Recently, I encouraged you to learn all you could from your experiences and to spend time reading.
I believe it with all of my heart. But, this week, I want to persuade you to take the time to think.
Ingesting information is excellent, but if you don’t take the time to process that information, you will cheat yourself of its benefits. I must confess to you this is something I struggle with, but that may not surprise you.
I have told you that my father introduced me to Earl Nightingale, a great business leader and trainer for professional development. He became totally convinced that we humans leave too much of our potential untapped.
Some folks in the know claim that people only use 10% of their mental capacity. Your mind is like that. Nightingale compared our untapped potential to the United States in the late 1700s. As many resources as she had on the Eastern seaboard, 90% lay dormant. Over the next century, as Americans moved west, they discovered many more natural resources. This allowed the U.S. to become one of the world’s greatest nations by 1899. There is much more to be explored mentally, so let’s talk about two ways to make the most of your mind.
1. Take time to think. You might remember last week, we dialogued about redeeming time through reading visually or through audiobooks. Too many people devote too little time reading. But let me give you the extreme on the other side of the reading sweet spot. It is spending too much time reading and gathering information and spending too little time thinking and processing. A few weeks ago, I became convicted that I was applying too little time to thinking and have corrected that. I am seeing more research on the importance of “boring” time–time when you have nothing to do, and you feel bored. Studies show times of boredom can help the mind work through information and even stimulate creativity and imagination. This took me back to my childhood and teenage years when I spent hours hunting. Whether sitting still or walking, my mind often became fertile ground for ideas.
2. Take up to one hour a day and find a quiet place; it can be in your home, at work, or even in a coffee shop. Take a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Write one goal you wish to achieve at the top of the paper. Over the next hour, try coming up with 20 ideas to help you meet your goal. It could be 20 ideas for helping you improve what you do for a living. It could be 20 ideas to help you solve a problem in your job. It could be 20 ideas that inspire a new approach to your job. In offering this advice, Earl Nightingale offered two warnings:
A. This is not always going to be easy.
B. Most of your ideas will not be good.
I have found this to be true. A couple of posts back I wrote to you about the time I was 23 years old and in my second month with a real estate company. I came up with one idea using this technique, which earned thousands of dollars for my company and me. I was young, single, and starving; I needed that money, and my idea got my career off to an excellent start.
Another idea I received was to designate a prospect area and impress upon those who resided within that area that I would work harder than any other agent. I picked a West Texas snowstorm on January 1, 1985, as the time to walk around that neighborhood, knocking on doors and giving homeowners my business card. Unfortunately, rather than demonstrate that I was a highly energetic worker, I instead planted a seed in their minds that I was crazy as a loon.
I learned from that experience, though, and through Nightingale’s technique discovered a great way to tap the untapped in my mind. You can do the same. What ends up happening is your goal begins to embed itself in your subconscious mind. And your subconscious mind continues to work on fulfilling your purpose even when your conscious mind does not.
One final thought from Earl is presented in the form of a question. Do you have time for this exercise in thinking?
Let’s say you sleep eight hours a night – you have 5840 waking hours each year. Of that amount, you will only spend 1912 hours on the job if you work 40 hours a week.
That leaves you almost 4000 hours a year – when you’re neither working nor sleeping. You can choose to do what you want with these hours.
Now, let’s say you elect to spend one hour a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year exercising your mind. That offers you 250 hours a year to develop your mind, which still leaves you almost 3700 hours of free time to use as you wish.
What I’m trying to show you is that by investing one hour a day in pursuing one goal, you can do the intellectual and emotional equivalent of prospecting for pure gold—without ever leaving your house.
Think this week.
For further listening: I urge you to go to Amazon, eBay, or your favorite online store and find a legacy copy of Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale. You will find 12 chapters of inspiration, wisdom, and practical advice.