Absolute Clarity of the End Result (ACER): Elite Entrepreneur Trait #6 – EP 309

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In the 6th installment of the Elite Entrepreneur Series, we’re talking about how elite entrepreneurs have absolute clarity of the end result they are trying to accomplish (or ACER for short).

Every time I’ve spoken with a seven or eight-figure entrepreneur, I notice they are very goal oriented and have an end result they’re trying to achieve. They may need to adapt or change their strategy from time to time, but they know what they want–and they live their life in alignment with that goal.

In today’s episode, I will walk you through an exercise that inspired me during my battle with pancreatic cancer. You’ll learn how to get a better understanding of everything you’d want to happen over the next decade in seven categories of your life–and become absolutely clear as to what you want to achieve in the years to come.

Key Takeaways with Josh Cantwell

  • What’s changed in my life over the last ten years–and how much can change in yours as well.
  • Seven aspects or categories of your life to keep top of mind.
  • A thought exercise you can use to get a clear sense of where your life and values are at right now.
  • How to dream up the life you want to live–and start accomplishing it right now.

Josh Cantwell Tweetables

“Elite entrepreneurs all have an end result that they are trying to achieve. They may have to change their path, adapt, or be flexible in how they get there, but ultimately, they know what they want.” - Josh Cantwell

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Josh Cantwell: So, hey guys, welcome back to our mini-series, The Nine Traits of Elite Entrepreneurs. Welcome back to Accelerated Investor with your host. I’m Josh Cantwell. And over the last month or two, we’ve been recording this podcast series, the solo cast series around The Nine Traits of Elite Entrepreneurs. We are now on trait number six.


And just to go back and talk about the first five, if you remember trait number one that I’ve observed in elite entrepreneurs and eight and nine-figure investors is that, number one, they invest for cash flow now. Number two, they have a mindset that they’re 100% responsible for their own life and that nobody is coming to their rescue. Number three, they have super time management skills. They’ve realized ways to set a cadence for their life and for their business and for their employees that works for them. And that includes what we call free days, focus days, and buffer days.


Number four, elite entrepreneurs refuse or avoid the screen-sucking OCD loop. We talked about that. And then number five, elite entrepreneurs use technology as a weapon, which leads us to number six. Number six, our sixth trait of elite entrepreneurs is that elite entrepreneurs have an absolute clarity of the end result that they are trying to accomplish. I call it the ACER exercise, A-C-E-R, Absolute Clarity of the End Result, and they have a specific end result that they are working to achieve. And their business, their finances is just a tool. It’s the way that they finance their life. Work is not work for work’s sake, just to go to work and make money, but work is just a tool, it’s a path to everything else.


And so, I want to talk about this because the elite entrepreneurs that I know that I’ve had on the show, that I’ve had on my podcast, my webinars, the elite entrepreneurs that I’ve been able to socialize with, network with that are friends of mine and myself, they all have an end result that they are trying to achieve. And along the way, they may have to change their path, they might have to change their strategy, they may have to be adaptable, they may have to be flexible in how they get there, but ultimately, they know what they want and that stays within and it’s congruent with how they live their daily life.


And so, I’m going to ask you to get a pen and a piece of paper out and I’m going to ask you some questions. And this exercise comes from my survival from pancreatic cancer. About 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as many of you probably have heard or know. And I seriously had to consider and think about whether I was going to make it. Pancreatic cancer at that time had about a 6% or 7% survival rate. I was very fortunate. I had the same exact diagnosis as Steve Jobs and I made it.


And so, today, basically, 6 out of 100 people who are diagnosed with the same disease as me at the same time, only six of us are alive out of 100. And I’m one of the six. And so, about 10 years ago, it was actually shortly after my surgery and recovery, and I knew that I was going to be able to make it. So, it was maybe eight years ago that I started thinking about this and I started to really think and I said, okay, now, what if somebody came to you? Let’s say it was some sort of angel that came down from heaven and came to me in one of my dreams or came to me while I was sitting here recording this podcast and said, hey, Josh, here’s the message that I have for you today. I’m going to let you live. God’s going to let you live exactly 10 years from today. So, write down today’s date, I’m recording this podcast on September 7, 2022.


And exactly 10 years from now, on September 7, 2032, you’re not going to wake up. You’re just going to fall asleep the night before and you’re going to die. You’re never going to wake up. You don’t have to be in any pain. You’re just going to go to heaven and you’re going to see Jesus Christ face to face. That’s what I believe. And some of you might believe something else. But either way, 10 years from now, you’re going to be gone.


