By Scott Westerman 

Scott WestermanLet’s talk about one of the most important laws of success. It’s a fundamental, universal law that every spectacular achiever understands and practices every day. And it’s a law that influences everyone from the most destitute homeless person, to the multi-millionaire. If you understand and act based on this simple law, you will be successful, probably more successful than you may have ever imagined.

It’s the law of cause and effect. Many of us know firsthand what it’s like to touch a hot stove. My own hot stove story happened when I about ten years old. I methodically emptied the gunpowder out of a model rocket engine into a mound on my driveway to see what might happen if I put a match to it. It took about three weeks before my left hand recovered from the fiery flash that singed my skin, but I became intimately acquainted with the effect burning gunpowder has on the human hand when you cause it to ignite.

This same law, that scientists use to explain everything from the big bang to gravity, is critically important to our success and happiness as persons. When we use it in connection with positive, goal seeking behavior it will usually generate positive, productive results. By the same token, persons who use it with negative, tension relieving behavior will nearly always get negative results.

And here’s another fact. You are already using the law of cause and effect every day, whether you know it or not.

In the world of human achievement behaviors are our causes. How we behave every hour of every day is the cause that generates results, or effects. The great sales guru Tom Hopkins likes to remind us that “We must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” Earl Nightingale’s magic formula for wealth is that “Our rewards in life are in direct proportion to our service.” My own version of this wonderful old maxim is that “we are rewarded based on the value we add to the lives of others.”

Now what do all of these ideas have in common. They are tied to our old friend cause and effect. If we do the most productive thing possible at every given moment, we will most certainly produce excellent results. The cause – productive behavior generates the effect – excellent results. If we offer our clients the highest possible level of service we will retain those clients over the long haul and benefit from referral business. Outstanding service generates client retention and business growth. Cause and effect.

Look at your own personal behavior. If you’re not happy with your current effects, you have only to change your causes, your behavior, and the results will change, often dramatically. My wife spent many years in search of some magic video tape or book that would help her lose weight. Our library is filled with the work of Covert Bailey, Susan Powter and Richard Simmons. But it wasn’t until she made fundamental changes in her daily behavior that the pounds started to magically melt away.

Friends constantly ask her for her success formula. She tells them that the formula is simple, but changing long standing behavior is hard. When she decided to initiate a new set of behaviors, the law of cause and effect kicked in and after 20 years of searching, she was behaving her way to her fitness objectives within six months.

David Crosby of the famous rock super group Crosby Stills and Nash is another example of the inexorable law of cause and effect. He writes in his autobiography, “Long Time Gone”, that from the moment he first tasted fame, he immersed himself in the popular drug laced lifestyle common among rock stars of the late sixties. He became addicted and spent the next two decades engaging in behaviors that landed him in jail and caused him to need a liver transplant to survive. David Crosby ultimately made a commitment to a different set of behaviors and was able to recover his life and return to performing. But others like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass, and Elvis are examples of how unhealthy causes generate equally unhealthy effects.

So think about how the law is impacting every corner of your life. Whether you like it or not, you’re current financial position, your fitness level, your personal and professional relationships are all the results or effects of your behavioral causes.

So how do we enter the rarified world of those who seem to have the Midas touch? What can we do to enrich our interaction with our co workers and loved ones? How can we increase our energy, our productivity, our results and our income?

The best way to use the law of cause and effect to our benefit is to model the behavior of people that already have achieved the results we desire. Make it your business to study the habits of the people in your line of work who seem to always be leading the field. How do they spend their days, who do they associate with, what education and training to they have, what do they read, how do they dress and speak, what do they do with their spare time. Become intimately familiar with the behaviors and routines of the people you admire. How do men and women with strong and happy relationships interact with one another? What is the daily fitness and diet program recommended by people who coach Olympic athletes? Once you begin to understand and model the behaviors of the people who already are achieving the goals you desire, it’s only a matter of time until you experience the same results.

We can spend years studying the lives of successful people, but we won’t come one step closer to joining their ranks unless we make the decision to irrevocably change our behaviors. This is called: Commitment. It’s the key ingredient to every goal that’s ever been reached. It’s the corner stone of every skyscraper every built, and burns like a fire in the hearts of every football team that’s ever been to the super bowl. So I’ll say it again. We won’t come one step closer to achieving any of our dreams until we make a commitment to change our behavior.

If you find yourself mired in longstanding unproductive, tension relieving behaviors, reinventing yourself might seem like an insurmountable task. So here’s the secret to making a commitment to change your life for the better: Attack each challenge one day at a time.

When he was eight years old Glenn Cunningham was severely burned in a gasoline explosion. Doctors were unanimous in telling the young Kansas boy that he would never walk again. But Glenn Cunningham had goals and commitment. He understood the law of cause and effect and attacked his goals one day at a time. He not only learned to walk, but became one of the premiere runners of the 1930s, competing in the 1932 Olympics and becoming the worlds fastest miler in 1938. Cunningham went on to earn a Doctorate at New York University and developed physical training systems for the Navy that are still used today.

Now we may not face a serious physical challenge like Glenn Cunningham, but we can benefit from his one-day-at-a-time success formula. As the old Chinese proverb says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And your first step is to create a personal business plan.

Your personal business plan should address every corner of your life and it involves writing down a set of personal goals.

Write your goals down on a piece of paper. Put them on your computer or paste them to your bathroom mirror with a post-it note. Always keep your goals in the front of your mind, to take advantage of the human brain’s miraculous subconscious goal-seeking mechanism. We become what we think about.

Set goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Set goals for your career, your physical health, your intellectual and spiritual growth, your family and personal relationships. Studies show us that the people who are in the process of achieving meaningful goals across every corner of their being tend to be consistently happier, healthier, enjoy a better night’s sleep and have a wide array of enriching, satisfying relationships .

So do it today. Revisit your own personal formula for success. Create a personal business plan. Study people you know who have already achieved the success you desire. Carefully and consistently model their behaviors, and in no time at all, you will be on the road to reaching your dreams, achieving your goals, and living the life you were born to live.

It’s the law of cause and effect and it can work for you.

Have a great week!


Scott Westerman has been a broadcaster, cable television executive and entrepreneur. In 2010 he joined the MSU Alumni Association as Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations & Executive Director. He is a 1978 graduate of Michigan State University. 

This blog post was originally featured on http://www.scottwesterman.com and has been used by the author’s permission.

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