Superhero Abilities

As an employer, investor, husband and father I’ve had enough experience in life and business to recognize there are certain traits that people possess which pretty much ensures success in whatever they do. Admittedly, there are other desirable traits and certainly most people do not possess every single trait I’m about to list. However, in my dealings with other business owners, athletes, investors, employees, coaches, you name it—just about every successful person has some of the following traits that allow them to achieve their desires. I’m going to refer to this list as Superhero Abilities. Please keep in mind that these abilities are in reach of everyone, not just the heroes of the screen and comics. So let’s begin…

Courage–I believe that courage is the most important trait that anyone can possess. Without courage, no other trait or ability matters. One must have the courage to begin a journey before he or she can employ any other abilities. Fear is what stops most people from achievements and fulfillment. Courage is what allows us to overcome fear and move forward despite the fear. I have found that courage can be developed through repeated action, and your successes will add to your courage. If you find yourself anxious or afraid, keep moving forward and focus on your achievements, not your failures. Courage is something we all possess, like muscles. Maybe it’s time to exercise it.

Faith—The capacity for faith, to see what is not there yet but what could be, is something that most children have. Yet, it seems to be beaten out of us as we get older. I think creativity is really just a form of faith. The creative person imagines what could be, and perhaps what should be instead of the status quo. This is really just another way of saying we believe in something that doesn’t exist yet or we just can’t see. That’s what faith truly is. We are all born with faith, but the best place to start building faith is in ourselves. We must believe in our own abilities, even though we may not see them yet.

Problem Solving Abilities—Life is a series of events which we interpret through our lens, or “blueprint” of how life should be. We all have expectations of how life should be and when life doesn’t equal those expectations, we get pain. When life goes the way we think it should, we get pleasure or happiness. What most of us realize very early in life, however, is life is filled with obstacles, incidents, and environments that we must figure out a solution for because what is happening in our lives is not something we necessarily like. Therefore, people in all occupations should become incredible problem solvers. The ability to solve problems not only brings personal fulfillment, it is also one of the most desirable traits that employers and partners look for in business. If you want to be highly sought after, become a great problem solver.

Reason—The ancient Greeks spoke of reason as the one tool that humans have over other animals. What is reason? As humans, we have the ability to examine our own thoughts, emotions and actions and decide whether what we are thinking, feeling or doing is serving us in our lives. While we cannot control what thoughts creep into our mind, we should all develop our ability to use reason as to how we will act in response to these thoughts. The ability to reason is what gives us power over ourselves. Humans are not subject to animal instinct if we use reason.

Negotiation—Much of our experience in life comes down to how we interact and engage with other people. I think that life is a fine balance of delivering value to others so that you can get what you want as well. Therefore, all of our interactions with others is a negotiation of sorts. We are always negotiating how we will spend our time, where we will go, what we want in return for our labor or investment. We are even in negotiation when we are trying to decide what to talk about with others. Indeed, the ability to negotiate is a very powerful ability. I strongly suggest you exercise your ability to negotiate. I think you will find it will serve you well.

Persistence—The ability to keep going, to get up after falling down, to keep on keeping on is an ability that cannot be overstated when talking about a successful life. As I have already pointed out, life will no doubt deal you a series of problems. Until you figure out how to solve them, the ability to persist is what will drive you forward toward your goals. It has been said that Thomas Edison tried and failed over 10,000 times before he succeeded in creating the electric light bulb. Without his persistence, and the persistence of other great people throughout history, where would we be today? Without persistence, where will you be?

Compassion—Seeing life from another human’s perspective is a vital skill to have in life. I believe we owe to it each other as humans to develop compassion for the human condition. This condition is one of nature, and nature is not always kind to living beings, just as living beings are not always kind to one another. Kindness and cooperation is how our species thrives. Without compassion for others, true cooperation is not possible. This is especially true in relationships. Develop a capacity for compassion and watch your life transform as you begin to focus on how to deliver value and kindness to others. If you can do this, I promise the rewards will come back to you in orders of magnitude.

