The ‘Habit Of Mind’ That Separates Self Made Billionaires

In the book “The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value,” John Sviokla, a former Harvard business school professor, and Mitch Cohen, a vice chairman at PwC, did a study on 120 self made billionaires to find out what separates billionaires from everyone else.

Expecting to find that billionaires would have commonality among the circumstances in which they grew up in, such as a privileged or a disadvantaged background, what they found instead was the commonality among billionaires was not external, but internal, which they call “habits of mind.”

More specifically, billionaires are able to achieve what Sviokla and Cohen call a “duality of mind,” which is the ability of self-made billionaires to hold seemingly opposing ideas and view points in their mind at the same time without getting confused.

They’re able to integrate ideas and actions with each other that most individuals tend to keep separate or even hold in direct tension to one anther.

For example, one idea is that success requires an individual to be both patient and impatient in their pursuit towards their goals. It is not an either/or.

This is something all billionaires understand.

However, most people who aren’t billionaires will say, “How is it possible to be both patient and impatient at the same time?”

Well it’s possible for two ideas to be operating simultaneously. Self made billionaires impatiently prepare to seize opportunities, but patiently wait for that opportunity to emerge.

This is why it’s not uncommon to see billionaires consistently contradict themselves by stating opposite ends of an idea.

As the billionaire investor Charlie Munger says, “Avoid extreme ideologies. Extreme ideologies are rarely ever right.” The real answer is typically a blend of two opposing ideas.


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