Wherever You Go, There You Are

The lowest common denominator of your life is simply: You.

Out of all the terrible, unlucky things that have happened in your life, you were there for all of those events. Equally, all the joyous, remarkable things that have happened in your life, you were there too.

In that case, since you are the lowest common denominator in all these life events, you are the single biggest reason why all these things happened, whether good or bad. Instead of blaming our parents, our exes or the media for our troubles, understand the role you have played in allowing these factors to limit you and therefore shape your life.

Whether life is perfect or whether it’s a living nightmare, you have the responsibility and the privilege of deciding what you think about it, and how to respond to it. Stop giving people the power to ruin your day or shape your life. Ultimately, you have the power to decide what your circumstances mean.

Sometimes you read stories of the rich and privileged, who seem to have it all, stumble in life and fall prey to destructive behaviors and never-ending misery. On the other side there are people out there with much more modest means who fill their lives with love and gratitude.

This just proves that instead of always trying to change our environment to suit our temperament or our tastes, it is more important look within. We think a holiday will cheer us up, or a new job or new relationship. And it might work, in the short-term. But then we realize that we are enacting the same pattern over and over again. There is no point in running away, or hiding. You can’t escape yourself.

Because no matter where you go, there you are.

Dan Lok’s Wealth Triangle: The Three Steps to Wealth

Dan Lok is a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and business mentor, and one of his ideas is of the Wealth Triangle. It consists of three sequential pillars for someone to follow in their journey towards financial confidence and freedom.

Here they are:

1. High-Income Skills

Learn a skill that has the potential to make you over $10,000/month or $100,000/year. Lok’s idea is if you’re going to trade your time for money, you may as well trade your time for a high amount of money. A high income skill could be in anything, and includes copywriting, sales, consulting, and social media marketing.

This was a large reason why I chose to learn sales in a commission-only compensation structure – it would give me the motivation to up-level my skills as quickly as possible, while being rewarded handsomely for any success. I’m happy to say that I reached and ticked off this pillar on the wealth triangle after two years of learning and applying sales skills.

The ideal here is to develop more than one high-income skill and bring them together to create even more confidence in your earning power.

If you’re not already practicing a high-income skill and you’re unhappy with your financial situation, this is where Lok suggests you start.

2. Scalable Business

So what happens when you’re already earning five figures a month and you’re ready to go to the next level? Lok’s next pillar is to create a scalable business. Not all businesses apply to this – Lok recommends avoiding businesses like restaurants that create lots of overhead costs or infrastructure. Scalable businesses leverage other people, systems and technology in order to create income from other people’s work. The idea of scalable business is to create cashflow in addition to your income.

In the industry I work in, I was able to start up a team of salespeople in order to leverage their skills instead of only relying on my own sales for income. This involved plenty of training, running sales meetings, and holding progress reviews. It’s definitely more of a challenge that just being responsible for yourself, but it can be more fulfilling if you bring a team along to succeed with you. The reason why it’s scalable is that the team can grow and the more experienced sales reps can become managers who recruit more reps too. The top sales managers in the industry I work earn millions per year.

However, Lok highlights that not everyone is cut out to start a scalable business. There can be risks of losing money, or carrying debt. It can be stressful. According to Lok, creating a scalable business is not essential for building wealth, and it is possible to become a multi-millionaire just from a mixture of high-income skill and the third pillar.

Lok reminds us that as we move onto building a scalable business, it’s important to skill be working on our high-income skill and generating income that way. If you’re just starting off with a scalable business, it’s unlikely that it will be immediately making more than your six-figure income, so keep utilizing your high-income skills to have the confidence of paying yourself, no matter what happens in your business. In my case, that meant going out and making my own sales while also managing other salespeople.

3. High-Return Investments

Lok defines a high-return investment as an investment that provides at least a 10 percent annual return, year in and year out. This is the best way to build your net-worth after you have at least developed your high-income skill. One example Lok gives of a high-return investment is real estate.

As good as a 10% annual return sounds, Lok recommends thinking more strategically – would this money get a better rate of return if I invested it into myself in training a high-income skill, or if I invested it in marketing for my scalable business? In my own life, I took advantage of reinvesting my money hundreds of times over into matched betting, a high-income skill I learned in 2015. At the time, I was saving for a trip to New Zealand and within six months of starting this “high-income skill”, I had earned over £15,000 for my trip, and actually started earning more through betting than I did with my regular job at the time. If I had instead put the savings I made from my low-wage job into a 10% investment vehicle, I would have come away with a tiny amount in comparison. The matched betting provided me with 500+% return, although I did have to spend time actively betting on my laptop.

Lok says that if you master the high-income skill portion of the Wealth Triangle, and invest it wisely, you can create a million dollar net worth in seven to 15 years if you’re able to keep your expenses in check.

The biggest reminder of the Wealth Triangle is that it is supposed to be used sequentially. Lots of people think about investing and starting businesses when they haven’t even harnessed any of their earning power yet. According to Lok, if you’re earning less than $10,000/month, hitting this consistently should be the main focus if your target is wealth. Trading your time for high dollars gives you a foundation that you can then move onto the second and third pillars. Sinking all your life savings into a business idea, like we see on Dragons’ Den, is a result of these entrepreneurs skipping the first stage of building up their high-income skills. When the Dragons inevitably say no, they are emotionally and financially bankrupt.

In summary: Build up a high-income skill, then work on a scalable business to create cashflow, and then invest in something with high returns to expand your net worth.

When Bad Things Happen, Stop Talking in Stories and Start Talking in Facts

One of the most addictive things in human nature are stories. We love to hear them, we love to share them, we read them in books and we watch them in films.

When I was on a personal development course a few years ago, some of the participants were sharing stories of the past that they were still hung up on. Some of them were truly terrible – abusive parents, relationships from hell, or being cheated in business partnerships.

But the idea that the course leader introduced us to was this: Stop talking in stories and start talking in facts.

Whenever someone described themselves as “abused”, or “screwed over”, or being “destroyed”, or “cheated”, the course leader would interrupt the participant. “What happened, what did you say, what did he say? That’s all I want to know. I don’t want to know your story, I want to know what happened.”

So the participant would have to reword how the incident occurred in pure facts, instead of the story that they had developed over the preceding years. And they would really struggle, because the story had been ingrained for so long. When we feel wronged, we are likely to make it sound worse when we describe it to others. Instead of saying “my ex-fiancé slept with a hooker once”, we’ll say “my ex-fiancé cheated on me, betrayed me, and destroyed our relationship.” We choose strong, emotive words that make us feel victimized, wronged, and angry.

It’s not to condone the actions of others in the past, but as the Dalai Lama says: “Forgiveness is the only way to heal ourselves and be free from the past – until then, someone else will hold the keys to our happiness, and that person will be our jailor.” Until we forgive, we will still be trapped by our past.

When we start talking about our past in facts, we’ll start to loosen our attachment to our narratives that we’ve created, and be able to focus more on our present and future. Our stories will no longer be told in dramatic, entertaining fashion – but we’ll be free.