The Common Denominator of Success plus the Science of Forming Habits


Six hundred members of the California Assisted Living Association made their way into the main ball room at the Hyatt Regency in Orange County, California for lunch and my 45 minute keynote speech titled, “The 1.2% Factor-How One Small Change Leads to Large Results”.

I was a bit apprehensive because of the time frame. I usually present a 90 minute program so I was challenged as a professional to deliver value in half the time. It’s rare that I have a local program close to where I live since I present all over the USA. I invited Jeff Golan, Regional Managing Director for Principal Financial Group to come hear me. I wasn’t sure if he could make it.

The program went off very successfully! The audience raved about the talk and only I know what I had to leave out because of the time frame. Breakout sessions followed 15 minutes after my program so I went outside where I had some flyers on a table and visited with those who wanted to speak with me. One of those was Jeff.

After the crowd dispersed Jeff and I found a quite place to chat. We talked about what he was in the beginning stages of building at PFG and what some of his challenges were. He explained how he already had a solid structure and system for teaching the advisor the “what to do and the how to do it” logical information. What he liked about what I do is that it is directed towards the most important issue, the individuals’ ability to form habits and to consistently do what they need to do to generate results. He promised to send me an old white paper, “The Common Denominator of Success” by Albert Gray.

A couple of days later an email with an attachment from Jeff arrives. I opened it expecting it to be some outdated boring what you can believe you can achieve type of stuff.

I am happy to say that this paper caught my attention immediately with the first quote:

“The common denominator of success-the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful-lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

Wow! This was written in 1940 and it is still a core underlying necessity today! Albert Gray delivered this at the NALU annual convention in 1940. Remember National Association of Life Underwriters?

What I plan to do with this paper is to add some of the scientific discoveries of the 2000’s on forming habits to the wisdom of Albert Gray. I’ll first reveal some of the most profound statements from Gray in his address.

“I had become convinced that hard work was not the real secret even though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.”

In one of my presentations I ask for a volunteer to come on stage. I ask them to state a goal that they have such as increase assets under management. Next I ask them what they need to do to reach this goal. For the sake of simplicity let’s say prospecting. Next I ask them to tell me three things that might stop them. One, busy with current clients, two, need to prepare for meetings with prospects, three, not enough time.

Now it gets interesting. I bring up three of the biggest guys in the audience. Each one of them represents one of the three obstacles just mentioned. Two guys stand in front of my goal setter and grab his wrist with their outside hand and hook their inside arm under the persons arm and the third obstacle stands behind the goal setter and puts their arm across the persons throat. I instruct them to resist and not to let him break through.

Here we go the competition. A person’s desires and commitment to action versus their obstacles. The person tries as hard as they can yet they will not break free. I yell “work harder” yet still no results, the 3 obstacles are just too strong. (You can watch this in action on my website, demo video).

This is a perfect example that hard work is not the key. I ask the audience, “Did he try? Did he try hard? Did you cheer him on? Did it matter?”

I do give a solution here. The solution is to accept that he does have limitations and obstacles and to negotiate. Even though he has to prepare for prospective clients, meet with current clients and has limited time, here is what he commits to do this week.

To highlight Albert Gray’s first point;

  1. Hard work is not the difference.

Gray also made this statement;

 “Success is something which is achieved by the minority of men, and is therefore unnatural and not to be achieved by following our natural likes and dislikes nor by being guided by our natural preferences. We don’t like to call on people who don’t want to see us and talk to them about something they don’t want to talk about. Any reluctance to follow a definite prospecting program, to used prepared sales talks, to organize time and effort are all caused by this one basic dislike.”

This is as simple as I have ever heard the core issue stated. We are going to avoid doing things that we view as being uncomfortable. It’s that simple!

There are a number of scientific experiments that clearly show this. Put a rat in a cage with a gate. Place food at the end of a corridor and open the gate. The rat runs up the corridor and starts to eat the food.

However, we don’t let the rat eat. Instead we place it back behind the gate. Next we place a metal grid on the floor separating the rat from the food. We also place a shock on this grid; it’s called a “shock grid”. We open the gate; the rat sees the food and starts to run over this grid. It gets a tremendous shock and instinctively retreats away from the grid.

Now we take the shock off of the grid but leave the grid. When we open the gate this time the reality is that there is nothing stopping the rat from reaching its goal. However, what will the rat focus on? Will it focus on the opportunity to get the food or the past painful experience with the metal grid? The rat will remember the shock and will never go over that grid again. This is called learned helplessness.

It doesn’t matter what the truth is. The only think that matters is what is the rat paying attention to? The rat has what is called a “cortical limbic loop”. This is a protective memory where the outer area of the brain associated with wants, needs and desires and is linked to the middle area of the brain, known as the limbic system, which is associated with emotion, fear, avoidance and threats to survival. Just the sight of the metal grid triggers the limbic area and the rat is in automatic avoidance.

We are genetically coded to avoid activities that we view as being threatening. Our instincts trump our intentions.

Gray goes on to state that the biggest producers also do not like to do this prospecting either. It’s just that they have a purpose and have formed habits.

“Successful men are influenced by the desire for pleasing results. Failures are influenced by the desire for pleasing methods. It is easier to adjust ourselves to the hardships of a poor living than it is to adjust ourselves to the hardships of making a better one. Just think of all of the things you are willing to go without in order to avoid doing the things you don’t like to do.”

I couldn’t believe what a profound insight that Albert Gray had in 1940 that is as true today as it was then.

Again, Gray says;

“Every single qualification for success is acquired through habit. Men form habits and habits form futures. If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will form bad ones. He success habits in life insurance selling (and all selling) are divided into four main groups. Prospecting habits, calling habits, selling habits, working habits.”

Now the question is how do you form habits? I have the answer. This was helped by another 21st century discovery, brain plasticity. Go ahead and “Google it”. Isn’t that amazing? Google is now a verb!

Brain plasticity is the brains’ ability to form new neurons and neurological networks. A neurological network is a habit. In its simplest form it’s no more complicated than stimulus response. The alarm rings in the morning and off to the gym you go. You plan at the end of the week you execute your plan in those four areas as identified in 1940 by Albert Gray, it really is that simple.

A habit is a neuron that has dentritic growth to the cortex and to a structure in the limbic system called the amygdale. The cortex is the thinking and planning area of the brain and the amygdale is the emotional area. A habit also has dentritic growth to the hippocampus are of the brain which is now the wiring for memory.

The rat is hungry. It looks at the food but it has a protective instinct, a memory involving the hippocampus that links the metal grid with the amygdale as dangerous and to be avoided.

Humans have another layer to add to this. We use language to rationalize our avoidance and believe that the truth is that we were just too busy to make those calls.

I’ll end this by giving you a quick method to rewire your brain and form a new habit. Use behavioral contracts. Make one commitment to one activity this week they you are capable of doing but also know you won’t do unless you are held accountable to complete. Tell one other person that if you don’t take this action you will give them $100. You will instantly create a cortical limbic loop where the cortex, amygdale and hippocampus will view this penalty as the highest level of pain and instinctively compel you to avoid this pain by doing what you said you would do.

Yes it does take about 30 days for these dentritic projections to remain solidified and permanent so use this consistently and wisely and you will rewire your brain forming the habits you need for success. Albert Gray was absolutely correct even without knowing the science of it all!

How to Become A Success: The Big Picture Over the Long Term.

I had a conversation with one of my long term coaching clients who was preparing to give a presentation to an industry group. Her topic was to give some wisdom on how she had become so successful in her 30 years in the business. It went something like this;

Take care of your health.

Get a coach.

Set goals, measure and reevaluate.

Have a referral based business.

Create, sustain and lead a strategic alliance.

Become an author.

Volunteer in the community.

Be committed to constant learning and growth.

Share with your peers.

Have a legacy product.

Take care of the succession of your business.

Take care of your health.

What good can you be for your family, your clients, and your friends if you are not in good health? Being in good health is by design, not genetics. Good DNA will predispose you towards good or ill health but it is the sum of the choices that you make that will determine your outcome.

This is supported by scientific research. It’s about the environment and your behavior that turns on or off the expression of your genes.
There is an 80% correlation between being a deca millionaire and being in a health and fitness program, according to Dr. Stanley, author of” The Millionaire Next Store”. One of my coaching “commandments” is to put your self first. Not your children, not your spouse, but you. Another commandment is” my lifestyle is an asset, not a liability”.

A true marker for success in the financial services industry is your being in a consistent exercise and fitness program. You need to have the energy and “look” to generate the confidence in your clients to be their financial coach. When they look at you they need to see someone who has it together and is on track. How else are they going to have confidence to make you their one stop financial coach?

Get a coach.

