35. High Profit Thinking Part 4: NECESSARY NEGATIVITY
We tend to think that profits come from a “positive” mindset. Is this true? No. Today’s episode explains why a bit of necessary negativity, in the proper dose and at the right time, sets the stage for you making serious money.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Why positive thinking isn’t always profitable thinking
- Why neutrality isn’t always helpful. It can hurt you, and your efforts to make money
- Why the recipe for high-profit thinking requires a bit of negative thinking
- When negative thinking is useful
- Why negative thinking is useful
- Three well-meaning but misguided villains who will steer you away from necessary negativity
- What to do when these villains appear in your life
LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE:
Welcome to Episode 35 of How to Make More Money, a podcast that helps you get seriously good at the game of making serious money. I’m your host, Kelly Hollingsworth, and I’m so happy you’re here. I’m recording today from beautiful Lake Las Vegas, Nevada, our new home, and I’m happy to continue our deep dive into high profit thinking. Before we dive into today’s episode, let’s take a second to orient ourselves. When we kicked off this series of episodes, we discussed how hitting the messaging targets in a high profit presentation feels conceptually easy if you understand the steps on how to do it. That’s one thing we teach inside of Gateway to Seven. but it’s difficult to do these steps if you are feeling unsafe. What happens when we go to create a high profit presentation is that all of the protective behaviors that we very reasonably adopt in life that can serve us well in life, we bring into business, and in business, they do not serve us at all.
They are so counterproductive, I can’t even tell you. Actually, I can tell you. They will cost you a fortune in lost opportunities. So in this series of episodes, we are discussing the solution for that. The solution is high profit thinking. It means using your brain to mitigate or eliminate risk from your business. The first thing you do in high-profit thinking is you apply logic. We discussed this way back at the first episode in this series. When you’re thinking logically, you can separate actual risk from imaginary risk. Most people in business run around like Henny Penny thinking the sky is falling and they stay undercover because they are afraid. This prevents them from making money. The fact is almost 1000% of the time, the sky is not falling. The human brain, in commerce and elsewhere, is illogical.
So step one in high profit thinking is to think logically about risk. Separate imaginary risk from real risk. And if you just do that one thing, you are ahead of 99.99% of the humans on the planet. You know how people say, “The rich just keep getting richer,” and they shrug their shoulders and throw up their hands in the air as if to imply that the game is rigged?
There is some truth in the game being rigged. For example, the US tax code favors the rich. There’s no question about it. But the tax code isn’t the thing that’s preventing you from getting on the field with your high profit presentation and playing the game of business well. If you’re struggling and you’re not making the money you want to make, I can promise you that the tax code is the furthest thing from the actual problem. The real problem is just fear. Fear in all its facets, and where does fear come from? It comes from the perception of a known or imagined risk… A real or imagined risk, I guess I should say.
So if you can use your brain to think logically, and thereby eliminate the imaginary risk, you’re ahead of almost everyone else. If that’s all you do, welcome to the 1%, because the door is wide open for you. But here at the How To Make More Money show, we are not interested in just picking the low hanging fruit. We’re interested in all of the fruit. The whole fruit salad. I think I told you in a prior episode, there was a man who used to live down the shore from me at my house in Idaho and he used to say, “If there’s a lot, take a lot. If there’s a little, take it all.” I love that saying, and that’s what we’re going to do here. We’re not just picking the low-hanging fruit. We’re picking all the fruit. So what does this mean? The bottom line is using your brain logically is the low hanging fruit, but is not nearly where all the power is.
It gets rid of the imagined risk and then the next step is to use your brain to get rid of the actual risk. How do you get rid of almost every kind of risk there is? You use your brain to contribute something valuable to society. You look at a problem and while everyone else is running around thinking, there’s nothing we can do about this, you are putting your brain to work to figure out what can be done about this.
Is this easy? Is it sexy? Is it glamorous? No, but guess what? The effect of it is pretty easy, sexy and glamorous. Right now, my husband and I are making an offer on a pretty sexy and glamorous new home that will be very easy to live in, should our offer be accepted. And why is this gem of a property potentially in our possession? Why is living in it potentially right in front of us? Because it’s a competitive real estate market right now, but we think that this home, or a home very similar to it, is going to be in our future because of our contributions that we have made in the past.
Contributions are what creates cash, and in a competitive real estate environment, cash is what actually gets you the sexy, glamorous house that you want. I’ll keep you posted on if we actually get it. But for now, let’s get back to the episode. The question is, what creates contribution? The answer is engagement. When you are engaged in a problem–in determining the solution–the actual risk in your business disappears. Why? Because real solutions to vexing problems are rare, and when you have one, the world beats path to your door. This, my friends, is how you make money. You create a contribution by engaging your brain and your expertise grows and more solutions appear, and it’s where more money is made. It’s a lovely, profitable, upward spiral of money.
