Have you ever had one of those moments in life where you perhaps didn’t give your best thought before you executed on something? I’m a betting person in this respect only, I would say that most, if not all of us, at some point in life looked back on a particular project or decision made and said, hmm, I perhaps maybe could have done better than that. Hey, good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design. Your Monday morning moments of motivation to help you create the bigger, better, and bolder you that you have within.
Today is going to be a wonderful day for everyone. We’re gonna share with you a few minutes on my three critical areas of thinking. Yes, that’s right. Thinking. You know, we’re so busy and we’re inundated with data input all day long. And we very seldom create a space in our day for what I call strategic thinking which encapsulates three areas of thinking. So, before we go there, I just want to say this, over the last 46 episodes, we’ve shared strategies on attitude, overcoming fear, setting goals, influencing others and more.This episode is the icing on the cake. For purposes of making life what you wish, instead of settling for what you get.
Too many of us awake each day and allow the world to take control of our mind, not intentionally, but by immediately feeding our mind email, social media, and other negative images and statements. The first thing you should feed your mind when you awake are the drivers of your thoughts for the day. Today we’re going to share an approach to thinking about life that will d
You’ve heard me say it many times, you are responsible for you. Too often we wish to lay blame on others. Maybe one of our team members didn’t do their part of the project so the success of the project as a whole was not what you wanted or didn’t meet your objectives. Perhaps also it was a delegated task. You had given a task to someone and they just failed to meet the deadline or do it in the amount of quality that you wanted to see at the end result.
So a phrase often asked by my parents and I’m sure yours as well. Cause as teenagers we heard this a lot in our home. The phrase is simply this, “What were you thinking?” You know, this comes to mind for this episode. This phrase was something I heard several times from my, both mom and dad. And they would ask me something about a project I had undertaken or some performance of something I’d done and the phrase is really simple. And I love it now, because as an adult I can look back and see what they were really attempting to tell me. By asking a question. What were you thinking?
So, this phrase was generally asked of me when I ramped my motorcycle over 10 empty barrels in the backyard of our home. Of course I need to tell you the story. Evel Knievel, you may recall, was one of the world’s greatest daredevils when I was a kid. He was the biggest “superhero” of the 70s. And daredevils were cool. You know the story, when you’re 11 years of age with a motorcycle. These people looked like they made life look easy, they had all the accolades and trappings of success. They just looked the epitome of success to me.
So remembering this story, I should have retorted to my parents, ‘What were you thinking?” to buy me a motorcycle at the age of 11? Well, I wanted one, and being the youngest of 6, I gotta tell ya, I had a pretty good childhood. Most of my siblings were out of the house by the time I was 12 or 13, and so, you know there was extra money around, and there were things that obviously I needed, and one happened to be a motorcycle.
So, let me paint the picture for you a little more clearly if I can. I had seen Evel Knievel ramp and launch himself over the fountains of Las Vegas. I have seen him launch himself over school buses. I had seen him attempt even to launch himself in a rocket over a gorge. That was not successful, and I would have not attempted that one. But my thought was, here in the local small town of which I lived, no audience there, I was going to practice this feat and then perform it later in front of an audience. You see I had that entrepreneurial mindset already, right?
So, what I did is I took 10 metal barrels. These are like 55 gallon drum barrels that were used to haul liquids and so forth to well drilling sites and those types of things. I found two 12 feet in length 2 x 6s, and I thought to myself, hmmm, those would help make a great ramp. The 10 barrels would be the objective of which I want to accomplish my flight over them, and making it look fearless and flawless and I would just look like the local daredevil king.
So, I whipped these 2 x 6 lumber together, didn’t nail them, didn’t connect them in any permanent way. Just put them together so that they touched. And these metal barrels, I basically put end to end, which equated to around 30 feet. My thinking was, I don’t need a landing ramp, because, unlike Evel, you know, I’ve got a soft yard here, so I’ll just land safely on the rare tire of the motorcycle. Bring that front wheel down slowly, wave my hands in the air and I’m a hero in front of no one but me for that day.