Yes the cliché does apply to financial services. Great athletes can only be great athletes by having a coach who challenges them to be their best.

The word coach is so abused that my office has stopped using it. Any time you have an “ease of entry” into an unregulated business then you get the good and the bad that all call themselves a coach. So here is what to look for.

Look for credibility. Look for someone who has related academic credentials in addition to coach specific training. Look for someone who has business acumen and who has a track record of success within financial services.

The coach has a role. First I’ll discuss what the role is not. The coach’s role is not to tell you how to do your business. For that you’ll need an industry mentor. There are lots of trainers who can help you there. Your broker dealer will have practice management experts who can help you segment your book, find markets for guaranteed living benefit annuities, term-life conversions, products with long term care or disability riders, or even how to prospect.
This is the coaches’ role, three phrases;

New Perspectives



As a result of a consistent conversation with your coach you will (should) see things differently and from a perspective that you can not have on your own. Your coach should be a source of challenge for you to strive and achieve beyond what you think you can do. Lastly, your coach should be a very strong source of accountability where there will be enforced consequences for non performance. Now that is a rare conversation!

Set goals, measure and reevaluate.

The financial services business is a journey. You must be oriented from your purpose, your vision and your mission. Why are you in this business? What problems do you solve? Who needs you? Why you?

You can write a mission statement that will keep you on track. The mission statement follows this format;

I am_____
Who does_____
So that ____

Once you have clarity on why your are in this business you need to ask and answer the following questions;

What am I building? Why bother? How much is enough? Regardless of your age you need to know what your end game is. This is the same approach you take with your clients because after all you are their life coach, not just their financial coach.

There is a principle in quantum physics, the laws of the subatomic, that states the act of observation changes what is being observed. Imagine that you are measuring atoms that you can not see. Visualize balls on a pool table. You want to locate a ball so you roll the cue ball and when you strike a ball you have found its location. You have “measured it”. However, the act of rolling the ball and striking another one causes the ball to rebound in another direction, hence, the act of measurement changes what is being measured.
Any goal worthwhile has measurement so decide what you are going to measure and then track as specifically and weekly as you can. You can measure anything from assets under management, number of A level house holds to the number of calls you make on a daily basis. Get measuring!

Have a referral based business.

This doesn’t mean that you stop prospecting. I may mean the end of cold calls however. The top of your industry have referral based businesses. However, they are not asking their clients for referrals. They are creating value that their clients want to share with others.

Create, sustain and lead a strategic alliance.

This is a premier source of new house holds for the experienced wealth advisor. The traditional teachings for forming a strategic alliance include the financial advisor, estate planning attorney and an accountant.

This has quickly become old school however. Today’s perspective is to ask who shares my clients. Who else market’s to and solves the problems that my target clients have? One approach is to identify who else sells to the high net work senior marketplace. Identify and interview those people. Find the experts in those industries and select them to join your group. Then lead the group. Have monthly meetings where you educate each member on a variety of topics. Teach them how to give referrals. Have alliance events where each member markets to their own data base as well as to the public.
Be creative on who you select. Think about adding a P&C agent, a lender, a funeral director, nursing home owner, a SEO expert, a videographer, etc. You will have the most sales and marketing orientation of any one in your group so it is up to you to lead and sustain this alliance and it will require your constant attention.

Become an author.
That’s right, write a book. That is of course if you can considering compliance restrictions. I don’t recommend this with my wire house clients.

Nothing gives you more credibility then being an author and speaking. Just the fact that you have a book, self published, gives you instant positioning as an expert. You have something to say. You have a platform of beliefs and strategies. Put them on paper and self publish a book.

Volunteer in the community.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “It is one of the most interesting facts that you can not help someone else without helping your self.”
An old song from the rock group, Jethro Tull, has this line;

“It’s only the giving that makes you what you are!”

Not only are you doing an honorable thing by serving on the hospital foundation, or the charity for the poor’s board, but you are also solidifying relationships with people of high net worth. You get by giving!

Be committed to constant learning and growth.

Another physics statement, “there is either growth or decay, there is no middle ground.” Top performers are constantly looking to improve and grow. Not only that, but constant learning is fantastic for your brain. A new discovery called brain plasticity states that you can continue to grow new neurons, rewire your brain and form new habits for a lifetime, so keep learning. Be passionate and excited about this business until you die.

Share with your peers.

This is an open versus a closed philosophy. It is very healthy for you to contribute unselfishly to the success of others then it is for you to be more shut down and keep your best practices to yourself. Share freely, for your own health and state of mind.
One of the best ways to share with your peers is through speaking at industry events. Be selfless. You never know what will come back to you by doing so.

Have a legacy product.

Your clients need a source to impart their wisdom, their philosophies, what they’ve learned, mistakes that they’ve made, their values, and what their wealth means to them to their heirs. The leaders in your field have developed a legacy product that goes beyond an ethical will. This gives your clients a structure to communicate to their heirs.

Take care of the succession of your business.

What have you built? I do not recommend ever retiring. Yes, you will dramatically change your day to day activities but it is so very important that you remain active, engaged, passionate and excited about building something until you die! You will live longer and have a better quality of life if you do.

So what have you built? Are you positioning yourself to sell your business? Have you groomed a younger advisor to continue on with your clients and continue to grow your business? Have you asked this question?

Selling The Recession and The Lie of Authority

“Selling the Recession and the Lie of the Authority-You Don’t Have to Participate, It’s Your Choice” by Bob Davies

That’s right. You have the choice to take on whatever mind-set you decide. You can be a victim and play into the hands of the authority or you can be the source of all that you experience. It’s just as easy to be at choice as it is to be a victim; it’s up to you.

What is a recession anyway? In macroeconomics, a recession is a decline in a country’s gross domestic product, or a negative real economic growth for two or more successive quarters of a year.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER, has a more general framework for declaring recessions.

“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough.”

The prospect of a recession is the talk ofWashington. It’s also the talk of every major newspaper across the country. Look at the headlines from a recent paper,

“Home prices could fall 20% from 06 levels, S&P reported back in 2008.”

This report from Bloomberg News continues to state, “There is a growing economic consensus that U.S. home price declines will be larger than previously forecast and that the slump in the U.S. housing market will last longer then previously anticipated.

The real estate slump has taken its toll, with more than 31,000 jobs eliminated last year in the sub prime mortgage industry by California-based companies, including 12,000 positions at Countrywide financial in Calabasas, (and) 3,200 at New Century inIrvine.”

Let’s look to the experts, the authorities who should know.

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve recently stated that the current financial crisis in likely to be judged as the most wrenching since the time that followed World War II.

Other noted authorities are sounding alarms, too. Harvard professor Martin Feldstein, former head of the National bureau of Economic Research, said recently that he believes the country is in a recession and it could be a severe one. He has also stated that the Fed needs to be more aggressive in responding to the credit crunch if a serious economic slump is to be averted.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that the housing correction will take time to work out and that it continues to cause the biggest downside risk to the economy.

For those who have predicted a “mild” slump the credit crisis that erupted last August and claimed its biggest victim with the forced sale of Bear Stearns Co. is raising doubts that this will be “mild”.

“Bear Stearns was a clear wake-up call. It resonates with everybody and highlights the severity of the stresses in the financial system, “ said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Monody’s

Lyle Gramley, a former Fed board member and now an economist with Stanford Financial Group said, “It is possible that we could be entering the worst recession of the post-World War II period. The threat is certainly there.”

This just in from “The Fiscal Times”;

‘If you think theU.S.economy is bad now, just wait for a few months.  Things are about to become absolutely nightmarish.  None of the long-term economic trends that are hollowing out our economy have been addressed and more bad economic news seems to come out virtually every single day.  Now there is constant talk of the “next recession” in the mainstream media.  But did the last recession ever truly end?  The number of good jobs continues to decline, more stores are closing, incomes continue to go down, credit card debt and student loan debt are soaring, the housing market resembles a corpse, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to rise and government debt is at unprecedented levels.  We are losing blood fast, and almost all of our leaders are either too corrupt or too incompetent to be able to do anything about it.  TheU.S.economy really and truly is about to go into the toilet, and if something is not done very quickly we are going to experience a complete and total economic disaster in this nation.

Americans have been promised over and over that this economic downturn is just “temporary” and that things will return to normal soon.  During this upcoming election cycle, the Democrats will swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.  The Republicans will also swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.

Well, both sides are lying.  The economic plans of both major political parties are a joke.  Neither of them can restore economic prosperity to this nation.

Our politicians could delay the coming economic collapse by borrowing gigantic piles of money and pumping all of that cash into the economy.  But stealing from our children and our grandchildren is not exactly sound economic policy.