To get this lovely, profitable, upward spiral of money going for yourself, you need to solve one vexing problem, just one. And before we go any further, let’s clarify something. Does the vexing problem need to be a big, complicated problem that only a genius could solve? No. Here’s an example. My husband and I checked into a rented townhouse here in Lake Las Vegas. We are renting it for three to six months while we look for and close on and furnish a house. And before we checked into this rented townhouse, the rental agent, I guess it’s actually the property manager… He’s a very nice man. He called us and said that he had done a white glove inspection of this townhouse and it is amazingly clean and we are going to be so happy in it. And when we arrived, we were happy. Were we perfectly happy? No. Why not? Because the house reeked of cleaning products. Specifically Pine-Sol. As a former cleaning entrepreneur– my very first business was a housekeeping business–I know that the strong smell of cleaning products is a sign. What does the strong smell of cleaning products signify? That the person who was cleaning the house liberally distributed a bunch of cleaning products around the surfaces of the home, the floors, the countertops, the furniture. Cleaning products have been deposited on the surfaces. But what hasn’t happened? The cleaning products along with the dirt were not removed from the surfaces. And that is in fact what happened in the cleaning of this townhome. The main floor of the townhome, like most houses in the desert, is tile. The staircases and the hallway and the bedrooms and the office are carpeted. The carpet is white, and when we arrived, it was still wet from having been cleaned that morning. Obviously, we don’t want to walk on wet carpeting, especially wet white carpeting with dirty shoes.
So we took off our shoes and we were walking around in the townhouse barefoot. This is when my suspicions about residue were confirmed. In my bare feet, I could feel that the tile felt gummy. It didn’t feel clean, because it wasn’t clean. There was a residue of Pine-Sol and dirt on the tile. Whoever had cleaned the floor had obviously just taken a mop, thrust it into some Pine-Sol laced water and smeared the mop around on the floor. Does that get a floor clean? No. It deposits water and Pine-Sol onto the floor. It does not get the dirt up off of the floor. That’s why the house reeked of Pine-Sol, and it’s why the floor felt gummy, and it’s why my feet, when I looked at them, were black on the bottom–as if I had been walking around on blacktop.
Now, would I have complained to the property manager about this? Probably not. I know how to get a floor so clean, there is no residue on it and it feels delightful to walk on in bare feet and so that the house doesn’t reek of chemicals either. It just smells clean because it is clean. Many people don’t know how to do this. So would I have said anything to the property manager about this? No. Absent some other things that occurred later on, I probably would have just let it go. I would have recognized most people just don’t have my standards, as far as floors go. It’s not a big deal.
But then what happened? I put on some socks so the residue on the floor wouldn’t bother me, and I was walking around unpacking our things and wanting to get them into the cabinets and drawers in the kitchens and the bathrooms. But whenever I opened a cabinet or a drawer, what did I see? I saw filth. I don’t mean dirt, I mean filth. There was dried food and black grease and grime stuck on the bottoms and sides of the doors in kitchen, and they were white, so it was obvious that it was dirty. And in the bathroom, there was hair and grime in the drawers and cabinets.
So now what? Now, I’m on the phone with the property manager, not to complain, but just to say, “I’m going to have to clean this town home as I’m moving into it, so I will not be responsible for cleaning it when I’m vacating the property.” Because here’s how it always goes. When I check into a rental, it isn’t clean, and I clean it on the front end. So what I want the property manager to know is that I had to clean it coming in, so I’m not going to be cleaning it when I leave. It will be cleaner than it is now, but our lease says it’s my obligation to clean when I vacate. But that assumes that it’s going to be clean when I check in and it isn’t, and I’m only giving you one cleaning and this is the cleaning you’re getting now. I will not be cleaning when I leave.
So I’m having this conversation with the property manager and he says, “How can this be happening? We pay our housekeeper a fortune. She has been cleaning for us for 10 years and she’s very thorough.” And I said basically, “Maybe you’re under the impression that she’s very thorough, but she simply isn’t.” At that point, I took a damp Kleenex and ran it across the bottom of a drawer in the bathroom and I sent him the photo and I said, “This is one swipe of one drawer and you can see that it is filthy. However well you think she is cleaning, she simply isn’t.”
Now, am I upset at this point? No. The townhouse is dirty, I’m going to clean it. I love cleaning and I want the property manager to know that I won’t be cleaning when I vacate. That’s all I’m doing with these communications.
Actually, I guess I was doing one other thing. As a business owner, I also feel like it’s nice to tell a fellow business owner when their service providers aren’t getting the job done that they’re paying for so they can do something about it if they want to. And at this point, the property manager remained incredulous. He said, “I believe you because I can see the photos you’re sending me, but I just can’t believe this.” And he asked, “Is it just the cabinets and drawers that are a problem or is there anything else?” And I said, “Well, actually, now that you mention it, these floors are filthy.” And he said, “I know those floors are not filthy. I watched the housekeeper mop the floors. She used Pine-Sol. The floors were covered with water and Pine-Sol. I sat and watched it with my very eyes.” And I said, “I’m sure you did, but here’s the problem. Swishing dirty water around on the floor, even when there’s Pine-Sol in the water, does not get the dirt or Pine-Sol up off the floor. You actually have to do something else to get it up off the floor into the bucket.”
