Tim Sanders is a leadership consultant to Fortune 500 companies and a best-selling author, a former chief solutions officer for Yahoo! and the founder of Deeper Media, a research company. But most important, Sanders is a survivor.
At the tender age of 4, he was abandoned by his mother in a motel room. His maternal grandmother, Billye, insisted on raising him. In the midst of a devastating divorce and financial ruin, Billye put into practice the ideas that would save both her and her grandson from a life of certain defeat. Those principles carried Sanders to great professional and personal heights. He shares them with readers in his new book, Today We Are Rich.
SUCCESS: In your latest book, why did you decide to so candidly reveal your childhood?
Tim Sanders: My motivation is to teach those in seemingly impossible situations that there is a way to become unshakeable through setbacks.
Working in the dot-com industry during difficult financial times allowed me the opportunity to experience and witness the responses of many individuals in hardship. I have noticed a lack of total (or internal) confidence of almost epidemic proportions. There are many seemingly successful people who possess circumstantial confidence. As Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner Mark Cuban used to say, “Everyone is a genius during a bull market.” The circumstance gives them the feeling that they can do no wrong. But when favorable circumstances disappear, their confidence disappears.
The key is to generate total confidence through purposeful, daily applications of core values. My childhood lessons programmed me to draw from the truths I knew in order to deal with the future I did not know.
Shortcuts and bite-size knowledge will not sustain you. Those are not wrong. But in our culture we want a quick and easy app for everything, and it is not that simple, especially in times of economic or personal adversity.
What are some essentials to total confidence?
TS: All great, successful people follow something greater than themselves. Having confidence in what’s greater than you will create accountability. If you depend on God or believe the free market will take care of you, then there are rules to follow, and you are part of a plan bigger than your own desires. Those rules involve values and principles. They shape you if you stay true to them. Things like positive thinking and confidence are outcomes of careful lifestyle design and require a hardy investment of your time and energy. Advising someone to “just think positive” is like telling someone fighting obesity to “just be skinny.” There must be core motivation for doing so.
The 3 Parts of Total Confidence
According to Tim Sanders, the 3 elements of confidence are:
1. Confidence in self
2. Confidence in your team (company, industry, family)
3. Confidence in faith (in God, capitalism, a cause)
What are some practical ways to build total confidence?
TS: Start with the foundational principle to building total confidence, which is to feed your mind good stuff. I spend twice as much time on my mind’s diet and exercise routine than most fit men spend working out. We must be as judicious when putting things into our minds as we are when putting things into our mouths.
Billye taught me to start each day reading good mind food. In our home, we waited an hour after waking up to delve into the latest news reports. Instead, we read the Bible and gleaned knowledge from a few other good books. That list of carefully selected works included:
» Norman Vincent Peale’s A Guide to Confident Living
» Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking
» Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
» Claude Bristol’s The Magic of Believing
» Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich
» James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh
» Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics
The principles taught in these books have equipped me to maintain confidence through the ups and downs of life.
And even in these days of email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., I still spend the first part of each day filling my mind with healthy food. I’ve never missed out on an opportunity by waiting just a little longer to check my email while I take care of putting important things first.
Another aspect of feeding your mind includes picking your friends and influences wisely. Fear is an airborne disease caught by hanging out with and listening to the wrong people. Even on Facebook, we need to learn to use the hide button. Those who constantly feed us negative or fearful information can influence our outlook and ultimately our destiny.
Confidence is the belief that one will be successful in a given situation. We are responsible to guard that belief with our choices, actions and influences.
How does possessing a healthy confidence level generate wealth, as the title of your book seems to indicate?
TS: One of the most important lessons Billye taught me was the true meaning of the word rich. It was poignantly illustrated one morning when a man walked toward our home as we were eating breakfast. He was large and ominous. But Billye grabbed my hand, and we met him halfway to the house. It turned out he was looking for some work as he walked from Oklahoma to Arizona, having just been swindled out of everything but the pack on his back. Although we did not have much, Billye had some things she needed done around the property. She took a chance and offered the man named Clarence $10 and a couple of meals for a day’s work. He gratefully accepted.
At the end of the day Clarence had worked hard and done all she asked. Billye opened her change purse, pulled out a scarce $20 bill and gave it to him. Although they agreed on $10, Billye rewarded him with more because their agreement was for a good day’s work, and Clarence had delivered a great day’s work. As we prayed a parting prayer together, Billye noticed large holes in his shoes while he was on his knees. Before he left, she gave him a pair of shoes that had belonged to her recently deceased father. They fit perfectly, and he was overwhelmed with gratefulness. As Clarence walked away, and with my young eyes full of tears at the beauty of what I had witnessed, Billye looked down at me and said, “Today, we are rich.”
You see, when we give of ourselves, whether it be money, products, time or information, we make ourselves valuable because we are able to share. Then we are rich. Generosity is like a wonder drug. It causes us to refocus on what we have instead of looking at what we don’t have. A great philosopher, [André] Gide, said, “Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.”
Generally, people don’t feel rich because of the size of their bank accounts or large cash reserves. If they do, it’s very elusive. There are profoundly wealthy people who are unhappy and extremely poor people who live happy lives and are grateful to God. The ones in the latter category have learned the core value of gratefulness and dependence on someone greater than themselves. It gives them confidence to live rich lives and the freedom to give of the confidence within themselves.