By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO.

So another year has passed and a “new” year is well underway. By mid-4Q, we spend time at our respective companies conducting annual reviews of the current year and annual planning for the upcoming year, which are worthy and important exercises to go through. We need to figure out what went well, what didn’t, discern external factors and competition, perhaps growth expectations from the board, etc. Individually, many people (particularly late in December) go through a more personal itemization of the previous year – career advancement, income or savings goals, personal health objectives, family priorities, read 20 books, etc. – to evaluate if the then “new” objectives were met or not over the course of that year. This leads to the development of new “new” goals for the upcoming year.

It’s incredibly healthy to take account and review what we have or haven’t accomplished, but it’s more necessary to evaluate the previous plans and the actions we did or didn’t take. It’s really an evaluation of our habits. We all know that goals without plans and plans without execution can’t actualize, but it’s the change in habits that drive alternative outcomes. One can’t keep eating pizza daily and lose weight. But pizza tastes good and pizza is easy and comfortable. Eventually a habit becomes a full-blown condition and one must FORCE a change in that habit or the condition drives the outcomes. The condition is in charge.

Did you know that over 40% of self-made millionaires have dyslexia? Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Daymond John, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Mohammed Ali, and Albert Einstein all have the condition of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a “disorder” that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, numbers, letters, and other symbols. Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence, but it can be very challenging and frustrating for people with dyslexia to assimilate to a patterned world which they simply see things differently. This is especially so before it’s diagnosed as many observers as well as the individual just assume they’re not smart. But with or without the diagnosis, if somebody has dyslexia they MUST adapt and adjust, but they can’t completely conform. It’s not easy forcing change and consciously going against the grain of a natural inclination. The beauty of learning new ways of thinking is a different way to see the world, a distinct advantage for vision and clarity along with a newly developed belief in oneself to persevere through any challenge.

Did you also know that over 40% of people incarcerated are also dyslexic? That’s correct, 2+ people in jail out of 5 have dyslexia and 2+ self-made millionaires out of 5 have dyslexia. Those are stunning statistics. Why is it that some people born with a certain condition like dyslexia rise to raging success and some fall to bad habits leading to incarceration? Some are absolutely born into more advantageous situations then others – wealth or poverty, attentive caring parents or not, supportive teachers and schools or not, etc. An orphan in Cambodia clearly doesn’t have the same advantages as someone born into a rich family in San Francisco and I’m not going to attempt to cite some sociological percentages or arguments because bias and individual circumstances absolutely exist. Life isn’t fair from one person to the next. That said, they’re really all just contributing conditions of our environment –  nationality, gender, race, wealth, education, etc. We’ve all heard rags to riches stories of immigrants who grinded away to huge success and we’ve all heard stories of ‘spoiled’ kids who grow up to be an uninspiring mess with no ambition at all. What’s the difference in these paths? GRIT. People with the grit to go through painful change in themselves and their environment are the ones that determine an alternative outcome. The individual is in charge, not their condition.

Henry Ford could barely read, but his determination to succeed and overcome his obstacles earned him the reputation as the man who revolutionized transportation and the mass production assembly line.  Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing and SharkTank investor, also has dyslexia. He was born poor in a rough neighborhood and could also barely read, yet he was relentlessly pursuing entrepreneurial paths to success including starting FUBU out of his mother’s basement, a company which has done 6B+ in sales. He began sewing wool ski hats himself and selling them himself, and the rest is history. That’s grit.

Coming full circle – nobody wants to hear about your conditions and circumstances. Sorry, but it’s true. Benjamin Disraeli once said “Failure permits no alibis and success requires no explanation”. 2018 is already off and away and the primary possibility for desired results when you’re in review mode 11 months from now will come from a change from within. None of us can change our environments or circumstances, but how we choose to respond is completely within our control. Identify just one self-defeating habit and commit to eliminating it. If you don’t have the grit to make that change, you won’t change.