So, my thinking was not on that landing ramp, but was more concentrated on the distance and speed I would need to clear these barrels successfully, and not so much on the landing. My motorcycle was not a modified Harley Davidson as ridden by Evel Knievel, but a 125cc Honda 4-stroke motorcycle. Now this was not the most powerful of motorcycles in that day, but for an 11 year old, it felt like that that Harley Davidson ridden by the man himself, Evel Knievel.
Now many of you are very smart, that listen to this podcast. And I know some of you may have engineering backgrounds and understand the difference between thrust speed and the interaction of those two elements with wind or wind resistance to accomplish distance. Now I hope I haven’t lost you, but here we go. I was sitting there with just a notepad, trying to figure out at what speed I would need to leave that ramp to carry a 135 pound rider, which I weighed at that time. The distance needed to complete this jump, which was approximately 30 feet. And I looked at the angle of the ramps to make sure I gave myself enough trajectory to accomplish the feat. Then I had to go in to determine how am I going to look when I accomplish this. So I wanted to do a full run through on the back stage of this thing. So what I’m talking about folks, I gave it the entire gear.
So what I did was I tied on my full facial helmet, cause Evel had one, I had to have one. I then wore my favorite Evel Knievel t-shirt. A pair of Levi jeans, button fly by the way back in the day. Full tank of gas on the bike, and the confidence to climb the mountain while glory awaits on the other side of those barrels. I mean folks, I was ready to go. Now, I know what many of you are thinking, you’re going hey, now wait a minute, there’s several things you may not have thought of, first of all what are you going to do if those two boards do not stay together from the weight of the motorcycle and the rider, and then what if I’m just off may 10 degrees on the elevation of my ramp so that my trajectory is too shallow, there by not giving me the distance I need.
What if the speed of my short running alley, which was only about fifty feet, was not enough speed from this size of motorcycle to get enough launch to thrust forward to accomplish the task. Yea, you know all these things probably would have been good to know at the time, but you know what, I was 11. So, what I did, I just backed me up about 50 feet or so on my bike. Looked at that ramp, looking just like I did in baseball, I watched that pitcher’s hand, I watched the pitcher’s hand when that ball left his hand to know what kind of pitch was coming at me. I did the same thing here. I merely disregarded the barrels. I disregarded that the ground was a little soft. I disregarded that the ramps were not secured together as they should have been. I revved up the ccs of this engine, rmps, excuse me, I got the rpms up high, I had made sure the bike was in first gear and I was ready to role. Revving up the engine, you can hear it all the way to the house, cause I was just in the backyard. And then I let that clutch go, excuse me, and the ramp and barrels are fast approaching.
I hit the ramp just perfectly as I heard someone scream, JIMMY! As I left the ground I felt as though I was flying, until, well we’ll finish this story in a few moments. What has your thinking today? Did you allow, yes allow, someone or something to steal your valuable mental energy at the beginning of the day to be utilized on trivial matters?
First, let’s focus on the most important type of thinking. I call it positive thinking. If you have ever been around someone that is negative, you know what I’m talking about. These individuals could suck the life out of a morgue. Positive thinking will not allow you to do anything you couldn’t do before. However, it will only help you do the things you could already do much better. I have been accused of being an eternal optimist. I stand guilty. I have always seen the glass as half full. I have been positively thinking 99% of my life. I do not know how I got blessed with this type of thinking, it just is my personality. I do not mean to say, by this, that everyday is unicorns, rainbows and butterflies for me. However, I do look at each day’s events that are given me and I make the most out of them. Now some days you’re just gonna get guy punched and it’s just gonna be how it gonna be and you’re gonna have to move on.
You see I don’t allow myself to stay in the doldrums in the negativity for very long. Now some people and you know who you are. Some people lie down in the hot tub of negativity as if they’re in a sauna. They lay there for days. Do not do this. Positive thinking is the one way in which you can motivate yourself, that you’re going to have a better day tomorrow than you did today. I want to talk to you just a minute about positive thinking. There was a little boy in the second grade and he came home, and he saw his father sitting there and the little boy looked down, his dad looked at him over the newspaper he was reading and he said, “Tommy, is there something wrong?” The little boy just barely dragging his little book bag up beside him, and had his head down in shame. He got to his father’s recliner and he looked up at his eyes and he said, “Dad, I think I flunked my arithmetic test”.
