The Bloody Englishman’s Secret to Success

“The bloody Englishman is at it again,” the regulars said. Sitting on the clubhouse patio on another sticky summer southern Florida afternoon, the club members watched with awe as the eccentric Englishman teed off at four o’clock. Not only was he was crazy enough to be playing golf in 95 degree temperatures made worse by 100% humidity, but the Englishman was, inexplicably, choosing to walk the course.

Little did they know this was far from the craziest thing he has done. In the past, he’s hopped trains and ridden across Canada for four days at a time with literally no food, water, or bathroom breaks. He’s tracked down a man that lives in a hole in the ground in the Nevada desert. He carries the world’s hottest pepper flakes with him in a small grey vial to spread upon every meal, even when eating spicy tacos as we did one night in Austin, Texas.

Tom, my English friend, might seem a little bit weird. But he’s not ashamed of that for a moment. In fact, it’s a source of pride, as it should be in his case, and probably for you, too.

“I’m a contrarian through and through,” he said to me during our golf game (back in January, when the weather was pleasant enough for your humidity-averse editor to walk the course). “I don’t see value in doing the same things that everyone else does.”

We agreed this was often a better way to approach life. Whether it is in your marketing as a business owner, your approach to work, your habits, or your investments, taking the average approach of normal people can’t possibly get you very far in life.

In fact, as I suggested to Tom, if you’re doing things the normal way, you’re doing things the wrong way.

Look where normal gets you.

The average American, whom we’ll consider to be normal:

  • Is 26 pounds overweight
  • Watches 2.8 hours per day of television (not per week, but per day – that’s incredible!)
  • Makes $28,051.00 per year
  • Has less than $2000 in savings
  • Spends 51 minutes per day in traffic during their daily commute
  • Has 73% chance that they’ll have no idea what they’ll feed their family for dinner at 4:30 pm (according to Roper Center for Public Opinion Research).
  • And is generally less happy than people in 16 other countries, according to the most recent United Nations “Happiness Report”

On the other hand, look where being weird can get you.

Through my odd habits of rising early, working as an entrepreneur, planning my day (including what I’ll eat at meals), designing my life to eliminate any need for a morning commute, I’ve accomplished a life of almost total freedom.

Likewise, Tom has done the same. It’s irrelevant that many strangers consider him to be an Englishman gone mad. What matters is that he’s helped his mentor, Mark Ford, to build an 8-figure business from scratch in less than four years. What matters is that he’s able to leave work when he wants, at 3:30pm each day, to go and get his daily exercise on the golf course. What matters is that he has a simple 7-minute commute to work. What matters is that he’s home by 6pm for two hours of quality time with his family before putting the kids to bed.

What matters to Tom is that he’s incredibly happy with how his weird life has turned out, because he isn’t chasing ‘normal’.

Tom’s general life lesson for you is to do what is right, not what it is expected by the masses. Call him a bloody mad Englishman if you want, but he’s living the life that millions of average, normal Americans wish they could have.

It all starts with our behaviors. We all have problems in our lives. Most people put those problems off to be dealt with another day. Those that do try and fix them often rely on failing, conventional approaches.

But not Tom.

Take the way he managed to tame a problem almost every American worker suffers from – email overload.

You’ll certainly find Tom’s approach weird. But it’s also been incredibly effective. It’s freed up hours of his time and made him more productive at work, allowing him to make creative breakthroughs that helped his company grow from $6 million in 2012 to $20 million in 2013.

Here’s what Tom does.

Using a simple Gmail account and 30 seconds of assistance from one of his trusted employees each day, Tom limits his email activity to no more than 60 minutes. He literally only has access to his email account from 8pm to 9pm each weekday.

Here’s how he makes that possible. Each night at 8pm, after Tom is done bathing his children, tucking them into bed, and reading them off to sleep with a story told in his pleasant British gentleman’s accent, Tom receives a text message with the new password to his Gmail account.

A virtual employee that works in Texas sends the new password each night, and at 9pm she changes the password again, instantly logging Tom out of his Gmail account. It doesn’t matter if he is halfway through writing an email, Tom will get the boot. He literally has no access to his email account again for 23 hours.

Tom knows that every minute counts in his email, and he doesn’t wander off to surf the Internet. He stays focused and concentrates on what counts, replying only to what matters and ignoring the rest.

