Pantheon 2020: Weldon Long Explains How To Make Valuable Changes Stick
Weldon Long is a highly-sought speaker, trainer and consultant who has run highly successful trades businesses. His rags-to-riches story has been chronicled in a New York Times bestselling book, The Upside of Fear, and he’s also penned The Power of Consistency, and Consistency Selling.
Long, a ServiceTitan customer, has been in the residential contracting business for two decades and has a wide swath of experience from starting small companies, growing big companies, selling big companies, and almost losing big companies—all while making a lot of money along the way.
As a featured guest for Pantheon 2020, he credits much of his success to being able to achieve the right mindset, which he calls the “prosperity mindset.” Long believes that mindset can be applied to business, sales, and life.
“When I discuss a prosperity mindset in my book, The Power of Consistency, I’m really talking about learning how to think differently,” Long says. “I don't mean think better. I mean, think differently.”
Imagine that your brain is a series of highway systems, he says.
“We have these neural pathways that are like highways where cars run,” he says. “The cars are your thoughts. Isn't it strange that the traffic patterns always seem to be pretty much the same?”
We think the same thoughts about money, family, work, whatever it is, Long says. “Your habitual thoughts, get you somewhere. However, sometimes the place we’re ending up, isn’t the place we want to be.”
Business. Wealth. Relationships. Health and fitness goals. If you want to go in new directions and get different results, Long says, you have to redirect your thoughts.
“Where your focus goes, your energy flows,” he says. “Your life is a reflection of your habitual thoughts.”
A new direction requires building a different “highway system” for your thoughts. These new highway systems in your brain are called neural pathways.
New neural pathways
Building new neural pathways requires the power of intention, thoughts and focus. To that end, Long says neuroscientists are learning the power of the subconscious mind to solve problems.
Long asks: “Ever had a situation where you're trying to remember the name of a song but you can’t? And then two days later the song—"Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin—pops into your mind. That was the result of your subconscious brain working 24/7 to solve that problem and then passing the information to your conscious brain.”
Your subconscious brain is a powerful supercomputer, Long says. “It’s infinitely more powerful than your conscious brain and the most efficient, powerful problem solver for you in your life. It will solve any problem.”
The challenge, though, is that the subconscious brain is a lousy judge of character. Give it a negative problem to solve—ask it to help you rob a bank, for example—and it will do it.
“This is why it's so important to focus on the right things—because your subconscious mind is going to work 24/7 to achieve the goal,” Long says. “It's critically important that you have to think about what you’re thinking about.”
Long was lucky to have had Dr. Stephen Covey, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as a friend and mentor. Covey talked about the conscious and unconscious serendipity of the universe.
“There's something very powerful about setting your intentions to achieving something,” Long says. “And that very powerful thing is the subconscious mind. Once the subconscious mind becomes aware of this thing you want, it will be on the lookout for the resources.
“It's a part of your brain called the reticular activating system. It filters the things that are relevant and filters out the non-relevant things.”
Long notes that having big expectations can change your life. He started his first HVAC company in 2004. By 2009 the company had grown to $20 million in revenue. He was selected by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing small companies in America.
That same year, Long wrote Upside of Fear. The book’s success got him into the speaking and writing industry. Remember, he wasn’t a writer. He was an HVAC and plumbing contractor—but his life story is the subject of the book.
And his life got off to a rough start. Just 18 months before opening his company, Long was 39 years old and living in a homeless shelter. No car, no home, no furniture, no nothing.
Long was in a homeless shelter after serving 13 years in federal and state prisons in Colorado and in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He spent 13 years between 1987 and 2003 walking prison yards.
He describes himself then as: “A total knucklehead. I was a ninth-grade high school dropout, a punk and a thug and a loser.”
When he got out of jail and landed at the homeless shelter all he had was a mindset to succeed that he’d honed while behind bars.
“I went out for six months knocking on doors,” Long says. “Finally, I got a job selling air conditioners. It turns out I was great at it, did that for a year, and the next year I opened my own company.”
How did Long seemingly up and turn his life around on a dime?
“I learned to think differently,” he says. “Yes, I did different things and acted a different way—but all of that was preceded by my thinking. When you think about something differently, it drives different emotions. The new emotions drive different actions. Different actions produce different results.”
When Long began studying these concepts it seemed mystical, confusing and full of smoke and mirrors.
It’s not, he says. It’s basic neurology and body chemistry.
What’s in your box?
Long notes that the ability to change your thoughts, actions and life results starts with the components that make up your “box.”
“The questions become, ‘What's in your box?’ and, ‘How does this affect my life?’” he says. “The reality is that when you have a thought, that thought is the foundation of everything.”
Long says if you have a happy thought your brain produces dopamine and endorphins and the resulting emotion is a reflection of the thought.
Similarly, if you get angry or frightened your brain produces epinephrine and adrenaline and that can result in an angry emotion.
“It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Long says. “It’s why your mother always said, ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Because we tend to create the things we expect in life—because of this neurological process.”
This is very much in play in sales, and in the trades, he says.
“We have certain expectations, like that customers just want a cheap price,” he says. “That they don’t want to hear about quality and service. Well, if you’re a service technician or a salesperson is this industry, and that’s your basic thought, what emotions are very naturally going to come from that thought?”
It’s a here-we-go-again situation, Long says.
“Will a tech go through a powerful, dynamic, value-based presentation to show why your company's better, to show why you're worth more?” he asks. “Of course not! Their thought and emotion is that nobody cares.”
This is the time and situation when everybody in the trades needs to “stop and think about what you think about before you think about it.”
Long says habitual thoughts are driving what you feel, what you do, and what you get.
“If you want temporary change in your life, you can focus on changing your actions,” he says. “The problem is eventually your actions will fall back into the old ways of thinking. So, if you want permanent change, focus on your thoughts.”
And prosperity should follow.
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