- Russ Sorrells
- Personal Development
What do you think about? Do you think negatively or positively? Most people never think. Do you know why? Thinking is the most difficult activity one can undertake. If you don’t believe me, try it. Just sit for 30 minutes and think about your life. It is likely that within just a few minutes of thinking, you will be reaching for your phone or turning on the TV or finding something that can distract you. There are very few people in the world today that actually think. It is an intentional act that requires significant discipline. If you can master it, your life will never be the same. The level of satisfaction with your life will go through the roof. Nothing can have a more profound impact in your life than thinking. This is not a new discovery. Jesus Christ introduced us to intentional mental retreats and the Buddha taught us meditation. These men understood the power and benefits of intentional contemplation. If we were to consider every person that has made a profound difference on this earth, we realize they were all profound thinkers. From Einstein to Churchill to Darwin, the individuals that helped humanity gain a new perspective did so by just thinking.
We become what we think about. If we think about success, we will become successful. If we think about failure, we will fail. Earl Nightingale taught us this in “The Strongest Secret.” To be clear, thinking must be followed by action. Einstein would not have altered our reality with the Theory of Relativity had he kept it to himself. Darwin would not have helped us better understand our past had he not written his thoughts down. If you are interested in controlling your destiny, then you must develop a thinking habit.
Warning – thinking is more difficult than exercising daily; it is more difficult than changing diapers in the middle of the night or working third shift in a dead-end job. The highest paid people in the world are thinkers. Anyone that has achieved some level of success took time to think it through at some point along the way. I have a few tips that can help you develop the habit of thinking. But first, I want to answer one question: Why is it the most challenging effort to undertake? Our desire for comfort as humans is so difficult to overcome and thinking is hard. Thinking requires intentional focus and we live in a world of constant distraction. We mistake surfing the web or shopping on Amazon for productive activity. This is called consumption and not production. Production creates value, while consumption consumes value. Our phones are weapons of mass distraction, almost solely for entertainment. Every waking minute we have a screen in front of our faces. It is impossible to generate value when consuming instead of producing. Very few people get paid to consume and the way to get paid is to produce. Producers can be and are successful. They are successful based on the quantity of value they produce. The greater the value, the more they earn. Producing is still much easier than thinking, even after you get the hang of it. For example, if I am an accountant in the beginning of my career, it can be overwhelming. The tax codes, individual returns versus corporate returns, and so on. However, over time, I master these skills and learn what matters most for minimizing the amount of tax my clients have to pay. To be certain, each year I take a week or two and go to a tax conference, but for the most part, I have got this and put it on auto-pilot. I am earning a solid living, I am producing value for my clients, but I am limited in the amount of value I can produce. As we say in the entrepreneurial world, I the accountant am not scalable, so my success will be limited. However, if I add an element of thinking every day about taxes and accounting, I will generate new strategies for helping clients save, grow, or think about their taxes. I can package those thoughts in book or video form. Maybe I can develop a podcast that adds more value to the market and helps thousands versus the limited number of clients I can support individually. The difference between producing and thinking is 10X or 100X. Some people push back and say “But Russ, I am not about money.” I say success isn’t just about money, it is a measure of whatever is valuable to you. Money is a measure for some and means nothing to others. My personal measure is the number of lives I am able to impact through sharing my message. My pleasure comes from making a difference in the lives of others. What matters to you? Whatever it is can be 10X when you start thinking and taking action based on those thoughts. Here is how to go from consumer to producer to thinker:
- Accept responsibility for your future and your success. Since the beginning of time, humanity has worked hard to pass off responsibility. Adam and Eve blamed the serpent. If you want to become a thinker and grow your success, it must start with accepting responsibility for your life.
- Take time. My father said to me “Son, you can’t find time, you have to take time.” He is right. We should never wait for our ship to come in because it might not show up. Thinking must be scheduled. It should be on your calendar before anything else. If you want to succeed and progress, you will need to prioritize thinking.
- Be a student. Thinkers are naturally curious. They want to understand everything, so they study and ask questions. They study their craft and identify ways to improve and grow. Learning for thinkers is a life-long pursuit. How many books will you read this year? What will you focus on learning? Why is that important to you?
- Get around thinkers. If you want to make a difference and leave a legacy, you will need others to push you. It is critical to spend time with people that will challenge your mindset and push you to think differently. These are special people that will not accept the standard norms of an average society. These people expect more and want to be around people that expect more as well. Find a mastermind community that will challenge and push you. If you can’t find one or afford one, make your own. Go to conferences that have attendees focused on growth and improvement.
- Share your thoughts. Success can never be achieved in a vacuum. Learning to share your thinking in a way that allows others to grow and also to challenge you is a key to long-term success. Thinkers don’t keep their thinking to themselves because they are not content with their model of the world. They realize others have insights and feedback that will help them to enhance their model, and they desire that feedback. In today’s media-driven environment, we are drowning in content and starving for wisdom. There is so much noise, but thinkers are able to focus on what matters and apply it to their model of the world. There are many platforms that make it easy to share your thoughts today.
My hope is that you only consume what is necessary and that what you consume helps you grow. Move away from media and other platforms that are only there to attract your attention because they won’t serve you and only exist to entertain. After you have built these skills you can begin producing. This is really about adding value to others. Get great at producing and you will advance into leading. Then you can really begin to make a difference by thinking. Thinking is how you can go from producer to influencer. Communicating your thinking with others will allow them to grow and offer feedback. This feedback will allow you to improve your model and further its influence. Grab a pen and paper, maybe a cup of coffee, and start with a thought. Expand the thought into a concept, then from concept to a model. Share with others and improve the model. Do this every day for twenty or thirty minutes. Thinking is the most rewarding activity you will ever experience. It won’t be easy because it requires discipline, and discipline is hard. What is easy to do is also easy not to do and therein lies the challenge. You can make an incredible difference in this world. Think about it.