Blog | Entrepreneurship

How to Get What You Want

The Triple-A Triangle can help you achieve your dreams — here’s how

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Living many years in Hawaii, I always appreciated those who could surf. I borrowed my friends’ boards a few times, but I just didn’t get it.

A while back, Robert, who grew up surfing in Hilo, Hawaii, bought a surfboard and wanted to take it out in the waves. I wanted to join him, and for $10 per hour I rented one of those long, floatable beginner surfboards. We both paddled out to the waves. For about an hour I struggled, not coming close to catching any waves.

I looked to my left, and I noticed an older local surf instructor working with three young kids. I paddled closer to listen. He instructed them through the steps, from lying down on the board, to getting up on their knees, to then standing up. I took in all he was teaching them.

He glanced over at me and said, “You wanna surf today?” I nodded my head yes. “Okay,” he said, “Just do what I say.”

“I can do this,” I thought to myself.

“Get ready,” he said. “A wave is coming. Paddle!” he yelled. “Paddle! Paddle harder, harder!”

I paddled as hard as I could, but the wave passed me by. He just looked at me.

“When I say paddle, I mean paddle,” he said. “You quit on the wave. You sure you want to do this?” he asked gruffly.

“Yes!” I shouted.

“Then do what I say, and don’t quit,” he ordered. “Get in position and paddle!” he shouted. “Paddle!”

I started paddling my heart out. My board was on the wave, and the wave was pushing my board. I was so excited I almost didn’t hear the old guy yell, “Stand up! Stand up now!”

Fearing that he’d yell at me again if I didn’t do what he said, I got to my knees and then stood up. “Wow!” I thought. “I’m standing up!” And then I fell right off!

I had experienced the feeling of actually riding a wave, and I couldn’t wait to paddle out again. I stayed out in that water for the next two hours, and by the end, I was actually standing up and riding waves into the shore. I loved it!

Why did I succeed?

I Aspired to ride a wave. With no instruction, I was frustrated and confused by the surf. The waves just kept coming, and I didn’t know what to do. The waves were winning.

All it took was a little bit of learning, Acquiring some knowledge, to know what to do.

Paddling, missing waves, and paddling harder until I was on a wave, I Applied the knowledge until I reached my dream of riding a wave.

And here was the magic — not only did I ride the waves, but I actually loved the experience!

The formula for success: The Triple-A Triangle

In life, especially when it comes to money and investing, everybody is looking for the formula for success.

For many growing up, it was reading, writing, and arithmetic. After all, that is what our schools hold up as most valuable. While these things are valuable, they are a baseline, not a ticket to success.

Over the years, I’ve developed a plan for success called the Triple-A Triangle. It is a plan that works both for surfing and investing. Really, for any challenge life can throw at you!

Below is a quick overview of that plan (you can read more indepthly about it in my book, It’s Rising Time). It’s not hard to remember, but, just like paddling harder than you thought you could, it takes fortitude to execute.

  1. Aspire

    Choose your dream. Create a clear vision of what your financial dream and financial freedom look like to you. Hold onto your vision throughout your journey.

  2. Acquire

    Acquire the knowledge, the education, the facts, the figures, and the data you need in order to take action. The acquire stage is ongoing because the markets and the economy are always changing.

  3. Apply

    Apply the knowledge you’ve acquired in the real world. Take action. Put into practice what you have learned. With a small amount of acquired knowledge, you can quickly move into the apply stage. Many small apply steps lead to more tremendous learning, which will produce results.

    One key to this process is to do one thing every day that gets you closer to your financial dream — which is why the secret fourth “A” is Achieve. You will achieve throughout your entire journey. You will be achieving with each and every win or success. Be sure to celebrate every win you have along the way. It’s those moments of success and accomplishment where real joy is found.

You must Do all three

There are no shortcuts to this process. It takes all three parts of the Triple-A Triangle to achieve your goals and dreams.

Confucius said it best:
“To know and not do, is to not yet know.”

Many women accomplish the Aspire step and move into the Acquire step and get stuck there. They attend all the seminars, read all the books, and are constantly researching online. The problem is they never move into the Apply stage. Why? My guess is fear — fear of making a mistake, of losing money, of looking stupid, of people saying, “I told you so!”

It is only by Applying the knowledge after you Acquire it that those fears will dissipate. All three steps are necessary to achieve your financial dreams. It is primarily the Apply stage that stops so many women.

My purpose is to offer clarity to define what you Aspire to, to offer information for you to Acquire, and then, most importantly, to use real-life stories and encouragement as the catalyst for you to Apply the knowledge in your life to have what you want.

These three stages are constantly in motion. You don’t move from one to the second and then to the third and then you’re done. You Aspire, you Acquire, and you Apply over and over again. Then you Acquire more and Apply more, and Acquire more and Apply more, all the while holding onto your vision of what you Aspire to. It’s an ongoing dynamic cycle.

And while you have your big goal or aspiration, you also have many smaller goals leading up to your main dream. Each one of these goals has its own Triple-A Triangle. And each is dynamic and in a constant state of flow.

As you move toward achieving your financial dreams, pay attention every now and then to how much of your doing is spent in each part of the Triple-A Triangle. Only when you find the right balance will you start to move through every stage — Aspiring, Acquiring, and Applying — and begin to find financial success and freedom.

Original publish date: June 12, 2013

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