How to use your self-talk to your advantage

 

We ask ourselves questions every day, and our brain always answers. Sometimes it’s consciously and sometimes it’s unconsciously, but it always answers. Are you asking the right questions and getting the right answers?

Have you ever asked yourself questions like these?

“Why does this always happen to me?”

“Why am I so stupid?”

If you realize how your emotions are controlling you, and stop to think logically, you know that nothing always happens to you and you aren’t stupid. You’re smart. But, if you ask yourself these questions, your brain will make up an answer. Do you really want to hear it?

So, you need to start with better questions like:

“What is my purpose?”

“What are my passions?”

“How can I start my own business?”

“What do people tell me I’m really good at?”

“What do I do when time seems to fly?”

“What can I do to serve people that will cause them to line up to give me their money?”

“What can I do to make a difference?”

“How can I have more freedom in my life?”

What are some questions you need to stop asking yourself? Write them down and then burn them.

What are some questions you need to start asking yourself? Write them down on post-it notes and put them on your mirror. Write them done on index cards and put them in your wallet. Read them every day and work on the answers.

When you ask yourself a question that really matters to you, here are three answers you should never give yourself:

1) “I don’t know.” The correct answer is, “I don’t know…yet, but I know how to find out.” Think about all the things in your business and life you didn’t use to know how to do. Not too long ago I had no idea how to write and publish a book, or how to create a blog, or how to simultaneously post on 3 social media sites, or create an automated email campaign. But, I learned how and you can learn anything you need to know.

It’s never been easier to find out how to do something. Type in “how to _____” into Google or YouTube and you have incredible information at your fingertips. From blogs, books, online courses, videos, podcasts, ebooks, and more, there is a way to find your answers.

2) “I can’t.” The correct answer is “I can figure out how to do it,” or “I can get someone else to do that for me,” or “I can do something similar instead.”

What good has “can’t” ever brought you?

3) “I don’t care.” You do care, or you wouldn’t consistently be asking yourself the same question. So why are you using that as your answer when you don’t mean it? Is it fear? Is it a belief that you can’t do it, so acting like you don’t care makes that easier to swallow? You need to figure that out so you can get to the answer you want.

Action Steps:

  1. Start asking yourself questions that will get you what you want. Write them down. Ask yourself these questions every day.
  2. When you get an answer that resonates with you, take action immediately.
  3. Don’t accept the answers: I don’t know. I can’t. I don’t care.

Let’s GO!

Are you searching for your Passionate Purpose? Start with my free gift, 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

Go Big or Go Home is Terrible Advice

(And a new episode of my podcast is up!)

big

Sometimes we aim too high, too fast, and then should all over ourselves. You start saying to yourself, I should have gotten more done. I should have been smarter. I should have achieved my goal already. I shouldn’t have eaten that entire pizza and pint of ice cream by myself. (Wait, is that just me?)

A new episode of my podcast is up. Please subscribe, rate it, and share with friends. I have a free gift for everyone who does. Just email me for it. BIG THANKS!

Two things happened to me this week to remind me how destructive all that is. (Except for the don’t eat a whole pizza thing. I should really stop doing that.)

First, I heard an interview where a world class, female athlete was asked how she accomplished so much. Her reply was awesome.

“I didn’t really have lofty goals when I started. I just wanted to get good enough and make enough money to feed my dog. Once I did that, I set higher goals. Now I set goals I couldn’t have dreamed of before.”

Yes! She created a goal, achieved it, and then created momentum. She has so much confidence now that her goals are enormous.

She didn’t live by the t-shirt slogan, “Go Big or Go Home.” She went small, won, went bigger, won, and now she goes LARGE!

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.
–Michael Korda

Don’t get me wrong. Setting big goals is an awesome thing to do. Just don’t let the size of them paralyze you from taking action. Don’t become discouraged because you didn’t change the world in a day.

Instead, take your big goal and break it down. Create smaller goals to get there and action plans for the next day, week, month, six months, year, and five years. Take action every day and watch your small steps turn into something BIG. But get started today!

The second thing that happened to me was a new friend of mine spoke eloquently to me about Grace. He reminded me that we are all flawed. No matter how much we try, we make mistakes. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

It’s ok.

Give yourself some Grace.

Give your friends and family some Grace.

Take a breath.

If you’ve had a tough time or two, budget some time for a pity party if necessary (not for long, though).

Regroup.

Then, GO!

