Why I Love What I Do and How I See The Future of VTI by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.

I’m now 70 years old, but, if I can, I plan to continue to do what I do for at least another 25 to 30 years. Warren Buffet is still running Berkshire Hathaway at 86 and his partner, Charlie Munger is still effective and 92. So I plan to do the same.
Effective this year I am required to take social security income and a minimum retirement distribution, but I do so reluctantly. Why? Because I absolutely love what I do. It’s my passion. Furthermore, I have a great staff who likes to do the things that I no longer want to do, so I basically spend my days working on raising my consciousness, being creative, and doing as much as I can to help people. I love to travel, so I try to take at least four trips each year. It’s an incredible life. I just finished doing three days of our Mental Strategies of Great Traders Workshop, and had numerous people tell me they’d gotten huge paradigm shifts and about how much I was impacting their lives. So, what’s not to love?

Earlier this year I did a life history review — for a second time. This is one of the exercises Super Trader students must complete. Perhaps in a few months, when I feel that project is totally complete for me, I’ll write an article about it. However, I’d like to tell you a little bit about it now. During such a life history exercise, you basically write down as many memories as you can think of for each year of your life. And if you organize yourself well, you can probably get at least 10-20 memories for each year. When I did this task, I divided my life into 8 sections as follows:

  • The early years and Japan (ages 1 through 6). I lived in Japan for three years between 1948 and 1951.
  • My years in England. I lived in England for 10 years and at one time had a British accent.
  • High school, college and the US Army Years.
  • Graduate school and my early research years.
  • Forming my business up until I married my present wife, Kala.
  • My early years with Kala until I went through a lawsuit because one of my clients was a super con artist.
  • The period up until I became a Oneness Blessing giver.
  • And the years up to the present, my awakening years.

The life history I’ve produced so far is well over 100 pages and is full of interesting pictures. What was insightful was the fourth period listed above — graduate school and my early research period. I now call this my dead period. My happiness score was about zero during that time and it’s usually over 80 now (the range is -55 to +85).

What’s surprising is that when I recalled all of the events that happened during my dead period, there were no huge negative events except for some trading losses. But somehow the period just seemed dead compared with the later years. I think the reasons were because 1) I didn’t believe in God; 2) I didn’t have any purpose in life; 3) I hated my early research work (it didn’t stimulate me at all); 4) I wasn’t working on myself and constantly growing; 5) I rebelled against behaviorism and what the field of psychology was doing to become a science and 6) life didn’t have much meaning for me. As I recalled my memories from those years, some of that feeling of purposeless came back and I wondered why? Again, no significant negative events that I can remember happened during that period.

I now think that the main reason was that I wasn’t growing and I hadn’t found my purpose in life. One of my favorite models for my life, and I’d like to think that I’m at least a little like him, is Joseph Campbell. One of Campbell’s favorite sayings is that your purpose in life is to follow your bliss. I hadn’t found my bliss and I wasn’t following it.

I chose to study psychology because I wanted to model success. But psychology at that time was about behaviorism, which treated a human being like a black box. You didn’t pay any attention to what went on inside the box because that was too subjective. Psychology, it seemed, wanted to be a science and only study the objective. As a result, psychologists measured how to stimulate an organism (human, rat, or cat) and provide reinforcement (positive or negative) and then measured the subsequent behavior. To me all of that just missed the point. For one thing, they didn’t realize that the mere fact of observing their subjects amounted to the subjectivity they want to avoid. But more importantly, I wanted to know what people did to become really successful and really happy, and that involved looking inside the black box. But in those days, success and happiness were not even suitable subjects for study.

Approximately 35 years ago, however, I discovered a lot of things in a very short period of time. I didn’t believe in God as the deity in the sky who passed judgment over humans for their sins. But then it dawned on me that that was just a metaphor put out by some elements of religion. I didn’t have to accept that, but I could select my own metaphor. So, I started to see God as the energy of the universe and I started to see and that energy could be used and channeled by human beings. If your thoughts were negative, then you produced negativity in your life. But if you understood the power of thoughts, you could produce a life of total magnificence.

I lost money several times in the market, and I started to realize that the problem was probably me and thus there was probably something I could do about it. Some people made money in the markets so why couldn’t I and why couldn’t I help others do the same thing.

Around the same time, I also discovered NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) which was touted as the science of modeling. I suddenly had something that I could use to study how successful investors became successful and start to use it myself.

In taking NLP courses, I discovered all sorts of things that I could do to improve my life and help others improve their lives. Suddenly, I had a number of passions:

  • Figuring out how to model successful people.
  • Improving myself.
  • Teaching others how to improve themselves.
  • And developing a business where I didn’t work for the government doing research. One where I didn’t have to answer to the status quo about the direction I wanted to move in. I absolutely loved having my own business and working for myself to help others.

In the process of developing my business, there were many times during the early growth years when if it was going to get done, I was the one who had to do it. There were a period of years when I was somewhat burnt out. But that hasn’t happened for a long time. As all of you know, I have a great staff. I’ve found people who love to do the things that I don’t want to do and who revel in hearing about the transformations we help produce in people’s lives as much as I do. As a result, I get to do all the things I love to do. I own the business so no one can force me out. So why would I ever consider retiring as long as I’m healthy and effective? My plan is to work perhaps 20 or 30 more years and help as many people as I can to change their lives.


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