Do You Have A Great Mind Or A Little Mind?

“Great minds have purposes; little minds have wishes. Little minds are subdued by misfortunes; great minds rise above them.”
Washington Irving, American author, 1783-1859

The other day, after finishing a program with a client, my host asked if he could speak to me privately. He asked me to come to his house so he could ask me a few questions and discuss a couple of points. I agreed, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

When we arrived at his “house,” I soon realized the word “house” was a misnomer. It was a mansion of some 15,000 square feet, complete with pools, spa, and a fitness center. It was impressive … to say the least.

But his comments were not. He said, “Alan, I’ve accomplished everything in life I’ve wanted to accomplish, but my life is empty. I no longer have any sense of excitement. Where do I go from here?”

Somehow or other, he had never learned…

=> 1. There are two scales in life.

There is, first of all, the Achieving Scale. Picture it as a line going from 0 to 100, where 0 represents no achievement whatsoever and 100 represents awesome accomplishment. My client was somewhere near the 100 point. He had achieved just about everything imaginable.

And that’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s why I teach people the keys to achievement in my “Journey To The Extraordinary” experience. Most people have too low of a score on the Achieving Scale. They could accomplish so much more, but they just don’t.

The problem is … somewhere on that line from 0 to 100, everybody’s got a Sticking Point. They get to a score of 15, 20, or 25 on the Achieving Scale, and they stick there. They choose to go no further in their lives or their careers.

Well, everything to the left of your Sticking Point is your comfort zone. It’s perceived safety and security. And if your comfort zone is too small, if your score on the Achieving Scale is too low, you won’t accomplish much in life.

So you might take a moment to figure out your score on the Achieving Scale. Is it high enough? Or do you still have room for significant improvement? You need a fairly high score if you want any sense of success, contentment, or self-esteem.

But that’s only one of two scales in life. The other scale is the Becoming Scale. And that’s where my client fell short. He had never become anything in the process of achieving everything. He had never learned that success encompasses so much more than acquiring things and producing results. He had never learned that success encompasses Becoming as well as Achieving.

And like the Achieving Scale, the Becoming Scale goes from 0 to 100, where 0 represents an aimless life and 100 represents a purpose-driven life. The higher your scores on the Becoming Scale, the more you become the person you want to become … and the more excitement and fulfillment you’ll experience.

So how do you get a higher score on the Becoming Scale?

=> 2. Decide that you are in charge of you.

Stedman Graham writes about that. As an author and educator (and Oprah’s boyfriend for many years), Graham writes, “People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives.”

He’s right. You’ll never become much of a person if you blame everyone and everything for your problems. You’ll never become much of a self-respecting, self-accepting, self-esteeming person if you’re convinced you have no power to improve yourself. You’ve got to decide that you are in charge of you.

That’s what Louis L’Amour did. As the great western novelist, he wrote, “Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow.”

And then …

=> 3. Blot out excessive outside pressure.

You see, somewhere on your Becoming Scale of 0 to 100, you’ve got a Sticking Point, just like the Sticking Point on your Achieving Scale. You’ve got another number that represents how much you let the outside world determine who you will become.

If you’ve got a lower score, it means you’re an External. You let outside, external factors like the economy, the weather, the state of the world, and what everybody else thinks determine what you should do, how you should behave, and who you should become.

You’ve got to get to the point of saying, “No. I will not let the small-minded, negative-oriented people hold me back. I will not follow the crowd just because that’s the popular thing to do. I will clarify my values; I will define my purpose, and I will live accordingly. I will become the kind of person I can love and respect.”

After all, there’s nothing more unsatisfying and unfulfilling than trying to live somebody else’s life or someone else’s dream. That’s why I teach a values-clarifying, purpose-defining strategy in my “Journey To The Extraordinary” experience. You’ve got to blot out any excessive outside pressure that holds you back from becoming the person YOU want to become.

Substitute your own internal images for their external pressures. Follow the advice of an old poem that says:

Loved or unloved, happy or unhappy,
Attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak,

What you impress on your mind, you’ll inevitably become.
It’s a psychological law that whatever you desire to accomplish
You must first impress upon your subconscious mind.

Relentless, repetitive self-talk will change your self-image.
You’ll affect your subconscious mind with verbal repetition.
Constant repetition carries conviction.

When you change your values you’ll change your behavior.
Start thinking of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.
Self-suggestion will make you the master of yourself.

You can become whatever you want to be.
If you believe you can, you can.

Finally, to enhance the becoming process, you need to…

=> 4. Ask yourself “the guiding question.”

Highly successful, very happy people do this all the time. They’re high on both the Achieving and Becoming scales because they ask themselves a particular question, each and every day, several times a day.

Jillian is one example. She’s been the top producer in her company for 8 years in a row. And to top it all off, her coworkers and customers love her.

So I asked her how she was able to accomplish all that. Her reply, “Simple. I just ask myself how the person I’d like to be would do the things I’m about to do. I always get an answer, and that becomes my guiding light. I owe all my success to that question.”

Speaker and author Jim Cathcart talks about the power of that question as well. He talks about an international sales event where the top salesperson just happened to be a young, 19-year old salesperson, who beat out everybody else, including the most experienced salespeople. And he didn’t beat them out by just a little. He had 3 times the sales of his next closest rival.

So Jim asked him how he did it. He used the same “guiding question.” The young man said, “When they announced the contest a year ago, when they announced the winner would get a new Corvette, I just asked myself how the International Sales Leader would win this contest. I asked myself how the International Sales Leader would do what I’m about to do.”

And right away, the young man had his answers and implemented them. He upgraded his appearance, planned better, and worked harder … because that’s what the International Sales Leader would do. He served his customers more thoroughly and managed his time more carefully … because that’s what the International Sales Leader would do. And when it came time for the sales meeting, he bought a one-way airline ticket … because that’s what the International Sales Leader would do, knowing he’d have to drive his new Corvette back home.

The lesson is simple but critical. Focus on the person YOU want to become. Let that guide your decisions. And the achievement of your goals is a natural byproduct.

Action:  What kind of person do YOU want to BECOME? List at least 10 characteristics and glance at the list once in a while to make sure you’re on track.