Curiosity—In order to unlock the secrets of the universe we must be curious. Great inventors, scientists, and philosophers all have one thing in common—curiosity. They are all curious to find out “why”? Why does something work the way it does? Why does someone act the way they do? Those who ask “why” have begun the process of discovery. I think the “meaning of life” itself is to discover what we are capable of, what the universe is comprised of, how we can help others, how we can overcome obstacles. All of these discoveries start with curiosity. All learning comes from curiosity.

Hunger–What separates the truly great from the average? It can be summed up in one word: hunger. Those who truly excel in anything have one trait that others do not, the hunger to do better and become better. It’s really that simple. Hunger demands that we keep looking to find food. But the truly great don’t stop when they find the food. They stay hungry. They don’t settle. The never stop trying to become better. Hunger keeps the lion moving and taking action. Humans are not much different in this regard.

Discipline—This ability must be learned and developed if any of the other abilities mentioned are going to be utilized. The lack of self-discipline is the leading cause of failure in any endeavor. As the great philosopher Epictetus stated, “No man is free who is not master of himself.” Indeed you must become the master of yourself, your body and mind if you are going to be truly free. Therefore, discipline = freedom. By becoming the master of ourselves, we allow ourselves to develop these Superhero abilities.

Do you possess any of the above abilities? You may just be a superhero and not know it yet. Are there a few that you must have not discovered inside yourself yet? With a little patience, discipline and training, you can develop these abilities that will allow you to thrive. There’s only one thing left… what will your Superhero name be?

In health,

Sean

An Open Letter to Democrats & the Supporters of the $15 Minimum Wage

By Sean Covell

CEO Fitness System

Bachelor Degree UC San Diego

As an employer and resident in California, I have had to hold my nose for the past decade as it becomes increasingly difficult to do business in the Golden State. While California has many things going for it–beaches, Hollywood, Silicon Valley–it does not have a friendly business climate. This state ranks 32nd on Forbes’ Best States For Business in 2015. The $15 dollar an hour minimum wage law, recently passed by the California Legislature (a gang of people dedicated to fundamentally altering the role government has with its citizens and non-citizens lives) and Governor Jerry Brown, will cause California to be ranked dead last.

My goal is to have as many politicians read this as possible and knowing that most politicians have an aversion to reading (especially their own legislation), I’m going to keep this brief. What follows are eight reasons why the new minimum wage law is damaging to the freedoms and pocketbooks of all citizens.

             The minimum wage artificially increases the price of labor. That’s right, labor has a price and the higher that price becomes, the result will be less overall labor participation. This is basic supply and demand. Most economics professors would agree. The tragedy is that workforce participation is already at a 32-year-low! What will it become after the $15 minimum wage? It will be even lower. Some economists may dispute this, but the honest ones will admit that, all things being equal, there would be more labor participation without a minimum wage. This cannot be refuted. It’s a simple truth. If the price of labor is lower, more people can be hired. The other real irony is that government loves to artificially increase the price of things it doesn’t like through fees, fines and taxes as to reduce their use– cigarettes, alcohol, big screen TVs and heavy vehicles are all subject. I guess the government doesn’t much like laborers either.

            The cost of living will necessarily be higher. A big argument from proponents of this law is that while the cost of food, tuition, rents and other consumable goods has increased, wages have not. Leaving aside all the other reasons why this could be–tax policy, subsidies for tuition and rents, people dropping out of the workforce and electing to receive welfare, inflated stock and real estate prices, inflation of the money supply– this is a classic example of the seen versus the unseen. What is seen is that prices have gone up. What is unseen is that government policy has contributed to this. What is also unseen is that forcing employers to pay more for labor will result in them having to raise prices to cover the costs. This will adversely affect the consumer. Ironically, it will mostly affect the very people this law aims to help, the minimum wage employee. They will not be able to absorb the inflated prices as well as other income groups. So while they may get a pay bump, they will not come out ahead.

