe you just couldn't find the dog. Then, all of a sudden, even though everything else worked out, you have failed. The more pieces that need to go right for you to be successful, the less likely to be successful you are. [14:13.8]

Now, I started this podcast by saying I was going to tell you everything you need to know in order to guarantee your success, so here's the secret. Here's the secret. You want to guarantee you'll be successful? Don't require anything to go right. This is the secret that underlies all great religious traditions, particularly Buddhism. If you are not connected to any particular outcome, guess what? You can always be happy. Then you can always feel successful.

Now, that's a profound spiritual truth, but it might not be super-helpful for you. After all, I have goals. I have dreams. There are things I want to be successful at. Let’s bring this back to something a little bit more applicable to your life and your investing business right now. [15:06.7]

The way to internalize this knowledge is to say it's not wrong to have goals and to want specific things in order to feel successful. We all do. What's important is you only keep the elements of that system that are critical. It's not important to me to have a particularly large house. I just don't care. It's not important to me to have a particular type of car. This is not something I care about. It would be nice, but I don't need it, so I'm very careful not to include those things in my definition of success.

If I set up a situation in which I'm saying, Look, everybody around me has a certain kind of car and a certain type of house, and a certain type of lifestyle. I need those things in order to be successful, but they're not really important to me, what I'm doing is adding elements to the system and decreasing the likelihood of my own success for nothing. I'm living someone else's life and that is a recipe for failure. [16:14.6]

Instead, if you want to raise the certainty that you will be successful, what is most important is being extremely clear on what you really want, what truly defines success for you—and the fewer elements you can put in that definition of success, the fewer pieces that you can put in that definition of success, the fewer things that need to go right in order for you to be so successful, the more likely to be successful you are. [17:02.1]

I hope that makes sense. I hope this was useful. This has been something I think about a lot in my life and I hope it's useful in yours.

Look, on this podcast, we usually talk about online marketing. This podcast was secretly about online marketing. If you can figure out the application, I encourage you to do that, because that's something we do over at AdWords Nerds every single day. Like I said, if you want to come and talk to our team about improving your online marketing for motivated sellers, please do so. It's at AdWordsNerds.com. We would love to have you.

The other thing, we've got a free Facebook group. It's at AdWordsNerds.com/group. And, hey, did you know I'm on YouTube. I've been doing videos on there. I'm really proud of the work I've been doing on YouTube. Just go on YouTube and type in AdWords Nerds. You'll find us.

As always, I appreciate you being here, I appreciate you listening, and I will talk to you next week. Cheers.

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