And he said, “Yeah. Actually, I know. The tile floors are impossible to keep clean. They look clean, and then two days later, they’re filthy again.” And I’m thinking, yes, because they never got cleaned in the first place. When I was walking around in bare feet on the floors, I looked down at my feet and it looked like I’d been walking on blacktop. Did I say this to the landlord? No, but this is what I’m thinking. While I’m thinking this, he keeps going. He said, “Well, we called someone who runs a machine across the tiles to steam clean the tiles, but that’s super expensive so we didn’t do it.”
Now, I happen to know that this is true. It is expensive, because the carpet cleaner, oddly enough, who cleaned the carpets at our house in Idaho as we were moving out… That carpet cleaner ironically was from Las Vegas. And he said to us, as he was cleaning our carpets in Idaho, that he made a lot more money in Las Vegas steam cleaning tiles.
So I had outside confirmation that it was more expensive to steam clean tiles than to have someone clean your carpets, which, by the way, wasn’t cheap.
So now where am I with this property manager? He’s just told me he knows the floors aren’t clean, but he didn’t want to pay for the expensive cleaning with the machine.
So then what happened? So then I sent him a video. He’s like, “How bad could it really be?” And I said, “Well, it’s pretty bad.” I sent him a video. I took a damp white cloth and a spray bottle of Simple Green. I selected a random tile near the couch, not even in a traffic zone. I sprayed some Simple Green on it and I wiped it with the cloth and I showed it to him in the video. It came up filthy. And then we had another telephone discussion about this.
I didn’t need to talk to him. He wanted to talk to me. He said, and he was horrified, “You’ve got to let me do something to fix this. You have to let me get that housekeeper back in there so she can get this done right.” But he couldn’t even get the housekeeper on the phone, much less back into clean the townhouse properly on 4th of July weekend.
And on 4th of July weekend, I wasn’t going to wait. I want my house to be clean. I wanted to put my stuff away. So I told him, “Listen, I’m not upset. I will clean the house. I don’t even want your housekeeper back in here to have a second stab at this. A) because she didn’t do it right the first time. And so now I don’t really trust her to do it right the second time. I’m just going to do it myself. And this is the second reason, B) we need to be able to move freely around this townhouse. And if we are unable to walk from the tile floors to the white carpeting until she comes back, whenever that is, we’re basically paralyzed in putting our stuff away. So, I’m just going to do it now.” I was fine with it.
And then what happened? I was able to get the floors absolutely spotless, not a speck of dirt or residue on them, in about 90 minutes, using a technique that I developed to clean floors when I was running my housekeeping business. No expensive steam cleaning machine required. And the whole time that I was cleaning the floors using this technique, what was I thinking? There is a business here. It would save frustrated property managers and landlords thousands of dollars to have access to this service of cleaning the floors using my technique.
How would this technique save them money? Too many ways to count, but here are a few. For one thing, what happens when the tenants arrive and the place is dirty? The property manager winds up sending a bunch of expensive stuff to the tenants as an apology. Our property manager sent us flowers and wine and ice cream and snacks and humidifiers, and a fancy water dispenser and all kinds of things to, “make up for” the fact that I was scrubbing floors upon my arrival at my fancy rented townhouse in Lake Las Vegas. Clean tiles also would save the white carpet, and it would make for referrals and better online reviews for future renters who are interested in renting this townhouse.
So, why am I telling you this story? Because that’s a business. I could pay someone $30 or $40 an hour to clean the floors using my technique. I could charge $100 an hour for the service. It would be less than what the expensive steam cleaning machine people charge. The property managers and landlords would be thrilled. The person making $30 or $40 an hour for relatively unskilled work would be thrilled. And I’d be making money too.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is a viable business, and it all comes from a problem I decided to solve when I was a little girl. I could not stand to walk in bare feet on dirty floors. And I figured out how to get them really, really clean in the shortest amount of time possible. And that is one of the reasons that I was able to make money. As a 13-year-old kid, I was making $5 an hour at a time when the minimum wage was $3.35. And I wasn’t even allowed to get a job that paid minimum wage yet. I wasn’t, “old enough.” So, the big one thing to notice here is that creating a solution doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to know quantum physics. We’re not splitting the atom here. All you need to do is recognize a problem and develop a solution.
This brings me to our topic for today. If you were with us last time, you know that we discussed the exact seven step recipe for creating the mental and emotional engagement that creates contribution. I’ll recap the seven steps as a refresher in just a second. But first, let’s talk about why this recipe, seven things to do with your mind, works so well to help you make money. As we discussed last time, the answer is that the action steps in the high profit thinking recipe create mental and emotional engagement at each phase of your business. This is what you want, because an engaged brain creates the significant contributions that create serious cash.
And this is, of course, what commerce is all about. Contribute value to the universe and get cash in consideration for that contribution. And here, notice that the value you contribute isn’t randomly directed anywhere. It is very specifically directed to the particular corner of the universe that contains your customers and clients. When you target your contributions in this manner, cash is targeted at you as if it’s coming through a fire hose. You, too, will have would-be-clients stalking you through social media and getting your phone number from friends and finding your email address however they can and contacting you and saying, “Please, take my money. I have to work with you.” When you target your contributions to the universe, the universe targets you, and what you do, as the object of their desire. And this, my friends is where the dollars come from.
