Winners don’t blame fate for their failures, nor luck for their success. Winners accept responsibility for their lives.
The orchestra conductor was new to the area, and he was puzzled by the local culture. He was told that his performers would get there when they get there. And indeed, that was the case. Night after night, his performers straggled in late — except one old violinist who was there every night, tuned up, and ready to go at the appointed hour.
On the night of the dress rehearsal, the old violinist was the only one there, ready and on time. The conductor said, “I want you to know how much I appreciate you being here.”
The old man replied, “Well, I thought it was THE LEAST I COULD DO seeing I can’t be here for the concert.”
In a similar sense, I find that almost everyone wants to be happier and more successful. But if they’re really honest, they also want to know THE LEAST THEY COULD DO to be happier and more successful. After all, they don’t want to work at it if they don’t have to.
Here’s what I would say to those people. If you really, really, REALLY want to master the roadmap to success, you need to come to my two-day program, “The Journey to The Extraordinary.” But if you just want to know THE LEAST YOU COULD DO, I would say…
=> 1. THINK
Successful people are thinkers. They actually take time to just THINK.
Yet I would wager that very few people set time aside to do nothing but THINK. They’re too busy being “productive.” And as a result, they never give their brains a chance to give them the awesome ideas they need.
What about you? Do you take time to THINK? Is it a part of your life and daily routine on and off the job?
For example, one time years ago in Massachusetts, a man injured himself in a factory at the age of 38. He could not walk so he was given the job of taking smudges off documents. With a piece of rubber in his hands he rubbed over the pages to remove marks. Then he got to thinking. He thought of putting a little rubber tip on the end of a pencil. And so the pencil eraser was invented.
Another example. In Pleasantville, New York, DeWitt and Lila Wallace loved to read magazines but they didn’t have much money. One day, the man began thinking to himself, “It’s a pity that we have to read so many magazines and go through a lot of inferior articles to find a few good ones.”
When he shared his thought with his wife, she got to thinking, “Why not take the best articles out of all these magazines and digest them into one magazine?” That was the beginning of “Reader’s Digest,” a magazine with one of the largest circulations in the world today.
Think, think, THINK. It’s one of the greatest gifts you were ever given — the ability to think. So use it more often, and then… once you’re spending more time thinking in general … do this …
=> 2. THINK RATIONALLY
In other words, when you’re emotional, when you’re agitated, nervous, fearful, or upset, stupid things look good. You’ve got to learn to control your emotions so they don’t control you.
Think RATIONALLY. Lay out all the facts the way a carpenter lays out his/her material before starting a project. Assemble the pros and cons. Write them out on a piece of paper so you can see them. Weigh one against the other until you arrive at a tentative answer.
It was the approach that turned Charles F. Kettering into one of the great success stories of his era. For many years he was the chief research scientist for General Motors, and many would argue that it was Kettering who turned GM into one of the biggest and best companies in the world. It was Kettering who first developed the self-starter for automobiles.
One day at a meeting someone asked Kettering about his thinking process and how he made decisions. Kettering replied, “The method for making decisions is very simple. Start by thinking quietly in an atmosphere of peace. Decisions can get blown out of proportion to their actual size.”
He continued, “So just lay the decision on the table, so to speak, and cut away all the extraneous factors, because you never get solutions thinking emotionally. When you cut away at the decision, there remains a center. Get rid of all the other stuff and deal with the center. You will usually find that the decision is not as difficult or complicated as you imagined it to be.”
Do you make decisions like Kettering? Do you think RATIONALLY? Or do you worry, fret, and squirm … making decisions that are more emotional than rational?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have feelings, and I’m not saying you should disregard your feelings. You should always consider your feelings. You just can’t let them have a veto over what you need to do … because the third secret of successful thinking is to …
=> 3. THINK CREATIVELY
In fact, the very definition of creativity is looking at the same thing as everybody else and seeing what no one else has noticed. Could that be said of you?
Can you look at a rundown house and see the workings of a mansion? Many people have made their fortunes doing exactly that.
Can you look at a group of semi-motivated individuals and see the ingredients of a powerful team? Great leaders always can.
That’s why Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity.”
I remember one dog who had mastered the art of THINKING CREATIVELY. He was on safari with his humans. One afternoon, he started chasing after a butterfly near the camp and suddenly found himself deep within the wilderness.
He saw a leopard approaching him from the grass. “Oh boy, guess I’m gonna have to show this cat who’s boss,” thought the dog as he plopped down next to a pile of bones. He reached for the largest bone and began to chew on it.
The leopard hid in the tall grass and waited for just the right moment to pounce on the canine. The dog continued chewing on the bone as the leopard slowly inched closer.
When the dog heard the movement of the grass, he said loudly, “Mmm, mmm. That was one tasty leopard. I think I’ll eat another one.”
The leopard froze in his tracks. He figured he was no match for this vicious dog and retreated to safety.
But there was a monkey seated in a nearby tree. He’d seen everything and decided to tell the leopard what really happened, hoping to create an alliance.
The dog knew that something was amiss when he saw the monkey chasing after the leopard. But the clever dog knew that he had to stay calm and keep his wits about him to outsmart both the leopard and the mischievous monkey.
When the monkey informed the leopard of what had happened, the leopard grew angry. “No one makes a fool of me,” the leopard growled. “Come, my little friend! Let’s show that dog who’s running things around here.”
The leopard ran back through the tall grass with the monkey on his back. “Here comes trouble,” the dog thought to himself as he relaxed and chewed on the bones.
He knew the leopard’s wrath would be merciless. He could feel the big cat watching him from the grass. From the corner of his eye, he could see the monkey scampering toward a nearby tree. This was the moment to make his move.
“What has that monkey done with my dinner?” howled the dog. “I sent him to fetch me another leopard a half hour ago and he’s still not back!”
Action: Find a quiet, peaceful place. Let yourself relax. And then take 10 minutes a day to just think.
Don’t force your mind in any particular direction. Just think, and with practice, you’ll get amazing insights. So have your paper and pencil ready.