Yes, theU.S.economy is in bad shape right now, but things are about to get even worse.  The long-term problems that are destroying our economy have not been fixed, and the leaks in our ship are going to continue to grow.

The following are 10 signs that theU.S.economy is about to go into the toilet….

#1 An increasing number of unemployed Americans have become so desperate that they have started to look for work overseas.  For example, the number of Americans that are submitting applications for temporary work visas in Canada has approximately doubled since 2008.  Other Americans are willing to learn foreign languages and travel to the other side of the world if that is what it takes to land a decent job.  Just

#2 When Barack Obama first took office, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.

#3 The number of Americans that are concerned that they will lose their jobs continues to hover near record highs.  According to Gallup, 30 percent of all employed Americans are worried that they will soon be laid off.

#4 The percentage of American men that are employed continues to plummet.  In July, only 63.5 percent of all men in theUnited States had a job.  Since 1948, that number has only been lower one time (63.3 percent in December 2009).

#5 Back in the 1950s, manufacturing accounted for about 28 percent of U.S. GDP.  Last year, it accounted for just 11.7 percent.  Meanwhile, manufacturing now accounts for about 25 percent of GDP in China and they now actually have more factory production each year than we do.  Sadly, Barack Obama is pushing for even more trade agreements that will send millions more of our jobs overseas.

#6 According to John Williams of, after you add in all short-term discouraged workers, all long-term discouraged workers and all Americans that are working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, the real unemployment rate should be approximately 23 percent.

#8 We are starting to see another huge wave of store closings and layoffs.  For example, the parent company of Payless stores has announced that it will be permanently closing 475 stores.  Borders is in the process of closing every single one of its 399 stores.  Also, Bank of America has just announced that it will be closing about 600 branches, and that could result in the loss of about 30,000 good jobs.

#9 Median household income has fallen for three years in a row.

#10 Americans are really starting to rack up consumer debt once again.  According to Time Magazine, U.S. consumers are on pace to collectively add 54 billion dollars in credit card debt in 2011.

So I say, why live? Why not just throw up your hands and surrender to being miserable, having financial difficulties, and blaming the politicians whose policies or lack of have put us in this no-win predicament?

Because it’s a lie! It’s a mind-set. It’s the same old submission to authority that has happened before. The recession is not real. It’s a perceptual choice.

It’s the lie of authority that creates what is called perceptual bias. In other words, the authority states something as being true, and then you and I are set up to see a world that establishes that truth.

This affects an area of the brain called the reticular activating system, which dictates what you pay attention to in your environment. The statements of authority effect your perception.

Many times in my live presentations I’ll have an audience member come up on stage after I ask “who’s afraid of snakes?” I’ll give this person an envelope with a picture of a rattlesnake on the front and ask them to open it. I’ll tell them to “trust me-it’s safe!” They open the envelope to a popping sound and movement and usually scream and jump away!

Then I show them what they actually responded to. It wasn’t real. It was their perception. They expected danger so the slightest evidence to support their expectations was exactly what they paid attention to. What they responded to was a wire in the shape of a U with a rubber band stretched across and a washer in the middle. The washer was wound tight so when the envelope was opened it unwound making a popping sound. This is called “perceptual bias.”

After the individual sees this I then wind it up again and ask them to open the envelope one more time. Of course, this time there is no scream. What was different? Their expectations were different. Their perception was different. Their mind-set is the only thing that was different.

What mind-set are the authorities creating? One of doom and gloom. You better not put that new flooring in your office right now because that’s non-essential spending and with today’s uncertain economy, the failing stock market, uncertain world status, rising gas prices, you better spend as little as possible.

You better not make that new hire or that acquisition to gain market share in this uncertain market. You better not implement that training program now. You better wait to live!

What about these authorities? Who are they any way? Are they right? If they are then how do you explain the realtor inNew Jersey, selling residential properties that is having the best year of her life? How do you explain the financial advisor and the estate planning, asset protection attorney who are having the greatest years ever in their businesses and are taking a 2011 $100,000 Mercedes for a test-drive as they upgrade their personal vehicle? How about the small business owner that just signed two major agreements with clients and is now buying a new Bonanza airplane as he redefines his wants versus needs? What about the doom and gloom?

Let’s take a closer look at how humans respond to authority. Up until about five years ago it was thought to be impossible to grow new nerve tissue, that is, until it was done! The mind-set that nerve tissue could not regenerate was destroyed when the protein ocumodulin was discovered to generate this process. Doing what was thought to be impossible destroyed the old mind-set.

Consider the now famous experiments of by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram. This experiment measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure that instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. He described his findings in detail in his 1974 book, “Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.”

Obedience is a basic element in the structure of social life. Some system of authority is a requirement of all living. For many of us obedience is a deeply ingrained behavior tendency and overrides ethics, sympathy and common sense.

Milgram set up an experiment to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.

“Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and with the subjects’ ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not.” (StanleyMilgram)

The basic experiment was to be a study of memory and learning. One participant was designated as the “teacher” and the other as the “learner”. The experimenter explains that the study is concerned with the effects of punishment on learning.

A list of paired words is read and whenever a mistake is made the teacher is to deliver electric shocks that escalate in degree. The shocks consisted of levers labeled from slight shock, moderate, strong, very strong, all the way up to severe and two levers labeled simply XXX.

What the teacher didn’t know was that the learner was an actor, never receiving any shocks at all. This experiment was focused on the teacher, not the learner.

With each incorrect response the teacher was instructed to execute a higher voltage, a more painful shock. As the actor (learner) would appropriately scream in agony, the experimenter simply gave the teacher one of the following responses;

  1. Please continue with the next higher shock level.
  2. The experiment requires that you continue.
  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
  4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

The prediction was that virtually all of the subjects would refuse to obey the experimenter as the learner was in extreme pain. They expected only 4% would reach the level of 300 volts.

What they found however was quite the opposite. Dr. Thomas Blass of the University of Maryland Baltimore County performed a meta-analysis on the results of repeated performances of the experiment. He fount that the percentage of participants who are prepared to inflict fatal voltages remains remarkably constant, 61-66% regardless of time or place.

Professor Milgram elaborated two theories explaining the results. The first is the theory of conformism describing the relationship between the group of reference and the individual person. A subject, who has neither ability nor expertise to make decisions, especially in a crisis, will leave decision making to the group and its hierarchy. The group is the person’s behavioral model. This is also referred to as “group think”.

The second is the agentic state theory, wherein, per Milgram, the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person’s wishes, and he therefore no longer sees himself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of mind-set has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.

What you see here is the common theme that obedience to an authority is anchored in forfeiting your responsibility over to that person. You may not be an expert on the economy so you forfeit that over to authorities and then you behave accordingly.

That’s the key here. You can participate and be a part of an ongoing recession in 2011 and obey the authorities, or you can take responsibility for your choices, for your actions and take the necessary steps to generate the successes that you demand for yourself now and in the future. Or, you can of course suffer because after all, it’s a recession! Reality is in the mind of the observer. What will you pay attention to in 2011-12? It’s your choice.

Motivational Speaker and Behavioral Expert Gives a Key: “You’ve Got to Have Your Why!”

You’ve Got to Have Your Why!

Imagine there is a two foot wide by twenty foot long board on the ground and I place a $100 at the end and ask you to walk across to the other side. Would you do it? Most people would answer yes.

What are you paying attention to? You are focusing on the desired result. You are focusing on successfully reaching your goal and getting the money. This is a positive “moving towards” strategy.

Now imagine that I take that same plank of wood and place it twenty stories high between two buildings. I tell you that this is a no wind day, gravity is not a factor and you have just as much of a chance to be successful walking across that board twenty stories high as you had on the ground. Would you do it? Most people answer NO.

What’s different this time? It’s all about how it occurs to you. Its how you observe this and the “story” you tell yourself about it. Your focus is different. At twenty stories high now your focus is on failure. You have a “moving away” strategy. Your thoughts are consumed with “I might fall off the board and die”.

Manifestation will occur either way. Your thoughts are electrical to chemical processes and the chemicals produced, neural transmitters have a charge and like attracts like so you manifest into reality that which you are dwelling on. You make it happen either positive or negative.

If you could change your observation, how this occurs to you, then you could change your outcome. It has to do with your WHY. What would need to be on the other end of that board for you to shift your focus from failure to success? It certainly is not the $100. What if it was one million dollars? For some that amount would create the shift but for most the answer still would be NO.

What if it was your family on the other side and the only way you could save them would be to cross that board? Would you do it then? For most that is the perceptual tipping point. No longer are you concerned with your own safety. There is a bigger purpose or WHY. Once you find your WHY you will also experience a shift in what you pay attention to.