Now that I’ve told you why the recipe works, let’s recap the recipe. What is the recipe that gets this done? It is seven steps. Seven things to do with your brain that create mental and emotional engagement that position you to make robust contributions that are targeted to a particular audience. This helps you make serious contributions in exchange for serious cash. Now as a refresher, here are the seven steps.
- Number one, discern the problem.
- Number two, decide to create a new world in which the problem doesn’t exist for you and for everyone else who suffers from this problem.
- Number three, determine the critical path. This is the ultra-efficient action plan that creates this new world.
- Number four, dissolve the obstacles that prevent or thwart the achievement of the solution.
- Number five, dig in. Mentally double down. Based on what you now know, decide you’re going to take what you know, and dig deeper and deeper until you get to the end.
- Number six, as you go deeper, develop every single skill that takes you all the way to the solution.
- Number seven, dial up the delivery to maximize the mark your solution is making on the world and the dollars you collect from it.
In the last episode, when I first shared this recipe, I gave you an overview of how high profit thinking is different from other methods of using your mind to make money. For example, high profit thinking is very different than, “manifesting money,” as is often described in books like The Secret and elsewhere. And then I promised you that in the upcoming episodes, we would look at each step in the recipe for high profit thinking and we would talk about how each step in the recipe works and how it is different than manifesting money.
One reason we’re doing this is because when you can discern the differences between two seemingly similar things, you develop a deep understanding of it that sets the stage for your eventual mastery. That’s exactly what we’re going to do today. We’re going to dive into step number one, and we’re going to look at how this step, discern the problem, is the first step in engaging your brain to make serious money. And how it is very different from traditional notions of manifesting money.
Before we look at that, let’s look at why discerning the problem is the first step. The reason is because as humans, what generally gets us going on the path to a contribution is a realization that we are sitting in a bit of a mess. The universe plunked us down in a literal or figurative dirty diaper that’s not to our liking. It’s not pleasant. It’s really kind of stinky. And if we briefly are aware of just how stinky the problem is, and we get really clear on how this problem must end for ourselves and for everyone else who suffers from this problem, that is fuel to move us forward. Knowing that there’s a problem that doesn’t quite smell right–something is wrong–is key.
Every business I’ve ever had was born of the desire to solve a problem that made life feel stinky in some way. In my housekeeping business, the business literally was about a house that didn’t smell clean. And how when cleaned really, really well, I could make the smell go away. It’s been this way in every subsequent business: in my legal practice, with the hedge fund I managed… In my current business, we are solving the problem of the gender earnings gap. That problem really stinks. And noticing the smell in all of its glory is what keeps me going on creating the solution. It’s what got me going on the first place and it’s what keeps me on the path.
The human brain responds to two things. One is that it’s really awful here. That’s what we’re discussing today. Your brain responds to the stinky starting point, and it wants to escape. The other thing your brain responds to is the idea that it is so much better there. That’s what we’re discussing next time. But for today, just notice what happens in your life when something stinks to the point that it has become intolerable. This is what gets you moving, isn’t it? When something is really bad, that gets your brain engaged in a way that nothing else does. This is why discerning the problem is the first step in high profit thinking. It gets you moving towards the solution that will be your contribution. And what gets you moving is largely the idea that it’s intolerable here. Creating this level of intolerance in your own mind requires you to focus on what isn’t working. To focus on the negative, if you will, and why it simply won’t do.
This, for example, is what my husband and I had to do to get going on the journey that landed us in beautiful Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. We sold our house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and we landed here and it wasn’t easy. And what got us moving? The idea that there were some things about our life in Idaho that weren’t to our liking, that felt a little bit stinky. As great as it was, and it was great, I’ll post a photo of the last glimpse I had of our backyard in Idaho as the image for this episode, if you want to see it. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted. As lovely as it was, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Due to boat traffic and the neighbors being in such close proximity to us, our backyard had started to feel like an ongoing party. And we wanted peace, not a party.
So, to get moving, to go through the considerable pain of packing up from a home we loved and had occupied for 15 years, we had to get really clear on what was intolerable about it. And this wasn’t easy to do. Living in that house was my childhood dream. I was still in my 30s when I bought it. The 4th of July party we threw every year was among my favorite events. This year, no 4th of July party, because we were here in Lake Las Vegas. And I was very sad about that. On the 4th of July, I was thinking about my young friends Cal and Greta, who are the children of one of my best friends, Rachel. Cal and Greta had been coming over to swim at that house since they were toddlers. Now that house is gone. This year on the 4th of July, there was no big 4th of July party. Cal and Greta spent the afternoon on the 4th of July looking through scrapbooks of the past parties. That’s how much the 4th of July party meant to all of us in that house.
