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**$100,000 Debt to Financial Freedom in Two Years – by Graham White **

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20 LESSONS 

  1. I started a business three years ago in order to create the financial opportunity to become wealthy and not have to worry about money.  I did NOT begin with the focus on the value I would provide others, but rather on the return it would provide me.  Instead of the chain of lounges I had planned on managing from a beach somewhere, I ended up with a restaurant where I had became a cook and bookkeeper in addition to dozens of other responsibilities.  I often worked from 8:00 AM until 3:00 AM, only to come home and take my colicky infant daughter off my wife's hands for a few hours.  STRESS doesn't begin to describe that period of my life.
  2. FIRST LESSON:  When you begin with the focus of, "What's in it for me?" you end up with little more than yourself.
  3. Many times I wanted to scream at staff, tear a strip out of suppliers, and tell unhappy customers where they could stick their opinion.  I was tempted to run away, to burn the business down, to begin drinking or get involved with inappropriate distractions.  Through the entire time, I found myself repeating one phrase over and over, "It's not what you do when things are easy that says much about you as a person, it's what you do when things are HARD that demonstrates your true character."  I estimate that the pressure I was under during that year and a half provided me with the opportunity to develop 15 years worth of maturity.
  4. SECOND LESSON:  Embrace what is difficult, for it is during those times when you have the opportunity to become more than you already are.
  5. I could have stayed with that business for another 3 - 5 years and would have created a million dollar net worth, but it likely would have destroyed me.  I walked away from the business, bankrupting it and losing my initial investment.  In addition, I had $100,000 in personal loans to family members that needed to be repaid.  I had a great deal of responsibility to hundreds of people; banks, investors, suppliers, employees, and customers.  I chose to exit in a way that honored all of these individuals.
  6. THIRD LESSON:  If you deal with the most difficult circumstances with graciousness, commitment and humility, you will deal with all situations with graciousness, commitment and humility.  ("How you do anything is how you do everything." T. Harv Ecker, www.PeakPotentials.com
  7. I chose not to go back into business consulting, even though it would pay the most, because it would take me away from the intentions I had set.  Those intentions were to work with helping people rather than businesses find the answers they needed to be successful. 
  8. FOURTH LESSON:  Do only those things that bring you closer to your big dreams and intentions.  Pass up the gratification immediately in front of you in order to enjoy something much greater down the road.
  9. I knew that I wanted to create a system that would allow anyone to learn what would provide the greatest results towards their success, regardless of their development in any area of life.I was prepared to take the next 20 years to make this happen and was quite literally willing, for the first time in my life, to do whatever it took to make this happen.  I realized that one of the reasons people would listen to me was if I was financially successful.  I determined that I would master the principles that would make this possible, even though money was not something I sought for its own sake.
  10. FIFTH LESSON:  Create a vision that is so compelling that you will do "Whatever it takes" in order to succeed.
  11. We had a daughter who was only a few months old. My wife had a salaried position of $24,000/yr, and I didn't have a job so we moved to a larger center with more opportunities.  In order for one of us to be home with our daughter, I looked for work on evenings and weekends.  I eventually found work in a group home doing overnight shifts and weekends making $10/hr. This also provided me a small opportunity to do something that was helping people. To make ends meet and pay off our $100,000 debt, we rented out our basement suite, the garage and one room in our house.
  12. SIXTH LESSON:  When you have a compelling vision you will entertain options that most people wouldn’t consider.
  13. My undergraduate work had been in psychology and my wife was just completing her Masters degree in the same.  I began taking some counselling courses through correspondence, but soon realized this was not the path that would provide the answers I wanted to create.
  14. SEVENTH LESSON: If your first attempt to reach you goal doesn't work, try another.  Don't let one obstacle, "Take you out."
  15. I had begun writing an article a week a year before.  I had started this through a business-coaching group that I felt needed an accountability component.  As no one else had created it, I suggested it and found that if it were going to happen, I would have to lead it.  I became a leader on a very small scale, more through my own necessity than by choice.  I continued this commitment to an article a week and started to contemplate the idea of writing a book.  The topic I chose was "Success in Balance".