Question for comments: What small goal led to something you didn’t think you could accomplish?

Are you searching for your Passionate Purpose? Start with my free gift, 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

STOP Trying to Please Everyone

superserve your raving fans instead

eggshells

We all know trying to please everyone is impossible, so why do we feel like failures when some people don’t like what we do? Why do we compromise on what we know would be our best work, in order to try to please a few more people? Why do we walk on eggshells trying to make sure we don’t say or do something “wrong”? Why are we so worried about what everyone else thinks? Why is it that even if 99% of the people we serve like what we do, we focus on the 1% who don’t?

I think it’s because we all want to be liked and we were raised to be polite. But being polite doesn’t mean you have to stop speaking the truth, giving your opinion, and displaying who you are. This used to be a huge struggle for me, and it still gets me when I don’t work on it.

When I give my presentations and seminars I want to keep the audience engaged and entertained. I want them in a state that allows them to easily pick up and use the ideas, takeaways, and action steps I’m giving them.

So I keep my eye on the reactions in the room. When I see people smiling, nodding, sitting up straight, reacting to what I’m saying, and responding to my questions I’m feeling good. But then I see someone looking at their phone – someone in the back just got up and left. My mind starts telling me stories:

“Greg, you’re blowing it. People are bored. They’re checking their email. That one person thinks you’re so bad that he got up and left! Why did you ever think you were a good speaker? You should give this up!” (That’s some real good self talk, isn’t it? I was killing my energy with my own thoughts.)

Even if I got a great response at the end of my talk and multiple people came up afterwards and told me how much they enjoyed it, I would still be thinking about the person who looked at their phone and the one who left.

Worrying about pleasing everyone in the room made me question everything I was doing and was hurting my ability to be a great speaker.

A friend helped me. He said, “Greg, no matter where you speak and no matter how great a speaker you are, you are never going to reach everyone. And you have to make peace with that. If you connect with 80% of the audience and help them get the outcome they were looking for, then you’ve done your job well.”

I also realized that if I tried to please everyone I would have to change my style, my personality, and maybe even my message. I would end up with a watered down, vanilla, luke warm thing that no one would really like anyway. So why not do what I love to do, in my style, and please my ideal audience and myself?

Then I had an epiphany at one of my events. During my hour long presentation there was a guy near the front who had a harsh look on his face. He often had his arms folded across his chest. At times he would pick up his phone and it looked like he was texting or checking his emails. I thought the guy hated my talk and I had to quit looking at him because he was freaking me out.

But after it was over he came up to me and told me how much he enjoyed my presentation. He even took notes on his phone for some of my points that he really liked. He couldn’t wait to try out some of my ideas in his business. Wait, WHAT?! That guy liked my talk? Maybe I should stop trying to read people’s minds and just do the best presentation I can do. That’s all I can do. Then it’s up to the audience to decide how they respond.

And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I still let the people who don’t like my stuff get me down a little. But, I focus on the people who do like it and I keep finding better ways to serve them.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s time to STOP trying to please everyone. It’s time to try something different. Let’s figure out who we care the most about, who shares our values and give them our very best. Let’s get loyal, evangelical customers for life instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator who will drop us if the wind blows funny.

I’d rather have a smaller group of raving fans that I don’t have to constantly chase for repeat business, wouldn’t you?

Raving fans are special. They:

  • Feel like they’re part of your family
  • Tell everyone about you
  • Stick with you
  • Buy from you even when you’re not having a sale
  • Never go anywhere else

I’ve found that developing raving fans makes it easier to really enjoy what you do and increase your profits than trying to be all things to all people. It also comes with some extra bonuses. You get to love what you do and that leads to doing your best work. The hope is that you become so good at your work that to your raving fans, and to yourself, your work becomes art.

Questions for comments: How do you decide whom to please? How has narrowing your focus helped you?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Do You Have the Perfect Idea?

It means nothing, unless...

lightbulb

Have you ever had the perfect idea? What did you do with it? Did it change the world? Did it make you super successful in every meaning of the word? Or, did something else happen?

Last night I had a dream. I came up with a perfect idea. I have a strategy to save these ideas. I keep my phone right next to my bed. When I have an idea in the middle of the night, I record it into my phone. The problem is that when I listen to it in the morning it often sounds like, “Don’t forget to oxenfrter the blktmite and grnxl prkngrp.”

Awesome.

