DAVID LALLY: Welcome to “The Brian Buffini Show,” where we explore the mindsets, motivation, and methodologies of success. My name is David Lally, producer of the show, and today’s episode is a follow-up to Episode 200, “As a Man Thinketh,” where Brian read the classic written by James Allen and gave a free copy for everyone to download. Be sure to check that out.
Today you’re about to hear Brian’s insights on how he applied the content of the book to change his thoughts and his life. The book is also one of our readings for the 5 Circle Fit challenge. If you haven’t joined us for that challenge yet, visit buffiniandcompany.com/bcbonus to register. Then select week four’s weekly activities to download your free e-book. Hope you enjoy.
BRIAN BUFFINI: Top of the morning to you. Welcome to today’s show. We are following up to Episode 200 where I did something I’ve never done before, which is I read and recorded a book for you and that’s a short read, “As a Man Thinketh” written by James Allen. We also shared with you how to get your free copy from us. It’s public domain. The team designed a beautiful version for you to download and we’ll share that again at the end of this episode. Really would like you to get a copy of that, so you can start utilizing it.
I thought I would give you some of my insights and ultimately how that book has helped me and some of the quotes that I hold on to. As I was recording it, it was like, “Wow, this is stuff that would be hard to say in today’s world, in today’s culture and social media where today’s sensibilities are.” But I want to say this, an awful lot of what’s in that book, I really, really agree with.
I agree with for myself and I agree with for running one of the largest coaching businesses in the world, certainly the largest in real estate in the world. But we have- many other types of business are coached by our company and the same dynamic of success and progression and so on and so forth works in this. That’s why even when you listen to this podcast, I’ll share business fundamentals on this podcast. I’ll share time management and planning and those kinds of things, or even how to work- some of the fundamentals of working by referral, the system that we teach.
But I also spend a lot of time on personal growth and development. The reason being is what a person thinks and how they think, how they think about themselves or they think about the world, how they view opportunity, the attitudes we have, dictates so much of what we do. That’s why James Allen wrote a book based on a proverb he read in the Bible. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” He managed to write a whole book on that. He’s not the first guy to ever do anything like that. Some fantastic stuff. I would say this, the wording and the language, although it’s over 100 years old, is very, very challenging.
I find myself, when I read that book, constantly coming in contact with my own excuses. If you ever listened to the episode where I interviewed Jocko Willink, the former Navy seal commander, said, “Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves.” I’m going to just share with you some thoughts. This is a little more random than I would normally do, but I’m going to walk through the book bit by bit. I’m going to share with you my own thoughts, how this challenges me.
The first chapter was on thought and character, and how ultimately a man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. Well, one of the dynamics I want to share right off the bat is that for the last 40 years or so, there’s been very few resources and very little in the area of personal growth and development that has anything to do with character.
I want you to contrast this where the personal growth and development movement really exploded was the early 1900s. James Allen was one of the founders of it. In 1912, Dale Carnegie, who was a public speaker at the time, was very influenced by James Allen’s work. James Allen passed away in 1912 and right at that time, Dale Carnegie wrote a book on how to speak and influence others. He later wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” That became basically the gold standard person growth and development book. But it was all about character development.
When Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich,” it had an awful lot to do with character development. On and on it goes. The dynamic of thought, life, and developing your character, all was part and parcel of the personal growth and development movement. When “The Strangest Secret” was recorded, which we’ve broadcast here at our podcast, one of our most popular ever episodes, Earl Nightingale shared, “You are what you think about all day. You become what you think about all day,” and those great thoughts, but it was connected to your character. For the first 50 to 60 years of the personal growth and development movement, everything was character-based. Today, it has a lot to do with technique. Sometimes it has stuff to do with psychology, but rarely does anybody mentioned character anymore. I know this, when people think of character, they think in terms of integrity, and there is an integrity to it as far as what’s true.
