All Things Are Possible (from The Millionaire’s Message by Bryan James)
All Things Are Possible
Chapter 2 from
The Milionaire’s Message: The Homemade Millionaire’s Secrets of the Rich and Free
by Bryan James
Welcome and thank you for being here. I’m anxious to share some thoughts with you this evening, even my deepest thoughts. For instance, today I have been thinking a lot about how I would like to die—if I had a choice. I have decided that I would like to die the way my grandfather died, at peace in his sleep. Of course, the people he was driving in the car at the time were screaming pretty loudly, but he was at peace.
But unless we died a heroic death, it isn’t about how we died, is it? It’s more about how we lived, and even more important, how we are living now. Maybe, each day, if we make sure we are truly living life, as opposed to just reacting to it, everything else just might fall into place.
I am sure by now you all know that I believe five percent of the people in the world are the leaders who make the world function the way it does. Of course, if this is valid, then the other ninety-five percent are just going along for the ride. It follows then that if you are not a five percenter, you probably are just reacting to life, not actively living in it. Let me tell you a little story…
A few weeks ago I was golfing with my neighbor. I use the term golfing very loosely because he is a very challenged golfer. On the fifth hole he hit his ball into the rough and, when he found it, he discovered that it was sitting atop an anthill. He perceived this as a fortuitous event, since it was as if someone had teed the ball up for him. He took out his five iron, set his feet, and swung with all his might.
Unfortunately, he completely missed the ball, but hit the anthill dead on. He probably killed, I don’t know, a thousand ants. Determinedly he swung again with the same results—missed the ball, killed another one thousand ants. After three more swings, and three more direct hits on the anthill, there were but two ants left who had survived the onslaught. One of the ants turned to the other and said, “If we want to get out of this alive, we better get on the ball!”
That is what I want to say to the ninety-five percenters. If you really want to live a life of fulfillment, you better get on the ball.
When I use the phrase, “Get on the ball,” I am certainly not trying to insult anyone. I am not talking about effort or commitment; I am referring to the way we think. I will explain this by telling you about a very special person. To do so, I need to take you back to my youth.
I was a war baby—born during World War II. As a young boy in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I was an avid sports fan. I was particularly fascinated by track and field, especially the mile run. You see, at that time, no human being had ever run the American mile in under four minutes. In the history of the world, no one had been timed breaking that barrier.
There were magazine and newspaper articles back then suggesting that it might not be humanly possible to accomplish this feat. There had been thousands of middle distance runners who had trained for years who never got close. No, back then, it was widely believed that it just couldn’t be done. There was, however, one runner who didn’t seem to get the message.
On May 6, 1954, an Englishman, Roger Bannister, ran a one-mile race at Oxford, England. He completed the mile in three minutes, fifty-nine and four-tenths seconds, smashing the world’s record and becoming the first human to break the four-minute mile!
This accomplishment amazed the world. Years later Sports Illustrated Magazine rated Banister’s breakthrough, along with the scaling of Mount Everest, as the most athletic feats in the twentieth century. While I too was impressed, something else amazed me even more.
On June 21, 1954, less than two months after Bannister’s extraordinary feat, an Australian, John Landy, ran the mile in three minutes, fifty-eight seconds flat—breaking Bannister’s world record and becoming the second human to run a sub four-minute mile. Over the next few years, several other runners accomplished the feat and, as of today, hundreds of men have broken the four-minute mile.
How is all this possible? In the history of the world no one was able to accomplish this goal, but once someone did it, the dam burst and a flood of runners were successful in this undertaking.
The answer, my friends, is in the mental aspect involved in accomplishing great things. You see, it wasn’t just a one- time event for Roger Bannister that sets him apart from everyone else; he continued to excel his entire life. He became an internationally known neurologist who made major contributions in his field. He introduced new procedures in the field of autonomic failure, an area of neurology focusing on illness characterized by certain automatic responses of the nervous system. He was the first recipient of Sports Illustrated Magazine’s Sportsman of the Year Award. He was the first chairman of the Sports Council (now known as Sport England) and in 1975 was knighted by the Queen for all his contributions. He was able to accomplish all this because of how he viewed life. He did not limit himself by what others had done; he stayed focused on his goals—even if others thought them impossible.