This time it was even worse. I couldn’t wake myself up enough to make the audio note. Instead, I told myself in my dream/wake state to remember this perfect idea…

And I forgot it.
So I can’t act on it.
So it wasn’t a perfect idea.

What perfect ideas have you gotten that you’ve never acted on? No matter how great they were, they are worth precisely nothing because you didn’t act on them.

It’s not too late. If you had a perfect idea – act on it today. The next time you have a perfect idea, or even just a good one:

  1. Write it down (legibly) so you remember it.
  2. Brainstorm ways to implement it and break your ultimate goal down into achievable mini-goals.
  3. Take some form of action – no matter how small – right away!
  4. Take consistent, daily action every day. Make it a ritual.
  5. Don’t stop until your idea is realized.

That’s the only time ideas actually count.

Now excuse me while I try to translate my midnight brilliance from my smart phone. (This isn’t going to end well.)

“Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

Questions for comments: What great idea have you not acted on that you could start acting on today?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

 

If You’re About to Give Up, Read THIS First!

A young looking pensive while covering his mouth with a clenched hand

You’ve been working really hard and you’re frustrated. All the big ideas, extra hours, sacrifices, and effort you’ve put in have gotten you…what?

Exactly Jack Squat!

Maybe.

But what if you’re this close to a breakthrough? What if that last little bit of work will put you on a path to something that could really change your life?

My first job in talk radio way back in the 90s was not as a talk show host. I was working for minimum wage doing all the grunt work and overnight shifts. I even had to buy time to get a chance to be on the air. Fairly quickly they were “kind” enough to let me provide a show for the station for free, but I still wasn’t getting paid.

YES! I always wanted to work for free! Ok, maybe not. I wasn’t exactly reaching my radio dreams…yet.

Even though my wife’s job and my part time job as a mental health counselor were earning enough to support us, I felt like I was letting her down. I told her I was about to quit the radio dream and get a full time counseling job.

She convinced me to stay at it at least until the end of the year. (She’s awesome.) She said, “Hey, you’re actually pretty good at this.” (Yeah, she’s funny, too.)

About a month later I was offered a full time job as a talk show host on the number one station in town. That was the start of my 21 year career as a radio talk show host including national syndication and stints in Dallas, Kansas City, and Jacksonville. What if I’d given up one month before my big break?

I was reminded of this while I was watching The Voice with my daughter. One of the contestants is married with children. He’s a teacher and sings on the side. He’s been doing it for over a decade without much success. He told his brother he was about to give up on the idea of a singing career – and then he got a spot on The Voice.

What if you’re that close?

Before you give up, do a double check:

1) Remember why you want this. Is that why still strong for you? Why are you working this hard? Why are you doing what other people aren’t willing to do? Isn’t is because then you will get to do what other people aren’t able to do?

2) Review the progress you’ve made so far. You might be surprised at what you’ve already accomplished.

3) Review your plan. What parts are working? What parts aren’t working? What could you change to get better results?

4) Imagine what your life would be like if this started turning around for you? What would change? How would that impact you, and those around you? How would it make you feel?

5) Give yourself some grace. Maybe you just need to slow down and take a bit more time on this. Maybe you’re burning yourself out and expecting too much too soon. Go for smaller successes and then build to bigger things. You’re human, and that’s ok.

6) Email me before you give up and see if I can help you! greg@gregorybknapp.com

“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.”
– T.F. Hodge

Question for comment: How do you keep going when you feel like giving up?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Let’s GO!

It’s Either Heck Yeah! or No

excited

I was invited to attend an event, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. It would have been fun, the people involved were nice, and it might even have led to some business opportunities.

But, I had a speech I needed to finish writing on the same day and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it done if I said yes to the invitation.

Still, I felt bad about saying no. Do you ever feel like that?

I like what Derek Sivers says, “It’s either HECK YEAH! Or No.”

This event wasn’t a HECK YEAH! so I politely declined. I got my speech done and felt great.

We are all busy and we can’t do everything. We have to make decisions all day long on what we allow to take up our precious time.

This is a way to reclaim some of that time. When an opportunity comes along, give it the “HECK YEAH! Or No” test. If you’re not excited about the idea, don’t do it.

Simple.

Liberating.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
–Steve Jobs

This leaves you more time to do what matters most. And that’s key. I’m not talking about saying no as a reflex, or because you’re feeling lazy, or you just want to binge watch Limitless on Netflix (I’m not doing that. Who told you I was doing that?). I’m talking about being strategic about what you say yes to.