Ultimately, personal growth and development take shape in your mind, manifests itself through the things you do, through your circumstances, you get refined in that environment. Those habits then shape you and they shape your character. A man is literally what he thinks, well, that’s Earl Nightingale and then his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. I don’t know about you, I have some thoughts I wish I didn’t have. I don’t know about you, I have some thoughts I have to clean up. I don’t know about you, I have frustrations, I have anxieties. The guy cuts me off on the freeway, my mind can play a whole game with that. Our fears can play a whole game with that.
The bottom line is we have work to do. Our thought and our character goes hand-in-hand. Another quote I loved in the first chapter was, “Only by much searching and mining, our gold and diamonds obtained.” Man can find every tooth connected with his being if he will dig deep into the mind of the soul. We got to go dig in. That’s why sometimes coaching helps. If you’re dealing with stresses and anxieties, finding that person who might be able to counsel and then help you, having a chance to synergize with loved ones or confidants or friends, it’s important.
It’s important that if you have stinking thinking, as Zig Ziglar used to talk about, stinking thinking was just a fun way for Zig Ziglar to talk about what James Allen said in a very more direct manner. If you have stinking thinking, you need to have people around you to say, “You know what? That stinks.” Otherwise, you get to be that guy, you get to be that gal, you become unaware.
That was my thought there on the first chapter. The second chapter was the effect of thought on circumstances. There’s a quote in this book that I have used in my seminars for 20 years. It’s basically that, “Everybody wants to change their circumstances, but very few people are willing to change themselves.” That is straight out of this book, that is straight out of “As a Man Thinketh.” That’s a challenge to me, but that’s also a challenge to anyone I share.
This stuff is big stuff. When he says, “Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated, or allowed to run wild, but whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth.” What will it bring? The circumstances. Our thoughts are the seeds that we plant. We either feed those seeds and let them grow and nourish, or we don’t. Again, James Allen said it in a direct fashion, “Where have you heard some of this stuff?” Well, John Gordon, Mr. Sunshine, Mr. Positivity, the energy bus.
What does John talk about? The two dogs. Which dog do we feed? We have the negative dog, and we have the positive dog. If we feed the negative dog, the negative dog becomes stronger and angrier and more bitter, more powerful. If we feed the positive dog, and he’s sharing about an old Indian proverb he’s heard, and the reason being is there’s nothing new under the sun. Many of you could listen to the reading of “As a Man Thinketh,” man, that’s tough stuff. Yet, you love John Gordon when he says feeding the positive dog. Well, okay, it’s just repackaged and repurposed into language that we can accept today, but at the end of the day, it’s true. We have to feed the right thoughts. That’s what, ultimately, will change our circumstances. That’s the only way.
A quote in the book said, “Man is buffeted by circumstances, so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions. When he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.” Look, in our world today, this is a political hotbed of whether we’re actually in charge of our own circumstances or not. Do we need the government to change? Do we need the government to do this for us or that for us? These are big hotbeds.
I recently had a conversation over the holidays with my son Alex. It led me to hand him a copy of “As a Man Thinketh” so that he could just think for himself, go through this and see what he has to say. Are we a victim of our circumstances, or can we be a product of our circumstances, whereby we drive through these things? Nobody gets away in this book. Nobody gets away. He challenges the poor person to change their thoughts, to not come up with excuses, not blame your boss, not blame how much you’re getting paid. He challenges the rich person who might have a health issue, but he’s not willing to give up all the niceties of life in order to fix that. He talks about the business owner who cuts corners and doesn’t take care of his staff and how all of a sudden things turn sideways. He’s challenging people with their circumstances and their outcomes, and has challenged them to come right back to the core and based on what you think, that’s the results you’re getting, and that the effect of your thought on your circumstances is very significant.
Here’s the big principle here. If you don’t like your circumstances in any area of your life, you don’t like your health circumstances, you don’t like your relationship circumstances, you don’t like your spousal circumstances, you don’t like your interaction with your kids, you don’t like where your business is at, you don’t like where your finances is at, great. Go back and have the truth session with yourself on what your actual thoughts are on these subjects, on the things you’ve actually said to people. The things you actually affirm, not only to yourself but to others, powerful stuff.
