I’ve always admired people who believed they could accomplish something so big it seemed impossible. These people started with the intent to turn their dreams into reality. Along the way to success, they ignored the fact it might not work.
Henry Ford built a car before anyone knew they needed one. The Wright brothers learned to fly when the ordinary person was content with just about any other mode of transportation. And Elon Musk dreamed about electric cars people wanted to buy—and even autonomous driving—while the rest of the driving population was fueling up their 16 miles per gallon SUVs.
These men all had one thing in common: They believed the impossible was possible. They saw something in their minds that was as real as gravity, and they believed it was only a matter of time before what they believed became a reality. Failure was not a deterrent but rather a step forward.
It would have been a lot easier just to let the thought, dream, and ambition dissipate into the wind. But these leaders choose to see the world differently. While their critics were unable to anticipate the demand for what these men were creating, they never let that influence their thinking.
This represents something I believe is the foundation of success: If you master the ability to do this in your life and leadership, it will change your trajectory and propel you higher than you ever thought possible. Those who dare to do what I’m about to tell you will, indeed, soar throughout life—even if they fail more often than they succeed.
WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT? LET ME TELL YOU.
You need to start thinking about your thinking. Your mind is where success begins. I know that may sound like a strange, but it’s true. You must give yourself permission to believe what you see in your heart can become a reality. How you view the world makes an incredible difference in how you approach it.
If you believe the world is limited, then you will never live to your full potential. If, however, you believe the world is unlimited, you will operate from an abundance that will give you the confidence you need to push forward even when the way forward isn’t clear. The times when I struggled the most almost always could be traced back to how I was thinking about whatever I was facing.
When I first arrived at Southeastern, there was a lot of unrest. I could see so much potential when so many thought the best years were in the past. I refused to believe that and never let it enter my mind. Instead, I approached each conversation as a piece of the puzzle. As I put more pieces of the puzzle together, the opportunity in front of us became clearer.
Changing an educational institution is even harder than you might imagine. Put executives, scholars, and administrators together, and you have a recipe for a dog fight most of the time. Highly educated and successful individuals don’t usually respond well to being told what to do. So, if I ever hoped to move the needle and realize the potential that was so clear to me, it wasn’t going to be through force or will. Instead, I needed to open their minds to new ways of thinking.
OPEN YOUR MIND AND UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL IN FIVE STEPS
The task of thinking about your thinking is easier than you might think. Like anything new, it will take time before this becomes a habit. But it will change your life and what you believe is possible.
1. Create space for personal reflection. This may be in the middle of a noisy coffee shop or at the edge of town. It doesn't matter. Just find a place where you won't be distracted for an extended period of time.
2. Write down one thing you want to accomplish in the next 90 days. There is something powerful about writing something down. It creates clarity and suddenly becomes more attainable.
3. Identify what would have to happen to make it possible for you to deliver on your goal. Don’t edit your thinking. Just write. Try to include as many steps as possible.
4. Determine how your thinking or perspective needs to change. As you record the things that have to take place for you to accomplish your goal, pay attention to your inner critic. Therein lies your biggest obstacle. Let go of old thinking.
5. Commit to delivering on your goal within a given timeframe. When you declare you will do something, life seems to organize itself in such a way that makes the impossible possible.
TURN WHAT YOU BELIEVE INTO YOUR REALITY
Once you start to build this practice into your life, you’ll understand how powerful it can be when you release your mind to believe the impossible is possible. This discipline has helped me elevate my influence and cultivate success in every situation and circumstance of life. It's impacted my marriage, parenting, spiritual formation, and professional life. There isn't a part of life you can't impact when you start thinking about your thinking.
If you’re curious why some people find a way to succeed no matter what they face, now you know. It’s because they choose to see the world differently. Life is really what you make it, and it all starts with your thinking. Don’t let the opinions and objections of others inhibit your ability to follow the notions, hunches, and ideas that will lead you to places beyond what you believe is possible today—and give you the ability to turn your beliefs into reality
REFLECT: Is your thinking holding you back? If you could accomplish one thing in the next ten days, what would it be? How would your thinking need to change to find the strength, focus, and energy to make it true?