Derek Sivers

Maximum Achievement - by Brian Tracy

Maximum Achievement - by Brian Tracy

ISBN: 0684803313
Date read: 2006-11-12
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

A classic self-help book. Exactly what you'd expect. I don't agree with all of it.

my notes

You can't hit a target you can't see.

Think through what my goal would look like when it was accomplished.

Decide exactly what "success" means to you - what your life would look like if you made it into a masterpiece.

Peace of mind is your highest internal gyroscope. When you're living in harmony with your highest values - when you are perfectly balanced in life - then you enjoy peace of mind. If you compromise your values or go against your inner guidance, your peace of mind is the first thing to suffer.

You experience happiness and peace of mind when you are completely free from the destructive emotions of fear, anger, doubt, guilt, resentment, and worry. The key to happiness is to eliminate the parts of your life that cause you negativity or stress of any kind.

When you set peace of mind as your goal and plan everything you do in terms of whether it helps or hinders your attainment of that goal, you'll probably never make another mistake.

What is your ideal relationship? Who would it be with and what would it look like? What would you want more of? Less of?

Examine your relationships, one by one, and develop a plan to make each of them more enjoyable and satisfying.

To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction.

Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

Think about what activities and accomplishments you most enjoy. What were you doing in the past when you were the happiest? What sort of activities give you your greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life?

Moving toward the realization of your full potential as a human being. Self-actualization.

To be good at something, you have to study it thoroughly and practice it diligently.

3 basic operating principles :
1. Life is hard, for everyone.
2. Everything you are or ever will be is up to you. You are where you are today because that is where you have chosen to be.
3. You can learn anything you need to learn to become anyone you want to become, to achieve anything you want to achieve.

You are locked in place at your current level of skill and knowledge. You can go no further with what you know now. Your future largely depends on what you learn and practice from this moment onward.

If all it took to live a wonderful life was books and ideas, we'd all be rich and happy.

You have to have a system.

You can't seriously try to master any complex subject without learning everything possible from those who had gone before.

Anything you could ever want to be, have, or do, is amenable to learning and hard work.

Your main job, in taking control of your life and future, is to become the conductor of your own orchestra.

When your life is going well, it means your thoughts and activities are aligned and in harmony with these invisible mental laws. When you are having problems of any kind, it's because you are violating one or more of these laws, whether you know about them or not.

You feel positive about yourself to the degree to which you feel you are in control of your own life.
If you feel your life is controlled by your debts, boss, health, relationship, or the behavior of others, you will suffer stress.

It all begins with you taking control of your thinking.

There are two ways you can get control of any situation causing you stress or unhappiness : (1) take action; move forward and do something to change it. Assert yourself in the situation and make it different somehow. (2) simply walk away.

It's so important for you to be decisive - to know exactly what you want.

There are specific causes for happiness and unhappiness. Whatever you want more of, trace it back to the causes and repeat the causes. What you want to eliminate, trace it back to the causes and get rid of them.

Thoughts are causes and effects.

Your thoughts are the primary causes of the conditions of your life. Everything in your experience has begun with a thought of some kind - yours or someone else's.

People generally have two ways of looking at the world:
Benevolent world view: the world is a pretty good place to live, primarily optimistic.
Malevolent world view: negative and pessimistic, beliefs like "no matter how hard you work, you can't get ahead anyway because the deck is stacked against you". sees injustice, oppression, and misfortune everywhere. Blame things on bad luck and bad people.

We too easily accept that we are limited in some way.

What you get is not what you want in life, but what you expect.

The most consistently effective and predictable motivational behavior you can use is to confidently and constantly expect the best from others.

Inverse paranoid : someone who believes the world is conspiring to do him good. Sees every situation as being heaven-sent to teach some valuable lesson or make him successful. This is the most outwardly identifiable quality of a high-performing person.

You can never rise any higher than your expectations of yourself. Always expect the best of yourself.

Many people hold themselves back because they don't know how to get from where they are to where they want to go. You don't need the answers before you begin. As long as you're clear about what you want and the kind of people you want to be associated with, you'll draw them into your life.

Your thoughts' energy is their level of emotional intensity. The more excited or scared you are, the most your thoughts radiate out from you and attract similar people and situations back into your life.