There are countless opportunities for you in the world. If you spend your time on the ones that are just good, you won’t have time for the truly great ones that feed your Passionate Purpose.

I am using this test to plan my calendar, business appointments, and even my leisure time. Why spend your life doing things that aren’t HECK YEAHs?

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Let’s GO!

 

You Can Supercharge Your Life – Without the Energy Drinks

energy-drinks

We all want to be energized and fired up to take on the day. So much so, that we may turn to coffee for a pick me up. For some, that’s not enough. Bring on the energy drinks!

But haven’t you had days when you felt invigorated without having to slam an espresso? What’s happening on those days?

I bet you’re doing something you’re passionate about and that you love.

When I was a kid it was really hard to get out of bed to go to school every day. I hit the snooze bar several times, fell back asleep, moaned and groaned, and finally, begrudgingly got up.

But at the age of ten I joined a bowling league. (Yes, I was one of those kids.) The league was every Saturday at 9am. I had to get up at the same time I got up for school in order to be at the bowling alley on time. And here’s the strange thing. Even though I stayed up later on Friday nights than I did on school nights, I never hit the snooze bar on Saturday mornings. Most of the time I didn’t even need my alarm. I would happily pop out of bed and get ready to go bowling.

I didn’t wake up tired, I woke up inspired.

What made the difference in my wake up attitude? I loved bowling. I looked forward to it. (Maybe my mom should have taken me to a counselor. Hey, what’s wrong with bowling?) My best friend was on my team and I didn’t want to let him down. I was excited to get up early and go bowling.

I didn’t hate school. I liked some of my classes and I enjoyed seeing my friends. But the school structure did not excite me and most of my classes bored the mess out of me. It was tough to get excited about.

As an adult, I’ve noticed the same phenomenon.

While I’m giving a presentation to a few hundred people or hosting a radio show, or playing a gig with my guitar I don’t feel tired. I feel supercharged. I’m hyped. (Even when my radio show was four hours long every week day, it didn’t wear me out. It actually took me a while to calm down once I was off the air.)

I’m passionate about those things and I love doing them.

When’s the last time this has happened to you? Isn’t it amazing that you can work harder and longer doing what you love – and still feel more energized and satisfied – than working shorter hours doing something you hate?

Yes, we all have to do things we don’t want to do. But, how often?

Is there a way you could do more of what you’re passionate about and less of what drains your energy? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Wouldn’t that help you and everyone who comes in contact with you?

Sure, Greg, and then I’ll ride a unicorn over a rainbow into a pot of gold.

happy-unicorn-rainbow

I know it sounds impossible, but what if? How about this for a start?

1) Figure out what you love and what you don’t. Make a list of everything you do each day, for a week. Highlight all the activities you enjoy in green. Highlight all the activities you don’t enjoy in red.

Which type of activities are you spending most of your time on? If they aren’t the green ones, look out.

2) Now start looking for ways to minimize the red and maximize the green. Are there people who like what you dislike? Could you delegate to them? Could you group the things you dislike and do most of them once a week? Could you talk to your boss about where you do your best and see if that could be where you focus your time? Remember, it will help the company bottom line, too.

3) If none of that works, do you need to change jobs or careers to do more of what you’re passionate about?

4) Is there a way you can reframe the work you have to do that doesn’t energize you? Can you see the purpose of your work and how it helps others? For example, if you’re an insurance salesman instead of seeing your job as “selling insurance,” could you see it as helping people find the best way to keep themselves and their families healthy and financially protected?

5) Do this exercise with your personal life as well.

Life is too short to spend most of your week doing things that suck the life force out of you.

The world needs your best work and that work is driven by your passions. Find them…and you can throw out the energy drinks.

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Let’s GO!

Your Money or Your Life – YES!

Why can't you have both?

set-of-american-dollar-bills-as-background

Did you hear about the depressed man who was mugged? A robber pulled a gun him and said, “Your money or your life!” The man hesitated so the thief said, “Didn’t you hear me? Your money or your life!” To which the depressed man replied, “I’m thinking it over!”

Regardless of the amount of money you make (or how depressed you are), your money is not worth more than your life.

Still, it doesn’t stink to have money, does it? Why can’t we have more money and more life? Why does it have to be one or the other?

It doesn’t.

I’ve been poor enough that my wife called me crying because she got a parking ticket. She wasn’t sure how we were going to pay it.