As challenging as James Allen is, if you really listen, there’s some extraordinarily uplifting power in all of this as well and it’s a book ultimately of hope. For example, when he says, “Selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallized into habits of self-seeking, which solidify in the circumstance more or less that are distressing. On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds, crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and sunny circumstances.” On and on it goes, here’s the thing. We’re in control of our thought life. We’re in control of what we watch. We’re in control of what we listen to. Here’s the big one, and this is not stated in James Allen, but this is something on my own personal growth journey. We are in charge of what we connect to and what we hold on to and what we let go of.
In the ultimate goal of where I’m going to take you here to chapter seven, he talks about serenity. In my own work in that area, as naturally not a serene man in any aspect of my being, but I have studied and I have worked at it, and I continue to do so, it ultimately is the largest goal left out for me there in my life. As I’ve studied the things of contemplative prayer and meditation, so on and so forth, the ability to become unattached to thoughts, not that you have no thoughts, but that the ability to become unattached to certain thoughts is ultimately one of the most powerful things of all.
Here’s a great tip, how about you become unattached to negative thoughts you have about yourself? How about you become unattached to negative thoughts you have about your circumstances? It doesn’t mean that you can’t have those thoughts. You’re going to have those thoughts. It’s just you got to let them go by in a river, so it comes up, you just got to let go by, you just got to let it go by and become unattached to them.
What we want to do is we want to bring onshore those thoughts that are beautiful, that are powerful, that are encouraging. Those thoughts that ultimately can help us get to where we want to go. Ultimately, the second chapter in the book is the whole guts of James Allen’s work and it’s ultimately the effect of thought, on our circumstances. You want to change your circumstances, change your thoughts. A wonderful chapter in the book is the effect of thought on health and the body.
Well, he says it right off the bat that the body is the servant of the mind. Zig Ziglar used to say it this way, he says, “There was a time in my life. I was 37 pounds overweight.” He said, “I chose to be 37 pounds overweight because I never ate anything by accident.” He’s right. The body is the servant of the mind. I’ve never been attacked by strawberry ice cream. Now I will say I have attacked a few strawberry ice creams in my time. I am in control of that.
The more good stuff I put in, the more good stuff comes out, I have a little affirmation, I’m saying I’m really working on my health, I’m really working on my nutrition. I got my little Apple Watch, and I’ll be doing a few things, making a lot of progress here in my area health and fitness. I have a little affirmation, so I put the thought in to affect my body and that is nothing tastes as good as feeling good. Nothing tastes as good as feeling good. That came from a little place to learn about nutrition and health and I was working on it for a couple of weeks. I brought James Allen with me and I read it every single day, and I wrote out an affirmation for myself that I have, by my mirror, in my car, “Nothing tastes as good as feeling good.” Guess what’s happened? I was in a position where I didn’t even know what feeling good felt like. I’m starting to realize every day, I’m like, “I feel good.” The affirmation for me is nothing tastes as good as feeling good. Here was the quote. “If you would protect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.” You want to get in shape. You want to get healthy, you want to stay healthy, go for it.
He challenges about 108 years ago about anxiety, the fastest growing condition in Western civilization, especially among our young people, and he says anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body and lays it open to the entrance of disease. Guess what they’re finding right now? Guess what they’re finding right now in the Mayo Clinic, that levels of anxiety and stress are creating all kinds of gateways for a whole series of serious illnesses, especially amongst younger people. We got to put the thoughts in our head. The body is the servant of the mind and then the mind tells the body what to do.
Powerful stuff. One of the dynamics in today’s society is people feel the need for purpose. What’s neat is that as much as people will give grief to millennials and Gen Z and all that good stuff, one of the things I’m very excited by is I hear a lot of conversation where people are looking for a sense of purpose, younger people looking for a sense of purpose, and that’s fantastic.
