If you would prefer to listen to a live talk that gives some of the highlights in the article you can listen here instead.
They dreamed of buying a little motel in the south. It would make enough money so they wouldn’t have to live only on social security. They’d spend their days working on the place and preparing it for happy guests who would come to visit. Family could come too.
It never happened.
Something always got in the way. The basement flooded. Mom needed help. Papaw got sick.
When I was little I’d ask Grandma about the motel, but she would get upset. Sometimes she would cry. I stopped asking.
My Grandparents died poor.
Lessons From A Millionaire
I know of a wealthy person who runs multiple businesses, sits on the board of numerous charities, golfs and and travels frequently. Yet he always seems to have time for the things that matter.
One day someone asked him how he gets so much done.
He explained that most people spend all day working but only spend a tiny amount of time thinking. He explained that the key to success is THINKING. He said: “To succeed you’ve got to spend MORE time thinking than you do working”!
I didn’t know how to think most of my life. I struggled just like my Grandparents.
I didn't know the formula. Know the formula and you can become a powerful thinker.
I’m going to teach you how.
What is thinking?
You have flashes of thought about the world around you. You smell food and you think of eating. You hear music and you think of a vacation. These images flash into your mind all the time. But those images in your head are NOT thinking. I don’t know what you might call them. Maybe “mind pictures”, or “mind words” or whatever. But that mind stuff is not the same thing as actual “thinking”.
Real thinking is more like what happens during a game of chess. In chess on each turn you are given an opportunity to consider your choices. You look at all the possibilities and choose the best one. Discovering many possibilities and choosing the best is real thinking.
Sadly our entire education is dead set against thinking. Our system is designed to make you follow rules. Stay in the lines. Fill in the blanks.
But the key to success is not inside the lines. Success is outside. Thinking is creating.
Playing chess is also a good example of how to get results in life.
When you start to lose at chess what happens? YOU HAVE NO MORE MOVES. You’ve LOST your possibilities. When you lose your possibilities you die.
So thinking is discovering possibilities. Death is having NO possibilities.
Imagine chess (life) being played by someone who doesn’t know how to think.
Without thinking you're stuck with only one or two moves. With only a few choices almost anything you do is a mistake. People make terrible mistakes when they don’t know they have other options.
Limited choices limit your success. Limited choices set you up to fail.
Thinking is the key. You can’t work hard enough to make up for poor thinking. Working harder without quality thinking is like trying to win a game of chess by moving your pieces faster or slamming them around with force. Working harder is probably the worst thing you could do, because every time you try harder you have less energy for real thinking.
Every action you take without focused thinking digs you deeper and deeper into a hole.
How Does A Master Play?
Now imagine the opposite chess (life) game. This time it’s being played by a Grand Master. What does he do? He WAIT’S. He FOCUSES. He looks around the board for all the possibilities. The more he can come up with the greater his chances of winning.
That’s the difference between the novice and the Master. The Master can see many possibilities. The novice sees only a few.
The Master knows how to think. The novice does not.
How To Think
This method is stolen; I totally ripped it off from James Altucher. (It’s OK; he probably stole it from somewhere too). This method might be the most important lesson you ever learn. For more details you should buy Claudia and James Book “The Idea Machine”. (It’s only costs 99 cents but it's worth millions.)
Here’s my take.
Pick something you want to improve. (You can use just about anything; but I like to start with something I’m working on at the time).
Your area of desired improvement could be how to reduce your heating bill. It could be how to lose ten pounds. It could be how to save more money. It doesn’t matter.
… Drum roll please!
Then you take a pad of paper and write down 10 ideas how to solve your problem.
Viola… that’s it!
I know what you are thinking. There has to be more.
You think there needs to be more because you have believe that coming up with ideas is easy. NOTHING FURTHER COULD BE FROM THE TRUTH. Writing down ten ideas sounds easy, but it only your first few ideas are easy. Writing down all ten ideas daily might be some of the hardest work you ever do.
Idea creation is like doing a plank position in Pilates. Easy at first... but after 30 seconds… it starts to get tough! When searching for ideas starts to get tough you are stretch your brain power. You are developing your creativity. Writing ten ideas forces you to get your mind in shape.
Why it works.