Happy people seem to attract other happy pleasant people. A person with a prosperity consciousness seems to attract money-making ideas and opportunities. Optimistic enthusiastic salespeople attract bigger and better customers. Positive businesspeople attract the resources, customers, suppliers and bankers they need to build successful businesses.

You can have more, be more, do more, because you can change the person you are. You can change your dominant thoughts by exercising rigorous mental mastery. You can discipline yourself by keeping your thoughts on what you want and refusing to think about what you don't want.

People who do this are often called lucky. :-)

One must BE something in order to DO something.

Your attitude is one of the best indicators of the person you really are inside.

The only way you can tell what kind of attitude you really have is by observing how you react when things go wrong.

You are as effective as you believe yourself to be in whatever you do.

If you earn more than 10% above or below what you feel you are worth, you will feel very uncomfortable. You will immediately begin engaging in compensatory behavior. If you earn 10% too much, you will begin to spend the money, lend it, invest it in things you know nothing about, or even give it away or lose it. Such "throw-away" behavior is practiced by anyone who suddenly finds himself with more money than is consistent with his self-concept.

If you earn 10% below your self-concept level of income, you begin to scramble : think more creatively, work longer and harder, look at 2nd-income opportunities, think about changing jobs in order to get your income back up into your self-concept range. Where money, weight, or anything else is concerned, you gradually get yourself into your various "comfort zones", and once there you do everything possible to stay there. You resist change of any kind, even positive change.

The comfort zone is the great enemy of human potential. Any habit persisted in over time becomes a rut. Then, instead of using your intelligence to get out of your rut, you use most of your energies making your rut more comfortable. You justify and rationalize your situation as being unchangeable. You feel and say, "There's nothing I can do."

Your self-ideal is a combination of the qualities and attributes that you admire most in other people.
Exceptional people have very clear self-ideas, toward which they are constantly striving. They set high standards for themselves and strive to live up to them.

You always behave consistently with the picture that you hold of yourself on the inside.

Self-image modification is one of the fastest and most dependable ways to improve your performance.

Destructive criticism makes the person feel incompetent and inadequate, angry and defensive, wanting to strike back or escape.
Often people mistakenly think they are giving constructive criticism when they are really just tearing the other person down, and calling it constructive to rationalize their behavior.
True constructive criticism leaves the person feeling better and more capable of doing a better job in the future.
If criticism doesn't improve performance, by increasing a person's feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy, then it has merely been a destructive act of self-expression.
Destructive criticism lies at the root of many personality problems, hostility, broken spirits, demoralization, anger, resentment, self-doubt, and a host of negative emotions.

Some people accept criticism of themselves unquestioningly as if they were actually true. Some people do things poorly the first time and conclude they have no aptitude in that area.
Ask yourself, "What if I had the capacity to be really good in that area?" Then, assume that you do have the ability, and get to work on yourself.

Fear of rejection is the second major reason for failure and underachievement in adult life.

Confidence in yourself to consider the opinions of others, then make your own decision based on what you feel is right for you.

In each situation in which the opinion of others are involved, ask yourself, "What do I really want to do? What would make me the happiest?" Then make your decisions for the person who is going to have to live with them : you.



Productive profitable companies are ones where people feel good about themselves. Safe and happy at work. They may be busy, or even frantic with activity, but they are at peace inside. People laugh and joke together. They enjoy one another and their work. They function smoothly and happily as teams. They are more optimistic, more open to new ideas, more creative and more flexible.

People are the business.

The most important single responsibility of the executive is to ensure harmony and happiness among the people - to create a climate of optimism, enthusiasm, and high morale.

Morale. Culture. The general psychological tone of the organization. How happy the individuals are as part of the larger group. How proud and confident they feel, or don't feel, in their membership in the greater entity.

The self-concept of a business:
self-ideal = a combination of the vision, values, ethics and mission. when these are clear and positive and committed-to by top management, the people in the company are happier, more positive, more confident about themselves and where they're going.
Clearly articulate this self-ideal, embody their values in their behavior toward others.
Collective self-image : the way the company's management and employees see themselves and think about themselves, determined by how well they fell they are doing.