I think one of the reasons for that is generations that came before have made a few bucks and have got some economic stability. When you’re just trying to survive, you’re really not thinking about purpose. If you’re massively in debt and barely hanging on and living paycheck to paycheck, you’re usually not having thoughts about purpose. You’re just trying to survive. A lot of younger folks, because as the culture continues to grow and develop, the economic circumstance, even though they may be challenging economic circumstances, that challenge our higher circumstances and higher challenges than perhaps with their parents or grandparents experienced.
There’s an awful lot of thought about purpose. For example, one of the most heavily Googled questions from the spiritual side is, “What’s God’s will for my life?” Those are the same things. What’s my purpose? What am I doing? That’s a big question and it’s a big issue. I was asked this question several times at our brand new Masterclass event and people say, “I want to know my big ‘why’, what do I do?”
Well, he had some fantastic thoughts on this. He said, “Until thought is linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment,” so you won’t have accomplishments that really satisfy. “Oh my gosh, I don’t have a purpose, that makes even my work more meaningless, Brian.” He also talks about the consequence of it, that those who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy pray to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying, all of which will lead you to weakness.
Not having a sense of purpose, not having a definite major purpose, which by the way, if you read Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich,” he talks about the secret, the secret of the book. If you don’t want to hear the secret, close your ears for 10 seconds, but the secret of that book is having a definite major purpose. That’s the secret that’s embedded in that book. James Allen, who gave that thought and that idea to Napoleon Hill, actually answers it for you and it’s this. Those who are not prepared for the apprehension of a great purpose should fix the thoughts upon the faultless performance of their duty, no matter how insignificant their task may appear. Only in this way can the thoughts be gathered and focused and resolution and energy be developed, which being done there is nothing which may not be accomplished.
Here’s what James Allen says, “Before you have a great mighty noble purpose, why don’t you go do what you’re doing right now and do it real well? Why don’t you do the job on hand and do it real well?” I talked to a group here recently, it was a bunch of pastors and they were trying to- “How do I do what I’m called to do? But I have the business of the church,” and this and that and the other.
Some of these guys have got small little churches and they’re talking about, “I have to have a tent-making operation,” because the Apostle Paul in the Bible, he made tents to pay his way for many years, and I challenged these guys on the thought of making tents because the Apostle Paul is the guy that built the Christian Church all over the world, the most influential Christian who ever lived, and I challenged these guys to say, I guarantee he spent more of his day building tents than he ever did talking about the gospel.
If you start doing a little research, you’ll see how much bloody work’s involved back in the day of building tents. This is how people lived. He was in the real estate business. You didn’t know that? That’s right. Apostle Paul is in the real estate business because that’s how people live. He was actually a builder and he built tents. That’s what he did. Here’s what I want to share with you. These things took an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and energy and focus, and I’m going to bet he built great tents. I’m going to say he built great tents because he built the world’s largest ministry. Success leaves clues. Here’s the thing, a bunch of guys that wanted to do this purpose work for God, but yet they thought anything they had to do in regards to building tents was the thing to get past until they could get to their big purpose. James Allen gives the clue, the faultless performance of their duty, no matter how insignificant the task may appear. If you’re sweeping the floor at your job, that’s your purpose. If you’re a janitor, that’s your purpose. If you’re parking cars, park them well, that’s your purpose. It doesn’t mean it’s the all-time definite major purpose of your life. It means this. If you can’t nail that, why in the heck would you be revealed a bigger purpose? If you can’t do the job at hand, if you can’t have joy for the job you’re doing, why would you get this next great job? If you can’t take care of the small little transaction, and if you’re in the real estate business, why in the world would you get the big chance for the two, three, five-million-dollar transaction? You can’t take care of the little condo.
We got be faithful with a little to be given much. I love this because everything I know about success, I find that to be true. The next chapter was the thought factor in achievement. Here’s our podcast, the mindsets and motivation, and methodologies of success. He says right off the bat, “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” If you want to achieve, if you want to succeed, you got to do that. This is where he gets into principles that I believe are true, that, by the way, I don’t want to hear, and that are very unpopular in our world today.
