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Think Like A Champion
Men are born to succeed, not fail.
—HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Sometimes people spend too much time focusing on problems instead of focusing on opportunities.You have to keep the big picture in mind even when minding the details or your vision could become micromanaged in an unnecessary way. I always try to keep two wavelengths going at once, which prevents brain cramps and reminds me that I’m destined for success. How do I know this destiny? Because like Thoreau, I believe we are born to succeed, not to fail. If I can believe it, you can believe it, too.
Here’s how. First of all, expect problems. Even problems can be turned around to your advantage, and sometimes surprising events can happen. When I had some financial problems back in the 1990s, I remember debating with myself whether or not to attend a black tie dinner at the Waldorf. I certainly didn’t feel like celebrating anything or talking to anyone, but I got dressed, went there, and as it turned out I was seated next to someone I really clicked with—and he was a banker. The chemistry for great things was there, and it was the last thing I had expected to happen. I had been in a negative mindset, but my disciplined side took over, and without any expectations on my part, things took a decidedly better turn just because I showed up.
Second, you have to remain determined. If you have a big picture in mind, you will need big determination to go with it. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is an apt one. There is no easy way—much as I’d like to tell you otherwise. But if you are doing something you love doing, it should not present too much hardship. Most of us are aware of the tremendous difficulties that faced people like Michelangelo and Beethoven, yet they prevailed and they’re still with us centuries later. It helps to know what other people have faced in accomplishing their goals. A lot of times we don’t know how much work is required until we get into something, no matter how much research we’ve done, so fortitude is absolutely necessary.
Then we come to the unexpected—events that happen that can thoroughly alter our plans, such as earthquakes, wars, natural disasters, and so forth. Here’s when the theory of adaptability comes in. Are you able to remain flexible enough to handle catastrophes? Disasters happen, and they aren’t always foreseen. Suddenly our big picture has a new script attached to it! Well, believe me, you can handle it if you go with the flow and remain determined at the same time. The best thing to remember here is Winston Churchill’s advice to never give up: “Never, never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” We may not be experiencing the blitz, but sometimes when problems start up, it can feel like it. Prepare yourself with strength of character to withstand discouragements as well as disasters.
People who have endured great hardship often say they survived because they kept some sort of hope going, a vision of the future, despite horrible immediate circumstances. They may not have had a big picture in mind at the time, but they had a semblance of one. Try to emulate their example; it is obviously an effective thought process for survival. Sometimes a dead end can be a new beginning.
My father used to tell us this story he thought was really funny, although I never thought it was that funny. I think he was trying to tell us something about remaining determined. Anyway, it went like this: A guy loved soda. Just loved soda. So he decided to go into the business and named his product 3-Up. It was a failure. So he started over again and named his new product 4-Up. It, too, failed. So he started again and named his soda 5-Up. Once again, it failed. Once again, he tried again and named his soda 6-Up, and it, too, failed. Well, he decided he’d had it with the soda business, and he gave up. That was the end of my father’s story! As we all knew, 7-Up became a very successful and famous brand of soda. So that must’ve been his message to us: The soda guy simply gave up too soon!
We’ve had some good examples, from Thoreau to Churchill to my father, so let’s pay attention to them and keep them in mind in the years to come. I think it will do us all good.
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