And Grow Resourceful
“Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think…”
All you Einstein’s out there, I know you’ve read it, Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. It’s a seminal work that has a spot in everyone’s library in some way, shape or form. This book and others like it are placed in a category that has been referred to as “durable knowledge” that stands the test of time. It imparts a brand of timeless wisdom that validates a sustained presence. This category includes other published works like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as foundational platforms for us to model as we forge our own style or approach. The fundamentals of any undertaking are a critical starting point that help us get a picture of the playing field before we put our own spin on things. As we create a customized identity that sets us apart, the real fun begins once we’re free to transcend the “how to” genre, start breaking the rules, and craft our own philosophies of thought. This testing ground is where necessary mistakes are made within the experimental phase of development. I’ve certainly made more than my share of laughable mistakes on more fronts than I care to discuss. But one thing I can state unequivocally is this: my greatest miscues haven’t been the things I’ve done, but all the things I haven’t done. Missed opportunities, fewer paths taken, and not enough “roads less travelled” resulting from limited angles of imagination. All in the name of fear. Fear of making a mistake, looking foolish, receiving criticism, or even the fear of success that raises the bar of expectations we become held to moving forward. This results in not taking enough “flyers”, or calculated risks that expose us to entirely new processes, not just results. (I emphasize the word calculated) I’m talking about taking chances. Testing our ideas, intuitions and notions that come from within. Hence, the “thinking” part that can help us render sound decisions under pressure or introduce a creative slant to an old theory.
Over time, if we remain on the beaten path, we become indoctrinated by this “how to” approach to life. I’ve noticed my own willingness to sit back and wait for someone else to tell me what to do and how to do it, even if I don’t agree with them, and then piss & moan about it. Ultimately, until we’re pushed past a certain limit, we often fall into a rut that accompanies the act of simply following accepted norms, rather than recognizing opportunities to lead in our own way. You could be sitting on an explosive idea capable of moving you closer to professional freedom and autonomy, if you’re into that kinda thing. What if we already have all the necessary resources to take action and pull off something crazy? Maybe our entire past has prepared us for this moment. Occasionally we are pushed to leverage skills we already possess, but in a different context. All that is needed is a creativity of spirit, and the resourcefulness to connect different dots. We all tend to color inside the lines until we’re armed with the kind of meaningful insight needed to recognize just how antiquated conventional wisdom really is at times.
Herein lies the chance to recognize and identify examples that illustrate this type of mindset, especially when they seem unrelatable. Recently I met up with an old friend I’ve known since middle school. He’s a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force that has flown Pave Low & Apache helicopters in special operations, transporting navy seals in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations he is not allowed to discuss. Listening to the descriptions of scenarios he’s faced on a regular basis, I realized just how trivial my existence really is, and has been. Obviously, this example is extreme, but it does provide harsh perspective regarding what is most useful when operating at some of the highest levels of achievement. Aside from the immediate circumstances that could place him in the crosshairs of a most certain death, lies the larger cause for which he and so many others fight for on the front lines. Amidst the deliberate vagaries that sketched the backdrop of his narrative, were my thoughts of how one conducts themselves under circumstances so absolute. As these images ran through my mind, another round of beers was placed in front of us. When he reached across the bar to hoist his, I spotted a tattoo on the inside of is left forearm, positioned as though it was an Ace up his sleeve. It read: “Think…..”
Now, the rest of us aren’t exactly flying choppers over Baghdad, splitting atoms, or curing cancer. But we are presented with opportunities in disguise more often than we realize, to push the envelope in ways that can identify the intersection between what others need and the ‘back of a napkin’ ideas we can bring to market. The rest is often just logistics. We all have some version of a holy-shit idea in us that results from thinking outside the box. What if you could monetize yours to help others, who couldn’t find their way out of that box with anything short of a road map? Think about it…
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