Entrepreneurs Who Beat Addictions

Reading Time: 6 minutes

There’s a Hole in My Bucket

I was once working with a young businessman who just couldn’t get things off the ground. He had all the skills, all the charisma, all the personality traits that he and I knew could take him to the next level but there was something very dead behind it all. It was like he had this huge bucket capacity but there was a hole at the bottom of the bucket that was preventing him from realising his goals. That hole whatever it was, was leaking out his passion, his drive and his business edge. That hole was something I have seen in many potentially great entrepreneurs. It’s the great black hole known commonly as an addiction.

In this man’s case a double addiction. He came to me with a ‘gambling addiction’ but once we had tackled that one successfully, he revealed the truer more intimate drain of his energies – an addiction to pornography. Once we cracked this addiction through a series of powerful techniques and strategies, his business flew. Suddenly, we had unlocked the energy and greatness within him. The spark returned to his eyes.  With a little coaching he went from zero to £80k/yr in 18 months and has grown his business exponentially year on year ever since. What’s more, his personal life took root and has blossomed and grown into a centre of deep satisfaction and happiness in his life.

The Success Brain Hijacked

We all have a part of the brain which I call ‘The Success Brain’. Anatomically it’s the Reticular Activating System (We’ll call it the R.A.S.) hidden in the basal ganglia.

This part has the potential to make you an extremely successful person by achieving a maniacal focus on something. In the case of success, the ‘obsession’ is usually something which gives great value to ourselves and the world around us. However the RAS can also get transfixed and obsessed by something a little more mundane like a car model e.g. Ford Galaxy. If you’ve ever had that experience where you have seen a car model once and suddenly see it everywhere – That’s the RAS at work.

In the case of financial success, you can see how the ability to see your central goal in everything around you could be useful to you as an entrepreneur. In this way you gather resources from everywhere to fulfil your objectives.

Addictions hijack this success brain. When the RAS is hijacked by gambling/alcohol/porn etc. , instead of the entrepreneur spending his time, energy, passion and resources developing a mental network which harnesses everything in his world towards a goal of creating something new, he or she is drawn deeper and deeper into a pit of despair involved the downward spirals associated with an obsessional negative behaviour.

For instance, the addict spends most of their waking time ” stinkin’ thinkin’ ” – their mind keeps returning to the focus of the addiction and whirrs around planning when to get it’s next big fix.

This same obsessional RAS activity in the self disciplined entrepreneur goes towards planning their personal, professional and business growth. The only difference is that one character is going after what they want NOW while the latter is going after what they want MOST.

A lot of achievers are somewhere on the spectrum between the two. The key is to create and design your obsessions in life. If you don’t design your life someone or something else will design it for you. If you haven’t created a central obsession, a powerful evocative goal, your mind will draw itself naturally towards either mundane or seriously negative focuses just by the nature of the RAS.

Most  people I’ve asked, tend to check the news on their smartphone more often than they would like. It’s a small, wearying addiction and I  do mean wearying. It takes time, effort and focus away from areas where we have most influence to appreciate or progress our lives.

Stop Being a Moth, Start Being an Entrepreneur


However, on top of this the news machine adds so much negativity into our world view that it’s a wonder that most people manage to get themselves up in the morning. Thousands of journalists are paid to scour the globe for the 12 most horrendous events in the last 24 hours and parade them in front of us repetitively and often with a sensationalist spin, morning, noon and night. This is accompanied by a host of frivolous information which generally has no bearing on how we can further our lives. Trump’s latest tit for tat with Obama is not going to put more money in your bank account, more love in your marriage or more self esteem in your children.

We flick back onto the news repetitively like a moth which keeps flapping back to a scorching light which maims and kills the moth. Through this repetitive self sabotaging activity we diminish our focus on what matters as well as the sense of control we have in this world. Consequently, we act less often in our own interest and produce less value to offer society.

So… it doesn’t have to be one of the “biggies” – gambling/alcohol/sexual etc. to stop us being and expressing our greatest selves in this world. Scan your own life for the little actions that you repeat every day and ask yourself ‘are these useful?’. Addictions are not. Then ask yourself what are the useful daily actions e.g. exercise/prayer/meditation/gratitudes/random acts of kindness/planning with pen and paper etc. that I have left aside and what set times can I give myself for these during the day. Set your phone to remind you of these things with the ‘repeat daily’ function. NOW your phone is serving you instead of you serving your phone.

Which brings me to another big achievement sucker. Since when did we all become on call doctors?!! Having your phone ring every time someone coughs out something on your whatsapp group will deter you from achieving your potential.

When I first got a mobile phone back in 2001 someone left me an angry message asking why my phone wasn’t always on. I had no idea that I was supposed to be on call the entire time once I bought the technology. I bought it to use IT not for it to use ME so in general I kept it off unless I made a call and used voicemail to manage the rest.

In the age of smartphones it’s even harder to keep the phone off but we need to tailor back the apps that have access to our attention because they all push hard for it with their ‘default’ settings and notifications…..and with each distraction comes the perfect engineering of an addiction because it only takes one really exciting notification out of 20 to keep us checking all 20 with a great sense of urgency and desperation.

Using dolphins researchers found that the lottery effect has a huge impact on our addictive nature. They found more engagement from the dolphins in jumping through hoops when they offered fish as a reward randomly and less often than not!!!

You would think that if we keep checking our notifications and 9 times out of 10 we find a dud that that would deter us from checking. Not so. It’s the excitement of being offered a fish/reward/notification of interest one time in a dozen that actually makes the game more enthralling and keeps us hooked on wasting our time over the little things.

Just Decide

Benjamin Disraeli said ‘Little things affect little minds’. If we don’t make our minds big, with big ideas, worthy goals and clear decisions about what we want our minds will desperately search to be filled up and will settle for the little things to do just that. Don’t settle. Define your goals, get excited about them and commit to them. This will be your first step to getting space from the ‘little things’.

I learn more from you than you do from me. Which idea above was most important to you? Please comment below.



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  • Jeroen Van Gils

    Reply Reply November 25, 2016

    Great article, David. Your mindstyle reminds me of Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. Also, the tip of setting your phone with the ‘repeat daily’ function to remind you of the useful daily actions seems very promising. I will surely try it. Thanks a lot!

    • David Citron

      Reply Reply June 19, 2017

      Thank you Jeroen! Think and Grow Rich is awesome and I’m glad the repeat daily reminder on phone seemed useful. How did you get on with it? By the way…sorry this answer is coming about a century late!!!! I’ve been obsessed with creating a new course for my entrepreneur subscribers called Proven Business Advantage and managed to neglect the blog but I’m back now so look forward to speedy replies in future 🙂

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