He says this, “There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice.” That’s just a word that people don’t want to hear in any capacity. The old phrase Zig used to say, “Everybody wants to get to heaven. No one wants to die to get there.” I want to have rock hard abs, seven percent body fat. I would like to be able to eat whatever I want and not exercise. How about that? What happens is- what do we do? Oh, we blame our genetics. We blame our family history. We buy the quick fixes. We buy the instant diets. We do this. We do that. We do the other. There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice.
Recently, we just had a panel of what we call our seven-figure club, four people on the panel. Each one of them averaging over a million dollars a year in income. Interesting story. A couple of them came to me afterward and said right after they shared, it’s the end of the day and I’m training them, this, that and the other, people come up and say, “What do you do to be successful?” I’m like, “Well, I’m 18 years in the man’s coaching program. I do the calls and the notes and the Pop-By’s and the things he teaches me to do.”
They’re like, “Yes, but what do you do? What’s the secret? What’s the big thing behind the scenes?” The reason being is, that looks like work, that looks like it’s slow progress that’s a little bit at a time. I was walking out, Tony Love, who’s with me, we’re walking out, loading up the car. The car is ready to go. The guy runs out of the seminar, he goes, “Man, I’m near bankruptcy. I have $20,000 a month in expenses. What can I do?” I gave him a couple of things. He goes, “Man, I can’t do that. That’s not enough.” I go, “Well, then I have nothing for you. I got nothing for you.”
See, he wanted me to give them an instant fix to go make 25 grand a month when he’s just gotten started. I said to him, I said, “Have you got the kit with the personal notes and the Pop-By tag? Great. Have you written the 50 notes?” “Well, no, man. I owe a lot of money.” I said, “Well, if you can’t write 50 notes, how in the heck are you supposed to go and earn 25 grand a month?” There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice.
A man’s worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his animal thoughts, his animal thoughts. Those are also the excuses. Those are also the negative thoughts and then fixes his mind on the development of his plans and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance, I’m going to go do it. Well, I don’t have to do it all by myself. I don’t have to be all by myself. I don’t for a second, as a man of faith, believe everything’s up to me. I’m not God.
That’s where some people will take James Allen’s work and bastardize it, to be honest with you. The truth of the matter is you’re not all by yourself, but what are you in control of? I’m in control of my thought life. I’m in control of what thoughts I attach to. I’m in control of my habits. I’m in control of my attitude. I’m in control of my effort. That’s what he says. “Achievement of whatever kind is the crown of effort and the diadem of thought,” some old school stuff but powerful. He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little. He who would achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
Chapter six was about visions and ideals. Just some great thoughts here. He champions us. That’s why it’s not all accountability and control of your thought life, and that develops your character and its cause and effect, and whatever you put in, that’s what you get out, which are very challenging concepts but also true. He also has this elevation. The last two chapters in the book, one is to elevate the mind and one is to elevate the spirit. He says, “Dream lofty dreams and as you dream, so shall you become.” All this neat stuff comes at the end because he’s talking about changing your thought life, changing your habits to change your circumstances. You’re not a product of your circumstances you can overcome. There’s plenty to clean up in the thought life. Don’t get attached to the bad stuff. Focus on the good stuff and then go do. If you keep thinking of the right stuff, you’ll do the right stuff, and if you do the right stuff, you’ll have the right character and change the circumstances.
Now he gets into, “Have the lofty dreams because that’s what you become.” Your vision is the promise of what shall one day be. Your idea is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. Here’s what I will say to you. To me, and it’s very clear in the book, James Allen’s idea of success is the person you become. He happens to believe the person you become will bring with it rewards, but he absolutely says who you are and the strength of your character is ultimately the great big payoff for as a man thinketh. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, is the payoff.
If you’re thinking the crappy thoughts, you’re going to have a crappy life. You might end up with a crappy character. If you’re thinking the great thoughts and the good thoughts and you’re fighting hard to maintain that positivity in the best sense of yourself and the best optimism for other people and the hope for the future, then that’s who you’re going to be, a hopeful, optimistic person. “Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, and your ideal,” he says.