Lets’ apply this to a common theme that many people can identify with, weight control. Doctors can talk about the obesity epidemic, the negative health effects of being over weight such as cardio vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other life threatening circumstances all attributed to being overweight. Doctors can tell you that you’re going to die if you don’t lose weight and this still will not cause the perceptual shift for most people.

This has to do with immediate versus delayed gratification. You can overeat today, skip exercise today and tomorrow you will still be alive. Since the negative impact is an accumulative effect over a long period of time it’s just too easy to “start” later. It’s the starting that stops most people.”

You need to develop your WHY that is linked to right now, the present. I’ll use myself as an example. This may sound strange but it will illustrate my point.

For a long time I wanted to lose weight. It was a good idea but the problem was that I wasn’t heavy enough to make it much of a big deal. I just wanted to lose about 40 pounds to look and feel better. I was always exercising and my food choices were outstanding, low fat, high fiber but I just ate too much. Grilled chicken and non fat cottage cheese are good choices but four chicken breasts and an entire container of cottage cheese at about a thousand calories is just too much.

I’ve got to have my WHY that is related to the present. I found it with skydiving. I’m a pilot and skydiver. I fly out to the drop zone twice a month to make a few jumps. I jump with a group of people ranging from four to twenty. This is called formation skydiving. The most exciting position to have is to be the last one out of the plane and “dive” to the base formation that has formed in advance. You really are flying like an eagle and it’s a blast.

However, when I was heavy I would fall too fast and “go low” on the formation. This means that I was not able to slow my fall rate and I would just go right on by the rest of the group. This is a bad thing.

This became my WHY that was linked to the present. Right now I see the impact of being heavy creating a result that I didn’t like. When I lost my weight it all changed. At two hundred pounds I can dive on any skydive and be able to adjust my fall rate to match that of the slower falling group. At two hundred and ten I am guaranteed to go low.

This has been the incentive that I needed to keep the weight off. No matter what your goal is there needs to be a focus of the benefit for right now. Behavior is all about cost versus benefit, time delay versus immediate gratification.

If you can’t find your why you can use behavioral contracting to get yourself to comply with the behavior for the short term, this week. Make a specific commitment for the next seven days and designate a severe consequence for non performance. If it is more painful then the pain of the activity then this will work to shift your attention and get you to take the action over the next seven days. This will at least buy you some time to figure out your WHY!

I’m always only an email away from accountability, plus a hundred bucks if you don’t do what you said you would do!

What Motivates You? What Are You Committed To?

What Motivates You? What are You Committed to?

 When I ask that question I get a variety of replies such as, my family, doing the right thing and world peace. For the commitment part I hear answers such as prosperity, health, to give to others, gratitude.

This may be the illusion that people are operating under but let me restate that it is an illusion, a lie. If you want to know what someone is committed to all you have to do is look at what they have.

If a person is miserable then they are committed to misery. If a person is in a struggling relationship then they are committed to being in a struggling relationship.

If a person lives in clutter and chaos then that’s what they are committed to. All the rest is a lie!

I’m having this conversation with you without judgment. This is not good or bad, it just is. It’s all about genetic coding and pattern recognition. We are genetically coded to recognize what can hurt us and to avoid. We are coded to save time in our response by recognizing patterns and responding well before we are conscious of the threat.

Our five plus million year’s evolution has us coded for survival, not prosperity. Any trait that favors survival, thus the passing of our genes is copied and passed on.

Consider these numbers. It has been estimated that we have 100 billion brain cells, each capable of tens of thousands of interactions with other neurons. We are bombarded with 100 billion bits of information per second. Of this we pay attention to only 2000 bits of which seven can make it into our short term memory and we can take action on only one input at a time.

Humans have a very limited perceptual capacity. We can see only certain wavelengths of light whereas other species can see frequencies that are beyond our abilities. Same with sound, hearing and all of our senses. Since we have such a limited capacity evolution has taken our small bandwidth of perceptual ability and dedicated it to seeing danger. We are predisposed to be negative and see what can hurt us, not opportunities.

I can put what motivates all of us into one phrase;

All human performance is the avoidance of pain or the seeking of comfort.

This is what dictates what makes it into our bandwidth of awareness. We are coded to see danger. Our brain is designed to recognize the highest level of perceived pain and then compel us to avoid.

So what does this mean to you on a daily basis?

It means that you will have a difficult time having your actions match your intentions. I’ll assume that you have a business plan for next year. You have your goals, objectives, and activities that you need to accomplish to reach those goals.

Now you plan for the next seven days. Before you can take an action your brain searches like a computer for any link of those actions to pain. When you find the link to pain, and you will, your brain compels you to avoid and then you justify the avoidance with rationalization and you never know that you are doing this. You think that the truth is you were just too busy!

Do dogs love bones?

No, they love MEAT but they settle for bones. We are all avoidance machines. We avoid making prospecting calls, calling on potential high net worth house holds, developing strategic alliances with attorneys and other financial experts all in the name of being too busy.

The reality is that we are settling for mediocrity because of human nature’s limitations. Make not mistake about it, we are all driven to avoid pain and seek comfort.

You can not fight this human genetic coding. All you can do is surrender to it and use it to your advantage. Here’s how.

Identify one activity that you give your word that you will do by the end of the week. This should be an activity that you are capable of doing. It must be realistic. It should also be an activity that you most likely would resist tacking action on and would not do without some special treatment.

Now let’s leverage human nature. Since we know that our genetic coding is to recognize the highest level of perceived pain and avoid it, let’s leverage this by placing a higher pain on the activity.

For example, imagine that your commitment is to call a wealthy individual who is on the board of the city hospital foundation along with you. This person knows who you are, what you do yet is not a client.

Your brain searches this activity and links it to being very dangerous. That’s right; being rejected or embarrassed is viewed as dangerous. You are therefore compelled to avoid this dangerous activity and then you justify with rationalization.

This is the way that it should be unless there is an intervention.

Let’s change your approach. Send someone an email that you will call this person by the end of the week and if you don’t you will pay them $100. Send it to me; I’ll hold you accountable for $100! (

Now your brain acts in this manner. The outer cortex is the executive thinking area and it contemplates making the call to this person. Immediately there is a connection to the hypothalamus (memory of past experiences) where you search for any past experiences of prospecting and danger. You find an example of great rejection and there is a shot of excitement in the limbic area of the brain referred to as the limbic system or more specifically a structure called the amygdale. This is the emotional area of the brain and it creates this tremendous non-conscious command to avoid. This is called a cortical limbic loop.

After you place a $100 consequence on this action, you will have a different cortical limbic loop. You will still be avoiding the highest level of perceived pain but this time the avoidance will be the avoidance of the fine by taking the action and you make the call.

Guess what, it was easy. The prospect tells you he is glad that you called.

Try this. It is called Behavioral Contracting. It works almost 100% of the time. Avoid your way to the top. Remember, I’m only an email away.

How to Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving-Left brain thoughts won’t work!

The average Thanksgiving meal equals 3,000 grams of fat and the average person takes in a daily total caloric intake of 4,500 calories.

You can search anything on the internet these days so I Googled “How to Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving”. There were lots of articles, comments, stories and tips including the following;

1. Eat throughout the day prior to the main meal.
2. Exercise before the main meal.
3. Drink two or three glasses of water before the main meal.
4. Stick to single portions and leave food on your plate.
5. Don’t have seconds.

All of these suggestions seemed very reasonable. Except for one thing. They won’t work! Being reasonable is the lowest level of human consciousness!

The above 5 suggestions are not likely to have an impact on your emotional mind. I like to emphasize three areas of the brain. Here is an analogy.

Make a fist with both hands and put your knuckles together so the heels of your hands are touching. Roll your hands so you are looking at the top of your knuckles. This represents the outer cortex of the brain. This is the area that is responsible for rational thought, executive decision making and analytical thinking.

Open your hands and the fingers represent the deep area of the brain called the limbic system. This is the oldest area of the brain that is often referred to as the reptilian brain. It is the brain of our ancestors. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional responses, fear, avoidance, disgust and arousal.

The wrists represent the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system, breathing and heart rate.

The above suggestions about overeating only appeal to the outer cortex, the thinking area of the brain. This also refers to the left brain, or the conscious analytical mind. The conscious brain agrees that it is a good idea to limit caloric intake.

Remember the fingers in the brain analogy, the limbic system? The limbic system is genetically coded for feast or famine. The limbic system begins a hormonal cascade that signals the area of the brain called the appestat to delay its signals to the fat cells to release the hormone leptin. When leptin is in the blood stream you feel satisfied and stop eating. However, this primitive food scarcity mechanism of delay enables you to binge so you can survive the famine and it still operates as if your life was in danger. You can not be logical or reasonable around your eating at Thanksgiving. You have to do battle on the appropriate battle ground. You’ve got to address the emotional limbic area of the brain.