Every other day of the year meant a lot too. My husband and I lived in that house during our entire marriage. Our precious puppies, Winston and Sheffield, frolicked on the beach until they were covered in sand and had to be bathed before they could come inside. There were so many amazing memories. And now both of our puppies are gone. We lost Sheffield just a few weeks ago. And as painful as it was, we knew it was time to get going on our new life. So, how did we get moving towards our new life and the things we want even more than what we had in Idaho? By focusing, in the proper dosage, on what was intolerable. At the risk of sounding like I’m complaining, I’m going to list some of the negative aspects of the house. Because to get through the pain of the move, we had to keep reminding ourselves about those things. I’ll list them now.
One of the things that was bothering us about the house was my husband’s commute. He was commuting to work in San Francisco from our house in North Idaho. And this often involved not one, but two planes, plus an overnight stay in a hotel. It was never easy to get to work. And then with COVID and the reduced flight schedule, getting to work was getting to be a nightmare. So, that was one thing. Then there’s the tax situation. Compared to Nevada–the land of no state income tax–Idaho is expensive, income tax wise. The money we were spending in Idaho income taxes would easily have paid for five or six young family members to go to a reasonably priced college. So, we spent some time focusing on the income taxes we were paying that we could be saving if we moved to Nevada.
And then there’s the trees that were across the water from the house we just sold. The trees are still there, but that wooded acreage across the water from our house is slated for development starting in August. They’re going to rip out the trees that we loved looking at. So, the beach where we loved watching moose and deer and eagles is going to become a community dock that serves not just the 50 or 70 homes they’re building on that formerly wooded acreage, there will also be a public access portion that serves the entire community. There’s a community dock that’s similar to the one they’re going to build further down the shore. And it’s noisy. So, we are anticipating that this new development with the currently wooded acreage, where they’re going to remove all the trees and they’re going to add this community dock. It’s going to be really noisy as well. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it flies in the face of why we loved our house. We wanted peace. That’s what we loved about the house. And it’s going to turn into a party–a bigger party than it already is. With the neighbor and his 65 or so grandchildren who moved in next door, it’s already a party. It’s just going to get worse. So the change in scenery was another stinky aspect that we focused on to get moving and get going to the thing that we’re going to like so much better.
Now, as I’m listing these stinky aspects of the house that we focused on–the things we really didn’t like that we had to pay attention to, or we never would have left–I know it sounds like complaining, and this is a big reason that so many of us find step one in high-profit thinking–discerning the problem–difficult to do. I get it. When I say, “I have this lovely waterfront property in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Owning it was my childhood dream. And most people would give their eyeteeth and their first born to live here, but I’m selling it because I just can’t stand the current level of noise and it’s about to get worse,” there’s something about that that sounds a little bit spoiled. Maybe a lot spoiled, and also a little or a lot annoying. I realize that, and I listed in this episode the spoiled-sounding, annoyance-generating reasons that we left that house for a reason. I listed them to point out how annoying and spoiled this sounds, because fear of sounding spoiled or coming across as annoying is a big reason so many of us struggle with step one in high profit thinking, discerning the problem, with giving it a name and deciding it won’t do.
This struggle to avoid sounding spoiled or to come across as annoying is why so many of us stay so stuck right where we are, in a stinky start that’s no longer to our liking. We don’t want to seem spoiled or ungrateful so we say nothing. We don’t think about what’s wrong. We don’t give a voice to what’s not to our liking. Instead, we just stay right where we are in a dirty diaper that we find increasingly intolerable. But when we talk about getting up and getting out of it, we’re discouraged from doing so. We discourage ourselves. And often, others do this for us as well.
For example, I mentioned to a friend that one of the reasons we wanted to sell the house in Idaho is that since my husband had COVID, he just wants for life to be easier. That means no more snow to plow, no more dock to maintain, no more retaining wall to rebuild every year because the wakes from wake surfing boats rip it to pieces, no more lawn that takes hours to mow. Whether we hire all this work out or he does it himself doesn’t matter. He’s just tired of dealing with it. He’s tired of hiring someone else to do it, and often noticing how they’re not doing it as well as he could. He just wants out. So I told this to my friend, “He’s just tired of it all. He’s done. He wants out.” And my friend said in a sort of scoffing tone, “Doesn’t he know that’s what home ownership is all about?”
Now, she’s my friend. I’m not calling her out for saying this. I’m not upset with her for saying it. And I get why she was saying it. She takes care of a couple acres of yard and garden and pasture with never a complaint. So if someone else is complaining about something she does regularly, to her ears, it’s going to sound spoiled. I get that. But I am sharing her response with you in this episode today, because I want to point out how much we are encouraged when something in our lives has gotten a little bit stinky to not notice what’s wrong, to not want to change it, to not think about it, because that’s just the way it is. Certainly, we’re encouraged not to talk about it, because when you do, it does sound negative. It does sound like complaining. It sounds this way because it is. And in the face of that, there’s a good chance that at least some of the people in our lives will discourage us from this type of negativity.
They will think and they will tell you out loud, “This is just the way things are. Get used to it.” They will tell you, “It’s fine. It’s your attitude that stinks.” They will tell you, “It’s this way for everyone. What do you expect?” This kind of thing is well-meaning, but it inhibits your growth. When something in our life isn’t going that great, our friends, family members, the people around us–very well-intentioned people– will inhibit our growth by telling us to be positive, by telling us to be stoic about what’s not working, to feel grateful for what we have. What they’re doing isn’t ill-intentioned, but it prevents growth and it prevents business success.