And so, the question is, what would you do in the next 10 years? If you knew the exact date and time of your death and you knew you’re just going to fall asleep and then never wake up the next day, what exactly would you want to accomplish over the next 10 years? Ten years is a long time. I mean, I’m 46 years old. Dominic, my son, is 11. So, 10 years ago, he was one. And in the last 10 years, we’ve done tons of stuff together with the family, with just me and him. He’s now in fifth grade. He’s playing tackle football. I mean, he’s five foot three and he’s 110 pounds. He’s a big boy, first grade.


We’ve gone to numerous Browns games, Cavs games, fishing, boating. We’ve been deep sea fishing, charter fishing. We’ve gone skiing. We’ve been to beaches. We’ve been to mountains. We’ve been on trips. I’ve helped him with his homework countless nights. I’ve consoled him when he cried or when he fell down or when he was upset with one of his friends or when he felt like he was mistreated by another kid or by another parent or by another teacher. We’ve been to church hundreds and hundreds of times. We’ve been to our campsite hundreds of times in the last 10 years. I’ve seen my father pass away, my grandmother passed away, who I was very close to both of them. My relationship with both of my brothers, frankly, has gone kind of south. I don’t really talk to either of my brothers very much. And so, a lot can happen in 10 years.


And so. elite entrepreneurs that I know, they have it in absolute clarity of what they want to achieve. And so, I’m going to encourage you to think of this in basically seven categories. I want you to think of in 10 years, if you literally knew exactly the date that you were going to die, I want you to write down these 10 categories and think about what would you want to accomplish in the next 10 years.


Number one is your faith. I mean, although some of you maybe don’t have a lot of faith or don’t have any organized religion or you’re not close spiritually, I can pretty much guarantee when you get close to death that you’re going to be close to God. I know a lot of people who are atheists or that were not faithful and when they got close to death, when they were in that last step, stage of their life, they found God. So, the first category is faith. What would you want your faith to look like over the next 10 years?


Second category is your family. What do you want your family to look like over the next 10 years? Is there somebody, like my own brothers that I would like to reconnect with and have a better relationship with? Is there a family member that you used to be close with that you’re not anymore? Is there a family member that’s getting older, that’s aging that maybe you’d like to go see that you haven’t made time for?


Category number three is your friends, with friends that you maybe knew in grade school, high school, college, maybe your early career that you were close with and you know where they live, you have their phone number, but you just haven’t made time for them. If you had exactly 10 years to live, what would you want your relationship with your friends to look like? Write it down.


Category number four, your fitness and your health. Recently, I had a friend of mine. His name was Brad. Brad’s older brother died in his sleep about a year ago. He was overweight. He had some sleep apnea. And he just died in his sleep. And so, what I’m asking you to do, what I’m asking you to think about is no different than what just happened to my friend Brad’s older brother. He literally fell asleep and never woke up. He was 51 years old. Very, very young. And so, category number four is your fitness and your health.


So, if over the last 10 years, if you had certain things that you wanted to accomplish, you’d probably have to be in decent shape to accomplish all those things. I’m fortunate I work out every day in the morning and then I also usually work out again at night because I coach. So, I’m on the field, I’m in the gym with my kids, with their friends. So, I’m getting two workouts in a day, sometimes three.


Sometimes, I work out in the morning. I do chest or legs or back or biceps, and then I go coach football for an hour and a half, and then I go coach volleyball for an hour and a half. And so, I’ve been busy like on my feet, active for four or five hours a day. But if I knew exactly when I was going to die 10 years from now, what would I want my fitness and my health to look like? I bet if you knew the date that you were going to die, you probably would change some things about your health and your fitness and hope that 10 years had another 10 years tacked on. So, in your fitness category, what exactly do you want that to look like?


Category number five is your finances, your money. What would you want that to look like? What would you want to pass down? What kind of charities would you want to support? What kind of nieces or nephews or parents or kids, grandkids would you want to take care of? And how much money would you need to pass along to them?


When I was diagnosed with cancer and I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I thought real hard about, holy crap, did I have enough money? Did I have enough insurance? Did I have all my financial ducks in a row to take care of my wife and my kids?