Here is how you can win this game called overeating at Thanksgiving.

1. Get MAD!
2. Declare the commitment. (Cortex)
3. Add accountability through the use of a behavioral contract. (Cortical limbic loop)

Let’s take these one at a time. First, get MAD. Make A Decision! You’ve got to understand your “why”. Why bother eating sensibly at one of maybe two times a year where you can allow yourself to overeat.

You might decide that you can overeat on Thanksgiving and Christmas and then leave it at that. This would be a fine decision. Have as much as you want. You can get back on track next week. If this is your approach then you do not need to read this article. You are fine, no judgment, enjoy.

However, you might also think that Thanksgiving is not an excuse to get off of your plan and disrupt your healthy eating habits. If your decision is to stay within your plan then read on.

By the way, I congratulate you for either decision. It is a very weak position to be indecisive.

Step one: Make a decision.
Step two: Declare the commitment.

Specifically declare what you are committed to. Are you only going to have one plate, no seconds, whatever your decision is declare it specifically. Someone else needs to know exactly what you are committing to.

Next you will need to appeal to the emotional part of the brain, the limbic system. The limbic system is like a radar sensing environment. It is constantly monitoring the inputs coming in from the outer cortex and all of the senses for any threats to survival.

You have a lifetime of what are called cortical limbic loops where just the thinking of taking an action is linked by the hypothalamus to previous threatening and dangerous experiences of pain. This constant dance occurs on a subconscious level and is constantly showing up in your life as avoidance. Unfortunately there is also another step of rationalization where you justify the avoidance and never realize that you are doing so.

The brain is genetically coded to find and respond to the highest level of perceived pain, always, just like your life depended on it. That is because at one time during human evolution the ability to recognize pain and avoid it was necessary for survival.

After you have declared your commitment now you must engage the limbic system to compel you to abide by your commitment. The commitment is in the cortex now you must engage fear to drive you to avoid, but to avoid over eating. You do this in step three.

1. Get MAD!
2. Declare the commitment.
3. Add accountability through the use of a behavioral contract.

You must engage the avoidance power of the brain by having a high pain as a consequence for non performance. There must be a penalty if you don’t do what you said you would do. This penalty must be perceived as a higher pain than the pain of not allowing yourself to overeat. Your brain is designed to compel you to avoid the highest level of perceived pain. If you told another person that if you had seconds on Thanksgiving then you would pay them $100 I’ll bet that you would have only one serving on Thanksgiving!

This is a behavioral contract. Here are the dynamics;

Specific Declaration + Accountability = Elite Performance

Accountability has two parts. The first part is the check in. Someone outside of yourself checks in with you. Did you do what you said you would do?

The second part is the big one. There must be an enforceable consequence for non performance. This consequence must be the highest level of perceived pain. If it is then human nature will compel you to avoid overeating. It really is that simple.

Try it out and see what happens. Can’t find someone to hold you accountable? Use me. I’m only an email away, and $100 if you don’t do what you say you will do. ( I’ll bet you won’t find this recommendation anywhere else on the internet!

The Secret of Life Time Weight Control

The alarm rings at 3:50 am. You swing your hand over and press the snooze button without opening your eyes. Settling back into your warm and comfortable bed you notice how sweet it is to continue to sleep.

The alarm rings at 4:00 am and you repeat the process. This goes on until 5:30 am when you make the decision that this will be a non-workout day.

This is a worldwide problem. Why is that? I’m going to answer that question and give you a solution.

The problem is human nature. There exists an undeniable genetic code that translates into a compelling instinct:

All Human Performance is the Avoidance of Pain or the Seeking of Comfort.

This is the code of life. This is what motivates every human being. As a species we are very limited in our perceptual ability. We can see only certain frequencies of wavelengths of light, hear only a limited frequency distribution of sound, in fact, all of our senses have limitations. Since we have these limitations, evolution has genetically designed us to recognize the highest threats to our survival, the most potentially painful and dangerous experiences and to avoid them without thinking. This is called a cortical limbic loop.

We are predisposed to recognize our most dangerous and painful threats and then compelled to avoid them.

We don’t have an option here. This is an instinct that does not request our compliance, it compels it. We are avoidance machines!

We also have language. Humans are “meaning making machines”. We give meaning to everything that happens in our lives. It is rare that we accept things or events as just being. We are constantly flipping from the past to the future and having a dialogue about what we are experiencing.

Here’s how this works. You have a goal of weight loss. You intend to wake up at 3:50 am and exercise. You are motivated to do this. You’re committed. You set the alarm for 3:50 am and go to sleep with the greatest of intentions.

The alarm rings at 3:50 am. Your brain immediately goes through a search like a computer looking for any link to pain or any threat associated with the activity. Exercise is hard. You might be tired throughout the day unless you sleep in. It’s cold outside. You have found the links to pain.

Next, you are compelled to avoid. You can’t help it. The trigger has already occurred. Then language comes in and you have an internal dialogue that justifies your avoidance. You never consciously come into conflict. You rationalize and you don’t know that you’re doing it.

The purpose of rationalization is to protect you from feeling guilty for not doing what you said you would do. The method of rationalization is to justify your avoidance.

You start to think that you’re over training and an equally important part of physical fitness is rest. You pay attention to the pain you have in your back and you remember the last time you worked out through that type of pain your back went out and you lost several days of production. You count how many days you have already worked out this week and you justify that you can make it up tomorrow.

The solution lies in understanding how the brain works. This would involve an examination of the reticular activating system. The reticular formation as it is called is a bundle of densely packed nerve cells located in the central core of the brainstem. Roughly the size of a little finger, the reticular formation runs from the top of the spinal cord into the middle of the brain. This area of tightly packed nerve cells contains nearly 70% of the brain’s estimated 200 billion nerve cells-or a total of over 140 billion cells.

The reason for this tremendous concentration of brainpower is because the R.A.S. is your front line of defense and is an absolute protector of your survival. The R.A.S. instantly recognizes friend or foe and starts the necessary physiological and psychological response.

You already have a default program coding the R.A.S. That coding is the search and recognition of perceived danger and then the activation of what is referred to as the “survival mechanism” of avoidance and rationalization. This is an instinct, not an option. You will be compelled to avoid all that you perceive as painful, threatening or dangerous.

Reality is not an issue here. It doesn’t matter weather the threat is real or not. Your perception is your reality. Rejection from sales calls is not a real threat yet that perception keeps many sales people average as they avoid prospecting calls and then justify how busy they are. It’s the same process going on. Your brain does not differentiate between what is real or imagined. You are an avoidance machine, it’s an instinct.

There is good news. You can have an intervention. You can influence what the R.A.S. drives you to pay attention to. The solution lies in surrendering to avoidance. Surrender to the ways of human nature. Ride the horse the direction it is headed. The way that you do this is through Behavioral Contracting™.

Consider the following formula for excellence through a behavioral contract:

Specific Declarations + Accountability = Elite Performance

Specifically make a decision about what you want and why. Answer the question, “Why bother?” Next ask yourself, “What are the actions I need to take to reach this goal?” Follow that question with “What actions will I take over the next seven days?”

Now, you’re almost ready to influence the R.A.S. but there is another major part still missing. That would be accountability. Accountability has two parts. The first part is the check in, “Did you do what you said you would do?” This must come from another person outside of you.

The “check in” is not enough however. You must have the next part of accountability and this is the part that will influence what you pay attention to. The second part of accountability is an enforceable painful consequence for non-performance.

The consequence is the key. It must be more painful then the perceived pain embedded within the activity itself. For example, what is more painful, getting up early in the morning and exercising or paying $100.00 to another person if you don’t? As you’re lying in bed and the alarm rings at 3:50 am, your brain searches for the highest perceived level of pain. Instantly it notices your Seratonin level is high from sleeping throughout the night, it’s warm under the covers, exercise is hard, it would be so nice just to sleep in and roll over and hit the snooze button. However, the brain continues to search for the highest level of perceived pain and you make the association of how painful it would be to have to pay a fine of $100 for not getting up and you perceive that as the highest level of pain. Now, you are compelled to get up and do what you said you would do. You can’t help it. Human nature is making you avoid the highest level of pain. You are a perfect avoidance machine.

This is an undeniable intervention that will predispose you to find the opportunity to take the action that avoids the penalty. Use behavioral contracting and you will see immediate results. Apply this to one activity and watch yourself avoid your way to accomplishment. I’m only an e-mail away for accountability.

Bob Davies Presentation to Million Dollar Round Table, 2011 on Performance Excellence

NOTE: My power point slides did not copy to this post. Please send an email to and I’ll send them to you. Three hour presentation.