I’ve been rich enough to give money to a friend who needed a lawyer, provide meals to families going through hard times and to go on life-changing trips with my family.

Big insight coming…Being richer is better! You’re welcome.

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click herethey can get the free eBook.

Some people’s beliefs about money keep them from earning more. They think:

Limiting belief about money #1) Money is the root of all evil.

Sorry, the Bible says “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” and it’s talking about making money your idol.

So don’t do that.

Limiting belief about money #2) Only greedy people who exploit and cheat others make a lot of money.

Did Steve Jobs or Bill Gates do that to get rich? Did Michael Jordan do that to earn his money?  The vast majority of high income earners serve their way to tremendous wealth.

Zig Ziglar had it right when he said, “You can get everything you want in this world if you just help enough other people get what they want.” 

The only way to become truly successful is to serve your way to success. You create quality products or services that people want and they will line up and happily give you their hard earned money. If you try to exploit them, you won’t last long and you won’t become successful.

“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.”
–Henry Ford

Limiting belief about money #3) If I get rich it will change me.

Money simply makes you more of what you are. If you’re a nice person, money lets you be nicer. Imagine how much you can help people, families and charities with more money.

If you’re a jerk, you might become an even bigger jerk.

So don’t do that.

Limiting belief about money #4) I will have to become a workaholic and ignore my family to make a lot of money.

Some people take that route. It goes to point number one about keeping the love of money in perspective. If you don’t, you’re truly giving up your life for money.

Some people want it so bad it becomes the focus of their lives. They plan out their major in college based on what has the highest earning potential. They go for the job with the best pay. They put in long hours to get the promotion. They put in even more hours to become partner. They are earning a great paycheck and then they realize they’re miserable, divorced and they don’t even know their kids.

So don’t do that.

Is there another way? Yes!

Making money at something you love makes you rich and filled with joy. You don’t have to work at the exclusion of play and family time.

Action steps:

  • Find your Passionate Purpose
  • Create your goals – including monetary goals
  • Develop your plan to get there
  • Take actions on your plan every day
  • Pursue other passions that bring you and your family happiness

You might be surprised how much you end up making and how much you’re helping others while doing it.

“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”
–Julia Cameron

 Let’s GO!

How My Trumpet Can Keep You On Top

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In 5th grade I decided to join the elementary school band and play the trumpet. (Why the trumpet? They let us try all the instruments, but I couldn’t keep my cheeks from puffing out when I tried the trombone. Yup, that’s the kind of thought I put into my instrument of choice.)

In the first week of practice we had auditions. Out of 36 trumpets, I was 33rd chair. (Take that chair 34, 35, and 36!) Let’s just say I was not awesome at this.

All of that changed when our band director handed out the music. We were going to play the theme from Rocky! (Gonna Fly Now) This was in 1978. The movie had only come out two years earlier and I loved that song. And, the trumpets had an amazing part.

I took the sheet music home and started playing it. But I didn’t have the melody. I was playing boring low notes the whole time. I didn’t understand why. (I’ll explain in a minute.) I really didn’t sound very good. It was painful to listen to me.

My mom saw me struggling and got me private lessons. I had a really cool teacher who said my embouchure – the way my mouth was on the trumpet – was all wrong. He showed me what to do and sent me home.

I worked my butt off and the next week my teacher was stunned. He said my embouchure was now “super good” and we could start really learning how to play.

I practiced hard.

Three months later my band had auditions again. This time I jumped from 33rd chair to 3rd chair. I even beat out all but two of the 6th graders who had been playing a year longer than I had. Wow! All the hard practicing was really paying off.

Then, my director asked me to hand in all my music. I didn’t know what was happening. Had I done something wrong? Was I in trouble? Nope, she just wanted to give me the 1st part for every song. I didn’t understand. What did 1st part mean?

I was so new to music that I didn’t realize there were different parts depending on how good you were. The best players played 1st part melody. I had been playing 3rd part harmony. Now I was getting the 1st part for all our songs – and that included the first part to ROCKY!

I rode my bike home as fast as I could and started playing that song, imagining I was running up the steps in Philly. I was playing the melody. I sounded like the theme song! (Well, kinda. I sounded like the simplified 5th grade version of the song, but I was playing the MELODY!)

From there I fell in love with the trumpet and ramped up my practicing. In junior high I was in two bands, practiced in the marching band after school and spent at least another hour practicing at home each day.

