Writing a Must-Have List

Growth that lasts is, of necessity, a long, slow process. The human mind is designed to incorporate learning in small doses, absorbing and consolidating new information before taking in more. Over time, learning becomes cumulative, meaning you build on what you have already learned. At the same time, you are discarding what is outdated and obsolete. If you take in more than you can handle, as is often the case in today’s smart-phone driven culture, the mind reacts like a freeway clogged with traffic: learning stops. That is why it is best to make changes within a six-month time frame.

Thinking about where you want to be far in the future can stimulate the imagination, but it is not as effective as thinking in the here and now because the reward is more immediate. (We humans love immediate payoff.) To reach any objective, motivation has to be internal and it is easier to sustain interest when what you want is closer at hand. Also, what you want today may not be what you want in a year or five years from now. For example, do you recall a time when you set a long-term goal that did not materialize because of circumstances beyond your control; or, more likely, because your values changed?

Getting to the Super Bowl

Your “Super Bowl” is what you desire with your whole heart and soul. Reaching this goal would fulfill your fondest hopes. Bill Parcells, a former coach in the National Football League, knew his players’ dream was to reach and win the Super Bowl. Before Parcells came on the scene, players on the teams he was to coach focused on getting to the Super Bowl; as a result, they never reached their destination. This concept is also true when you focus on getting rich, rather than on what you want to do. You fail to achieve financial security.

First, Parcells made sure the players loved football. If they were in the game for any other reason, they needed to leave. Once he established who was passionate about the game he instructed those players to concentrate on the down they were in, achieving five yards at a time; not the quarter, the half, the game, or the next game. His experience with players taught him three rules you can apply to yourself when you want to grow:

  1. Be brutally honest. The only way to change people, Parcells discovered, was to tell them what they were doing wrong. If they didn’t want to listen, they didn’t belong on the team.
  2. Confront others. Confrontation is necessary and healthy, Parcells says, a critical function of turning around any organization or person. You must be respectful as well as firm, however, letting others know that you want them to succeed. People respond to the direct approach. As proof, his players say that what they remember most about Parcells is his statement: “I think you are better than you think you are.”