Good morning. Good you’re excited, let’s begin.

Before I begin I have a few nuts and bolts to go over. I’ve got a bit less than three hours to be with you today. I know your industry very well. First, I’m a fan of the industry and a client. I also coach some of the top producers in the industry as well as a top asset protection and estate planning attorney so I get to see your industry from their perspective as well.

Even though I know the industry very well, I don’t know your individual set of circumstances. Despite that, what do you think the chances are that over the next two hours and 48 minutes that what you’re about to hear about behavioral will have a significant impact in your lives. What do you think the chances are, high or low?

…[audience shouts high]

Let me hear it again…

[audience shouts even louder…high]

Actually it’s very low. It’s very low that this program will go beyond entertainment into impact. Then you might be asking, “why bother?”

The “why bother” is because it’s possible. It is possible that what you’re going to experience in the next 2 hours and 46 minutes can stick, can help you to influence what you pay attention to, to influence your habits. Is it likely, NO. Is it possible? YES and that’s what we’re going for, that possibility.

With that in mind I have simplified. There is only one take away. This is a behavioral dynamic that you didn’t have when you walked into the room that you will have when you leave. It is this one dynamic that has a chance to be significant.

I’ll ask you to put blinders on and imagine that I’m talking just to you. Imagine that this program is designed just for you. That’s right, I’m your personal one on one coach for the next 2 plus hours.

I also want to make a suggestion to your listening to the program. Please listen without judgment. Here’s an example. If I were to say to you that there is a very high correlation between being a decamillionaire and being in a health and fitness program, two thirds of the decamillionaires exercised regularly,[1] and you are not in an exercise program, then to listen with judgment would be to say that you should be in an exercise program.

To listen without judgment would simply to observe that you are not doing something that highly successful people do, period. So no judgment.

Ok, let’s begin. I want to start off by telling you about my first flight in the clouds without an instructor. I was flying from John Wayne airport to a charity organization called Angel Flight in Santa Monica. I was bringing my marketing director. It was forecast to be a 1000 foot ceiling. What this means is that at 1000 feet 100% of the sky is covered with clouds. I was going to be in the clouds.

When I got to the airport it was cloudy. I did everything I needed to do to and then received clearance to hold short of the active runway. Finally the tower called my aircraft. I was hoping they were going to say we’re too busy for small aircraft on this cloudy day and to turn around and go back. They didn’t say that. They said, “cleared for takeoff!”

I rolled down the center line, reached lift off speed and up in the air I went. The higher I got the more clouds, 500 feet 800 feet finally 1000 feet and it was like someone put a blanket over my face at 1000 feet. Here’s what it looked like at 1000 feet.

Let’s take a closer look and here’s what I saw:

The problem with this is that when there is no visual reference you can’t tell what the aircraft is doing. That’s because we have very poor perceptual abilities. Let me show you how easy it is to deceive human perception.

Are these lines parallel or do they slope?                                                        It looks like they are slanting up and down but if you place a                                              ruler under each line you will see that they are absolutely                                         straight lines. You can’t trust human perception. Our

perceptions are limited. In reference to the black and white squares you can’t trust your beliefs. Here’s another;

Which line is longest? Again, it looks like to bottom line is                                       longer but if you take your ruler you’ll see that they are                                            exactly the same.

The human senses are limited and you don’t see the true picture until you change what you are in reference to. That is what this one behavioral dynamic that I mentioned to you will do. It will change your reference point.

I remember how nervous I was. I also remember saying to myself that I’ve been in this situation before with an instructor and that I’ve always flown the plane myself. Imagine that my passenger was a flight instructor. What kind of conversation would I be having? My flight instructor would be saying, stay on your system of instruments.

This is what will save my life:


I’ll talk about this one circled piece of equipment called the attitude indicator. Just by looking at this one instrument I can tell what the airplane is doing. If I see the miniature airplane in the blue and tilted to the right then I know I am in a climbing left turn. There is no other way that I can know that other than by staying on my system and following the instruments.

There is a reason that I mention this to you. Today I am giving you a system that if you follow it you will have predicable results just like myself as a pilot. I can’t be in reference to the clouds so I change my reference to my instruments. That’s what we are doing today-changing your behavioral reference to a system. This is a system of elite performance. This system will result in three words;

Peace of Mind.

What goes into having peace of mind? There are three parts of your life that must be fulfilled to have peace of mind. They are

  1. health
  2. business
  3. personal


If just one of those areas is not fulfilled you will not have peace of mind. So, let me ask you a question. How many of you are at least interested in improving your results in one of those areas? [audience raises their hands]

Who would you say your biggest competitor is to reaching your goals?


Is it the economy, the interest rate, the eroding forces on money, is tax issues, pending legislation, regulatory and compliance issues, your clients other advisors, the weather?

No, you are your biggest competitor. This program has two parts. The first part is to identify what does it mean to be my own biggest competitor and the second part is an intervention, a method of competing.

Let’s take a look at human nature. Here is the first aspect of human nature to examine.

The way that you THINK  effects how you FEEL and that effects what you DO.

You and I are going to resist activities that we don’t feel like doing. For example, if you don’t feel like getting up at 3:50 am and going to the gym you’re not going to do it. If you don’t feel like staying on a diet you’re not going to do it. If you don’t feel like reading or getting gas in your car you’re not going to do it.

If you don’t feel like…..


Basically my first point says that you and I are going to resist doing activities that we don’t feel like doing.

Many times there are trainers in the room. Trainers ome up to me all the time and tell me that they agree with my first point. I ask them what do they use to enhance the results of their training. The most common response I get back is goal setting.

Goal setting doesn’t work! Goal setting is going to be a part of my recommendations but not by itself. If all you did is set goals here is what you would find;


The top line has your goals, your intentions. This is what you want to accomplish, your business plan. There is another word that goes on that line and that word is “potential”. Your potential is not relevant. The only thing that matters is what you actually do-the bottom line!

I want to examine why this happens. You have goals, and you have activities that you want to accomplish. Your goals might include first year commissions, AUM, new house holds, new assets under management, referrals, product goals, qualification goals, carrier trips, MDRT, Top of the Table, etc.

You have activities that you intend to accomplish and implement. For example,


You say you are going to prospect, you intend to prospect but you just get too BUSY!

You are all set to prospect and then something happens;


You intend to market, to prospect, to set appointments to see clients and you were just Too Busy!

I know is so easy to believe that the truth is that you were just too busy. However, remember my point that you can’t trust human perception. Let me show you another example.

[magic trick-thumb tip for a brief video go to and click on 7 minute video]

I know that it looked like my hands were empty but as you now know they were not. It’s the same thing here. You can’t trust you own interpretation of your circumstances and your observations that you are just too busy. You will have to change your reference.

Since perception is the key, let’s see how perceptions are formed. What is this line, concave or convex?


It depends on which side you’re standing. If you’re on the A side this is a concave line. If you are on the b side it’s convex. What’s the truth? The truth is not relevant. The only thing that matters is “does what you’re paying attention to support you in taking the actions that you said you would take?”

I’m going to give you a technique that is so powerful that if all you took away from this presentation is this technique it would be worth your time and money to attend. It’s called the “STOP” technique. Here is what it means. When you thinking is not supporting you simply say STOP and Flip to an opposite point of view. Here is an example.

I say that health is my number one value. I intend to get up at 3:50 am to exercise. I set the alarm. Do I get up at 3:50 am? It depends on which side I’m on. I might be on the a side and say “I’m tired. I’ve worked out 18 of the last 21 days. I need to sleep in”. That might be absolutely true. However, the truth doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is does my thinking support my taking the actions? So when you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop, and flip to an opposite point of view.

Here is the problem. You won’t do this. It takes too much energy to do so. Our brain is designed to conserve energy. Consider the following; what do you see[2]:

In the first photo you probably see a dog. In the second a triangle. This is left over from evolutionary days. It favors survival to be able to see a pattern and recognize what it is and begin a response long before you have consciously figured out what it really is. This saves energy and favors survival.

Consider this problem:

The most common response that I get is C, can not be determined. Audiences want to know if Jodi is married or not. It doesn’t matter. The answer is Yes. This is an example of cognitive miser. It takes a lot of energy for the outer cortex, the area just above the bridge of the nose and between the ears, to work through this problem, so as soon as it thinks it has a solution, in this case, you need to know if Jodi is married, then it stops paying attention to the problem to save energy.

It takes too much energy to use the stop technique. However, good news, the one behavioral dynamic that I have for you will do the same thing as the stop technique, but automatically and using less energy.

I have a masters degree in psychology[3]. What this means is that I’ve spent a lot of time teaching rats to press down levers to get food.