So at this point in high profit thinking, here’s what I want you to know, positivity and gratitude and stoicism for what can’t be changed–they all have their place in high profit thinking. We will get to where those things fit in soon. But for today, please know this: there is a place where these things are counterproductive and where you want to do the exact opposite. Where you want to do the exact opposite of feeling positive and grateful and stoic is right at the stinky start. You want to notice what’s stinky and develop an intolerance for it. Why? Because noticing it and deciding it simply won’t do is the first step to making things better.
So with that as the backdrop, here’s the big concern that I want to discuss today. What I call “necessary negativity” is a critical ingredient in the recipe for engagement. It’s a proven element that gets every human up out of their dirty diaper and making their way towards something better. You need this skill of necessary negativity in your business for two reasons. One, seeing what’s not working in your clients’ lives is the only way you can help. If everything’s fine, there’s nothing to do. They don’t need you. Two, necessary negativity in your own life–seeing what you want, but don’t yet have–is a big motivator to get your business going finally. I’m generally not a big fan of setting money goals as part of your entrepreneurial path. Rather, focus on the process of helping your people, and the money will take care of itself. As you are digging into and solving big problems, the money just piles up behind you, whether you’ve set a money goal or not. And often, the money goal is totally counterproductive. They may work for some people that often when you set a money goal, reaching it becomes the focus. Your business then becomes indulgent. It’s no longer about what you can provide to others. It becomes about what others provide to you so that you can meet the money goal.
So money goals? Generally not a fan. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that wanting something more than you currently have, because what you currently have leaves something to be desired, is a part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. My desire eventually to own waterfront property was a strong driving force behind everything I ever did in business. There’s nothing wrong with that.
This is why I say that a certain amount of negativity–well-timed and in the proper dose–is necessary. But our friends, family, colleagues, and even mere acquaintances often discourage us from this necessary negativity in any context. This is worrisome enough when our friends, family, well-meaning folks who care about us do this. It’s worrisome, but what’s even more of a concern is when coaches and “experts” guide us away from necessary negativity.
Here’s an example. One of them women inside of Gateway to Seven is divorced. She got the house in the divorce, but her ex-husband was living in her basement. She wanted him out of the basement. She is certified as a coach through a pretty famous coaching school. And she sought help with this problem through that school. What happened? She was told basically, “it’s perfect that your husband is living in the basement. This is where your work is. His presence is a neutral circumstance. And now you get the task of using your mind to see the circumstance is neutral. This whole situation is perfect for you.”
So let’s consider what happened in this exchange. This woman sought life coaching to get the life she actually wanted–no husband living in their basement. But she didn’t get that result. Instead, she was encouraged to tolerate the situation in all of its stinkiness. She was encouraged to use her precious brain energy to get the opposite of the result she wanted by allowing her ex-husband to continue living in the basement.
This, my friends is not coaching. It’s grooming. When someone in your life–a civilian whom you do not pay–is encouraging you to tolerate a situation that’s really filling stinky, that’s completely subpar and they’re doing it for free, that’s bad enough. But when a coach you are paying to help you get the life you want is grooming you to not get the life you want, things have gone too far entirely. This is too far. This goes beyond the pale, because this is not coaching. This is grooming to under earn.
So let’s put a very fine point on this. Anytime you’re told, “This is fine. This situation that totally stinks that anyone on the planet would want to change isn’t a problem. It’s a neutral circumstance. You should use your brain to accept this,” this is not coaching. This is grooming. And we should all sit up and take notice when it happens, because it’s alarming.
Grooming a child, for example, is what happens when a sick individual with criminal intent befriends a child to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of abuse. Grooming is done by criminals, and it’s also being done by coaches. So please hear this. If you have a coach who is encouraging you to use your brain to feel fine about not getting what you want, that is not coaching. That is grooming and it’s abusive, and I’m mentioning it because it is everywhere.
Why does this happen? Why is it everywhere? Because many coaches are taught to think of everything as neutral. And as I said earlier, neutrality has its place in high profit thinking. We’ll get to that later in the upcoming episodes in this series on high profit thinking. But there’s also a place in life and business where neutrality has no place, where it is completely inappropriate, when the thing you want to escape becomes “neutral,” it’s really easy to not leave it at all. For example, if our house in Idaho and the crowds that were flocking around it and having a party… If all of that was neutral, would we have gone through the pain of moving to our new home in Las Vegas? No. It was not easy, getting to this point. Our lives were in complete upheaval for a month. At one point in all the chaos, I looked at my husband and I said, “I think this move is going to leave a mark.” And he laughed, and he said, “It already has.”