Unfortunately, there are many who are happy to function within parameters established by those around them. They feel if they are about as productive as most of their peers, then they are living a satisfactory life. They generally become ninety-five percenters because, if they emulate everyone else, they have ninety-five chances out of one hundred of becoming ninety-five percenters.
We can learn a lot about how this type of thinking can limit us by studying fleas. A scientist put a number of fleas in a shallow aquarium to observe their behavior. He immediately had a problem, as the aquarium was five inches high with no top. Since fleas are excellent jumpers—they can jump up to seven inches—they were able to elevate above the sides of the aquarium and escape. So the scientist put screening over the top of the container. Immediately thereafter, the fleas jumped and bashed their little heads into the screened top. It didn’t take long before they limited their jumping to just below the top. The interesting part is when the scientist took off the screening, the fleas were still jumping below where the top had been. They had become programmed to jump lower than their potential.
Many of us live our lives with perceived limits on what we can accomplish; just like those fleas, we have become programmed to function within parameters that are well below our potential. We are constantly measuring what we believe is possible for us to do by what others have done. In doing this we have about a five percent chance of modeling our behavior after someone who is truly successful. That means that ninety-five percent of the time we are focusing on mediocrity. We need to shake up the way we perceive in order to excel. This next story will give us a clue as to how this can be done.
Rick owned a successful company, but had been experiencing limited growth over the last three years. He had ten salespeople who sold about one million dollars each of product each year. This accounted for ten million dollars of revenue annually, which needed to be increased. Rick believed stagnant growth was a danger sign because “if you weren’t growing, you were dying.”
One way Rick could increase sales was to have additional salespeople to establish additional territories. A study of the numbers, however, didn’t make this too appealing. Each new salesperson would not only require a salary, but also benefits and travel expenses. Rick calculated that it would take about two and one-half years for the territory to be developed to where income would meet expenses.
Rick concluded that the answer was to get his existing sales staff to sell more product. He was paying each about sixty thousand dollars per year, but spent another thirty thousand per salesperson in travel expenses. He would pay them more if they sold more, but they were working pretty hard already.
As Rick studied the situation, one surprising fact jumped out at him. All his salespeople sold about the same amount of product each year.There was only a 7 percent difference in total sales between his top salesperson and the bottom one, and that was over a two-year period. In other words, they were all quite content to sell about one million dollars per year and not much more. There was no laggard in the group, but there was no superstar either. This just didn’t make sense.
One day in late October, Rick called a meeting of his sales staff. He announced that their annual salary increases, which took effect every January, would no longer be given to them. He was replacing this automatic raise with an incentive program, and the program was quite simple. Anyone who sold two million dollars or more of product in the next calendar year would receive a fifty thousand dollar bonus!
Initially, this announcement was not well received. When the salespeople met later, they complained to one another that Rick was not being fair. He had to know that it was impossible to sell two million dollars of product in one year, so he was really saying that no one was getting a raise. They were angry.
A week later, while the sales people were still grumbling, a legitimate discussion emerged. One salesman thought he could increase sales by making calls earlier in the day and later in the afternoon. He could then do his paperwork after hours, when his clients were not available. By doing this he thought he could increase sales by as much as forty percent. He would be almost halfway there. The others wanted to know why he was even considering it.
“A $50,000 bonus would change my life,” he said. “I could pay off the mortgage on my house!”
Another salesperson chimed in with, “I could establish a serious college fund for my kids.”
Soon they all had a vision of how this bonus could affect them in a significant way.
As the discussion continued over the next couple of weeks, they jointly created a workable plan to give them each a legitimate shot at the bonus. By changing their call patterns to call on clients with big dollar potential, they had a real chance.
Rick got his sales people to think differently. They had to re-examine the possibility of doing the impossible because the reward for doing so was life-changing. He caused them to focus on the outcome and then, back to the solution. That next year three salespeople earned a $50,000 bonus. Overall sales went from $10,000,000 to $17,000,000, so those three $50,000 bonuses were well worth it. In fact, Rick was so pleased with the results that he gave significant bonuses to the rest of his sales staff as well.
It is absolutely amazing how creative our minds can be once we learn how to awaken this creativity. By focusing on the goal and committing to it, our minds are forced to find a way. You will be absolutely astounded as to the creative power of your brain once you successfully awaken it.
Don’t worry that something has never been done before. There are thousands of great accomplishments achieved each day, and they weren’t by accident. By properly utilizing your fantastic mind, all things are possible.
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