Companies whose sales are up, whose market share is growing, whose profits are respectable, everyone seems happy, outgoing, and confident.

Keep people's spirits up by continually telling them how good they are. Everyone looks upward for guidance on how to interpret what's happening. Exec's job to keep morale high by putting the best possible spin on events and keeping people focused on the possibilities of the future, rather than the problems of the past.


Keep your mind on only the things you want, and off of the things you don't want.

To achieve different results, you must become a different person.

It's your unconscious striving to remain consistent with what you've said and done in the past that holds you back.

You tend to move back toward what you're comfortable doing, and away from things that are new and challenging.

When you start thinking about how you are going to accomplish something you want, and you simultaneously refuse to consider whether it's possible or not, your entire mentality begins to change.

Most of the suggestions in your environment tend to be negative. Media full of negative sensationalism. Conversations filled with complaining. Most people in the habit of "ain't it awful" thinking. Negative and critical.

Shakespeare : "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

Changing habits that are no longer consistent with your higher purposes is one of the hardest things you'll ever do and one of the most essential.

(Story:) the new president was on the verge of letting the exec go, when he decided to change his thinking. He deliberately chose to reinterpret the behaviors of the exec in a favorable way. He then re-examined the man's past actions in this new light.

Everything you do is based on an emotion of some kind.

You can't want something for someone else, just as you can't set goals for someone else. It requires desire on the part of the person who expects to change, or it won't take place.

You must be willing to let go of the old person in order to become the new person. You must be willing to stop doing certain things in order to start doing the things that are consistent with the new you.

You must be willing to make efforts : to persevere for a long time without much evidence of progress.

Use visualization to flood your mind at every opportunity with pictures of your ideal life.

Teach others what you are learning. You become what you teach. You teach what you are.
When you attempt to articulate and explain a new concept to someone else, you understand it and internalize it better yourself.
You only really know something to the degree to which you can teach it to someone else, and have them understand and apply it in their own lives.
Launch your new habits strongly. Never allow exceptions until the new habit is locked in.

(BAD:) Like most people, I slipped into reactive-responsive mode : I took whatever job came along. I associated with whoever happened to be around. Instead of planning my life, I just reacted to my external environment and responded to my emotional and physical needs.

Always stretch yourself, push yourself out of your comfort zone.

If you aren't willing to face feeling clumsy and inadequate initially, you will get stuck at a low level of achievement. Your biggest battle is with yourself and your biggest challenge is breaking free of your old habitual ways of thinking and acting.

Any thought you accept as true in your conscious mind will be accepted without question by your subconscious mind. Your subconscious will immediately begin working to bring it into your reality.

When you begin thinking of a new goal, your subconscious takes this new thought as a command, adjusting your words and actions so they are more consistent with your achieving it.

Successful happy people are those who have developed the ability to concentrate single-mindedly on one thing, and to stay with it until it's complete.
More is less: you can't work on several things at once and end up doing any of them particularly well.
I stopped every activity except for the one or two that were most important to me.

Your conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time.
Deliberately replace a negative thought with a positive thought.
Fastest way to do this is to stop talking and thinking about the problem, and start talking and thinking about the solution.
When you think about what you can do, what action you can take, rather than dwelling on what's happened, your mind becomes calm and clear in an instant.

Just as feelings generate actions, actions generate feelings.
You can act your way into feeling, and the feeling will generate the actions consistent with it.
Either one can create the other.
If you can hold the feeling or emotion that you would experience if you accomplished a goal, that feeling will create the result that goes with it.
The more you relax or "don't try", the faster the thought seems to be accepted by your subconscious and the faster the physical result of the thought or goal appears in your world.
- verbalize and affirm your desired outcome
- visualize and clearly see the outcome
- emotionalize it by creating the feeling : imagine yourself already there
- release the situation completely, as if someone you trust said they'd take care of it. you don't need to think about it ever again.
The manifestation is in direct proportion to how much you've completely released all concern for the outcome, and turned your mind to other things.

