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Four Cognitive Tools To Help You Be Successful

maras salt pools, peru, Work Hard, Successful

Having A Great Idea Is Not Enough

I have met countless people who have really amazing dreams but are terrified of the idea of trying to go after them. They believe that there is no way they can be successful. Others cannot even imagine having a dream because the idea of trying to actualize it, petrifies them. People quickly imagine the struggling street musician, or waitress who auditions for acting parts – all to no avail. Dreams are for the few, and success for those favored by either God or perhaps the Devil.

These are of course incredibly false notions. You do not need to sell your soul to become successful, nor is it simply for the top echelon of people. I truly believe that with these few cognitive tools of the mind, you can be successful in ways you never imagined.

Matthew Effect

Myth: I do not have the capability to become successful because my resources are few. Perhaps I am poor, have few influential friends, or my knowledge is limited.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus states that those who have, will get even more, and those who have not, even what they have will be taken away. The sociologists Robert K. Merton called this the Matthew effect. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This has generally been true in the history of mankind.

With a little bit of effort you can make this fact work in your favor. For example, let’s imagine your dream is to start a bakery one day. Since you are poor in money, you think you can’t. In reality you are rich in energy and talent. You start an Instagram page featuring the creations you make in your home. People love seeing what you do, they show their friends your page. As your following grows you slowly research what it takes to rent a space, and run a business. You start cooking special orders for a few people. A store decides to sell your product on their shelves. Slowly your business grows and after a while you are able to actualize your dream and open a bakery.

Tool Availability

Myth: In order to be successful I need very high quality tools. Unfortunately I can not afford those and as a result cannot start a business.

Another cognitive tool you need here is the understanding of tool availability. The market has a lot of tools available for business owners that help them become incredible efficient and profitable. Unfortunately these tools can be prohibitively expensive for someone just starting out. The reason for this is outlined by Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One. Basically really good technology is invented mostly for either the average consumer, or large corporations.

You can use this to your advantage in two ways. The first is by being creative and using tools that are for your average consumer and apply them to make your business more profitable. Open up an Instagram, take great photos, and get all your friends to vouch for your business. Everyone has a really powerful tool in their phone, it’s ubiquitous and also a really great tool for business. Use free products that are available if that’s all you can do.

The other thing you can do is consistently upgrade your tools as soon as you can justify it. If you start making a little bit of money reinvest it into upgrading the tools you have. This can mean buying commercial grade ovens, paying for a subscription to Adobe, remodeling a space you have, or taking classes to learn new things. As you invest into better tools you are able to become more efficient or create higher quality products. You don’t need the very best tools to start with if you consistently upgrade both your physical, as well as your cognitive tools.

Pareto Principle

Myth: I need to do everything, and excel everywhere in order to succeed. I don’t know how to edit videos, my photo editing is only so-so, or perhaps there are so many different aspects of running a business that I don’t know. Why even try then.

Pareto discovered that roughly 20% of the landowners in Italy control 80% of land. This is known to people as the Pareto principle. It applies to all sorts of things in life. Tim Ferris talks about this in his book, the 4-Hour Workweek. Twenty percent of the people in your life cause 80% of your stress. Eighty percent of your health problems are caused by twenty percent of the food you eat. In business this means that about 80% of your income is coming from about 20% of the things you spend your time on.

For example we run a blog, we post videos on YouTube, and we have an Instagram account. Of these we are having the greatest success with our Instagram account. As a result we have decided to invest the most money and time as of right now into our Instagram account. By focusing on what works, you are able to be more efficient with your time. By upgrading the tools you use as you grow, you are able to see more clearly your strong and weak areas.


Myth: If I start a company and it either fails, or becomes something I don’t want to do anymore then I’m a failure and I’m stuck. I need to have the absolutely perfect idea that I know will not fail before I begin anything.

In reality nothing could be further from the truth. By putting yourself out there you have learned at least one thing. You have learned that what you did not work. Either your effort failed or you didn’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would. This is an OK thing. Instead of throwing up your hands you will have the opportunity to step back and reassess. During your efforts you have developed some skills, maybe built an audience, or seen something that you can do differently.

For example suppose you have a dream to create a business making DIY furniture. You invest into good tools and after putting some product out there you realize the profit margin just isn’t there. In this case you can assess and maybe you will find that the videos you made of the process actually had a really large audience. Something about the way you explain the process really captures their imagination. Perhaps there is a way to monetize that and have it be the new base for your business.

Becoming Successful

In reality these cognitive tools can be applied to many aspects of your life besides business. Furthermore, every persons definition of success can be different. If you simply want to live a life of contentment these tools can be applied to finding that life. Or if you measure your success by the happiness of your family many of these cognitive tools can still be used to be successful in that.


Have you used any of these tools yourself? What do you think about them? Comment below or share to your social media if you think that one of your friends will benefit from reading this.


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