"Talent is useless without training, thank God."
- Mark Twain
Sunday, 1:37 PM
"That kid's got a God-given talent."
"He's a prodigy!"
"He was born to play that guitar."
Those are things I heard adults say shortly after I picked up the guitar at the young age of seven.
I had no idea what they were talking about. It made absolutely no sense to me.
It all began after pizza night… which we did every Friday at Jeep & Joe's Pizza in downtown Barberton, Ohio.
After that was TV time.
And this particular night we watched The Partridge Family. It was the first episode I had ever seen.
I was completely and utterly mesmerized.
Keith Partridge was the coolest human being I had ever seen in my short little life. He was a rock star with long hair, rock star clothes… and what captured my attention the most, he played the electric guitar.
I knew from that very moment… this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
After weeks of persistent pestering, my dad finally relented and took me to "Happy Hank's"… Henry's Music in beautiful downtown Barberton, Ohio to sign me up for guitar lessons.
They refused. Said their experience showed a 7-year-old kid was too young to learn guitar and would never stick with it more than a few weeks.
In another few months I'll be approaching 40 years as a guitarist… some of those as a professional. Ole Happy Hank was right about the other 99.9% of 7-year-old boys… but he was dead wrong about me.
I didn't get upset with Crappy Hank and give up on my first-ever dream.
I got MAJORLY pissed off!
I bugged my dad until he took me back to Crappy Hank's and bought me a book on learning guitar. If that old fart wouldn't let me take lessons, I was going to teach myself.
And that's exactly what I did.
And am STILL doing today.
From the very first moment I cracked open that book and played my first chord (an open G Major "cowboy chord") on an old crappy beat up Harmony acoustic with 15 year old strings my Mom left gathering dust in the basement… I was completely hooked.
I LIVED with that guitar.
Hell, I SLEPT with that guitar… literally.
Every minute of every day I wasn't in school, church, eating or doing chores, I was playing that guitar.
Until my fingers bled.
And then I put on my mom's cotton gardening gloves so I could continue playing it in spite of my sore and bleeding fingers.
I gave up playing outside, riding my bike and playing sports like all my friends just so I would have more time with the guitar.
I put in some serious time with that instrument. But it didn't feel like work… it was a labor of love. After all, I was PLAYING the guitar, not WORKING the guitar.
That's why I didn't understand all those comments about "talent", "child prodigy" and all that stuff.
Those adults couldn't have been more wrong.
It wasn't talent or a "gift" they were seeing… it was the predictable result of THOUSANDS of hours invested learning my instrument.
Talent had NOTHING to do with it.
If that talent theory held any water, people with genius IQ's would have a HUGE advantage over the rest of the population and would be raging successes in a multitude of disciplines.
That's simply not the case.
In fact, quite the opposite. People with genius IQ's are much more likely to be working in menial jobs with little to no personal reward and minimum pay than their average IQ counterparts.
Give me two students…
One with lots of natural "talent" but an aversion to work…
…and one with no "talent" but a willingness to work his ass off.
After only a few months the no talent student will be so far ahead of the talented one it will make your head spin.
History shows again and again, the surest path to mastery of anything is…
Ever read any of the Travis McGee novels by John D. McDonald?
You should. They are some of the best examples of story telling masterpieces ever written.
Gary Halbert even claimed studying John D. McDonald's writing would make you a better copywriter.
The first time I ever read a Travis McGee novel I marveled at McDonald's ability to weave an almost addictive story, describe scenes in such detail I could picture them in my mind (I still remember them as if I was actually there)… and suck me in so much I thought about the characters and story line throughout the day as if it was something actually happening.
But I wasn't marveling at some kind of unique talent or ability. I was experiencing the results of John D. McDonald's 10,000 hours.
He had heard that it takes most writers ten novels before they get really good. So he went about writing his first ten novels...
In his first YEAR!
When you make THAT kind of dedication to your passion… without compromise… you are destined to become a master.
It's not a matter of IF it will happen… it's a matter of when.
Once you're very close to… or have exceeded 10,000 hours of training in your chosen discipline, (interesting word choice, huh?) you are at, or almost at, the point of "effortless" mastery.
Of course, it wasn't originally effortless. It was really frickin' hard… and you probably considered quitting many, many times.
Heck, you probably DID quit many times.
But if it's a TRUE passion or dream you only "quit" for a very short period of time.
