Since then I have tried to live within a modified Carpe Diem philosophy that I think of holistically as 'seize the life'. I understood (even at 15) that with life and effectiveness comes responsibility, and that means one cannot simply go where the wind takes him or her without being a fool. Therefore, generally once a quarter I evaluate my life. I think about and look at EVERYTHING and I put it through the death and regret filter.
- I consider my wife, children and our relationship.
- I ask myself who they are becoming and what it takes to fulfill their hopes and dreams.
- I consider business and question every aspect and direction of my company.
- I consider books that I am reading and what's up next.
- I consider my relationship with God.
- I consider myself and try to frankly access my successes and failures as an entrepreneur, father and husband.
- I think about how I can push harder without damaging my health.
- I think about my hopes and dreams, how I am going to get there and how I may need to change to make it happen.
- I think about my energy level, how good is my salesman Kung-Fu and how I need to improve.
- I consider my physical well-being, balance and how I can take better care of my vessel.
- etc. etc.
The brain is very flexible. We have 100 billion neurons that connect to one another in 40 quadrillion ways. Thinking about something causes synapses between neurons to fire, creating a network. If I say, "Picture a seal balancing a ball on its nose," you've just built a neural network. Think about that seal over and over; the network is ingrained deeper. The synapse structure is changed. The threshold for firing at those synapses is lowered.Every time we think about something it creates or strengthens a neural path. Do you know what I said to myself over and over again in September, October and November 1986? I said "I have to live, and I don't know how". Eventually I just said "I have to live!" The result was that I emerged a new, quite angry and determined Colin. What I had previously taken for granted, was no longer.
Now consider what Malcolm Gladwell calls the '10,000 hour rule' in Outliers. The 10,000 hour rule is simply that in order for you to be a world class rock-star at anything you do, in general you need to spend 10,000 hours practicing. Whether you are a hockey player, a cellist, a software developer, a salesperson, an artist, a mechanic or a pilot like my father, the story is the same. If you want to be the greatest, the best of the best of the best, you must first work your ass off. Why? Because in order to emerge the best it takes 10,000 hours to so completely train your brain in whatever Kung-Fu you are trying to master. This applies to all of us, doctors, lawyers and most certainly to entrepreneurs. Do you know how many hours I spent working on and in my first start-up before we began tasting success? 10,125 hours in 2.5 years. More recently, I have spent 15,000 hours getting PromoPipeline.com to a point where we are seeing success. I'm not bragging, it just is what it is. Actually, I find it bit depressing because there is time in that 15,000 hours that I spent working on or thinking about the wrong things, building the wrong pathways. Could I have reached the tipping point faster? Most certainly "yes".
Have you ever wondered how some people are so incredibly effective and seem to operate from a huge reserve of unconscious competence? I submit that in large part it is because they are so unbelievably engaged in and passionate about their life that they have put in the time to create the right powerful, strong and numerous neural connections. Perhaps that is why people with an entrepreneurial mindset have zero tolerance for someone who mindlessly drones through life and then complains about their station. What you think about, what you pursue, how you think REALLY matters. If you want to change your life and the world, you must think about and practice the right things. A pessimistic person can become positive by thinking positive thoughts, a lousy salesperson can become a Jedi by practicing sales in better and more effective ways, and a shocked teenager can pull out of hell by choosing life. All the talent in the world goes nowhere without putting in the time. If you are not pursuing greatness on a daily basis, you are reinforcing mediocrity. If anything gives me practical hope about life, it's that when I see people down on their luck, a business in the ditch or a train wreck of a marriage, I know that there is potential for pathways to change. It's not psychobabble, it's physiological reality.