Most of Tom’s day-to-day business is dealt with using unconventional techniques such as face-to-face conversation and something referred to as a “telephone call” (just a little dry British humor for you there). Emergencies are dealt with in person in the office during the workday or again, he’s alerted by phone. There is little need for emails to build up in Tom’s Gmail account. Plus, he’s trained people to understand that email is not the best way to contact him. They know that replies will be infrequent and often not at all.

Tom’s been using this system over a year and he still marvels at the freedom it’s brought to his life, both personally and professionally. He is engaged with his family at home. Family time is family time. There are no interruptions. He is focused at work and doesn’t feel the addictive pull to check email that so many of us feel when we are at our desks with our inboxes open or even while we’re at lunch with our phones in our pockets.

You might not be able to replicate Tom’s exact system. I understand it is not practical for everyone. But we can all learn bigger lessons from this seemingly mad Englishman.

Today, I want you to take a look at everything you do, every habit you have, and ask yourself, is this normal or is this right? Is there a better way of doing this, no matter what anyone else thinks?

As Tom will agree, there is a solution to almost every obstacle in your life. Don’t be afraid to be a contrarian, to go against the crowd, to rise above mediocrity, and to be better than average. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be anyways.

Dare to be different. That’s often a secret of success. It’s one of the few items in life where the bloody Englishman would agree with many others.

Let me know your odd but effective habits that help you get more done, make more money, and live a better life.

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. He has created a unique system to show gratitude and appreciation to stay on track for these goals each and every day. Click here to follow the exact 5-minute system you can use to improve your life.]
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  • Raleigh

    Excellent post, Craig. So easy to follow the herd but real success is found off the beaten path.

    • ttcert

      Thank you! Well said.

  • mahesh uchil

    my dreams were so since my childhood i always chased my dreams never ever give up

  • Luis

    Craig, I think the one hour
    limit of emails is a bit extreme and shows a lack of self-control.
    Especially having to rely on someone else to control it for you.
    I’m sure if you want to track the amount of time you spent on emails it
    would not be that hard to create a program that measured this, it you really
    want to know. I would bet that the average office worker, manager,
    director or leader probably does not spend more than 1 hour in total on any
    day. Also in today’s digital instant feedback world when someone sends
    and email they know there is a 80% to 90% chance that you have instantly
    received it and if you do not answer back within 5 minutes you are probably not
    going to and they will move on. If you’re in sales that could be bad.
    May I suggest a better system: Emails can be quickly scanned and
    either answered immediately or put into folders that indicate importance or
    when to answer them. Most email programs have a folder system the will
    allow you to drag and drop emails into other folders and still leave them
    marked as unread. Create folders first for junk, then for perhaps those
    to answer before you leave for home and make an alert in your calendar that
    blocks you off and reminds you a half hour before you leave to check the emails
    you have saved in this folder. You could have one for tomorrow or any day
    of the week. It takes only a few seconds to create and even quicker to
    delete them when you done and they are empty. Connectivity to other
    people today is a great thing but I agree it can become unmanageable and very
    time consuming. Having said that if an extreme method like the one of the
    Englishman helps then by all means. Thanks again for sharing Craig, I
    really enjoy your daily writing.

  • Lucy Mauterer

    Hi Craig. I have hired a professional organizer to keep me focused on getting my office in order. This isn’t unconventional for most but it is for me. I’ve got 25 years of accumulated paper, boxes, bags, pens, pencils, tools, books, and you name it. There was a narrow 6″ path from the door to my desk and I frequently fell over stuff or knocked over piles and was just overwhelmed to the point that I had stopped growing the business. To make matters worse, my faithful bookkeeper of many years took a 12 week sabattical to take a course and I had to figure out how to do stuff she had been doing. My son tried to help me but we just messed things up terribly. The organizer thing was one of many carrots to entice her back. She’s back now and my organizer is ruthlessly beating me into shape. I am seeing so many things in a different light now. It is truly worth the enormous effort to have things where they make sense and to get rid of anything that is not needed. We have a ways to go but its amazing what a difference it has made. I have gotten two new clients in the past two weeks after months of stagnation. I have to be poked and nudged or will tend to try to go back to old unproductive habits. And that’s what I pay my organizer to do, besides organizing. She holds me accountable. I think that is a big key; accountability.

    • ttcert

      Accountability – very true. Keep on pushing on, Lucy!