You always came back.
You HAD to come back.
It's as if this particular discipline has chosen YOU… and you simply CAN'T quit… even if you think you want to.
So you get in your 10,000 hours, making whatever sacrifices are needed to do it as quickly as possible.
And all the civilians marvel at how effortless you make it look. The jealous ones (the ones who don't have the balls to do their OWN 10,000 hours) call you…
They like to make themselves feel better and claim that as an excuse for their own cowardice and/or sloth.
Many will hate you and deliberately try to sabotage you with words and deeds.
Even just beginning your 10,000 hour trek is a silent accusation that they, too, could begin their own 10,000 trek… if they had the balls.
But they don't.
A precious few very unique and special people will encourage you and become your own personal cheerleader. Many of those will be people who have already completed their own 10,000 hour journey… or are in the process.
The other 99.9%…
Their response will be to try and pull you back into the "crab bucket" with them.
Their fate is punishment enough… poor bastards.
No, it's not easy.
(Anybody who tells you it's easy is lying to you… and probably trying to sell you a "magic bullet" solution.)
So, no. Not easy.
But worth it.
Look, you're going to spend 10,000 hours doing something. Most people spend it on stupid stuff that produces NEGATIVE results in their life. Like watching TV.
Why not invest those 10,000 hours in something you're passionate about… that will produce happiness and success?
And the time to start is…
Whatever it takes, start chipping away NOW at those 10,000 hours.
I promise you it won't be easy.
And almost no one will understand you or support you.
But don't ever forget this:
The minute you start on your 10,000 hour journey (and stick with it), you've gained a few things most people won't EVER have:
1. The balls to stick your head above the crowd and brave the folly of tomatoes… and…
2. Somebody in your corner…
- Napoleon Hill
Friday, 12:48 PM
I've found that attacking Napoleon Hill's philosophy is akin to attacking somebody's religion.
People react VIOLENTLY to any kind of logical analysis of Hill's teachings.
Most would rather continue to live in a fantasy world than confront reality. And many times they'll go to great measures to silence anybody pointing out the Emperor has no clothes.
(BTW, did you know Hill was completely broke in the final years of his life? W. Clement Stone had to step in and rescue Hill by giving him a figurehead position in Stone's massively successful insurance company.)
For example… the quote above. Do you REALLY believe that's true?
I WANTED to believe it… and for decades I chose to believe it, in spite of tons of credible evidence to the contrary.
For example… my mind can conceive certain appendages on my body being MUCH bigger than they presently are. And because Nap Hill said so, I chose to believe that appendage was growing longer and thicker day by day.
Heck, I even chose to help the process by taking pills and potions that claimed they could make that appendage bigger.
But I didn't stop there.
I also did regular exercises designed to force blood into that appendage to help it grow bigger.
After DECADES of doing this, visualizing a freakin' HUGE appendage and believing it with all my heart… I can simply look down and see that this appendage hasn't grown in years.
Hey… wait a minute!
I was talking about my biceps. What did YOU think I was talking about, you pervert?
Well, even if I WAS talking about what your twisted mind thought, Hill's formula STILL wouldn't work.
Don't believe me?
OK… apply the formula to an amputee. Even if you had 100 billion dollars to throw at this experiment… and you do EVERYTHING possible to get the amputee to conceive and believe he can grow a new limb… it ain't EVER gonna happen.
OK, I admit… that's a pretty extreme example. Instead, let's apply Hill's "think and grow rich" formula to your finances and see how that works out for you.
For the next 12 months don't do ANYTHING different in your job or business. Keep everything "biz as usual" with one exception. Throughout the entire day, every day, I want you to imagine you having the most wealth your greedy little mind can possibly think of. Don't actually DO anything… just think about it and visualize it as vividly as possible.
I'll bet you dollars to donuts at the end of those 12 months your net worth won't have changed very much at all.
Does that mean Napoleon Hill's
"think & grow rich" philosophy is just B.S.?
See, your thoughts control your actions.
Didja catch that? I said your thoughts control your ACTIONS… and it is your ACTIONS that can make you wealthy.
In fact, you can have a completely negative defeatist attitude, not believe you're gonna get rich, yet take the right actions consistently and persistently… and…
You can get filthy stinkin' honkin' RICH!