  16. EIGHTH LESSON:  Leaders often begin with reluctance, simply because no one else is prepared to lead the cause they themselves wish to follow.
  17. I began interviewing individuals who were successful across all areas; financially, in their marriages, with their families, with their businesses and in their communities.I interviewed them in their homes in order to get a really good sense of who they were. 
  18. NINTH LESSON:  If you want to learn more about any type of success, go to those who have achieved it and find out how they accomplished it.  Seminars, books, and tapes are poor substitutes for great mentors.
  19. I began with those I knew personally and slowly earned the right to interview people I didn't know that had achieved even greater levels of success.  I now find myself having the opportunity to interview almost any individual that I think has something important to add.  Some of my mentors have even phoned me! 
  20. TENTH LESSON:  You don't get to start at the top.  You "Earn the Right" to do or have anything of significance.
  21. It became apparent to me that these people had achieved their success by taking thousands of small, progressive steps.  There was really no surprise in the fact that they were successful, it was inevitable based on how they had done things.  They were congruent.  There were no glaring areas of their lives that made you shake their head.  That was not true of me.  My own most significant issues were in the areas of organization and follow-thru (commitment).
  22. ELEVENTH LESSON:  In order to become more than you are, you must be prepared to do things you haven't done in the past.  You must be prepared to "Do what is hard."
  23. I made a list (a big one) of all the organizational details that I ignored and began with the most basic.  For 6 months I worked on mastering making the bed and hanging up my keys and jacket when I came through the door.  I decided that I would focus on organization first thing when I got up and again when I came through the door.  - I used to lose my keys up to five times a day.  I never lose them anymore.
  24. TWELFTH LESSON:  There is no timeline for achieving success.  When you take on the challenge of becoming successful at something you haven't done well in the past, assume that it will take a lot of time, effort and repeated missteps before you master it.  Don't let your lack of perfection "take you out."  How long should you continue your efforts?  Keep working on it "until". 
  25. I carried on this development to other parts of my life.  I realized that "how you do anything is how you do everything".  I held those successful individuals in my mind and every time I was tempted to take some type of short-cut I would check myself, go back and do it right.
  26. THIRTEENTH LESSON:  You can't do now what you couldn't do before.  Draw on the knowledge of your mentors and adopt their traits until those habits become part of you.
  27. I had some epiphanies and tools began to develop.  I didn't know it at the time, but these tools would become the coaching process that I developed over the next year. While working evenings and weekends, I continued to develop this system and began offering it to anyone I thought might be interested.  In the meantime, we had found another property, purchased it, kept the first one and rented everything out.  We rented out the entire first house and garage, the suite, the garage and a room in the second. We came up with the money through an investor who knew our track record and us.  (We had rented out portions of our own home for the past five years and had expertise they were willing to bank on, in addition to taking over the mortgage should we default).  We repeated this a number of time, eventually purchasing properties that we didn't move in to. 
  28. FOURTEENTH LESSON:  Find what works then do what works.  Focus on and master one thing at a time.  Once you have mastered it, you own it.  Now you can move on to mastering something new.
  29. My wife and I drove only one older car between the two of us, we hadn't purchase anything new since I left my previous business, everything my daughter had was passed down from friends and relatives and we spent no more than $10/wk on anything other than absolute necessities.  Most people that I talk to would never even consider the types of sacrifices we made or live that kind of lifestyle, but we were prepared to do whatever it took to make this happen sooner rather than later.  While doing this, I poured every spare moment I had into research and development of my business.  It began picking up momentum and I expanded out of my home into an office downtown as it did, eventually taking out a Yellow Page ad when I had the money coming in to guarantee I could cover it regardless of if it pulled or not.
  30. FIFTEENTH LESSON:  Success comes to those who work harder and smarter than most.  Successful people take intelligent risks.  They don'trisk more than they are prepared to lose and recognize that nothing is guaranteed.