So here’s a big thing to glean from today’s episode. We’re constantly admonished never to think negatively. And one way this admonishment appears is via the instruction that we get from our coaches to think neutrally. Neutral thinking can be used to make a great deal of money when it’s at the right time and in the right place and in the right dose. For example, in the hedge fund world, the market going up isn’t a positive thing. It’s just a thing. The market going down isn’t a negative thing. It, too, is just a thing. It’s neutral. What we think about these neutral events is what matters. If the market is plummeting and we think we’re going to make money, we short the market, and we do make money. That’s an example of how neutrality is good and it’s used for profit. But you can also use it against yourself. And largely, many coaches are encouraging clients to use neutrality against themselves.
This is why I’m mentioning this: The folks who listen to this podcast are coaches, or they are consumers of coaching services. So everyone in that audience, whether you’re a coach or you’re a consumer of coaching services, you need to know that neutrality is a powerful concept, but like all powerful concepts, you can use it against yourself.
And a primary way that happens is through what I call “stomping on the happily ever after.” If you’re at the stinky start of something, noticing what’s subpar about it and wanting something different, something more, something better, and someone else is taking what you really want and twisting it into something that no one would want and telling you to use your brain to tolerate it or even enjoy it, they are stomping on your happily ever after. And you can counteract this with the skill of employing necessary negativity–negative thinking to the extent that it’s necessary and helpful when you need that to get what you want in life. And at the stinky starting point, it is definitely necessary to use necessary negativity to getting what you want.
So that’s one way that we’re admonished not to get what we want through neutrality, when it’s ill timed and inappropriate. The other way we are admonished, never to engage in necessary negative thinking is through the instruction, always to think positively.
For example, in books like The Secret, you’ll see an explicit instruction to engage in ongoing, consistent, never-failing positive thinking above all else. If you’ve spent any amount of time in law of attraction land, you know that positive thinking above all else is a big deal in what they’re teaching, to the point that if you ever think a negative thought, you’re instructed instantly to correct it, lest you offend the universe with your off-putting vibrational energy, and then the universe will not drop the worms of riches into your open mouth.
Positive thinking, no matter what’s happening, present all kinds of problems. For example, one thing I commonly see, particularly among those who are peddling law of attraction notions of “manifesting money,” is an ongoing issue of ignoring everything that’s a problem and that could and should be fixed, in favor of thinking that there simply are no problems, and then everything is fine. Here’s a quote from The Secret: “You must change your focus and begin to think about all the things that are wonderful about you. Look for the positives in you. As you focus on those things, the law of attraction will show you more great things about you.” Here, “you” is capitalized. The instruction in manifesting money is to focus on all the wonderful things about “You” with a capital Y.
Is this what gets it done? Sometimes it’s what gets it done, but sometimes it’s the exact opposite of what’s useful and helpful. To see why, let’s consult the movie Legally Blonde. As I’ve mentioned in prior episodes, lessons from the movie Legally Blonde will solve every business problem you will ever have. So that’s why the first thing you do when you join Gateway to Seven is you watch that movie. For today’s discussion, the big lesson to glean from the movie is why always thinking positively about ourselves and focusing on what is wonderful about ourselves sometimes thwarts our own growth. In the movie, the dirty diaper Elle Woods found herself sitting in was that on the night she was expecting a marriage proposal, her boyfriend, Warner, instead broke up with her because she wasn’t “serious enough.”
At that point, was she thinking positively about herself? Did she think everything about herself was wonderful so she can continue to think even more wonderful things about herself? No, decidedly not. Instead, she spent a period of time at the very beginning of her journey focused on the negative. She didn’t have what she wanted, and she knew it had something to do with her and the way she was showing up in her life, and that was causing her misery.
The depth of this misery is depicted in the scene right after Warner breaks up with Elle. She’s taken to her bed in her room at her sorority house. She’s watching soap operas with nothing but a giant box of chocolates for company, and stuffing chocolates in her mouth one by one. Is she thinking positively? That she’s wonderful? That life is wonderful? No, no, and heck no. She’s thinking about the negative. There’s just something wrong with her. She’s not serious enough, and this is why she’s not getting what she wants. It’s why she’s suffering this pain. This less than sparkling quality about herself is causing her life to be terrible.
Why is this period of focusing on the negative, in other words, this “necessary negativity,” so helpful in the movie? Because a deep realization about how bad things are, how things aren’t wonderful, and how our less-than-sparkling qualities are the cause is the fuel that gets us up out of the dirty diaper we are currently sitting in and gets us going on a heroic journey of contribution. In the case of Elle Woods, she realized she wasn’t serious enough. There was a quality about her that was less than sparkling, less than wonderful, a little too silly. Her brain was literally disengaged from the biggest problems in life that affected people she cared about, and was instead devoted to studying things like the History of Polka Dots.
This disengagement created pain, and, specifically, the pain of unfulfilled desire. It works this way in the fictional world of Elle Woods, and it works this way for all of us, too. If you don’t have what you want, if you are feeling the pain of thwarted desire and it stinks, the cause is only ever one reason. The universe is sending you a message. There’s something you need to work on–a less-than-sparkling quality about yourself–and that less-than-sparkling quality is the reason you don’t have what you want.