I want to take you into the laboratory and look at a simple scientific experiment that will help me to explain why this one behavioral dynamic that I have for you will work so powerfully. Here is what we have[4].


We have a wooden behavioral box and we place a rat in the center. We open the gates and the rat sees the food to the right and runs to the right. Here’s the next thing that we do. We place a metal grid on the floor and put a shock on the metal grid. This is what the metal grid looks like and this is what the rat looks like. We also place a device on the skull of the rat so we can see in real time how its’ brain is firing when it gets shocked.

We open the gates this time and the rat doesn’t know that there is a shock on the metal grid so it doesn’t pay attention to it. Instead its attention is on the goal, the food. It starts up to reach its goal and gets a tremendous shock. Instinctively it runs over to the other side with the comfortable rags. There is a built in instinct in the nervous systems of all of life called the survival mechanism. This is the part of the brain that is wired to recognize danger and to create the avoidance of the pain for the comfort.

We also are able to see the actual brain scan of when the rat is shocked and how it gets electrical activity in the cortex and the limbic area when it avoids. This is called a cortical limbic loop.

The last thing that we do is remove the shock from the metal grid but leave the grid. We put the rat back, open the gates and what does it do? Here is the question;

W T F ?

That’s right, what’s the focus. The rat focuses on the obstacle, the previous shock and not on the opportunity, the food. We also see the exact same brain scan in anticipation of the shock even though the rat is never actually shocked.

The rat will die of starvation but will not go over the metal grid again. This is called learned helplessness. Where is the pain in sales? It’s the rejection. Why is it so difficult for people to lose weight? Because the activities that they need to do are linked to pain.

When you have an activity that you want to do linked to pain the survival mechanism kicks in and compels you to avoid what is viewed as life threatening pain.

You and I also have built in instincts that compel avoidance and are no longer appropriate. I call this evolutionary debris. Here is an example. Imagine you are out taking a hike in the woods and you see a bear. Immediately your heart rate increases, breathing increases, your blood will leave the extremities and go to your major muscle groups, digestion stops, adrenalin, cortisol are released, you get a shot of endorphins. You get this physiological cocktail where you are ready to fight as strong as you can or run away as fast as you possibly can. This is called the “flight or fight” response. It is absolutely proper for this to occur in the face of danger. But here’s the problem. It doesn’t only occur when your life is really in danger, it occurs anytime there is a perceived threat real or not.

Imagine your driving your car and someone else cuts you off and gives you an obscene gesture. Your heart rate increases, breathing increases, your blood will leave the extremities and go to your major muscle groups, digestion stops, adrenalin, cortisol are released, you get a shot of endorphins but you are sitting in your car. This is not a real threat but you respond as if it was.

Another example of an inappropriate instinctual response is the appestat area of the brain. This is the part of the brain that signals the fat cells to release a hormone called leptin. When leptin is in the body you feel satisfied and stop eating. However, because of evolutionary needs it favored survival to delay the onset of leptin allowing you to eat more because you never know when your next meal is going to happen. However today this is not appropriate because we don’t have feast or famine and there is no evolutionary advantage to delay the release of feeling full.

Let me give you some notes about the survival mechanism. The survival mechanism overrides my desire to _______(reach my goals by taking action) and compels me to _________ (avoid).

However, we don’t notice that we are avoiding the actions that we need to be taking to be successful. Evolution strikes again. Let me ask you three confrontive questions;

  1. how many of you would agree that you know what to do that if you did it in your current set of circumstances that you would be more successful then you currently are?
  2. how many of you would agree that not only do you know what to do but you also are capable of doing it?
  3. how many of you would agree that not only do you know what to do, are capable of doing it but also that you are not doing everything that you could possibly be doing to be as successful as you could possibly be?


I appreciate your honesty. I can just feel the love in the room. However, it’s not likely that you are walking around in your lives feeling inadequate about your performances. If you were feeling inadequate how would your self image be, high or low?

That’s right, low. And what mood would you be in with a low self image? (audiences says depressed) Scientists have studied people who have been depressed and they find that there is a decrease in the white blood cell counts. What would happen to you if there is a decrease in your white blood cell count? (audience-get sick)

Our brain is designed for survival, not for prosperity. When you and I are avoiding uncomfortable activities we don’t see our avoidance. As humans we have very limited perception. Don’t worry about these numbers but we are bombarded by 100 million bits of information per second. To put it in perspective we have over 100 billion brain cells each capable of trillions of  interactions. There are over 30,000 brain cells on the head of a pin. However, as humans we have very limited perception. We can’t smell ordors that dogs can. We can’t see images that are visiable to other species. This chart shows how much light is actually visible to humans, the narrow band in the center.


We can’t see on the subatomic scale. Einstein would say that this wall is not solid. He would say that there is more space then there is matter but that it is vibrating at such a frequency that is so fast that with our limited human perception we see it as a solid.


The closest example I can give you is that of an airplane propeller that spins so fast it looks like a solid plane.

Let me illustrate how limited human perception really is. Have you ever put a pen or pencil in your mouth? Watch what reveals itself beyond the realm of human limits of perception when you increase the magnification of the head of a pin;


As you can see there is quite a world beyond human perception. Since our perception is so limited, evolution has taken this small bandwidth of perceptual ability and defaulted it to a very specific role, that of seeing through the clutter whatever threatens our survival. We are genetically wired to be negative and not to see opportunity, but to see our threats and what can hurt us.

How do you think you are at paying attention? Do you think you can take your limited bandwidth of perceptual ability and focus it? Let’s test it. I’m going to show you a 30 second video. I want you to count how many passes the white shirt team makes[5]. Here we go;

The answer is 15 but that’s not what’s important. How many                                               of you saw the gorilla walk into the center, beat its chest and                                               then walk off?

How many of you are saying, “what gorilla?” I’m glad that some of you did actually see the gorilla because you can verify that I’m playing the same video. Now let’s watch it again but this time don’t count any passes, just watch the video.

[those who didn’t see the gorilla will see it this time]

I’ll let you make your own application of what that means. To me it just shows that we get so bogged down by our daily priorities, interruptions, circumstances that we just don’t see the opportunities that are right in front of us.

When you and I are avoiding uncomfortable activities we are not going that take our narrow bandwidth of perception and see opportunities to take these actions that we hold as “painful”, instead we go into what’s called selective perception. We are going to see our circumstances, our obstacles, our priorities, our interruptions, our stories, our excuses and there’s a word for this process, would you write the word in the blank of # 2, the word is RATIONALIZATION.


Rationalization is what you mean when you say I am my biggest competitor. Rationalization is internal dialogue. How many of you have internal dialogue. I want to give you a metaphor about this internal self talk. Remember the movie Alien, the astronaut is on the spaceship and looks up and the alien creature grabs him by the face and pulls him in and kills him. That is my metaphor for rationalization (hand on face). This is fear based internal dialogue and it almost always ends in the phrase “you’re going to die”.

Here’s an example. I say I’m going to wake up at 3:50 am and go to the gym. I intend to do this, I set the alarm. The alarm rings at 3:50. The alien is asleep on the couch in my bedroom. It wakes up, looks at the clock, freaks out and jumps on my face and starts this conversation, “are you crazy, do you know what time it is, you can’t keep pushing yourself like this you’re going to depress your immune system, your going to die! Stay in bed, stay in bed.

We all have this internal dialogue. I want you to experience the limiting aspect of human natures fear based internal dialogue. All I need to do to have you experience this is to put you in a circumstance where you will associate an action with pain, or being uncomfortable, or embarrassing. Are you willing to compete?

Here is what I’m going to ask you to do. When I say “ready set go” I want you to scream as loud as you possibly can these four words, “fear is a lie”. Scream as loud as you can like your life depends on it.

How many of you are already thinking “I’m not going to do it!”

How many of you are thinking “I’ll do it loud enough that he doesn’t bother me but I’m not going to scream as loud as I can”

Go ahead and take your right hand and put it right on your face. That’s the alien. When I say pull it off take if off. It will make a popping sound and try to get right back on but keep it off. Ok, pull it off now! Feel it trying to get right back on? You might want to name it when you get home. Ok the words are fear is a lie and the cue is ready set go. Now before we do this, who is in control of the choices you make?

You think you are in control? What do you really control? The temperature in your car, the volume on the radio, whos’ in control.

What comes after this: “Who let the dogs out!” [audience woofs five times]

How do you know that? Why do you know that? Did you practice drill and rehearse to learn that? You learned this because you were exposed to it. Your permission and awareness were not necessary for you to know this, simply being exposed to it was all that was necessary. What are you exposed to on a daily basis? Negativity, complaining clients, uncertain market conditions, scandals from trusted leaders.