Again, he ends chapter six with, “The vision that you glorify in your mind, the idea that you enthrall in your heart, this you will build your life by and this you will become. As a man thinketh in his heart, so will he be.” That’s what this book is about. Take control of the thoughts, influence your thoughts, get exposure to good thoughts. Get exposure to people with good thoughts, whether it be on a podcast or in a book or at a seminar. Friends with good thoughts, successful people you admire, people of character that you admire. They might not be the richest man in the neighborhood, but they might have the richest relationship with their spouse in the neighborhood. They might have the richest relationship with their kids.
They might be healthy and vibrant and full of life. They might be a person of joy and peace and power. Seek those people out and get yourself exposed to those thoughts. This will build your life. This you will become. At the end of “As a Man Thinketh” is all the payoff. The biggest payoff and the one that challenges me the most is this concept of serenity. This ultimately is the person who’s grown through life, who’s succeeded in life and who comes out the other side. It’s basically what so many people look to today to be that mentor, to be that influencer and he talks about the calm man having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength and feel that they can learn from him and rely upon him.
The more tranquil a person becomes, the greater their success, their influence, and their power for good. The big payoff is peace of mind, peace of heart. He says, “Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt only the wise man.” The fact of the matter is we are living in a culture right now with social media and the media and the culture we live in, you talk about uncontrolled passion, you talk about tumultuous, the one thing everybody can agree on right now, these are strange times and people are blown about by anxiety.
He has a recipe for success. I believe it’s true. I believe it comes from ancient principles. In his case, he started with the book of Proverbs, thousands and thousands of years ago, and those principles are still true today. Just like this written 108 years ago is very true today, and that’s this, “In the bark of your soul, reclines the commanding master. You’re the master of this. He does, but sleep, wake up, wake up your inner master. Wake up to this self-control, and that’ll be your strength. Right thinking, that will be your mastery. The calmness that comes as a result of that will be your power. You can say onto your own heart, peace. Be still.” I got to tell you, this book is challenging. It is challenging. I read it every day for 30 days. That’s why I want to give you a copy of it. I want you to listen to this over and over again. I know this is not popular, nor populous, what we’re sharing here today, but I think it’s profound. I know it’s helped me. I know it can really help you. As a man and as a woman thinketh in their heart, so are they. It’s the foundation of what became the self-help movement. So many people for the last 100 years who’ve written books or done seminars or recorded programs, it all starts with what James Allen had to share.
Is everything in it true? I doubt it, but find out for you those things that are true for you. Is there a lot in there to challenge you? For sure. Listen, be open, be honest, challenge yourself. All I know is this, after the last couple of months engaging in this work, I’m more committed to read it more, to challenge myself more, to see where those areas of compromise need to get taken out of, to see where those areas of thought life need to be challenged, and to ultimately develop into the man I’m supposed to be.
That’s what I have for you today. I hope this has been helpful. I hope this has put a more modern spin perhaps on Episode 200, speaking of a modern spin and a human side. Mr. David Lally, he’s full of goodies, he’s full of great stuff. It’s a great job. I have to do all this hard work and he gets to sit in there. People love his voice and his songs and this, that and the other and then he gets to give goodies away and he gets all these great letters. Life is good if you’re David Lally. That’s all I have to say. Here’s the thing, he has a book for you for free that can change your life. Over to you, Mr. Lally, show them how to get a copy of “As a Man Thinketh” so they can become who they’re destined to be.
LALLY: Thanks, Brian. That’s right. To get your free copy of the book, beautifully redesigned by our team, check out the show notes or join us for our 5 Circle Fit Challenge at buffiniandcompany.com/bcbonus and get even more great resources. As I sign off today, I’ll leave you with the classic Irish blessing from Brian’s mom, Therese.
THERESE BUFFINI: May the road rise up to meet you, and may the wind always be at your back. May the rain fall soft upon your fields, and the sun shine warm upon your face. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand. See you next time.