It is amazing how fast time seems to race by us! 2015 is quickly coming to a close, leaving many of us contemplating what 2016 might have in store. And as the New Year draws closer I want to emphasize the need to keep planning, keep educating yourself and continue to focus your mind on your goal(s) for 2016.
The next tip I want to discuss from my blog post 31 Ways to Achieve Amazing New Year’s Resolution Success is tip #22: Read motivational and inspirational materials along the way. When I say “motivational and inspirational materials,” I am referring to any and all resources that will encourage you to keep working hard toward your goal(s). These could come in the form of memes, calendars, posters, blog posts, books, videos, movies, etc. There are so many ways to keep yourself motivated and inspired.
From my personal experience, the day after watching The Legend of Bagger Vance I was out on the practice tee working my butt off! If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a washed up golfer that is given the
chance to compete in a exhibition match against two golf legends Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. To assist him in his match, he is partnered with a mystical caddie by the name of Bagger Vance, that teaches him about golf, life and finding his perfect, authentic swing:
Yep… Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing… Somethin’ we was born with… Somethin’ that’s ours and ours alone… Somethin’ that can’t be taught to ya or learned… Somethin’ that got to be remembered… Over time the world can, rob us of that swing… It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas… Some folk even forget what their swing was like…
-Bagger Vance, The Legend of Bagger Vance, 2000.
As a golfer, if that doesn’t motivate and inspire, I’m not sure what will!!
As I stated before, motivational materials come in many forms, but the one I want to focus this post on is the printed word: books. When I began my conversion from an underachieving, ex-golf pro to a blogger, writer and public speaker, I found a couple works that helped me begin my journey. So without further adeiu, here are 2 books that will make you rethink your life:
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
2. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Think and Grow Rich was recommended to me by my friend Billy Scott way back in 2005. At that time I was desperate to escape the golf business and start a business of my own. Unfortunately, it was not my time to blossom. It would take another 8 years before I returned to that book and “heard” the message loud and clear. In Hill’s book he covers the common characteristics of self-made millionaires. (click here for Napoleon Hill’s bio.)
One story stuck out to me and inspired me greatly. There was a man named Edwin C. Barnes that decided he must meet Thomas Edison and present him with a business opportunity. The problem was that Barnes had no money, no fine clothes and no association with Edison whatsoever. But what he did have was desire. He jumped on a freight train and hitched a ride from the midwest to New Jersey and found his way to Edison’s laboratory. Here is Edison’s account of first meeting Barnes from Think and Grow Rich:
Mr. Edison said, “He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after. I had learned, from years of experience with men, that when a man really desires a thing so deeply that he is willing to stake his entire future on a single turn of the wheel in order to get it, he is sure to win.”Barnes had no money to begin with. He had but little education. He had no influence. But he did have initiative, faith, and the will to win. With these intangible forces he made himself the number one man with the greatest inventor who ever lived.”
Standing on that doorstep looking like “an ordinary tramp,” Barnes told Edison he had come as a hobo on a freight train to offer Edison the opportunity to be his business partner!! Imagine that! A tramp offering the greatest inventor in America the chance to be his business partner. Hill documents that Edison’s employees laugh hysterically, but not Edison. Edison explained to Barnes that he could not become his partner, but if Barnes wanted he would hire him to sweep the floors and clean up the laboratory. Barnes jumped at the opportunity.
Edwin C. Barnes swept those floors for nearly 5 years waiting for his opportunity. And one day it came.
After years of work and dedication, Edison was ready to publicize the Edison Dictating Machine. This machine was a recorder designed to record the human voice. When members of Edison’s sales force looked over his machine, most of them doubted that the invention would be successful and they expressed no interest in the opportunity to sell it. Most of them were turned off by the size and weight and thus, were not interested.
Barnes jumped at the chance. He developed a plan and Edison decided to give him a shot. In a few months Barnes had sold thousands of Edison’s machine, resulting in Barnes acquiring the sole rights to the Edison Dictating Machine. Barnes made himself and Edison millionaires several times over!
This story catapulted my confidence, inspired and motivated me to determine what I had a true burning desire to achieve. I cannot imagine where I would be right now had I not read Think and Grow Rich.
The second book that changed my thinking and, in turn, my life was given to me by my brother-in-law, Matthew for Christmas in 2014: The Power of Habit. In this book Charles Duhigg defines and discusses habits, how they are formed and how they can be changed to help anyone gain more success.
Most notably, he discusses what are called Keystone habits. Here is what Duhigg has to say concerning keystone habits:
Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers. This book’s first section explained how habits work, how they can be created and changed. However, where should a would-be habit master start? Understanding keystone habits holds the answer to that question: The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.
This simple understanding of habits changed my life forever! After reading Duhigg’s thoughts and explanation on habits, I was armed with the ammunition to implement positive actions in my life and move forward like never before.
In short what keystone habits do is keep you from feeling like you must change so many things about your life. The fact is you only need do a few new positive things and the rest will happen automatically.
I have referenced my health in many posts and will use it again as a great example of keystone habits and their effects. Several years ago I decided I needed to lose some weight, as my waistline had expanded to a size 38-40! Now what discourages most people when confronting weight loss is the many things they need to change or habits that they must eliminate to achieve success. To many, weight loss means eliminating sugar, no fast food, no sodas, no candy, no cake, lots of working out, etc. When people start thinking of all the things they feel they need to change the task becomes ginormous!!
What keystone habits teach us is we only need to implement the one positive habit that will have the greatest impact on our behavior. For me that behavior change was to commit to 1 hour of exercise of any type, for 6 days per week. I did not commit to changing my eating and I kept drinking sodas. The only thing I focused on was putting in my workout DVD every day after work.
What occurred over time was amazing. Slowly, but surely, my eating habits changed on their own as I developed a new mind about health. After a couple weeks of working out I started making better food choices because I didn’t want to negate all the blood, sweat and tears I put into my exercise. I found myself naturally drinking more water. I noticed that I was parking farther away when shopping and walking to the store. I started taking the stairs instead of the elevator. None of these changes were a part of my initial habit change.
Duhigg refers to this as a “ripple effect.” This occurs when the right habit is changed and causes a ripple effect throughout your life.
Another keystone habit for me that caused a huge ripple effect has been making my bed. That one simple accomplishment every morning converted me from a procrastinator to a man of action. Now, I do not leave dishes in the sink. I don’t allow the trash to pile up. I don’t allow dust bunnies to accumulate on the floor. I don’t throw my clothes on the floor. I don’t allow the bathroom to remain a mess. I adhere to and complete my To Do list every single day with dedication. All of these changes I attribute to beginning to make my bed first thing every day.
Reading motivational and inspirational materials will absolutely catapult you to stardom, if you hear the words and take action. Don’t assume that your current knowledge is sufficient. Don’t assume you don’t need help. Don’t discount opportunities to learn due to your ego.
As you continue to use December as your month of planning to achieve your goal(s), take time and compile a short list of books and materials you can read and reference throughout the goal achieving process. It will help you and might be the difference between success like you’ve never experienced before and failure.