Now his dad wanting to give him a learning moment. And instilled in his son a great dose of positivity, he looked down at little Tommy and he said, “Now, Tommy he said listen don’t talk like that,” “he said think and act as well as talk positively”. The little boy gets a grin on his face, he looks back up at his dad, and now he’ s looking so much better and he says, “Dad, I am positive I have flunked that arithmetic test”. So, positive thinking will not change your capabilities. It will change how you think about your outcomes or circumstances.
LF: Thank you to all of our listeners of the podcast. We have received many reviews on iTunes and appreciate your comments. Here is a review from AdventureTime Fan 0316, “Jimmy Williams does an exceptional job of providing an authentic and positive outlook on both the quarrels of life and triumphs. The episode I related to the most detailed how to stay motivated and finding new tricks to maintain my motivation, my career and personal goals. I can confidently say I’ll keep listening to the wise words of Jimmy for further positivity and motivation.” If you haven’t subscribed to the show, please do so today so that you will not miss an episode of this outstanding content. It would help us spread positivity around the world if you would rate and review the podcast on iTunes. Now back to the show.
The next type of thinking I wish to share is exponential thinking. You know, too often we can’t see the future of our lives or create it to be as we wish, because we fail to think exponentially. Linear thinking is fine for those that wish to live a life of mediocrity. But those of us that seek realization of our potential must think exponentially. One of the greatest entrepreneurs in recent history, to think exponentially, you’ve heard me say it many times, he’s one of what I consider to be a primer leader in our field of entrepreneurship Steve Jobs. The co-founder of Apple had an uncanny skill, and yes it is a skill, which means you must learn how to accomplish, develop and utilize to grow this skill.
He had a skill of making the complex simple and still attractive. If you look at the designs he used for the first ipod, it literally had no buttons to push. Nothing to toggle. A simple touchpad with a circular menu. Now, how simple it was was what attracted people to it. It looked futuristic. But let’s talk about a company that did not think exponentially. Just like Steve Jobs, he said his greatest accomplishments came from saying no to a lot of ideas that were not exponential in nature. Kodak was the leader in film manufacturing and processing in the 90s. When Kodak was approached by a research inventor in their R&D group, he had an idea of a digital camera. Instead of seeing the exponential future that would carry the company through the next decades, the leaders of Kodak focused purely on their existing customers and film needs.
Why wouldn’t they? They were number one in their market for manufacturing and processing film. Now the camera that was provided them, took a .01 megapixel photo. Not very good. And 23 seconds to record the image on a tape drive and the image was black and white. You see they didn’t have the mindset of exponential thinking to say, hey, this is just the foundation. What can we do with what we now know that no one else knows in our industry? They had the money, they had the people, they had the research team, they lacked the vision. The exponential thinking to see that future. So Kodak leaders ignored this idea for the future at their own peril. Looking ahead to just a few years later in 2012, Kodak, once the leader of film manufacturing and processing files for bankruptcy. Their entire organization disrupted by the technology that they invented and ignored.
Henry Ford was another exponential thinker. One of his famous quotes when he was asked we’ll, why don’t you ask your customers what they want instead of producing all black model 8 cars? His famous quote was this, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, faster horses.” When you have a market that doesn’t even know they have a need, because they can’t see that far in the future, you will find yourself defining that need to them in a vivid manner that they understand, oh my goodness, I have to have this.
Now back to Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs spent all of his time with his target customers, yet he never asked them what they wanted. He created for them what he knew they would want in the future, before they even knew themselves. He built technology to define the need that his customers could not define. Now that, my friends is exponential thinking. John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple, recruited to Apple in 1983 by Steve Jobs himself was given this one question during that recruiting session. Steve simply asked John Sculley, you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world? You see this simple yet profound question gave Sculley the catalyst to exponential thinking about his life. Did he truly have a purpose to leave mankind better than he found it.