            The minimum wage unfairly targets low-skilled and entry-level employees. The minimum wage on its face is really an unemployment law. It states that an employer like myself cannot hire anyone under the price the government sets. Therefore, anyone who could have been hired for $14 dollars an hour or less cannot be legally hired. Thus, unless they are deemed to be at least producing more than $15 an hour in revenue, they cannot be hired. The reality is that not all entry-level jobs produce the same amount of revenue. As a result, those who would have been hired for, say $12 or $10 or even less will have no job. Unemployment will rise among the groups that currently make minimum wage.

            It violates private and mutually beneficial contracts. If I want to wash windows for $5 an hour and an employer agrees to pay that $5 an hour in return for services rendered, why does the government get to tell me that’s not legal? In this instance, the government is violating basic agreements that allow the free market to function. The state is now a hindrance to free market exchanges and productivity. So what am I to do? If I cannot produce at least $15 an hour in value I must go to the state to receive welfare. This places the burden on the taxpayers across all income groups.

            The minimum wage unfairly targets smaller businesses. While politicians love to express their love for small business the truth is they much prefer large businesses to contribute to their campaigns. And while people think some chain restaurants and other businesses are large, in reality many are franchisees (small businesses that pay a fee for the Taco Bell or McDonalds name). These businesses, like my own, offer flexible hours and the opportunity to gain skills in the marketplace for entry-level workers and people who would simply like another part-time job. The net revenues of these business is not such that they can afford large salaries, high hourly wages or other perks afforded to state employees and employees of larger businesses. The employees and employers who will suffer are the local mom-and-pop-shop and the kid next door. They will be the ones to be out of business or out of a job.

            Price controls do not work. Look throughout history to regimes that have tried to impose price controls. They have always failed with many unintended consequences. Only entrepreneurs in the marketplace, with market indicators, can properly price goods and services. They are also the only ones who can truly determine how much someone should be paid in the enterprise that they built. Every time price controls show up, a black market pops up. This is the real economy.

            The cost to employers will be higher across the board. Few remember that what an employee is paid in their paycheck and what the employer must pay to employ that person are very different. The employer cost is much higher. In fact, the burden for almost everything from taxes to child support falls to the employer. When the minimum wage goes up, the employer cost for taxes, unemployment insurance and disability will increase as well. Moreover, workers compensation insurance is billed by the total dollar amount of wages worked by all employees in a tax year. This is yet another cost increase for the employer. Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest problem with this law, is that employees who now make $15 per hour or above will demand more money because they have a more refined skill set. How is it fair for an unskilled worker to make $15 when someone who has worked at a business for years makes the same? It’s not. And employers will be forced to increase wages across the board. Some businesses, because of market forces, cannot just go raise prices to cover the increased costs. The result? Less employers. Less employers=less employees=more people on government assistance. Simple.

            There is no requirement for increased productivity. Money is not wealth and it’s not what makes the economy run. If money was wealth, the government could just print us all money and we would be very wealthy. The problem here is obvious. More money in circulation will not result in more production. Increased wealth comes from an increase of productivity (output) and value in the marketplace. From an early age we are told to go to school and graduate so that we can learn more skills and produce more in the marketplace. Want a raise? Become more valuable to the marketplace! Refine your skills. Learn something new and apply it. The government and supporters of the $15 minimum wage do not believe this. They think workers deserve to make more by fiat. So they petition to government to make it so. Does the employer receive more value for the additional wages paid? No. Does the customer receive any more for the higher prices paid? No.

And there you have it. Eight examples of the “tyranny of good intentions.” This is what government does best. It only focuses on what it sees instead of the consequences of action. Let me be very clear: I believe that everyone should be paid more in every country across the world. I believe this can only come through adding value to the marketplace and increasing productivity. I do not know for sure how this will all play out long term. I do know that as an employer and entrepreneur, other states are looking much more “golden” than California.