Henry Ford said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Henry Ford is the founder of Ford Motor company, and the person who is credited for making a car affordable to the middle class with his automatic assembly line. There are many stories about how Henry set out with an idea, believed he can make it happen and then actually made it happen.
A few years ago, a dear friend shared with me this verse “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” He shared the verse with me after hearing me say a few uninspiring things about myself.
The stories about uninspiring things I said to myself.
If you had known me back before 2010, you would notice that I was an introvert person. I would avoid eye contacts, would never strike up a conversation, and of course would do anything to avoid a public speaking event. Whenever I had to make a presentation in public, I would tell other people that I hope I won’t embarrass myself, and that my goal is to do an okay job, striving for survival. My friend cautioned me on this type of thinking. He shared with me the verse, and taught me to practice visualization technique. Before I get on stage, whenever I find myself thinking about “wanting to survive”, I must change my thinking to: “I am going to rock this. This presentation will add value to people. This presentation will inspire people. I’m going to sparkle.” (I added the sparkle piece to personalize it for myself.) This visualization technique is powerful. Because I force myself to think in a certain way, I will my actions in that way; and, the result happens just as how I desire and expect it. Since then, I have presented in multiple occasions, when people would come up to me and share how my passion and confidence have inspired them, and tell me that the information I presented was so convincing and fun that it helped them with their own issues.
Other occasions, when discussing my dream or aspiration with my friend, I often said things like: “Nah. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t have the skills and the ability to be in such and such position, or to have such and such responsibilities.” I would even give examples to back up my statement – why I think I can’t reach a level. Examples could be: “I’m not smart enough. I don’t have enough experience, or even to physical attributes like I’m not tall enough or that I speak English with accents”. Upon hearing me say this a few times, my friend said “You become what you think about.” He pointed out: who are you to know your own future? Leave it up to God. He instructed me to change my thinking. Whenever I find myself saying discouraging things to myself, I need to repeat this “Everything is possible if it is God’s will. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Think of where you were many years ago, and think of where you are now. Think of your past successes, and see how much you have accomplished in your life. When you were born, did you know how to walk? Can you run now? When you were 2 years old, did you know how to read or write? And look at how many things you can read and write now.
What determines your level of success?
Now, picture it with your own mind’s eyes: someone who was born without arms and legs. Seeing a baby without arms and legs, how would you guess his future? Would he forever be confined in a nursing home, depending on the care of specialized nurses? What if I told you that this boy grew up traveling the world, writing books, giving speeches to tens of thousands of people, getting married, having 2 children, and giving hope to people all around the world. Look him up. His name is Nic Vujicic.
Now, picture another baby. This time, it’s a girl who became blind and deaf at 19 months old. How would you imagine her future? What if I tell you that this girl later on learned to speak several languages, became a famous speaker and activist, wrote 12 books. Her name is Helen Keller. Look her up as well.
Life is full of stories about people who started out with many unfavorable circumstances against them, and yet, with perseverance and unstoppable passion for learning, they became an inspiration for others, living life to the full potentials, adding value to the world.
You need to dream big, believe in your dream, and take actions to make it happen. The dream doesn’t need to happen now for it to be a reality. Everything takes time. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Thinking about the future doesn’t mean we abandon the NOW.
We are in the Now. Whatever we can do, it happens Now. Yesterday has already gone, and tomorrow is not yet here. Our job is to give the Now our best. About that future that we dream about, as we increase our lid, opportunities will come. As we master the present assignments that God has for us, he will give us a more challenging and rewarding one. As we grow our capability, character and faith, our influence and responsibilities will also grow.
How do we increase our lid?
The wise Dr. Seuss said “The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you go.” Bill Gate, the famous Microsoft founder said that he always reads for an hour before bed, no matter how late he gets home. Bill said “reading is still the main way I learn new things and test my understanding.”  Dave Ramsey, a well-known entrepreneur leadership expert, started each and every of his leadership seminars with a stack of recommended reading and this statement: “There are no leaders that ain’t readers”.
Healthy habits carried out over time will have a compound effect on us. We will surely grow in whatever we focus on doing consistently day after day. The law of process says “leaders develop daily, not in a day”. We increase our lid by embracing new heathy habits – by continuous reading, learning and practicing what we learn – by guarding our thoughts with positive thinking – by surrounding us with people who believe in us and support us in our journey of growth – by believing in ourselves.
I have learned a few lessons from my dear friend:
- Guard my own thoughts and my own speech. What a man thinks in his heart, so is he. I will avoid negative thinking and negative speech.
- Develop healthy growth habits so that I can keep growing one day at a time to increase my lid. One of those habits is reading. I will read the books that are recommended by the leaders that I admire. I will read the autobiography of inspiring people in history.
- Have faith in God. I will do everything with my absolute best. I will love everything I do, and leave the results and the future to God. I will not set my own lid. I trust that God know where he wants me to be and will make things happen in its own time.
As you read my stories, please don’t think that I have arrived. I’m far from mastering my own lessons. However, the more intentional I am about practicing my lessons, the better I’m at it. At this stage in my life, I can almost certain catching myself every time I’m failing one of those lessons, and as a result, make a course correction. Because I have become consciously aware of these mistakes, it makes my heart sad whenever I see another person doing it. Therefore, I share my stories with you in hope that they will add value to you.
 The 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership by John C. Maxwell.