In 8th grade I auditioned for the all county band and made 1st chair. That meant I was the best junior high trumpet player in all of Orange County, Florida (Orlando). I thought that was pretty cool.

In fact, I got a little cocky. I let my practice schedule slip. I didn’t work as hard on new songs. I didn’t ask my private teacher to push me as hard.

The next year, as a 9th grader I auditioned for the all county band again – and only made third chair. An 8th grader was second chair! How did I let this happen?

I realized that I had become complacent with my trumpet. I wasn’t looking for new songs and new challenges. I was resting on my accomplishments. While I was doing that, other people were working hard to get better. And they passed me by.

How many of us have done that in some part of our life or work?

Sometimes it’s because we get bored or tired. Other times it’s because we aren’t paying attention to the changes in our business or life. Still other times we aren’t looking for the ways to innovate and change to reach a new level of success.

If we want to fix that, we have to keep looking for the next Rocky Theme Song that gets us excited. That’s what helps drive us to put in the hard work it takes to become the best version of ourselves we can.

Question for comment:

What’s your next Rocky? What’s gonna make you fly now?

(If this post resonated with you, please share it, and my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding and Pursuing Your Purpose, with a friend.)

Daydream Your Way To Success

laziest-man-ever

Being called lazy is one of the worst things you can call an American. We take great pride in being busy and working hard. I mean, we’re not Austria!

But, what if working really hard looks like you’re being lazy? Isn’t that what happens when you’re thinking and daydreaming? And isn’t that where we make the biggest advances in everything we do?

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”
– Henry Ford

(That’s exactly what I tried to tell my 10th grade trigonometry teacher. “I’m not goofing off and being lazy, Mr. Leaf, I’m thinking big, deep thoughts!” For some reason, he didn’t believe me. If only I’d had the Ford quote back then.)

Henry Ford told his engineers that they should spend time everyday just thinking. He knew that was how they would come up with improvements for the factory line and new models of cars. Busy work wouldn’t do it.

Everything humankind has ever made began with a thought. Everything that ever will be made, innovated, or invented will begin with a thought. There’s no other possible way to begin anything. Think about it. (Even that requires a thought.)

Einstein published his five most famous papers while working as a junior patent clerk in a Swiss patent office. He said he had more time to think at that job, than he did once he became a science professor working at a University.

We need to schedule time to think, brainstorm, let our minds wander, and daydream. It is virtually impossible to be at your creative best in 5 to 10-minute increments. You can’t invent the next best thing when you let your email, text messages, and meetings (oh, the meetings, make them stop!) constantly interrupt your flow.

(Yes, that meetings comment is aimed at you, Mr. Everyone needs to come to my 2-hour bore-a-thon so I can hear myself speak and show how important I am Guy.)

There are two types of thinking I’m referring to here.

  1. Thinking about a problem, obstacle, or goal. You focus on the issue at hand at the expense of everything else. You look at it from every angle, research it, learn about it, and brainstorm new ideas.
  2. Letting your mind wander. You don’t have an agenda here. You have blocked off some time – one to two hours – to just let your mind lead you where it wants to go. This is usually the time that all the things you’ve been thinking about, but putting off, work their way back to the front of your mind. The cool thing is, quite often new ideas start popping into your head. (It used to happen for me when I was jogging. But, I hate jogging, so I stopped that. Now it usually happens when I’m sitting on the beach or taking a shower.)

Remember, thinking doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It means you’re doing some of the hardest and best work there is.

Action steps: 

1) Block out one or two hours to think. Don’t allow any interruptions. Most of us can’t do this everyday, so pick one to three days a week to do it. It helps if you let others know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, so they don’t think you’re just goofing off.

Oh, and if you can’t stand just sitting and thinking, you can do any repetitive, physical activity that doesn’t take much of your conscious brain power to do. I’m talking about things like walking, jogging, swimming, cleaning the dishes (your spouse will appreciate it!), gardening, mowing the grass, etc. That type of activity might even spur your thoughts on.

2) Write down every thought that comes to you that could be useful.

3) Take your best ideas and spend some time thinking about how to put them into practice.

4) Take action on the new idea right away. Don’t let the idea fade.

Questions for comment: How do you find time to think? What benefits come from it?

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

(If this post resonated with you, share it with a friend and check out my book, GO! How to Find and Pursue Your Passionate Purpose, available in paperback and audiobook.)