Share Guide magazine





An Interview with Brian Tracy
on Self-Actualization

One of the world's leading authorities on personal and business success

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

Brian Tracy's fast-moving talks, books, and seminars on personal success, leadership, sales, business strategy, and time management are loaded with powerful, proven ideas and strategies that people can immediately apply to get better results in every area.

Brian Tracy photo

Holistic Health Newsletter!


newNatural Weight Loss Program recommended by The Share Guide
learn more

About Share Guide

Holistic Health Articles

Health Directory




Contact us

Do you have a
Holistic Business?
Get listed in Share Guide's Holistic Health Directory for only $9.95 per month. For more info
Click Here

The Share Guide: We are focusing this issue on Self-Actualization. Wasn’t this term originally coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow?

Brian Tracy: Yes. Maslow set psychology on its head. It managed to recover, but never fully.  At the time he began studying psychology, everyone was studying sick people--the people who were mentally unwell, angry, frustrated, unhappy, psychotic, neurotic, and so on. And he said, “What about studying healthy people?” What he found was that every unhappy person is unhappy for a hundred different reasons, but happy people, what he called self-actualizing people, were happy because they did certain things in a certain way.  So he began to teach the psychological structure of the fully functioning human being.  And that became the model which has basically triggered the entire human potential movement. Human growth, the revolutions in management, everything that we see in the modern world that is aimed at bringing out the very best in people, was triggered by Maslow.

The Share Guide: Self-actualization is a broad term. What does it mean to you?

Brian: Each person goes through five different levels. As Maslow said, the first level of motivation is pure survival.  Once you’ve satisfied your survival needs, especially physical needs, you move up to security--financial security, emotional security, sociological security, so that you feel secure in your place. Then the next need is for belonging, because we want to be involved with other people, we want to work with them, have a mate, and so forth. The fourth level up is self-esteem.  We want to feel valuable and important, we want to like ourselves, and feel that we are unique individuals. Finally, the fifth level is self-actualization, where we become all that we are capable of becoming. My job, throughout my entire speaking life, has been to help people, get them focused, and move them rapidly up those stairs, to the point where they feel terrific about themselves, and are self-actualized. My program, The Psychology of Achievement, is aimed at this.  Self-actualization comes from setting and achieving goals. And nothing can be more important than this--having a very, very clear idea of what you want, making plans to accomplish it, and then working on those plans every single day. This is a real skill, but because it’s so simple to explain, most people think it’s really not important and they just discard it. They say “I’ve already got goals; I want to be happy, I want to be healthy, I want to be fit.” But these aren’t goals, these are merely illusions. What I do is I teach people in business how to set strategic goals and objectives. I work with Fortune 500 companies.  I also work with individuals through my books, audio programs, and training seminars, to teach them how to achieve financial independence, lose weight, improve their lives, improve their work, business, and so on, by setting goals and working on those goals.

The Share Guide: So setting goals is the practical step toward grounding the vision into action?

Brian: Absolutely! One of my favorite quotes is “Pray, then move your feet.” In other words, once you have a very clear mental image, an idea of what you want, and you have complete faith that you will achieve it, then what you do is take action. You take the very first step that comes to you, then you take the next step, and the next step. The major reason that people in the self-actualization movement fail, is because they do the praying, and the visualizing, and the meditating, and the affirming, and the calming, and the centering--and then nothing else. So not a darn thing happens!

The Share Guide: There is a quote of yours that I love: “Hope is not a strategy for success.”

Brian: Yes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of charlatans in the human potential movement who tell people that’s all you need to do--just be clear about your goals and then relax and trust to the universe, and the universe will bring you everything. But most of those people are poor! It just doesn’t work like that.

The Share Guide: So visualizing and praying will help, but those are not the only tools you need.

Brian: That’s right. That is just the starting point. The very first thing you’ll find on the road to any goal is obstacles, and detours, and setbacks, and disappointments, and temporary failures. They go with the territory. With most people, as soon as they come to a roadblock, they quit. What successful people do is they go over, under, around, through--they find a way. And  if you keep doing that, eventually you learn what you need to achieve your goals.

The Share Guide: Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, was like a grandfather to the human potential movement. His motto was: “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe you can achieve.” What are your thoughts on that?

Brian: It’s absolutely true,  as long as you take the next step. If you look at Napoleon Hill’s teachings, they are very rigorous. It requires that you have organized plans of action, that you have specialized knowledge, that you have a positive personality, that you take an enormous amount of time to get along well with everybody in your world, and that you have a burning desire, definite goals, use your time well, and so forth. Napoleon Hill doesn’t say that it’s quick and easy. You can conceive it and believe it, but he said that’s just a starting point. But here’s an interesting point that holds people back: Most of the things you try won’t work. They turn out to be partial failures or total failures. You’ll embark on something and you’ll visualize it and you’ll write it down, you’ll set it as a goal, you’ll make a plan, and it won’t work. And you’ll end up with nothing. And what people don’t realize is that life is a series of false starts. Nobody just goes onward and upward with no failures. What you’ve got to do is pull yourself back every single time that you miss the target. Ask yourself “What did I learn from that,” and then clearly isolate the lesson and then take the next step.

The Share Guide: So we have to keep on going and not quit.

