Is The Way To Success One Or Many Paths?

““The lame man who keeps the right road outstrips the runner who keeps the wrong one.”” -American proverbToday we’re going to talk about something very important – a key question about wealth. Is it better to spend your time on one moneymaking activity or many?Many success gurus argue that the surest way to wealth lies in the creation of multiple streams of income. By diversifying your moneymaking efforts, you build yourself a solid, well-balanced base. If one activity fails, another will come through. And since you can’t know beforehand which particular enterprise will get you the golden ring, it makes sense to work at six or seven simultaneously. You increase your chances.

This is an idea I am inclined toward. Having a broad interest span, I have been intrigued by all sorts of businesses and hobbies – and being impulsive, I have gotten myself involved in many of them. In the 33 years I’’ve been working full time, I’’ve had an active interest in at least 50 businesses, some of which were holding companies for a dozen or more separate enterprises.

One of the many things I enjoy about working with AGP is the diversity. It is not just a publisher in four distinct markets; it is involved in international property and travel, special-interest clubs, the seminar and conference business, and more. In addition to AGP, I’m involved in a property-rental business, an international land-development firm, three separate real-estate firms, several career-development schools, a documentary-film company, and a freelance writing business.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Advantages Of Having Several Income Streams

Having so many moneymaking irons in the fire gives me a feeling of security. My bets are hedged. I am also rewarded with a notion of independence. I am not dependent on any one market or any one business relationship. Just as important, having so many businesses keeps me challenged – I find the lessons I learn from one business often can be applied to another. Most important for me, I am never bored.

Doing a lot of things at the same time suits my personality. But is it the best and fastest way to become rich? This is not an easy question, but it’s an important one.

Look At What History Tells Us . . .

If you read the biographies of successful people, you will see that most of them achieved greatness by the single-minded pursuit of a single activity. Henry Ford made his money by becoming a great automaker. J. Paul Getty stuck to oil. Henry Flagler became rich building railroads. And Joseph Kennedy became rich trading moonshine.

Bill Gates became the world’’s richest man not by diversifying but by building one company into a world leader. Warren Buffet became the world’’s richest investor by sticking to fundamental investing. Donald Trump made his money converting and developing undervalued real estate. Don King is the world’’s shrewdest and wealthiest fight promoter. And look how much money Michael Jordan made by becoming the world’’s best basketball player.

SF, an associate of mine, recently surveyed Forbes’ list of the world’’s 100 richest people. All but two, she told me, became billionaires by sticking to a single source of income.

When you take an objective look at the facts, the evidence is clear. If you want to get rich – really rich –you should stick to doing just one thing.

Why The Single-Path Approach Works

What are the advantages of monowealthism? (Yes, you can borrow that word.) First, and most obviously, it gives you the chance to master a trade. Unless you devote yourself completely to something, you will never learn its deepest secrets. And every enterprise, every industry, every moneymaking arena has its secrets.

If you are a Jack of your trade, you may earn a living, even a decent one, but you will never get rich. You will never rise to the top, become a master, and be recognized as one.

Being Mediocre Is Such A Drag . . .

By consigning yourself to the middle of the pack, you’’ll get middle-of-the-pack advantages. You’’ll have mediocre contacts, mediocre helpers, mediocre partners, and mediocre opportunities. The best people will not know you. The easiest money will not find you. The phenomenal deals will never reach you.

You will work hard for the success you get. It’’s not easy to get ahead when you are stuck in a pack, surrounded by others just like you, shoving and pushing to get ahead. You will work hard and you will do well, but you won’’t break through to the top.

It Gets Back To Those Numbers I Showed You

Having great success top-of-your-field success –requires mastery, and mastery requires single-minded devotion over a long period of time. We have talked about how long it takes to accomplish anything. (See Message #108.) We’’ve seen that to become competent at anything worthwhile, you need to spend at least 1,000 hours working on it. To master it, you need four or five times more hours. And to really succeed, to rise to the top of your field, you must be prepared to work at it for years.

If you examine what you have done so far in your own life, if you look at where you have succeeded and where you have failed, if you take the time to measure the time you have spent working and the success you have achieved, you will see that my estimates are not far off.

What I’’m saying today is that if you want to become very successful, you not only have to master one trade, but also have to practice it in a single-minded way for years. How many? My personal rule of thumb is seven. I’’ve noticed that it takes two or three years to get plugged into a market – to get connected and known –and a few more to get the word out that you are someone to do business with.

Once that happens, opportunities come to you. And so, after you have mastered a trade and spent three or four years showing your mastery and connecting with people, things will start moving. And one of those things will be the one to take you into the big time.

I’’m not promising David Letterman or Forbes’ 100. But I do think that if you are satisfied with millions and a reputation for being brilliant in a limited market, you can absolutely have that – and the best way to have it is to stick to one thing.

So Why Is The Painter’s House Unpainted?

If this is so, how do I justify my own approach? How do I explain the fact that I do so many things?

The truth is, I have specialized. There is a certain thing I do very well, and I have used that skill to earn most of my money. When I look at my career honestly, I see that I’’m really a dabbler. Most of my success has come from pursuing the trade I’ve mastered. My other activities have been less profitable. I do them because I enjoy them. It’’s possible that I’’m a Renaissance worker, because I became a master of a trade I wasn’’t in love with.

An old acquaintance of mine had a theory on this. He said the reason most people are not successful is that they spend their time doing the wrong things. They choose careers that they don’’t really, truly love. They stumble through life and end up working at things that may or may not suit their personalities.

He said the secret to being successful is to find the job that ignites in you an inner flame – a core emotional and intellectual chamber that will fuel your ambition, your energy, and your creativity. He believed that every person has such a core – some long-ago-buried desire that if tapped will charge him into action and propel him forward, inexorably toward success.

I think that’’s true.

But in my life, that didn’’t happen. Since I started with nothing, I didn’’t have the luxury of too much experimentation. So I went where the opportunity was. I wasn’’t determined enough to look around.

You don’’t want to marry the first girl you kiss. Likewise, when you are setting off on your wealth-building journey, you don’’t want to commit yourself to the first path you happen onto.

I did, but you don’’t have to. Find something to do that really inspires you, that keeps you up at night, that you simply love to do. Find that and master it and then do all the other smart things I tell you to do and you’ll be a wealthy genius.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]