One of the most potent lessons I’ve ever learned (and would love to impart to you) is just how powerful a seemingly simple perspective shift can be.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I hope you realize just how profound that statement is. But just in case you don’t, let me share a personal story about it.
During my first 5 years in business (1994-1998), I lost money every year, turning my $20K life savings into $150K of debt. That’s a net loss of $170K, or $34K per year on average. In 1999 I finally went bankrupt when my credit ran out.
Every year since then, my business made a decent profit.
So I suffered a negative cashflow each year from 1994-1998, and then from 1999 – present (12 years in a row and counting), I enjoyed a positive cashflow each year.
What the heck happened in 1999? What was responsible for this major change in results?
Learning How NOT to Make Money
I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when I felt the shift. I underwent a radical change in my perspective. I turned the way I thought about business upside down. My attitude and my motivation changed.
Obviously there were some catalyzing experiences that led to this epiphany such as getting kicked out of my apartment and going bankrupt, but when the conditions were right for it, the actual mental and emotional shifts happened fast – in a matter of minutes. It was like flipping a switch, partly in my mind… but mostly in my heart.
Here are the main before-and-after differences:
During my first 5 years in business, I focused on making my business successful. I pursued deals, money, and projects as if they were things to be acquired. I wanted to create hit products that sold well (computer games at the time). My motivation had a lot to do with proving myself, with making my mark on my particular field. I visualized my games
getting glowing reviews, and I imagined seeing them selling in software stores. Money was a big concern. I always went for the deal that I expected would put the most money in my pocket and lead to the greatest success.
During my last 12 years in business, I focused on having fun, enjoying life, and creatively expressing myself. I stopped worrying about whether or not I was ever going to be successful. The bankruptcy supplied plenty of proof that I’d already failed dismally, so I didn’t see any point in continuing to pursue the same priorities that led me there. I was using a cardboard box as a piece of furniture, a symbol of just how much financial success I’d been able to achieve. Since I’d been soundly thrashed while playing the success game, I decided to change the rules and try my hand at the “let’s just play for fun” game.
A Tale of Two Mindsets
My initial motivation for starting my computer games business was to make more money. For several months before that, I worked as a contract game programmer on the side while going to college. I completed a 4-pack of Windows games, doing all of the programming and much of the design work for a local games company. When the games got published, I received about $1 in programmer’s royalties for every $7 the company received. Other people at the company contributed artwork, music, and some design work, and of course they closed a deal with a publisher too. But these were fairly basic games from a resource standpoint, and it was clear to me that I was doing well over 50% of the actual production work, probably 70-80% in terms of sheer hours invested.