For each breath:
"My left arm is becoming heavy and warm." = 6 times
"My left arm is now heavy and warm." = 6 times
"My left arm is completely heavy and warm." = 6 times
Do that for each limb, chest, head, neck.
When done, you'll be in deep relaxation, alpha state, ready for deep programming.
Use it to accelerate development of motor skills.
A form of mental rehearsal : practice the movements over & over in your imagination, visualizing perfect performance every time, programming that into subconscious mind.

Georgi Lozanov:
Best learning takes place when both right brain and left brain are working together.
In beta (normal) brain functions at 14 waves/second.
In alpha, relaxed/meditative state, brain functions at 8-13 waves/second.
Alpha is the ideal brain wave level for learning.
Lozanov discovered that if you put a person into state of deep relaxation, then present new information while gentle classical music plays in backgronund, right and left brains synchronize and learning takes place at a rapid rate.
In 1979, Lozanov was able to teach a special class 3000 new words, the equivalent of fluency in a foreign language, in a single day. 6 months later, students could still recall 60% of what they learned, compared with the usual university retention of 10%.

Most people spend their lives in a form of sleep. They go busily about their daily activities almost totally preoccupied by a continuous stream of disorganized thought.
To become all you can be, you must live more consciously.


Success equals goals, and all else is commentary.
Don't be "a wandering generality rather than a meaningful specific".
You accomplish almost any goal you set for yourself, as long as the goal is clear and you persist long enough.
If your goal is to get through the day and watch TV, you will achieve it.
If your goal is to be fit and healthy and live a long life, you will achieve that too.
If your goal is to be financially independent and wealthy, then there is nothing that can stop you from achieving it, sooner or later.
Your only limitation is your desire : how badly do you want it?

Your failure mechanism is your natural tendency to follow the path of least resistance, your impulse toward immediate gratification with little or no concern for the long-term consequences of your actions.
Your success mechanism is triggered by a goal. The bigger your goal and the more intensely you desire it, the more likely you will be to exert your powers of self-discipline and willpower, and the more capable you will be of making yourself do the things you need to do to get where you want to go.

After 50 years of training 20k people, Elmer Letterman concluded the one quality that was most predictive of success : the "intensity of purpose".
Taking any two people with the same relative levels of intelligence, background, education, and experience, the one with the greater intensity of purpose will always win out over the other.

When you have paid the price, success will happen by law, not chance.

The single greatest enemy of your potential for greater success and achievement is your comfort zone, your tendency to get stuck in a rut and then to resist all change, even positive change, that would force you out of it.

No one fears a change that represents an improvement.

Opportunity is usually disguised as hard work.

To maintain proper balance, you need 2-3 goals in each area (personal, health, intellectual, career, financial, spiritual).
Make your life one continuous stream of progress and achievement.

- must be in harmony with one another
- must be challenging
- have both tangible and intangible, both qualitative and quantitative
- need short-term and long-term goals (short term = 90 days)

+ What are your 5 more important values in life? (afterwards, order them in priority)
+ What are your 3 most important goals in life, now? (30 seconds to answer, tops)
+ What would you do if you learned you had 6 months to live?
+ What would you do if you won a million dollars, tax free, in the lottery tomorrow?
+ What have you always wanted to do, but been afraid to attempt?
+ What do you most enjoy doing? What gives greatest feeling of self-esteem & personal satisfaction?
+ What you do if you knew you could not fail?

Whatever I write for all of those, I have to do.

"The goal of $400,000 was much more than I could believe, so my subconscious mind simply refused to accept it as a possibility."
Completely unrealistic goals are a form of self-delusion.
There are no unrealistic goals - only unrealistic deadlines.

Do I want it badly enough, and am I willing to pay the price?

A young man went to Socrates and asked how he could gain wisdom. Socrates walked the young man into a nearby lake. When the water was a few feet deep, Socrates suddly grabbed the young man and pushed his head under water and held it there. At first the young man thought it was a joke, but as he was held under longer and longer, he became frantic. He struggled desperately to get free and his lungs burned for lack of oxygen. Finally Socrates let him up, coughing and gasping for air. Socrates then said, "When you desire wisdom with the same intensity that you desired to breathe, nothing will stop you from getting it."
It's the same with your goals.

The most successful people in our society are those who have helped the greatest number of other people to get what they want.

