“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.”
Donald Trump, entrepreneur
Just imagine if a genie were to suddenly appear before you and hand you a magic wand. He says, “Anything in life can be yours for the asking.”
How would you respond? If you were a skeptic, you might reply, “This can’t be happening. There aren’t any genies and magic isn’t real. A wand wouldn’t work.” If you were a procrastinator, you might hesitate and say, “I don’t know. Give me some time to think about it.” If you were a generalist, you might say, “I’d like to be happy. I’d like a lot of money. And I’d like a nice position.”
Or would you be a focused, on-fire, go-getting individual? Would you look the genie in the eye … with all confidence and conviction … and describe exactly what you really, Really, REALLY want from your work, your life, and your relationships?
Dr. Bill E. Thomas, a pilot, a flight instructor for the U. S. Air Force, and top salesperson for Combined Insurance, used to say, “That’s the question. Now the proposition. If you really can answer the question, you can have anything you want, because life is the magic wand, waving over you daily, saying, ‘Anything in life is yours for the asking.’ But you have to know what you want. If you know what you want and if you can put it into three categories, you can have it.”
Dr. Thomas makes a great point. I wouldn’t go so far as to say you can have ANYTHING you want in life, but I have learned you can have ALMOST EVERYTHING you want … if you apply a few “secrets of success”.
For the moment, let me share three secrets of getting what you want out of life, work, and relationships.
1. Set a positive goal.
What’s that, you ask? According to W. Clement Stone, author and CEO, a positive goal is “something that won’t violate the laws of God or your fellow man.”
Indeed your goals had better be positive or you’re likely to be in trouble. As psychologist James Allen warned in his book, “As A Man Thinketh,” you need to set positive goals because “You become what you think about all day long.” And philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson echoed the warning when he wrote, “Beware of what you want, for you surely will get it.”
I see the truth in this all the time. A person becomes consumed with the fear that he might get sick, and sure enough, he gets sick more often than others. I see the person who is so frightened about losing her job that she gets paralyzed by the fear … when, in reality, she should be doing everything she can to become indispensable in her present job … and, if necessary, educated and ready for her next job.
You must set positive goals. That doesn’t mean that if you’re positive, everything that happens to you will be great. Some things in life are just plain bad, wrong, evil, or unfortunate. But a positive thinker has the tools to get through those tough times and get on with the positive goals he has set.
To help you distinguish between a positive and a negative goal, imagine this situation. You’re with a group of salespeople who go to your sales manager to give him 37 reasons why his idea for a new sales campaign won’t work. You know the reasons … it’s too expensive, time consuming, and wouldn’t be worth the effort. The sales manager responds by saying, “Give me one reason why or how it WILL work.” Think about it. All it takes is one reason why something WILL work and you can MAKE it work. The 37 reasons soon diminish in importance.
When you set a positive goal, you’re more likely to get what you want, whether or not it’s exactly what you want. All of psychology tells us that a person who talks about and focuses on losing usually loses. As Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Green Bay Packers used to say, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
By contrast, set a positive goal and let yourself be amazed at what you’ll accomplish. Maybe you remember the kid from Medina, Ohio who was paralyzed on his right side in an accident when he was two years of age. Yet he got to be on the school track team. As the coach puts it, “If a kid with average ability had his fortitude, he’d be outstanding. He couldn’t help it. This boy never lets up, has never dropped out of a race, has never finished last, and has made every practice.”
Now here’s a kid who had to learn how to walk by leaning on his left side and swinging his right. He’s a track star in his school because he wants to be. That’s his positive goal. What worked for him can work for you. You can have almost everything you want in life if you approach it with a positive attitude.
2. Set a definite goal.
If you’re going to reach your goal, it must be something definite, something specific, something you can write down in a sentence or two. And then once you’ve written it down, write down what benefits you will derive from obtaining your goal. This action alone will keep you motivated as well as remembering why you want to achieve it in the first place.
Let’s say you want to improve your job situation. Too many people go through life saying, “Well, I sure hope I get that promotion … or … Hopefully someday I’ll have a job I really enjoy … or … I’d like a job that pays a great deal better.” But they never set it as a goal let alone write it down. But that lackadaisical approach seldom works.
Instead, write down something like, “I want a job that uses these particular talents (list them) … that has these kinds of responsibilities (list them) … that pays this kind of money (be specific) … and (list whatever else you want that ideal job to entail).” As strange as it sounds, the act of writing tells your subconscious mind, “Out of all the millions of jobs out there in the world, this is the exact kind of job I want and need.” Once you tell yourself that, you’ll be surprised at how many ideas and opportunities come your way that you never saw before.
Suddenly the new job becomes a need rather than a wish. It is a specific, definite goal that you can plan for. You will start to know almost instantly what you have to think and do to get that job at the time you want it.
Just think of all the great goals people have accomplished because they set definite goals. It’s overwhelming. Monty Stratton played baseball with one leg. Tom Dempsey kicked a 65-yard field goal with half a foot. John Milton wrote classical poetry while he was blind. Beethoven wrote his greatest musical compositions despite his deafness. Roosevelt became one of our greatest Presidents despite his polio. Helen Keller toured and lectured around the world even though she lacked sight and hearing. John Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” while incarcerated, and Charles Goodyear did many of his early experiments for vulcanizing rubber while he was in prison.
Most of you are not in prison. Most of you have sight, hearing, arms and legs. We live in a country that gives us opportunity. It’s even fairly easy to become a millionaire, as Napoleon Hill shares in his book, “Think and Grow Rich.” He says anybody can do it in 10 years, if you really want it, set a definite goal, and learn what you need to do to obtain it.
3. Make sure your goal is emotionally stimulating.
In addition to setting a positive goal and a definite goal, your goals must be emotionally stimulating. They must be exciting and turn you on so you’ll really work for it. As Stone write, “Aim high.” And author David Schwartz says, “There’s magic in thinking big.”
People ask me, “How high is high? How big should my goal be?” Hill answered by saying, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve.”
Consider the story of the man who utilized his superhuman powers when he got an emotionally exciting goal. He was there when a telephone pole crashed down on a car with the driver still inside. No one could get him out. The police were called and cutting equipment was on the way. Suddenly a little trickle of gasoline came out of the car, which was quickly engulfed in flames. The bystander stepped out of the crowd, walked up to the door of the car, and tore it from its hinges. He rescued the driver. Observers commented that they could hear the metal of the door ripping as the man pulled on it.
The rescuer was later identified a local dock worker. He was not an unusual physical specimen … just an individual who had been emotionally stimulated to apply his strength in the proper way. The point of the story is this. We really don’t know what potential we have until we’re moved by a strong emotional stimulus.
Strangely enough, when other people set emotionally stimulating goals, it often stimulates us to do our best as well. That happened to me 30 years ago as I spoke at a hospital. In the audience was a nurse anesthetist, a Catholic nun by the name of Sister Margaret, who was so taken by my presentation and how it changed her life, she vowed to pray for me and my work every day for the rest of her life … which she did.
Talk about humbling as well as inspiring … to think that someone would dedicate a few minutes every day to me and my work. It so touched me then … as it has every day since … that I do my best to keep on setting positive, definite, emotionally stimulating goals that are good for me and others. It has produced miracles … so I recommend the practice to you as well.
Side note: Sister Margaret has experienced two strokes in the last three months and has lost much of her physical ability, but she keeps on inspiring me as I sit by her bedside and talk to her and hopefully bring her a measure of joy.