The last type of thinking I want to share today is critical thinking. This type of thinking helps us cope with just everyday life. Similar to positive thinking, but more focused on the comprehension of your surroundings. Critical thinking is necessary when we have an exponential idea and seek to find others with talents needed to complete the project, determine our budget for the project, establish market approaches for the idea. This is a form of thinking that can be grown as a skill for all of us.
Too often we become lazy thinkers and this skill is not utilized as it should. Think about the last time you did something you thought was silly after you did it. Now during the time of the performance of what you were doing, you thought it was the greatest thing in the world. But then you realize, after you had completed it, hmm, that may not have been such a great idea. Looking back to your actions, you critically thought you should have done it differently, or not at all perhaps. This brings me back to our motorcycle story that opened this episode.
So remember I had left the ramp, and was taking flight over the tin barrels, while in midair it seemed as I was flying effortlessly through the blue sky but within a few seconds, my mind, critically thinking, calculated the trajectory speed, wind direction, which was in my face by the way. That works well for jets that have a lot of thrust, not for motorcycles that are launching people off ramps. But anyway, I digress. And determined that my landing was not going to be a celebratory as my take off. Now ladies and gentlemen, stop right there. There is a story or a moral in this at this point. If you don’t know how deep the water is, do not leap from the shore until you measure, right?
In other words, know where you’re going to land, or at least have a reasonable basis to know where you are going to land. So looking back, I’m thinking, hmmm, in midair, you know 8 barrels would have been plenty for this jump. Quickly my survival skills kick in and I lean the bike to the left in midair to avoid the metal barrels. By jerking the motorcycle to the left, I obviously throw the balance and me into disequilibrium. Which is nothing more than a fancy word that says I’m not landing on the wheels of this bike today.
The last thing I remember before hitting the ground was thinking, and this is true, need more alley speed. In other words, I need more speed to launch if I’m going to carry that distance of 10 barrels. I look at this as an optimist though. I successfully could have cleared 8 barrels. That’s my thinking, right? As I’m lying on the ground, the first responder to the scene was my dear mother. Which now to me explains clearly the angelic voice that called my name at the ramp, it wasn’t in cheering me, Jimmy, Jimmy! It was JIMMY! Right? I am blessed to be an athlete all my life and so, I’m a pretty tough guy, so I rolled over, removed my helmet, and as I’m lying in the grass, looking up at my mother’s face. Which is growing more pale by the minute, her eyes were as big as saucers, I looked at her and I’ll never forget the first statement I said to her was, “I need more speed before the ramp”.
Oh boy that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. I get up, I shake it off, I check on my bike and push, yes, push the bike to the shop building while listening to a wonderful story from my mother about a young boy that will be riding his bicycle for the next two weeks. He seemed like such a nice young man, when she described her story. Well, guess who the young man was, right? Ah man, but you know one of these things that has to work out, so I did some more jumps after that, only when mom wasn’t around. Or not at my own home. Trying to someway, perfect my capabilities as a daredevil.
You know this week, I’ve got a challenge for each of you. Work on these three thinking skill types. Positive thinking, exponential thinking, and critical thinking. You can be the person you want to be, if you just take control of your mindset. Don’t allow the neigh-sayers and negative people to get in your mind first thing in the morning. Do not read your email first thing when you wake up. Now you may not be able to do that depending on your type of career, I will tell you 99% of us do not have any life saving techniques to administer at 5:30 in the morning when we wake up. Our clients are not that demanding. I will say to you, though, if you start your day the way I do, I could say that you would have a much better day on positive thinking. You may even come up with an exponential idea that moves your company forward and profitably, and then have the critical thinking skills to not just create the idea but bring ideation to creation. Don’t sell yourself short. This is all within your grasp. You can be the person you want to be if you just take control of that mindset, as I said. If you have a funny story, where you did not utilize your thinking skills, please go to our Facebook page for Live a Life by Design and leave a short story post.
We can all share in the fact that we are not perfect. I am not perfect, I simply married the perfect woman. Well, I will say it has been a pleasure sharing with you today. Join us next week as we share our approach to creating momentum in life that helps you to grow as a person. Thank you for joining us today, and go out make your world a better place, and live a life by design.