  31. By this point about two years later we were financially free.  We had achieved it through the work we had done, the investments we had made and by choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle.  Although by definition we had achieved our goal of financial freedom, our vision continued to drive us to work harder and make sacrifices in order to make that vision bigger.   My wife and I began creating a business working with individuals with developmental disabilities.  We were uniquely qualified and wanted to do something that we felt was giving back.
  32. SIXTEENTH LESSON:  Successful people don't have a point at which they stop.  They are compelled by the vision that draws them to create and contribute their gifts for the benefit of others.  Their goal is not to retire to the beach in order to do nothing, but rather to find ways of doing even more with what they've been given.
  33. I went to a seminar that taught the Cashflow Game designed by Robert Kiyosaki (author of “Rich Dad/Poor Dad”) to see if it was something I was prepared to recommend my clients utilize.  While there I received a certificate to attend a Peak Potentials seminar called Millionaire Mind Intensive.  That seminar reinforced what I had already accomplished and gave me the vocabulary to describe it.  I signed up as a client for the SuccessTracs coaching program offered at that seminar in order to research what appeared to be a coaching program that was the same caliber as the one I had created.
  34. SEVENTEENTH LESSON:  If you have a strong focus on what you want to bring into your life, those things occur with more frequency.  The fact that bigger opportunities require greater commitment and often greater financial investment doesn't "take you out."
  35. I ended up on the Peak Potentials mailing list and responded to an e-mail asking for volunteer coaches at a course called Life Directions.  At Life Directions I worked harder than I ever had before to be congruent with what I wanted to be and follow through on my commitment to volunteer as a coach.   I came back from the workshop without a single new client and wondered if it was worth it.  At one point, I had even considered going home early, something I would certainly have done two years earlier when things weren't happening as quickly as I had envisioned them.
  36. EIGHTEENTH LESSON:  You can't ascribe your own timeline to the details of success.  The only thing you control is being congruent with the principles you yourself are living.
  37. I signed up as an interested coach to work with SuccessTracs.  When Dave, the individual responsible for signing up coaches, reviewed my information, he found something compelling about my work and my background.  After our initial discussion, he discussed the opportunity to work as the Head Coach for SuccessTracs.  From my perspective, I was being offered to be paid to do what I love and was doing in my spare time for nothing. I am responsible for one hundred coaches and 3000 clients with the number rising every month.
  38. NINETEENTH LESSON:  You never know who is paying attention to how you are living your life.  You are always on stage, even when you're alone because, "How you do anything is how you do everything."
  39. I am now in the process of "doing whatever it takes" to earn the respect of Dave who hired me, Harv who created SuccessTracs and the coaches who I support.  I am passionate about my commitment to create a program that delivers results for its clients and a reputation of excellence. 

When I have developed that reputation, I will offer the tools I have developed to that large group to find out from a broad audience if they are as useful as I believe.  I am forgoing many things in the short term in order to make this vision a reality.  My intention is to create incredible value and generate massive results for millions of people; having created tools that one million people have been able to benefit from by the end of 2005.

I am willing to move anywhere, live in any type of accommodation, take any job, change any relationship and give 100% at whatever is required.  The paradox is, the more I am prepared to sacrifice, the more I receive.  The more I choose to discipline myself into mastering my responsibilities, the freer I become.

All of my initial intentions have been realized:

·        I have become an example to my daughter that I am proud to see her follow.

·        We were able to move into the home we envisioned as our ideal residence.

·        I live a lifestyle where I can work as much or as little as I choose (I happen to choose to work more than most, and this is a choice I see most successful people make).

·        I am able to work and live anywhere in the world and travel as extensively as I want.

·        I have an income that far exceeds my lifestyle and continues to grow exponentially.

·        I am able to contribute to the lives of more and more people with each passing month.

40. TWENTIETH LESSON: If you are willing to delay gratification, to do whatever it takes, to earn the right, to do what is hard, to do what is right even when it is difficult and no one is watching – if you are prepared to do all of these things, you will be successful beyond all expectations.