Don’t Be A Linear Thinker (Thinking Strategies For Smart People)
If you remain a logical, linear thinker, you’ll buy one of those planners or organizers, and then you’ll plan the next three months based on how capable and creative you are at the present moment. That’s old thinking. The old linear, cause-and-effect thinking, the old method-orientation, is outdated. You need to go on hunches and follow a direction that, at first, may seem impractical and insensible. You need to take giant leaps, not baby steps. At first, don’t worry about how. Don’t worry about an efficient, straight-line, mistake-free course of action. You’ll invent it along the way.
For example, one time when Diane and I still lived in our first house, we were driving in the car with our children from the Oregon coast to Seattle. Diane and I had just come out of teaching high school, and we didn’t have much money. But we let the kids think about what they wanted in their ideal home.
They wrote down 170 things on a list. They listed everything from ice cream makers to eagles to sunken garbage cans so they didn’t need to pick up the garbage every time the dog knocked it over. They listed a jukebox, a slot machine, a swimming pool, their own bedrooms, etc. We wrote all the items down and visualized the place.
Now, we weren’t very affluent at the time, but within a few months, we found a home with 66 of the features on our list, including the ice cream maker, the jukebox, and the pool table. And then we put the list away.
Ten years later, Diane found it and was surprised to see that all 170 things now appeared because we had built a ranch. The kids had wanted horses, cows, chickens, and other things we couldn’t have in the city, but with our ranch, we had completed the list without ever referring to it. We had programmed our minds with such clarity that we didn’t need to constantly focus on our dream list. By visualizing and assimilating those things we wanted in our minds, we eventually made it happen in a very natural way.
I’m convinced we can be and do and have what we really want in life. It’s just a matter of deciding what we really want. In fact, I think that it’s easier for us to obtain what we really want than to settle for compromise. That is because we won’t go after what we casually want with nearly as much energy, drive, and excitement as we will muster to pursue something that we really want.
Start with the end result
To be a high-performance person, you must first decide what end results you want. Exactly what do you want for yourself? What career? What income? What community? What home? What spiritual life? What relationships? You must create a vivid mental picture of the end results you want. Once you imprint that vision in your mind, you will become very creative to find information that you can use to help achieve it.
Your vision must be more than just a vague desire, such as, “I want to do good for mankind.” There are thousands of ways to do good. You must focus vividly on something specific. Ordinary people just wish for things. They never focus their desires into specific visions and missions. I encourage you to discard wishes; they’re destructive. Nobody’s rushing to grant your wishes. You need to make things happen for yourself.
The end result needs to be developed in your mind so what you say is, “I’ve got an idea.” That’s all. “I’ve got an idea.” “I’ve got an idea of how I want my family to be. I’ve got an idea of what I want my income to be. I’ve got an idea of the home I want. I’ve got an idea of the cake I want to bake. I’ve got an idea of what I want the party to look like. I’ve got an idea.”
You’ve got to have an idea or ideal, vision or mission. It’s just a matter of making constructive use of your imagination. It’s all in your mind, in your imagination. You construct a future in your mind before it ever occurs. For example, you have an idea of a future dinner, movie, or party. Or, you imagine the product you’re going to make, the organization you’re going to build, the trip you’re going to take. It’s as simple as that.
Open up your secret garden
I’m now giving you permission to dream and to open up this secret life inside your head. I’m telling you: “What you imagine is something you could make happen in the real world.” You don’t have to “get real” any more. You don’t have to be bound by practicalities; you can have these dreams.
You may feel both excited and filled with anxiety at this prospect. I know because I’ve felt that way many times. Many of the challenges that I face produce feelings of anxiety, but it says to me, “Well, that’s okay, that’s normal.”
You should be feeling that way. That’s a positive sign. You don’t have to listen to those voices that say, “Don’t try; go back.”
Remember: who you are and where you’re going in life are dynamic, not static. Right now you may know more of what you don’t want; for example, you may know that you don’t want to be poor, sick, or stupid. But ask yourself another question: “What do I want? If I don’t like.
who I am, what I do, or what I have, how do I want it?” That’s a positive way to focus your goals for the future.
When people say to me, “yes, but,” I’m reminded of a guy named Johnny Harris. Johnny was four years on death row. At one time, he was only nine days away from hanging. While in prison, he hated other people so much that he put nine people at the same time in the infirmary with broken jaws. However, his life sentence was cut because of a self-defense judgment, and he was released on a technicality.
Two years later, after going through our program, he won the “God Speaking Through Man” Award of the National Unity Church of Truth, with Dr. Carl Menninger of the Menninger Foundation as a co-recipient for humanitarian acts.
So don’t tell me you’ve got a tough case. You are so capable with not nearly as many blocks to your success as people like Johnny Harris.
The only thing that’s going to stop you is your lack of vision, lack of mission, old patterns, old habits, old excuses.
Look, if a high school teacher with a bunch of kids to feed can quit his job and, by vow of being authentic and progressive and effective and being mission driven, growth driven, and goal directed, do what Diane and I have done, what’s your excuse? I’m nothing exceptional. I see myself as ordinary, just an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.