Then you get to category number six, which is one of my favorites is fun. What kind of fun would you want to have in the next 10 years? You know the exact date that you were going to die.  I almost think about that song by Tim McGraw. It’s like “I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.” So fun, that was a terrible singing attempt of Tim McGraw, sorry to put you through that.


So, what would you do for fun? Like what kind of traveling, skiing, climbing, beaches, mountains, trips, going to Fiji, going to Mount Everest, going to Alaska, going to Australia, Mount Kilimanjaro, the pyramids of Egypt? I mean, where would you go? What would you do for fun that you’ve been putting off? Even putting that stuff off because it’s just all about work, work, work, work, work, work, work, raise kids, raise kids, raise kids, make money, make money, make money, and your faith is suffering, your family is suffering, your friends are suffering, your fitness is suffering, your finances are suffering.


Or your finances are improving because you’re working so hard, but your fun is suffering. But I can tell you right now that if you were given exactly 10 years to live and knew the exact date that you were going to die in your sleep, you would get this stuff dialed in. And the elite entrepreneurs and the eight and nine-figure investors that I know, they’re living with a certain level of purpose, a certain level of intentionality of what they’re doing.


The last category is work. You have 10 years. You have some time to do some damage. Like, I’ve done some serious damage in a good way in the last 10 years, really, the last five years, built my personal net worth well, well, well into the eight figures, my real estate portfolio well, well, well into the nine figures. I’m not too worried when I wake up about money, really not that much worried at all. But if I had 10 years to live, I could definitely contribute and work and achieve and leave that for my kids and my grandkids. So, 10 years, think about that.


Ten years, like get absolutely clear, if you were going to die exactly 10 years from now and you knew the exact date and time of your death, you were going to fall asleep and never wake up, what would you like your faith, your family, your friends, your fitness, your finances, your fund, and finally, your work to look like? Take that time and write it down. Now, let me change this up just a little bit.


Let’s say that instead of the angel coming down and visiting you and saying you have exactly 10 years to live, let’s say the angel came down and said you had one year to live. You see, when I had pancreatic cancer, I was thinking like how many months I might have to live. Weeks, months, days, like every day mattered because I didn’t know if I was going to make it another week, another month, another year.


So, now, imagine that you have just exactly one year. Now, how much sense of urgency do you have around your faith and your closeness to God, around your family and reconnecting with everybody, around your friends and making more time for them, around your fitness and your health and having energy and vitality so that you could live that one year with a tremendous amount of energy, your finances? What could you do with your finances in a year?


Well, maybe not as much time, but could you go by? Like last year, about 1,300 units of apartments last year, could you do that in a year? I did that last year. There was $100 million worth of real estate. That’s a lot. You could do some serious damage in one year if you’re focused.

Number six, your fun in one year, if you only had one year and you knew that you were going to have energy and vitality that whole year, you were just going to fall asleep and never wake up. Like, would you really be goofing off? Would you really sit and binge-watch TV or would you go travel? Would you go skiing? Would you go to the beaches? Would you go to the mountains? Would you look up all those amazing places on the Internet, on Instagram, and then go actually visit them?


And then, of course, the last category is work. What would you do in the next year for work? Maybe your work now, instead of being working for profit, would be working for charity, working for purpose, working for others. Instead of just work, work, work, work, work for a profit to build your balance sheet, build your income, now, your work has a little bit more meaning behind it.


And lastly, let me change this one more time and let’s say that you’re trying to get really clear on your end result. That’s what we’re trying to do, is use this exercise as a way to get very clear about the end result that you’re pursuing is let’s say this angel came down and visited you and said, you have exactly one week to live. And you knew the exact date and time of your death, you were going to fall asleep and never wake up exactly one week from now.


Now, what do you want your faith to look like? Now. what kind of family support do you want? Do you want to give to them? And do you want to have for yourself? You have one week to live. What friends are you going to make more time for? One week. Now, does your fitness and your health even matter? Like, are you even going to bother? Probably not. Maybe. I don’t know, maybe try to extend the week to two weeks because you get in the gym every day and work out really hard. But look, you’re going to fall asleep and never wake up no matter what you do.


What about your finances? Did you do it right? Did you have money saved? Do you have assets and cash flow to leave your kids? Do you have life insurance? What did you do with your finances to make sure that your kids, your grandkids, your spouse are taken care of?


What about your fun? You got one week. Man, I hope you got something planned. I hope you got something planned. If you ever wanted to go to Paris or Hong Kong, I hope you went, or if not, I hope you got it scheduled because you got one week.


