“Change your thoughts and you can change the world.” Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
After noteworthy praise and introduction from a guest school official, our Downtown Rotary Club high school honoree gives a short inspiring presentation to our luncheon gathering at the Battle House in Mobile, Alabama. She wisely incorporates our club motto of ‘Service above Self’ in her speech. Her comments about the butterfly effect get my immediate attention. Have you heard of this concept? The idea is that a small change can have a larger effect elsewhere. This theory, originally related to weather, was developed by meteorologist Edward Lorenz. Others, myself included, have applied this thinking to areas outside of weather. Such was the approach of our young orator.
What some would call a theory, I would elevate to a principle. My own life bears truth to the possibility that small inconsequential acts can result in much larger effects than expected. A similar companion theory was presented in the book, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. The author’s basic concept is that the adoption of one keystone habit can have a much larger effect on our lives. We start with a goal of losing weight (perhaps a new year’s resolution) and soon we are exercising, eating healthy foods and have signed up for a class to improve other areas of daily routine. What started as a goal to lose 10 pounds has become a strategy to create a whole new person, alive and affecting others around us. All of us have witnessed individuals who created a completely new life that started with only one small goal.
Reading books authored by Napoleon Hill and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, as a young adult I took this theory and invested it into a much more powerful principle: positive thinking. For me, thoughts are like small inconsequential acts. But with repetitious frequency, positive thinking becomes much bigger in effect.
I was struck recently while reading a four-decade old record in my personal journal, a diary that was started at the beginning days of Hackbarth Delivery Service, my dream company. (Yes, I have been journaling a long time and highly recommend this practice). This entry of a poem by Henry van Dyke was made at a time when our annual sales revenue was under $20,000 a year.
I hold it true that thoughts are things;
They’re endowed with bodies and breath and wings;
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results, or ill.
That which we call our secret thought
Speeds forth to earth’s remotest spot,
Leaving its blessings or its woes
Like tracks behind it as it goes.
We build our future, thought by thought,
For good or ill, yet know it not.
Yet, so the universe was wrought.
Thought is another name for fate;
Choose, then, thy destiny and wait.
For love brings love and hate brings hate.
In the early years of growing an undercapitalized fledging company, our thoughts really mattered. After the devastating effects of Hurricane Frederick, when we came close to losing HDS, the main reason we survived was because of our belief. All evidence pointed to failure and bankruptcy. And yet, because of thinking, it all turned out differently. Our thoughts! That inspirational and emotional story is told in my second book, The BET.
Each day I wake up with positive thoughts. It is the same rising-out-of-bed stature that I have practiced for over four decades. Is everything positive in my life? Absolutely not. There is sickness, sadness and death. We have had our share of tough times.
In some of the most challenging and darkest moments of my life, I practiced positive thoughts. I would say to myself, “We are going to make it. We are going to go on to great success.” Or, “I will pick myself up off the ground and get back up and start again.” Or, “I will not let this temporary defeat define my long-term future.” All of these expressions are mere words. But . . .
Words matter. At a very personal level, I know this truth.
“If you say you can or you say you can’t you are right either way.” Henry Ford
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” Zig Ziglar
So, all it takes is to think it, right? No. And if a motivational speaker or author tell you this, they are not providing the complete story. A lot goes into success, whether in a business, family, organization or relationship. Doing the right things, having a good strategy and being smart are just a few elements that we need to do well. Success often requires a multi-element approach. And all of these different and important elements are affected in a huge way by the way we . . . think. Yes, that’s right. The way we think. Our thoughts are going to impact all of the components we choose to utilize in our success journey. In fact, our thoughts are going to influence everything about our lives.
Thoughts are things.
If asked for the top reasons for any success I have enjoyed in life, one of them has always been about my thinking. Even in the middle of defeat, I am looking for victory or what I can learn from the loss and preparation for the next battle.
I hate any defeat or loss. But it does not define me. I learn from the loss and prepare for the next encounter. And, much of the reason is because of my positive thinking. Are your thoughts helping or hurting you?
Thoughts are things with bodies and wings.
We build our future, thought by thought.
What are you thinking?