I Want YOU to Learn and Practice Self-Control

Dear Reader,

The most important skill I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is self-mastery. The lack of this skill is the #1 reason why entrepreneurs fail. Self-mastery means learning how to control your fear, emotions, doubts, body, mind, and soul. If you can learn how to master these things—to control yourself—you can control the world.

Every time I lost my temper with an employee, I lost.

Every time I let fear set in when my cash flow statement didn’t look promising, I lost. Every time I got into the downward spiral of working in my business rather than on it, I lost.

Most entrepreneurs have certain triggers that cause them to literally lose it, that “it” being self-control.

For many, it’s money. When the money runs out, the fear kicks in and the limbic part of the brain takes over. Then they do insane things. It’s no different than the caveman running for his life from the saber-toothed tiger. You stop thinking and become reactionary.

I’ve come to realize that financial IQ is 90% emotional and 10% technical information about finance and money. Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” quoting 16th-century Erasmus of Rotterdam, uses the ratio of 24:1 in comparing the power of the emotional brain to the rational brain. In other words, when emotions are high, intelligence is low.

I don’t know if the ratio is scientifically valid, but it is useful in terms of practical experience. All of us have experienced events in our lives when our emotions overtook our rational thoughts. It often seems impossible to overcome our emotions and act rationally.

When it comes to money, our emotions often get the best of us. We know what we should do, but instead, we do what we feel like doing—and that’s usually the safe route.

Kim and I experienced this early in our marriage when I was over a million dollars in debt and we wanted to grow our business. We were practicing our pay yourself first philosophy, even when we didn’t have the money to pay our bills. Our bookkeeper, Betty, was adamant we pay our creditors first, but we instead used our emotional intelligence to find ways to both pay ourselves first and to pay our creditors…even if it was a little late sometimes.

It would have been easy to give in to our fear and not pay ourselves first. But if we did that, I can guarantee we would not be where we are today. Most likely we would have given up on our dreams and settled for something much less.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

We all make decisions every day, large and small. Life throws us curve balls and we have to decide how to respond. When this happens, are you simply reacting to the situation, or making a conscious choice?

When you react and make a decision based on emotion or instinct, then it is those emotions and instincts that are in control. When you pause to think through your options, the possible consequences, and make a choice based on facts as well as intuition, you are in control.

As I said earlier, when emotion goes up, intelligence goes down, so times of high emotional stress are not good times to make decisions. You don’t have to disregard your emotions completely, you just want to make sure you’ve considered all the angles and possible consequences before deciding on a course of action.

Let’s say you are thinking about investing in real estate. You’ve heard from some people that it is the best type of investment. Others tell you it is way too risky. Who do you believe? No one—do your own investigation, talk to people who are doing the type of investing you are considering and ask them about the pros and cons. This way you are getting a balanced perspective and can make a choice that works for you. As you learn, you may find yourself getting more excited about this type of investment and feel that the pros outweigh the cons. Or you may find that the more you learn the more you feel this isn’t the right type of investment for you. Either decision is fine, it’s important to choose something that fits with who you are.

Any time you are faced with an important decision, don’t let an emotional reaction make the choice for you. Look at all the facts and be honest with yourself about what you really want and what you’re willing to go through to get it. Sometimes you will decide not to go through with something because it’s not worth it to you or not right for your situation, and that’s fine. The important thing is that you considered all the facts and made a conscious decision.

Talk to Yourself

Intrapersonal intelligence means communicating within yourself—being able to talk to yourself and control your emotions. For example, when someone who is angry says to himself, “Count to ten before you speak,” that person is exercising intrapersonal intelligence. In other words, he speaks to himself before he opens his mouth and lets his emotions speak.

Intrapersonal intelligence is important for success, especially when times are tough and a person wants to quit or is fearful.

We all know people who are highly emotional. Rather than think logically, highly emotional people tend to let their emotions run their lives, often saying or doing something they may later regret.

Emotional Intelligence Does Not Mean Being Void Of Emotions 

Emotional intelligence means you know it is okay to be angry, just not out-of-control angry. You know it’s okay to feel hurt, but it is not okay to do something stupid in the name of revenge.

Many of us know a person who is very intelligent, let’s say in math, but allows their emotions to damage other parts of their lives. Take addiction for example. Addictions are often caused by a lack of emotional intelligence. When frustrated, angry, or fearful, a person may eat, drink, have sex, or do drugs to numb the emotional pain. Some people go shopping when bored, spending money they do not have.

Today, take stock in how you manage your emotions. Are you smart in the way you express what you’re feeling, especially when the pressure is on? Or do you let your emotions continually handicap your ability to succeed?

When dealing with your emotions, it’s always helpful to have someone to talk to that can give you objective advice—especially when it’s advice you may not want to hear. When Kim and I were going through hard times, she was always there for me, to remind me of what we were working for. Her guidance kept me going, and I did the same for her. And we both had other coaches in our lives as well, who were committed to our success.

If you want to be successful in life, you must have strong emotional intelligence, which means strong intrapersonal intelligence, because successful people are successful at managing their emotions, especially in stressful situations.


Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily

You May Also Be Interested In:

The Future of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing Supreme Court Justice, passed away last Friday, September 18, due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. Ginsburg was only the second woman, and first Jewish woman, to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court and was a lifetime champion for women's rights and an unflinching advocate for gender equality. In Ginsburg’s final days, she dictated one last hope: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." But will her wish be granted? It looks unlikely… read on.

Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki, author of bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad as well as 25 others financial guide books, has spent his career working as a financial educator, entrepreneur, successful investor, real estate mogul, and motivational speaker, all while running the Rich Dad Company.

View More By Robert Kiyosaki