And then finally is work. That’s category number seven. But you had a week to live. Are you even going to bother working? I was once doing this exercise and my friend Scott said that if he had one week to live, he would not ever go to sleep. He would try to stay awake for seven days straight. And he would watch his kids while they slept.


So, now, let me ask you this, take this even one step further. Now, imagine the angel came down and told you you had 10 years to live or one year to live or one week to live, but you couldn’t tell anybody. You couldn’t tell anybody. You couldn’t tell your kids, you couldn’t tell your spouse, you couldn’t tell your parents, kids, grandkids. You couldn’t tell anybody that you were going to die in 10 years or one year or one week, but all you could do was execute on your side, on your end. All you could do was your part. And you weren’t allowed to tell anybody until the very last day, in the last 24 hours. You weren’t allowed to tell anybody.


Now, imagine this, everything that you did would be a surprise, like you’re now reading the Bible or going to church or whatever that religion level of faith you have now, you’re a more faithful person, you can’t tell anybody why, but people are starting to see a change in you. Your family, you’re starting to reconnect with them. You’re starting to say hello. You’re starting to reach out to people. You don’t care if they call you, you’re going to call them, that long-lost aunt, that long-lost relationship with your brother, your sister. You can’t tell them why you’re reaching out. You can’t tell them that you’re about to die.


But now, all of a sudden, people are recognizing that, oh, man, Josh is reaching out. Your friends, you’re making time for them, you’re going to lunch with them, you’re going to get coffee, you’re playing golf, you’re going bowling, you’re going on vacations, you’re stopping over at their house. Nobody knows why. Everything’s a surprise. And people are excited and happy that you made the effort.


Your faith, your fitness, your health, it’s a surprise. People are just like, oh, my God, look how good a shape he’s in now. I wonder what he got into you. Look, he’s in such good shape. Or she lost so much weight. Again, you can’t tell anybody why. You can’t tell anybody because you know exactly when you’re going to die, 10 years from now, one year from now, or one week from now. You just do it for you. You do it, but you can’t tell anyone.


And the fun, the traveling, the skiing, the trips, you’re hang gliding, you’re going for a ride in a fighter jet, you’re going on a boat trip. Whatever you would do for fun, you’re just doing it. Now, you’re a more fun person. Everyone’s like, oh, my God, look at all the stuff they’ve planned. They’re doing so many fun things. Every day, every week, they’re going to do something more for fun. Little do they know what your motivation is.


And now, with work, you’re working with more purpose, you’re working with more intention. Maybe you’re working for charity instead of for profit. And everybody notices that you’re more dialed in. You’re getting more done with less time. Instead of working an 8, 10, 12-hour day, you’re maybe working a four-hour day, but it’s a super productive four hours because you don’t have time to waste. You’re going to be gone in one week, one year, or 10 years from now. So, you’re dialed the f*ck in. You’re dialed in. You’re making it happen all because the sense of urgency is different.


Everybody, we all think we’re going to live to a ripe old age, but I can tell you right now, my father died when he was 71. My father retired at 66 and already was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. So, we never ever got to enjoy retirement. How’d that feel? Not too good.


But imagine working for 40 years, retiring, selling your business, and expecting to kind of ride off into the sunset for another 20 years and being able to do fun things, go fun places, and never being able to do that because you lost all your physical capability. You lost your words. You couldn’t speak anymore. That was my dad. That was my father. Couldn’t speak, couldn’t talk, could barely walk, could barely take care of himself, advanced Parkinson’s and dementia.


So, category number seven, the work. Did that really matter? Probably not. But the faith, the family, the friends, the fitness, the finances, and the fun, that mattered. So, the elite entrepreneurs and eight-figure investors that I know, they’re absolutely clear of the end result that they’re pursuing. They write it down. They write it down with vitality, with detail. The kind of house that they want, the kind of car they want to drive, the kind of land they want to own, the team they want to have, the businesses they want to have, the passive income that they want to receive, they dream it out. Dream it out. It’s called dream lining. Dream it out.


If there was absolutely no reason why you couldn’t accomplish things, what could you dream? What could you come up with? What would you do? If there was absolutely nothing holding you back and then go with somebody that has that kind of sense of urgency that they’re only going to live one week or one year, go do it all. Go do it all really hard, really fast, and see how much you accomplish. That is trait number six out of our nine traits. Elite entrepreneurs are absolutely clear of the end result that they’re trying to pursue.

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