I know it’s very difficult as a young person today to take a stand against a group. You might face bullying, ostracism, ridicule, harassment, or teasing. It’s very hard to walk that journey alone. Can you find at least one friend to walk that journey with you to help you remain strong? The Bible recommends you walk a journey with another and says “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10, NIV). It’s good wisdom to live by.
If you have an idea or dream that you are pursuing and you are facing opposition, share that struggle with your teacher. It may be that help is closer than you think.
Others will squash your ideas. I will offer a warning here that you may have already encountered in life. Be very careful who you share your ideas with. We’re in a class that includes innovation. Many other people are afraid of innovation. They want their life to be simple and unchanging and they are intensely skeptical of new things. And they may want you to be the same as they are. People tend to like others who are like themselves. People (unfortunately) persecute others who are not like themselves.
Realize that, the loftier your dreams, the purer your motives, and the higher your ideals, the greater will be the level of misunderstanding and persecution from those you live amongst. It’s a fact of life and observable throughout history. Often, your dreams or vision will appear too radical for those who live closest to you and will serve as a rebuke in their lives for their sloppy living, careless thinking, and wasted years. Don’t let these people drag you down..
Here’s a challenge (actually, it’s part of your assignment as you’ll see in a few minutes): think of these two questions and carry them with you (mentally at least) the next time you go shopping or go through your city.
1. What do I like as a consumer/customer that makes me pleased?
2. What turns me off or makes me get upset as a consumer/customer?
Okay, now that you’ve been given these questions, your Reticular Activating System has been activated. In fact, you can’t not help but think about these answers. It’s not some weird mind game I’ve just played on you—it’s a great tool to help you look for new ideas.
The second assignment is directly tied into the first. It’s going to be something that alters your life forever, in a positive way, if you take action upon it and make it a habit. Here’s the premise: if you don’t write down an idea as it comes to you, or find a way to record it, you’ll lose it.
The smallest action that you do will always be greater than the greatest intention. Intention, by itself, counts for nothing unless it is accompanied by positive action. Don’t wait to be inspired to start this. Start it first and inspiration will be follow quickly and soon lead the way. Action always, always, always precedes inspiration, but inspiration is a jealous competitor and will strive to lead.
Your tool to record your ideas and observations is going to be either a notebook and pen, or whatever personal digital device you prefer. The key to success is getting in the habit—when see something in business that makes you happy, or makes you upset, or you see an idea, write it down. Record it.
Watch Rich Schefren (Shef-ren) talk about “The Best Thinking Tool I Have Ever Used”. The link is here. (3:09 minutes).
The key here is volume. Don’t stop to analyze the ideas, or even your format for writing. Go for volume.
The more ideas you write down or record,
the broader your mind will expand,
the more connections your brain will be able to make,
the greater your potential will be to innovate.
Next, go for precision. Sometimes a clerk will say something that absolutely motivates you to buy. What exactly did she say?
This is key to business growth. A furniture store was having a hard time making sales so they experimented with various opening lines that a clerk would greet a customer as he walked in the door. They would then record if the customer bought something and the dollar value of what they bought. Most furniture store clerks would say something like, “May I help you?” Or perhaps they’ve had some sales training and they get smart (so they think) and they ask a question like, “How may I help you?” because now they’ve just asked a question that can’t be answered with a yes or no.
But there was one opening statement that literally doubled sales. Can you guess what it was?
“And what ad brought you in the store today?”
Why would that double sales? It could be that the clerk was using that opening line as a spin-off to talk about what was on sale. We’re not sure.
The important point is that you don’t want to just write in your book, “The clerk was friendly and greeted me as I came in the door.” You want to be more precise. “The clerk greeted me and asked me, ‘And what ad brought you in the store today?’ I’m not sure why but that engaged me.”
I love doing this when I go shopping. I’m always asking myself these questions:
• How did the clerk greet me?
• What did they do in this store that was different than the other store?
• What inspired me to buy?
• What was said or done that turned me off?
• What can I learn from the way I was treated here (at this convenience store, dry cleaners, technology shop, etc.) that I could use in my own business?
• What method of selling did I see today that might be useful in the future?
Think about this: Big problems are often big opportunities in disguise. Watch for them carefully and be a good listener. If they aren’t shouting at you, they’re whispering softly. There are no unsolvable problems in the business world. Put your mind to it and capitalize on the adversity.
One of my heroes is Thomas Edison, the “inventor” of the light bulb. Edison claims that his only really original invention was the phonograph (record player) and that most of his ideas came from other people. People would share with him some ideas but Edison was the one to develop the ideas so that they were workable. He likened himself to a sponge, absorbing ideas from every source. We, too, must learn to open our minds and start to believe that great ideas are all around us. Few of us will have truly original ideas, but we all will find a host of ideas from various sources that will need improvement. It is these ideas that will be the source of your new business.
This is also the reason that collaboration in business ... and in school ... is so important. Great ideas breed even greater ideas. Have you ever been around a great group of friends or family and one person says, “Think about this...” And another person says, “Yeah, and what if you did this as well...” And the idea grows quickly.
Friends will do that to you. It’s exciting. So will good colleagues at work.
If your family or friends persecute you, then you are in noble company. Socrates was considered by some as one of the wisest and noblest men of all time, yet was condemned to death for trying to improve the morals of the people of his day. In Italy, Dante was banished when he tried to bring about political unity. Columbus, who “discovered” America, was sent home in chains for standing for his morals against the crown. If you expect opposition, then it shouldn’t surprise you when it comes. If you find that everyone agrees with you, it wouldn’t hurt you to be a little suspicious.