Ok here we go, ready set go! [audience shouts fear is a lie]

100% of the room held back. Why is that? Because the activity of shouting as loud as you can was linked to being embarrassed, or uncomfortable or bringing undue attention onto yourself and your brain linked that to a threat and compelled you to avoid by holding back.

Here is a tough love question for you. Where else in your life are you holding back? What price are you paying? The hold back is based on fear.

I’m going to play this song. It’s public property on the internet. The alien thinks that it must survive and if you pull it off it’s got to get right back on your face to protect you.

Here it is, the Alien Song[6].


Here are some notes for you. The purpose of rationalization is to _________ [protect me] it protects me from feeling guilty about not doing what I said I would do. How does it work? Rationalization is a ________________[justification of avoidance].

What I’m about to put on the screen is the answer to what controls you. This is so powerful it is considered to be a universal law.

This is what motivates all people.

The best way to describe this is to talk about my own personal circumstance. I have adhd and bulimia. The way that I control my adhd is with structure and routine. I wake up at 3:50 am and go to the gym. I have my stair master machine that I work out on and if someone is on my machine that upsets me. I have my locker that I use and the lane that I swim in and the area in the hot tub that I use. When I go to breakfast  I say it’s either going to be a great day or an ok day. What’s the criteria, if someone is sitting in my booth the best it can be is an ok day!


When I’m on the road I lose my routine. I was having a problem with the mini bar at the hotel. I’m going to tell this story as if it just happened but it happened about 27 years ago. I was traveling cross country from California to the east coast. I was starving. All I had to eat is what they serve you on the airplane. Can we talk about this? They gave me a bagel this big! They gave me a box of raisins this big. I thought that people would think that I was exaggerating so I kept them and took a picture.


I was starving. When I walked into the hotel room my brain did what it was genetically coded to do, ensure that I recognized the highest level of perceived pain and avoided it for the comfort. Remember, all human performance is the avoidance of pain or the seeking of comfort.

When I walked into the room my mind perceived the pain of the hunger. What makes it into my limited perceptual bandwidth, the solution to my hunger which was the mini bar. I walked over to the mini bar and the first thing I saw was a bag of M & M’s. There was so much love in that bag then I saw some candy bars and some cookies, and potato chips, nuts and I ate everything and I mean everything in the mini bar, then I had a diet Coke!


Then I realized that I just had an episode of bulimia. I thought I had overcome bulimia but I just binged over 5,000 calories. It was at this point in my life that something significant happened to me over 27 years ago. It was the way that I responded to this binge. It was the first time that I didn’t go victim and blame everyone else for my problems. I said it’s me. My whole life is avoiding pain and seeking comfort. I wasn’t successful in my health, my business or my personal life. I surrendered.

On my next trip something happened. I told 5 people that if I go into the mini bar on this trip I will give them each $250.00. Add it up that’s $1,200.00 if I go into the mini bar. I fly cross country. I am starving. What does my narrow bandwidth of perceptual ability lock onto, my hunger! What makes it into my awareness, the mini bar!

As I walk over to the mini bar something else happens. My brain continues to do what it has been wired to do for over 5 million years, make sure that I am noticing and avoiding the highest level of perceived pain. When I get to the mini bar my brain pays attention to the $1250 and I step away and it was easy!

I went from believing that the truth was that I just couldn’t control my weight to having it be a non issue. Here is a coaching commandment for you. Where in your life do you need to let go, to surrender? Here’s another one, what lies are you buying into?

I had a specific declaration, not going into the mini bar, plus accountability the fine of $1250 and that is a dynamic called behavioral contracting. That is the one take away that has a chance to take this from entertainment to impact.

Let’s look at this elite performance formula;


The take away is to use behavioral contracting. This means to make a specific declaration of an activity that you give your word you will do and then to pair it with a consequence for non performance. This taps into the human genetic wiring of avoiding pain and seeking comfort. Human nature will compel you to avoid the highest level of perceived pain which is the consequence. How do you avoid it? By doing what you said you would do!

Here is the application. You’re hearing this on Wednesday, June 8th. Let’s keep to a seven day time period which is from the moment you wake up on Monday until the time you go to sleep on Sunday. Since you’re here on Wednesday, this leaves 5 days for you to make a commitment and to execute it or honor the consequence. As long as the pain of the penalty is greater than the pain of the activity you will take the action of avoiding the highest level of perceived pain which will be the consequence for nonperformance.

This brings us up to our break (90 min.) the second part of the program I will give you some communication skills that will give you a near expert level as a coach. I will teach you how to bring this back to your organization for your teams and also for you. We will partner up and implement behavioral contracting plus the two new skills that you will learn after the break. Let’s take a short ten minute break.

Program II Implementation


Welcome back.

The first thing I want to do is to give you some communication skills that can dramatically improve your ability to have an influence on your own behavior and others.

It’s a simple communication skill called Precision Probing. It’s easy because you already know it. You already know who, what , when , where, forget the why and just add the word SPECIFICALLY.  This has an amazing impact in helping a person to get clarity around what they want and what they need to do to have what they want. When you are in a conversation with someone and they say for example that they are going to exercise. You don’t know what you’re holding them accountable to until you clarify, how much

specifically, when specifically, where, etc.

You can use your hand as a metaphor. In the palm of the hand are two very powerful pattern interruptions. When someone says “I can’t do something” interrupt with “what would happen if you could” or “what prevents you from doing this?” Just remember to ask blank specifically and use who, what, when, where.

The next skill is a communication coaching skill that I teach coaches to use with their clients. It puts the responsibility right where it should be with the client. You will need to fight through your tendency to solve the other person’s problems and let them come up with their own solutions. I’m going to give you three coaching phrases that will make a significant difference in your conversation with them. Here they are.


  1. Tell me more.
  2. What are your options?
  3. What will you do?


That’s it. Take the third one and put it into a behavioral contract with a specific commitment and consequence for non performance.

I would like to get into groups of 3, A B and C. Go ahead and arrange yourselves. Next I’d like for you to rate yourself in terms of your current results in your health, business and personal lives. Go ahead and just put a number on each line.


Now here is the coaching rotation. We will go for 5 minutes with A being the coach, B is the client, and C is the observer. Just follow what you see on the screen;


Ok, your objective is to have at least one behavioral contract. One activity that you will be held accountable to accomplish with a consequence if you don’t. You will have 5 minutes. I will tell you when you have two minutes left.

Let’s begin now. [stop at two minutes left and introduce two new concepts, why the stick versus the carrot and what stops behavioral contracting.


We are motivated to keep what we already have rather than to get something else. A dollar lost in the stock market will hurt more than that pleasure of a dollar gained. This is why the penalty will drive performance rather than the promise of a reward or the carrot.

There are three stops to behavioral contracting. The first one is that the person is satisfied. They are not motivated to improve. The second is that they are unrealistic with their commitments and the third is the non enforcement of the consequences.

Ok you’ve got two minutes left in this rotation. Let’s get this person’s behavioral contract in place with the consequence for non performance and how it’s going to be enforced.

[time 2 minutes]

Speaker goes at random from group to group asking who was the client, who was the coach, what are you being held accountable to do and what is the consequence for non performance and how will it be enforced. Discussion about the criteria for making commitments, realistic, specific, discussion of the consequences for about ten minutes then the beginning of the second rotation, repeat for three rotations.

Ok now let change the rotation ….

Now for some last comments. There was a study completed of the genetic coding of a chimpanzee and a human being. It was found that there was only a 1.2% difference or a 98.8% identical similarity between the dna of a chimp and a human. However of course there is a significant difference in the final outcome. 211 degrees is hot but one more degree boils water.

An average baseball player hits 250 which is 3 hits every 12 times at bat and makes about a million dollars. The superstar hits 333 which is only one more hit every 12 times at bat and makes about 24 million. The super star is a little bit better.

That’s my message to you, be a little bit better. Do one thing this week that you ordinarily would not have done. Then one more thing next week and so on. It’s the law of accumulative effect that will have something significant occur. I love this sign;


[read slide to audience]

Every month I host a free telephone conference coaching call and you are invited. The next call is Tuesday, June 14th. It is my way to give back to audiences who want to stay connected. The number is on the top of this slide.

Let me know how else I can be of service to you.

Remember to contact your partner at the end of the week regarding their commitment.

Bob Davies

[1] Dr. Stanley, “The Millionaire Mind”, pg. 51

[2] Optical Illusions, Gyles Brandreth, Michael DiSpezio, page 94

[3] M.Ed. Psychology, Springfield College, Springfield Ma. USA

[4] Psychology, 4th Edition, Robert Silverman page 129 photo of rat on grid.

[5] Daniel Simons, Christopher Chabris, 1999, as seen on

[6] Victor Navone, 1999 as seen on