Or… you can believe with all your might… have the undying faith of Peter (the only cat other than J.C. who walked on water) yet take no action… and you're gonna stay poor and miserable.
In fact, Hill even included the "take action" part in many of his books… but for some inexplicable reason, most people ignore that part… including Hill later in his life.
During my 12 years with a badge and gun, pounding a beat in the inner city, nine of those years I also did the part-time entrepreneur thang. (Yes, I MEANT to spell it that way.) And EVERYTHING I tried during that time was a miserable failure, leaving me with a high five-figures debt… and a broken heart.
After nine long years of NOTHING ever working, when I started my first little mail order business I wasn't exactly Mr. Positive Attitude.
In fact, I was quite negative and cynical. (12 years of being a cop contributed GREATLY to that attitude, too.)
But it didn't matter… because no matter how positively or negatively you think about it…
2 + 2 = 4!
And NOTHING will EVER change that.
You see, direct response is a numbers business.
I know some really negative, cynical and nasty people who have made themselves unbelievably wealthy with direct response marketing. (BTW, you DO understand if you have an online business you're a direct response marketer, right? Damn rookies! lol)
I also know some extremely positive thinkers, with more faith than God himself… who have always been, and will always be, completely broke…
'Cuz they sit on their asses
THINKING about growing rich!
They bought in lock, stock and barrel to the EASY part of Hill's formula.
But they've left out the most important part…
I've discovered the "knights" who have joined me at the Round Table in my Marketing Camelot are some of the smartest, most positive-thinking and encouraging people I've ever met. Many have pitched in to help further my vision of making The Doberman Dan Letter a true Camelot… where we can share ideas and resources to help each other.
They understand action is the most important part of the success process.
The delusional few who mistakenly believe they only have to read a newsletter and THINK about growing rich to magically achieve their goals do NOT stick around my Marketing Camelot very long.
And I'm quite happy about that.
I don't want them around me or my cherished subscribers.
If they DO slip past the castle gatekeeper, I HOPE I can help them get into action… but honestly, I kinda doubt it.
I've found successful people have a history of being DOERS… at least in SOME aspect of their lives.
And they are the "patches of light" in my life.
They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning and do what I do… because money alone is no longer enough of a motivator for me.
If you've studied Napoleon Hill's stuff and still aren't getting the results you've imagined so fervently for so many years… try adding the most important ingredient…
Consistent and persistent ACTION!
THAT is what will cause you to grow as a person and achieve what you truly want.
Thursday, 12:01 AM
There's a Frank Zappa album called Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar!
Notice Frank didn't say "Shut up and play your guitar WELL"…
…Or "Shut up and play your guitar using all the correct harmonic knowledge and theory you've spent a lifetime learning"…
… He simply said…
The very second you start worrying about playing as well as possible… or being "the best" (an impossible goal) the activity is no longer play. It puts forces into motion that completely sabotage and suppress your true abilities.
Athletes call it choking, aptly named because your creativity, spontaneity, skills and ability are denied the vital "oxygen" they need to thrive and survive.
The faster you can free yourself from over analysis, self editing, self criticism, perfectionism… and all the other different forms in which self hate manifests itself, the faster you can operate at the very peak of your creative abilities… effortlessly.
When you give yourself the freedom to do something badly… free from the pressure of needing to perform well… that's when effortless excellence begins.
Things begin to come together in ways you never could have imagined.
Your hands dance over the fretboard and beautiful music comes out.
Or in the case of copywriters and entrepreneurs, your hands dance over the keyboard typing words, phrases and irresistible offers… while it feels like you're just in the background observing a master creating a masterpiece.
You ARE observing a master at work creating his next masterpiece. But the amazing thing is…
The master is YOU!
If you've got an engineering masterpiece built for speed like the Ferrari, you don't need to concern yourself with every process, function and moving part in that vehicle. You just need to put the pedal the metal and allow that beautiful machine to function at its peak like it was created to do.
The good news is, you DO have a Ferrari… but it hasn't been operating anywhere NEAR the speeds it's capable of…
Because you've been driving
with your brakes on!
Take the damn brakes off and let your Ferrari FLY like it's supposed to.
You knew how to do it when you were a child… before the adults programmed it out of you. And if you've done it before, you can do it again.
There comes a time when you need to forget all the theory, formulas and structure… and give yourself the freedom to simply play.
Only then will your true genius be revealed.