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Show Me the Money. The 4 Principles of Success and Wealth Accumulation True happiness comes from fulfillment and the sense that life has meaning. The choice to pursue wealth or fulfillment is personal. Whichever decision you make, you must live it.

By Brian H. Robb Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In his role as sports agent Jerry Maguire in the movie of the same name, Tom Cruise immortalized the phrase, "Show me the money!" The movie ends when Jerry succeeds in negotiating a multi-million-dollar contract for his client. As enjoyable as the film was, many people fail to recognize that the movie's theme was not about making money but about caring for oneself and others. The real lesson was Jerry's plea: "Help me help you."

Related: Show Me the Money! Best Practices for Raising Capital for Your Startup.

Pattern recognition

Common sense suggests that making money is easy if you copy the methods of successful investors. Pattern recognition — the skill to find patterns and logically determine what those patterns indicate about what will happen next — is the process underlying their wealth accumulation. The exact process underlies machine learning and artificial intelligence in computers.

Everyone practices pattern recognition to a degree; some train their minds to be especially good at the skill. Good quarterbacks seem to have an uncanny ability to find an open receiver, throwing the ball before a player completes his route. Winning poker players learn the patterns of their opponent to learn "tells" to distinguish bluffs from a winning hand. Before technical analysis of the stock market became common, stock traders anticipated price moves by visually scanning paper ticker tapes to identify trends.

You get what you pay for

Most people experience life haphazardly, accepting its twists and turns because they believe the future is uncontrollable. Similarly, investors react by what they get from friends and neighbors, read in the paper or hear from one of the many investment gurus on television who know the "secret" of wealth communication.

Ironically, they give less effort to their investments than their golf game. While they expect their assets to compound consistently, they know they have no chance to compete on the professional tour despite their practice.

Life gives us what we earn by investing time, effort, education and experience. When you only invest a little, a little return is what you get.

Making money the old-fashioned way

Tony Robbins was a high school graduate who never attended college. He remembers stealing and eating food in grocery stores when hungry and working as a handyman during school to support himself and his siblings before leaving home at seventeen.

Despite his disadvantages, Robbins has enjoyed exceptional financial success. His estimated net worth in 2022 was $600+ million. The motivational speaker credits his first mentor, Jim Rohm, for teaching him a new way of thinking: "If you want anything to change, you must change. If you want things to get better, you've got to get better."

Related: What Benjamin Franklin and Tony Robbins Can Teach You About Self-Improvement

Those who seek wealth need to implement four fundamental principles to succeed:

  1. Change your mindset. Before you can achieve, you must believe. Decisions are always more consequential than the conditions that surround you. Rosa Parks changed America when she decided to keep her seat on the bus. Ulysses S. Grant delivered a historical account of the Civil War through his decision to keep writing despite his debilitating, ultimately fatal disease. Focus on the things that matter, not the trivial timewasters and insignificant events interrupting your day.
  2. Immerse yourself in the details. Knowledge is available to everyone with a computer or a library card. Success in investments requires knowing as much about investments as possible — types, mechanics, tax treatment, liquidity and history — before taking the first step. You need to understand the nuances of risk and risk management, how events affect prices, and the impact of emotions on investment decisions. Continue to learn in the future.
  3. Find a role model. The easiest method to become successful is by following the footsteps of successful people. If you do what they do, you will have the same result. Copying a role model is not simply duplicating their actions but identifying and learning the patterns that lead to an investment or its sale. According to news reports, Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the greatest investor of all time, recently added Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) to his portfolio. Copying means learning what changes in the economic and financial environment prompted the buy. What patterns triggered his investment, not last year or the year before? To achieve wealth, you must be an original, not a counterfeiter.
  4. Remember that wealth is not necessary for happiness. Chasing riches often overwhelms its pursuers. Its relentless pursuit can cost families, friends, health and satisfaction. Study after study has proved that time is more valuable than money — time to be alone, with others, pursuing hobbies or simply resting and recharging. Time is finite, as Americans have an average life span of approximately 79 years. Unlike money, past time can never be recovered; once spent, it is gone forever.

Final thoughts

True happiness comes from fulfillment, the sense that life has meaning. Money is important, only up to a point. Donald Trump, a former President well known for his wealth, admits, "I've got much more than I'll ever need. I do it, to do it."

The choice to pursue wealth or fulfillment is personal. Whichever decision you make, you must live it.

Brian H. Robb

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Transforming Big Brands for Massive Impact | Former CMO to the #1 Marketing Influencer (Forbes) | Entrepreneur & Forbes contributor | Imperial Alumni

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