I grew up poor in a rich neighborhood. (Yes, I know that’s a total cliché.) My hometown of Kennebunkport, Maine happens to be one of the wealthiest communities in New England; yet my family was dirt poor.
I mean that literally, because we lived at the bottom of a dirt road in a drafty, unfinished house. One day when I was about 9, I asked my mother, “How come you and Dad are always fighting about money?”
She replied that she was afraid there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills and keep food on the table every month. I was confused, because I saw both my parents working hard all the time. So I asked her the next question that popped into my head: “Why isn’t there enough money?”
I don’t think my mother really knew how to answer that question, so she took out the family checkbook and showed me.
At that moment, I made two decisions: First, that I wouldn’t ask my parents for anything. I didn’t want to be a burden. The second decision I made was that I was going to make something of my life—even though I had no idea what that meant, let alone how to do it.
Just as I realized that I hated the life of poverty and not-enoughness, I also came to realize that life didn’t have to be that way. Right down the street, I saw people who had plenty of money.
You’ve heard of the book Rich Dad Poor Dad? Well, I only had a poor dad. My father, even though he worked hard all his life, couldn’t teach me how to succeed. He simply didn’t have the skills or knowledge to do it himself. And since I didn’t know whom to ask or what else to do, I decided to go to the library.
I began devouring the classics of self-help literature: Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Stephen Covey, and more. I spent most of my childhood in the library reading self-help books, because I thought those books could help me escape from that life of poverty. I also worked hard in school because every adult told me that the best way to get ahead in life was to get good grades, go to college, and get a good job. So, I got straight A’s, graduated at the top of my class, and got full scholarships to college.
When I graduated from high school, my parents, teachers, and friends were telling me that I was going to be a big success. Unfortunately, they were all wrong.
After attending college for one year, I found myself in a series of “survival jobs,” and I hated each one more than the last. At 25, I was so depressed and couldn’t see a way out of the pain that I considered suicide. I survived and decided to go on a spiritual journey to discover my purpose.
It was then, in 1997, that I had two epiphanies that not only gave me my purpose, but would eventually help change the lives of people around the world.
The first epiphany was my discovery of what I call AFFORMATIONS (not affirmations), a method for changing your subconscious thought patterns from negative to positive. My second epiphany was my discovery of a previously unidentified condition that I named success anorexia. Just as people who are suffering from food anorexia starve themselves and settle for crumbs of food, people who are suffering from success anorexia are settling for the crumbs of life.
When I had those two epiphanies, I had $800 to my name and a book on HTML. I had no experience in marketing or sales, no connections, and no business skills whatsoever. Yet I had a burning desire to help people and make a difference.
I realized that there were millions of people around the world just like me, who had unknowingly developed these self-limiting, unconscious habits, yet had no idea why this was happening or how to fix the problem. I knew I had to get this information to the people who needed it. I decided to launch my company, SuccessClinic.com, and start teaching what has become known as The AFFORMATIONS Method and The Power Habits System.
The Power Habits System works on a simple concept: simply knowing “how to succeed” isn’t enough—because if it were, we’d all be rich, happy and thin!
Your achievement is driven by the unconscious habits that drive your actions. Like driving a car, your conscious desire to succeed is your “foot on the gas,” while your unconscious desire to stay where you are, is your “foot on the brake.”
The Power Habits System targets the unconscious beliefs that cause success anorexia and puts people on autopilot toward success.
My vision was to create a simple, step-by-step system that anyone—from CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, working moms, athletes, health professionals and more—could use to achieve greater success, happiness and fulfillment. Since then, I’ve been blessed to write 15 books, do keynote speeches around the globe, and work with celebrities, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 companies to achieve their vision and goals.
Noah St. John is a keynote speaker, best-selling author and business coach. To learn more about his work, visit NoahStJohn.com.
Photo courtesy of Noah St. John