Brian: Right! One of the things that I teach over and over is that there is a great power in the universe that wants you to succeed. And this great power realizes that the only way you can succeed is if you learn critical lessons on the way through life. If you want to get an advanced degree in success and happiness, you are going to take a lot of courses, you’re going to have to make a lot of mistakes, and you’re going to have to pass a lot of tests. Now the good news is that every single test you take, every single setback or difficulty, you gain a lesson. So instead of becoming upset about what happened, you simply focus on the lesson, and the potential gain. And the very seeking of the lesson makes you more positive and focused person. One of Napoleon Hill’s key principles is that in every problem or setback, there is the seed of an equal or greater benefit or advantage. So what you do is you take your situation in life today, and look at it this way. As a friend of mine said, “If life is a school, what courses are you taking today? And what lessons do you need to learn to get to the next level?” As Galileo said, “We cannot teach a person anything that they do not know, we can only bring what they do know to a higher level of awareness.” In other words, if you have experiences and you do not reflect on them to determine what you have learned, you will not gain from the experiences. You will repeat the same mistakes. The great power in the universe also knows that the only way that you will learn is if it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, you won’t learn.

The Share Guide: You say it takes 10-21 days of a new positive daily activity for it to become a habit. So this is the key to positive thinking, practicing until it becomes natural?

Brian: There’s all kinds of scientific research on this but I think the bottom line is pretty simple. Almost all of our thinking has been learned by taking in information and repeating it over and over again. So if you want to change the way you think about something, you’ve got to practice it over and over again, until you override the old habit of thinking.

The Share Guide: You’ve also said that we can only hold one thought at a time, so we should focus on what we want to achieve, rather than focusing on that which we have not yet achieved. Can you elaborate on that?

Brian: There’s a rule that says, “where your attention goes, your life goes.” So if you are focused on a particular goal, you start to attract ideas, inspirations, insights. You start to activate more and more of your brain, almost like a big laser beam in a science fiction movie that channels all the powers of energy into a single point. The more you think about a particular goal, the more rapidly you move toward it, and the more rapidly it moves toward you. The law of concentration says, “whatever you dwell upon grows in your life.” Whatever you focus on, more and more of your brain power is actually applied to the achievement of that goal.

The Share Guide: Can you recommend any visualization exercises for self-actualization?

Brian: People visualize all the time, so that’s not really the problem. The problem is what they focus on. The key to success is very simple: think about what you want and how to get it--all day long. Refuse to think and talk about your problems or what you don’t want.  Since you can only hold one thought at a time, if you keep thinking about what you want and how to get it, and then keep taking the steps that come to your mind, eventually you won’t have time to think about all of your problems. Pretty soon it becomes habit, and you develop a series of neuro-connections in your brain that make it easy and automatic for you to get up in the morning and think about what you want. Once it becomes a habit, your whole life starts to move faster and faster toward your goals.

The Share Guide:  It’s like developing the habit of expecting things to be positive.

Brian: Right. Positive people think about what they want and how to get it; negative people think about what they don’t want and who is to blame.

The Share Guide:  So if you want to be a part of that small percentage that achieve lasting success, simply be amongst those who are the most motivated?

Brian: Right. If you want to build a successful business, you’re going to have to work many, many hard hours to get established. If you want to be a successful writer, or anything else--it will be hard before it’s easy. Your responsibility in life is to find something that you really enjoy, that uses your special talents and abilities, and then throw your whole heart into doing that really well.

The Share Guide:  What are the basic steps for goal setting?

Brian: Start with writing out a list of ten goals. I do that every day. And then select your most important goal, and make a plan to achieve it. Then work on that plan every day. It’s a real simple technique--anybody can do it in about five minutes.

The Share Guide: You’ve written that “self-discipline is persistence in action.” You put a lot of stress on persistence. Can you talk about this?

Brian: Not everything you try in life is going to work. And sometimes it’s not going to work over and over again. Nature sets up a little test, and the test is to see how badly you want it. The way that you demonstrate to the universe that you really want something, is you keep persisting in the face of setbacks and difficulties and obstacles and disappointments. You just keep on keeping on. Every great success is a triumph of persistence. Phil Knight of Nike once said, “All you have to do is succeed the last time.” If you succeed the last time, it wipes everything else out.

The Share Guide: You write about stimulating super-conscious creativity. How do we do this?

Brian: The very best way is to take any goal you have, and write it as a question starting with the word “how.”  In other words, “How do I achieve this goal?” Discipline yourself to write 20 answers to that question. The most amazing thing happens: as you write more and more answers to the question, you get better answers! You rev up your mind and you stimulate your creativity for the whole day.

The Share Guide: What is the difference between brainstorming and mindstorming?

Brian: Mindstorming is what you do alone, such as writing down 20 or more ideas to achieve a particular goal. Brainstorming is what you do with other people. It’s the same sort of exercise, but done in a more structured way.

The Share Guide: Is it possible to become too focused on the future and too goal oriented? What about enjoying the present moment and what we have now?

Brian: Well, it’s not as if working on your goals is somehow a penalty, something that makes you suffer. Working on goals makes you happy, because you have a feeling of forward motion and success.

The Share Guide: Please talk about the Golden Rule and achieving our full human destiny.

Brian:  I think the most important principle in all of human history is: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Because in the final analysis, it is not what you have accomplished or achieved in life, but the effect that you have on other people on the way through. Become everything you are capable of becoming. Live your life as though your every act is to become a universal law for all people. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

To learn more about Brian Tracy’s books, workshops and trainings, please visit his website at


If you liked this interview, you'll love The Share Guide's
Holistic Health Newsletter. Subscribe for free!

Home Health Directory Articles Index Interviews Index

Reviews Links About Share Guide Contact us

About Share Guide


Health Directory



Contact us

Free Media Kit

Get Newsletter

Avertising Info
Subscribe to magazine

Search this site

copyright 2004--The Share Guide--All rights reserved