Many people launch themselves towards a goal, then allow themselves to slow and stop. Once they stop, getting going again is so difficult they can't do it. Don't let this happen to you. The maintenance of momentum, once you've begun, is essential.

To keep yourself positive and motivated, you must be contintually taking actions consistent with what you hope to achieve.

When you become fully attuned to your superconscious mind, you will experience a continuous stream of health, energy and strength that will enable you to produce more in a few hours than the average person produces in a week. You will enter the state of "flow" where the world seems to slow down while your mind speeds up. During this time you have an easy ability to produce large quantities of high-quality work. You have a wonderful sense of well-being. Your mind sparkles with a stream of ideas that flow to you exactly as you need them.

When you stop waffling and make a firm clear decision you are going to do something, no matter what the cost, everything suddenly starts to work in your favor.

"Whenever you find something getting done, anywhere, you will find a monomaniac with a mission." - Peter Drucker

You can never permanently achieve anything on the outside that you are not fully prepared for on the inside.
If you achieve anything without preparing yourself for it in your thinking, you will not be able to hold on to it. If you make a lot of money unexpectedly and your self-concept is not equal to it, you will be subconsciously driven to engage in behavior to get rid of the money. That's why it's said, "Easy come, easy go."

People who experience serendipity all seem to have one thing in common : they are actively seeking something. They have clear goals and the remarkable things they find are all associated with something they want to accomplish.

Your superconscious mind operates best under two conditions: The first is when your conscious mind is concentrating 100% on a specific goal. The second is when your conscious mind is busy with something else altogether. You should try both methods on anything you want to accomplish.
1. Define the goal clearly. What exactly do you want to achieve? Exactly what is the problem you want to solve?
2. Gather as much info as you can.
3. Try to solve the problem by reviewing all the info.
4. If you still haven't solved it consciously, turn it over to your superconscious mind. Release it.
5. Get your conscious mind busy elsewhere.

Any thought held continuously in your conscious mind must be brought into reality by your superconscious mind, whether positive or negative.

How to stimulate the superconscious: OPTIONS:
#1 : think about your goals all the time.
#2 : solitude. sit still for an hour, doing nothing. At a certain point, you will feel a river of creative energy flowing through you. You will start to have ideas and insights you can apply immediately to be happier and more effective. The answer you need will emerge in your mind.
#3 : visualize your goal as realized

One good superconscious insight or idea can save you months of hard work.

The primary source of innovation in business is the unexpected success or the unexpected failure. The unanticipated event contains the superconscious solution you're seeking.

A superconcious solution:
- comes 100% complete
- appears to be a blinding flash of the obvious
- comes accompanies by a burst of joy and energy


You need to be a skilled thinker to fulfill your potential.
Direct relationship between how much responsibility you are willing to accept for results, and how high you rise.
Responsibility without excuses, for achieving the goals and objectives of your organization.

An employer has two people working for him: one that treats the company as if it belongs to him, another who treated it as just a job.
Which is more likely to be promoted? Invested in? Given additional training?

You become what you teach.

Feelings of inadequacy are often expressed in the words, "I'm not good enough." Fear of success is another way of saying that, because of your deep feelings of unworthiness, any achievement that contradicts your self-limiting beliefs make you feel uncomfortable.

Most common manifestation of guilt is the victim complex: always making excuses or apologizing. "I can't" or "I have to" or "trying".
When people say "I'll try", they are apologizing for failure in advance. They are announcing they are going to fail in whatever they say they will try to do. You know these words are signals for upcoming failure.
When a supplier says they'll "try" to get something to you on time, alarm bells should go off. That supplier is planning to fail.
When people say "I wish", they don't really believe it. "I wish I could save money" or "I wish I could lose weight" means "... but I don't believe it's possible."
Eliminate victim language.

Worry is a sustained form of fear caused by indecision.
The only real antidote for worry is purposeful action.

Incomplete action is a major source of stress and negativity. We all have a compulsion to closure. We feel happy and content when we finish a job, achieve a goal.
Begin the task and stay with it until it is complete. It requires tremendous self-discipline, but the payoff is immediate increase of energy, enthusiasm, self-esteem.