Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.” Unfortunately, this is the problem for far too many of us and most of the time we don’t even know it. We can easily become blinded by a lack of vision, just as swiftly as we can become blinded by the the opposite end of the spectrum, which manifests itself in something we call greed. Therefore, the correct path is neither one in which we are blind and unmotivated, nor is it one where we want everything we see, but it lies between these two extremes.
Several years ago I worked in direct sales job and our lives revolved around our commissions. We were determined to make every sales lead count, so we worked diligently to close every deal. Sometimes we were lucky and things were easy. We’d show the product, explain the prices, ask for the sale and actually get it without an objection. Most of the time however things didn’t go as smooth. That is the secret to success in sales; it is in dealing with the unknown and unexpected nature of each potential transaction. You never know what you’ll get, much like Forrest Gump’s iconic box of chocolates.
All our lives we’ve been told that in order to succeed in business we need to be the first to market. We need to innovate faster than anyone else, so that we can deliver our product or service to a potential customer before our competition is even born. Being first is placed in such high regard, some even justify rushing an otherwise unfinished product to market in order to “stake their claim” to the territory and thus “dominate” an industry.
You’ve probably had some pretty good ideas over the years. Maybe you’ve thought of an interesting business concept. Maybe you’ve invented a new gizmo of some sort. Maybe even you’ve figured out a way to address the energy crisis. You might have had a great idea for a book or a film. Guess what? All of that is fine and dandy, but an idea won’t take you anywhere unless you decide to take action.
According to legend, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés issued a rather interesting order to his men as they began their conquest of the Aztec empire in 1519. The order was simple: Burn the boats. He wanted his men to realize that they had no opportunity to retreat, so they had to give this fight everything they had. Failure was no longer an option and winning this battle just became that much more important.
Whenever talking to high school students as part of my volunteer work, I often ask them what they plan on doing after they graduate. If college is not on their horizon, I obviously try to sway their thinking so that they can see the amazing opportunities that a college education offers. However, even beyond formal schooling, it is important to convey to these students that learning does not stop once you step out of the classroom.
Dante Alighieri once said, “From a little spark may burst a flame.” If anyone should know about the power of ideas and how to transform an idea into something timeless, it should be this Italian poet and author of The Divine Comedy. Dante was called the “Supreme Poet” of his day and was cited as being the father of the Italian language. His poems and literature have been passed on generation to generation and they still resonate with readers today.