Notice how different this is from “manifesting money.” When you’re manifesting money, the instruction is to feel grateful for everything you currently have–never think a negative thought–and to ask the universe for more. As I’ve explained in this series of episodes thus far, this doesn’t actually make you money because the universe isn’t a giant letter to Santa Claus in which you feel thankful for what you have and ask for more. Rather, the universe is a giant collection of folks who are suffering from something that stinks, and when you help them leave their stinky starting point and get their sweet success, that contribution to the success of others is what helps you get what you want, which is serious cash, among other things.
So what I hope you’re gleaning from this is that manifesting money leads you away from cash. It takes you in the wrong direction. With high-profit thinking, we get you turned toward making money by doing the opposite of the ineffective instructions that manifesting money provides to you. Instead of asking for the universe to provide things to you, high-profit thinking asks, “What can I provide to the universe?” Gratitude is involved in both. In manifesting money, you’re instructed to feel grateful for everything. Certainly nothing wrong with that. But in high-profit thinking, what deserves a particular dose of gratitude is the big fat problem you were born to solve.
For me, in the case of my life, that problem is female underearning. I was plunked down into an impoverished family of women, a single mom and three daughters, so I could experience female poverty in every nuanced aspect of the soul-crushing grind that it is. Would someone else hate it as much as I did? Maybe. Maybe not. And I’m thinking that I was peculiarly designed to suffer from it more than other people would, and that’s why the universe selected me to suffer this particular problem. That’s why the universe gave me this particular start in life, so I could feel how awful it was and the exquisite pain of that particular stinky start. From there, I could figure out how to solve it. This is why I was put on this earth. This is what I believe, and I wouldn’t have even noticed how bad it was if I was sitting around asking the universe to give me something. I would have missed it. Instead, I focused on every single thing that stunk about my current situation in all of its multifaceted awfulness. From there, I decided to live in a different world.
So let’s put a very fine point on things. The first step in high-profit thinking–in the recipe for high-profit thinking for an engaged brain–is to focus on the thing that bothers you the most, and then don’t ask the universe for anything. Why not? Because contrary to the advice in books like The Secret, if you really want to succeed, you don’t ask the universe for things and believe that they’re coming and wait around to receive. High-profit thinking encourages you to do the exact opposite. The universe, throughout your entire life, has been asking for something from you. What is it asking of you? It is asking you to solve the problem that you’ve been dealing with your entire life. You were born… Plunked on this earth, smack dab in the middle of a problem. That’s the dirty diaper the universe gave you. It’s the painful situation you were born into, and the universe is going to tighten the screws on that problem until you heed the call.
So when this is happening, asking the universe for more, at that point, is beside the point. Don’t ask for more, because the gift has already been given. The gift is the thing you like the least. It’s the problem that vexes you the most. Necessary negativity is the skill of recognizing the gift in that problem. It’s the skill that allows you to focus on the problem in all of its stinky splendor. When you sit in the full realization that you are absolutely not where you want to be, that is your fuel for moving forward so you can get where you want to be. Guess what? You getting to where you want to be in any area of your life is a business, because other humans are suffering from that same problem and they want to get out of it, too. This is why you need a well-timed, properly-sized dose of necessary negativity.
So to give you a little glimpse of what a properly timed dose of necessary negativity can do for you, consider this. It helped us leave our beloved house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We loved it in certain respects, but it was no longer quite working for us in every respect. It was fuel to get us to our new life in Lake Las Vegas, where we’re experiencing the exhilaration of a whole new world. We’re buying a house with multiple bedrooms and a giant pool, so my little friends Cal and Greta can come visit me whenever they like, and they can stay for days. They wouldn’t have done that at our house in Coeur d’Alene because they live there too. They come over for a couple hours, they leave. So now, we’re getting to make better memories than we would have if we kept the house in Coeur d’Alene.
Now, my husband is completely relaxed. I’ve been noticing how rested he seems, and I realized the other day it’s because he’s no longer rushing around all the time mowing lawns and fixing things. When we first moved into that house in Coeur d’Alene, we had a neighbor, Annie, who was almost… I think she was like 95 or 100 years old. She’d owned the house next door to us forever, and one day she was sitting on her porch with a friend, and they were both watching my husband work in our yard. As he was working, he heard Annie talking about him. She said to her friend, “That man never stops moving.”
That was okay for a while, but it became intolerable for him. And guess what? Now that we’re in lake Las Vegas and we don’t have the dock and the retaining wall and the boat wakes destroying it all, and we don’t have acres of lawn to mow, he can finally have a rest. He can finally stop moving. Our life is better, thanks to a little bit of necessary negativity.
So here’s something you can take to the bank. If something is vexing you in your life or business, give it a little attention. Don’t whitewash it. Don’t say it doesn’t matter. Don’t gloss over it and pretend it’s neutral or that it’s not happening, and dilute the power of it with toxic positivity or neutrality that you use against yourself and you getting what you want. Instead, notice that it stinks. Pay attention to the stench. This will get you going for the next step in your journey.
This is what necessary negativity gets you. That’s why it’s part and parcel of step one of high-profit thinking, discerning the problem. What’s the next step, and what do you need to execute it? That’s what we’re talking about next time. So please join me for that, and thank you so much for being here today.