Very few people ever take the time to get beyond the first 2 or 3 ideas before they stop. Most people live their entire lives and rarely get past idea 2 or 3 ideas on any subject.
It’s the later ideas; the ones you have to work for, that requires real thinking. It’s in those later ideas (usually anywhere between 6 - 10) that you unleash your inner genie.
Altucher puts it this way:
“Everybody says ideas are a dime a dozen; I say ideas are a dime for about THREE.
After that ideas start to get EXPENSIVE”.
The first two or three ideas you come up with are easy; they usually don’t have much value.
After your first 3 ideas you’ve got a problem. You're staring at a blank sheet of paper that needs 7 more ideas. Your mind starts to wander.
You keep concentrating. Every time your mind drifts away you bring it back to that damn blank sheet of paper. A few minutes goes by and POP; out come another idea!
6 more to go. You start to sweat.
You think of reasons to quit. You begin to make excuses. You think: “I'm too busy for this right now. I can come back and do it later. This is stupid”.
But if you stay focused over the next 20 to 30 minutes you will gradually come up with idea after idea.
Usually between idea five and ten smagic happens. Between ideas 5 and 10 you enter into a different level of thinking! You enter the place where the super successful spend most of their time. The place where all of your power lies.
Between your stupid, impractical and boring ideas you will find ideas that are …POWERFUL! These are the thoughts that will change your life.
You will always know when you’ve come up with a good idea. Good ideas cause you to be instantly motivated! They make you think:” WOW - Why didn’t I think of that before! I’ve got to try it”!
You will be shocked at how many great ideas you come up with. With practice every area of your life will improve; from health, to finances, to even your relationships. All because of this simple exercise.
Your genie will be loose. You will be a creator.
“The opposite of war is not peace; It’s creation”. - Jonathan Larson
Two Important Notes:
Break Big Ideas Down
Sometimes you come with an idea that’s good but it’s too big. Writing my first book: “Break The Chain!” was like that. I knew I HAD to write it; but I had no idea how.
If your idea seems too big to implement it only means you haven’t broken it down enough. After I decided to write a book the new question I used to generate ideas became: “How do I PUBLISH a book”?
For a big project you might have to repeat the process several times and drill deeper and deeper. Eventually you will hit a good idea that you can take action toward NOW. When you come up with an idea that motivates you AND you know what to do you’ve hit gold.
When I asked myself how to write a book a few good ideas came up. One idea was to take an online publishing course (I started one the same day). Another was to develop the daily habit of writing a blog (I started THIS blog that day too). Now I'm over a hundred pages in.
There were dozens of other ideas that needed to be created in order for me to finish the project. Questions like: “How do I organize it?” “What are the best tools to store it?” “What are the best subjects to write about?”
Taking each of these questions one at a time and using them as part of my daily idea creation practice is how I got through it. Now not only do I have a book published. I KNOW how to do it again; and I will be easier. My second book will be released in early 2016.
Asking questions and creating ideas made my books possible.
Write ten ideas. One or two of them will demand your attention because they’re good. Work on those and you will move forward. If one of the ideas motivates you but you don’t know how to do it use the place you are stuck as a starting point for a new set of ten ideas. Eventually you will come up with an idea that gets you moving.
Keep asking questions and creating ideas until you become healthy, wealthy and wise. Then keep doing it for the rest of your life.
You will start making progress toward your goals within ONE week. Try it and you’ll see.
2. Practice EVERY Day
Lastly (and important) you must do this exercise DAILY. Some days you won’t have anything you are working on. Those are great days to come up with ideas for others. I’ve vastly improved taxi services, book stores, law practices and even coffee cups; all in my head. I write my ten ideas because it sharpens up my mind.
Every time you write ten ideas you are training your genie to respond to your voice. If you contact her daily she will come to you quicker. It doesn’t matter if the ideas help you directly. Just write ten ideas every day no matter what.
Creating ideas is thinking. Do it often. You never know when you’ll need it.
Sometimes when I drive at night I see those little motels and think of my Grandparents.
I wonder if they live in a little motel in heaven. A place where all the Grand Kids and Great Grand Kids can some day visit.
Maybe one day I’ll get to see them again. I’ll pretend to be a guest checking in. They'll be surprised and there will be hugs and lots of laughs.
I'll sit down with them and my pad of paper.
I bet I can come up with some ideas to make the place even better!