The Payoff Principle: How To Motivate Yourself To Win Every Time

“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite.”
Robert Half, personnel executive

What do you really, really, REALLY want? Chances are very good you can have what you want …. if you follow a few simple principles.

For example, you may want to be financially stable or even financially independent. Well, America is home to approximately 5 million millionaires, most of them self-made. Many of those people started out with nothing; some were even deeply in debt. But they all followed a few simple principles.

Maybe you want to be physically fit. Well you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans are more than 20% overweight. But every day thousands of men and women are making the decision to improve their health. And every one of those people who will eventually succeed will succeed because they followed the same simple principles I teach in “The Payoff Principle: How To Motivate Yourself To Win Every Time In Any Situation.”

In fact, “The Payoff Principle” may be the perfect keynote or seminar for your next meeting.

For today’s purposes, however, let me give you a peek into some of those principles that will absolutely guarantee your success.

1. Engage your desire.

As success guru Brian Tracy points out, “In the final analysis, a weak desire is the only real limit to your achievement. An intense desire to accomplish something can become a burning desire that nothing short of success will satisfy.”

Of course, the cynics will ask, “How do I do that? How do I get a burning desire if I don’t care that much about anything?”

Simple. Take some time to decide exactly what you want and visualize it until that picture is crystal clear in your mind. The clarity of your picture will determine the strength of your desire.

2. Get committed.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that success comes a great deal more often to those people who commit to a goal. Scientists and philosophers call it “synchronism.” It is when things come together in an unexplainable way to help you reach your destination. Sometimes you just happen to meet someone who has the answer you need or things “just seem to fall into place.”

All of that is quite possible. But it’s also possible that when you make a decision to bring about a certain outcome or to reach a particular goal, your Higher Power steps in to help you make it happen. As long as you persist in that belief, the process of getting closer and closer to what you really want continues to happen. But if you let doubt and fear get in your way, the process stops.

So get committed. And stay committed. That’s why there’s “power” in positive thinking … which is our third principle.

3. Stay positive.

When I tell my audiences you can have just about anything you REALLY want, there are always a few who say, “Just a minute, Dr. Zimmerman. Be realistic. Some things are just not possible.”

True enough. But I especially like Jim Cathcart’s response to such people in his book “The Acorn Principle.” He says, “A realist is simply a pessimist who doesn’t want to admit it. I’ve never heard a ‘realist’ take an optimistic posture on any topic. They always say, ‘Let’s be realistic,’ and then go on to explain why your idea can’t be done.”

Optimism is the only productive way to think. I’m not suggesting that you take on a Pollyannaish blind faith that ignores all the facts and obstacles that may get in your way. I’m simply saying that you need to keep on believing there is a way to get what you really want … and ultimately you will find it.

It’s all about attitude. In “The Measure Of Our Success,” Marian Wright Edelman writes, “You are in charge of your own attitude — whatever others do or circumstances you face. The only person you can control is yourself … Worry more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.”

I absolutely agree. It’s why I wrote my book on “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” I knew there were hundreds of books on the market professing the importance of attitude, but almost no one was telling you how to get and keep a positive attitude, all the time, despite circumstances.

Vickie Milliken put it this way, “We had a very successful business for 19 years with 100 employees, and then things happened over which we had no control. We lost the business. And my husband Tony, who had always been able to fix any problems in the past, was not able to fix this. It was devastating.”

“Tony was in great need of some encouraging words. As I walked through a bookstore, your ‘PIVOT’ book jumped out at me! My husband read it and immediately started reading it for the second time. The book has helped my husband so much!!!!!!!”

“If you ever want to speak to a man that your ‘PIVOT’ book has changed, then I have the man for you. My husband has been so blessed by your book. So he told our physician, Dr. Don Colbert, about ‘PIVOT.’ He wants a copy. Then three business people in Nashville asked for your book. We went to two bookstores and bought every copy of ‘PIVOT’ and are giving them out as gifts. My husband is telling so many people about your book.”

“THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR WRITING THIS BOOK! God Bless you, your family, and your business greatly!”

And then go on to the fourth principle.

4. Work hard.

Many people don’t like to hear about this principle. They would rather live in a dream world … just hoping that what they want will fall into their laps.

And yet many famous people have equated their success with hard work and the ability to immerse themselves in the project of the moment. For example, Michelangelo said, “If people know how hard I work to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem too wonderful after all.”

Classic author Thomas Carlyle noted, “Genius is the capacity for taking infinite pains.”

One of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton said, “All the genius I may have is merely the fruit of thought and labor.”

One of the world’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison, concluded, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

And one of the most effective leaders of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, observed, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

My favorite bit of wisdom along this line, however, comes from the actress Lucille Ball. When someone commented on her great luck in her career, she answered, “Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else; hard work — and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”

So working hard will take you a long way towards your almost certain success, but even then you must…

5. Persist.

Over the years, I have used a simple measure to evaluate candidates for a variety of positions in my company. The ability to overcome difficulties, adversities and obstacles is the first quality I look for. Anyone can acquire technical and academic knowledge, but it takes patience, persistence, and a strong will to develop an unstoppable personality. And it is those kinds of people who almost always succeed.

That’s why I was delighted to hear what an executive had to say at one of our national intelligence agencies where I spoke recently. She told the audience that she was very much aware of the fact that many of them were turned down for promotions they were seeking. They nodded their heads in disgruntled acknowledgement. Then she asked a devastating question, “Did it ever occur to you that we were watching your reaction?”

In other words, she and her executive team needed to find out who amongst them had the guts and the gumption to keep on keeping on … or to persist in the face of difficulties. And when you think about it, none of us would want any other type of person working in our national intelligence agencies or any other organization.

When Fred Smith was building Federal Express against all odds … fighting with the government and challenging the present-day thought that overnight delivery was impossible … he ran into one problem after another. At one point, the company was completely out of money, and the payroll was due on Friday.

Fred Smith took the last of his personal cash, caught a late flight to Las Vegas, arrived Thursday morning, and began gambling with his last few dollars in a casino. By the end of the day, he had won enough money to make payroll and was able to issue payroll checks to his staff the next morning. It was the lowest point in the history of Federal Express. The company is now a multi-billion dollar, world-wide success story that has completely changed the entire package-and-mail delivery industry.

Of course, I’m NOT recommending gambling as the answer to your problems. I don’t even think Fred Smith would recommend it. But his experience certainly illustrates the importance of persistence.

Thomas Edison is another great example of persistence. He believed that success was inevitable once you had a clear idea of what you wanted to accomplish. Edison understood success to be a process of systematic elimination of all the wrong methods. As a result, he conducted more than 17,000 experiments to find the plant variety that would produce latex for car tires.

Edison knew that success was inevitable if you learned something from every experience. And you need to know that success is the inevitable result of doing the right things or applying the right principles. You’ve just learned five of those principles. The question is … What are you going to do with the knowledge you just acquired?

Action:  List 10 things you can do to pump up your persistence factor.