person looking over a lake

What do you think about? Do you think negatively or positively? Thinking is the most challenging activity one can undertake. If you don’t believe me, try it. Just sit for 30 minutes and think about your life. It is likely that within just a few minutes of thinking, you will be reaching for your phone or turning on the TV or looking for something that can distract you. There are very few people in the world today that genuinely think. It is an intentional act that requires significant discipline. If you can master it, your life will never be the same. The level of satisfaction with your life will go through the roof. This is not a new discovery. Jesus Christ introduced us to intentional mental retreats, and the Buddha taught us meditation. These men understood the power and benefits of deliberate contemplation. If we were to consider every person that has made a profound difference on this earth, we realize they were all profound thinkers. From Einstein to Churchill to Darwin, the individuals that helped humanity gain a new perspective did so by just thinking. To be clear, thinking must be followed by action. Einstein would not have altered our reality with the Theory of Relativity had he kept it to himself. Darwin would not have helped us better understand our past had he not written his thoughts down. If you are interested in controlling your destiny, then you must develop a thinking habit.

The highest-paid people in the world are thinkers. Successful individuals take time to think things through at some point along the way. Thinking requires intentional focus, and we live in a world of constant distraction. We mistake surfing the web or shopping on Amazon for productive activity when what we are actually doing is consuming. Production creates value, while consumption consumes value. Our phones are weapons of mass distraction, almost solely for entertainment. Every waking minute, we have a screen in front of our faces. It is impossible to generate value when consuming instead of producing. Very few people get paid to consume, and the way to get paid is to produce. Producers can be and are successful. They are successful based on the quantity of value they produce. The greater the value, the more they earn. 

Producing is still much easier than thinking, even after you get the hang of it. For example, if I am an accountant in the beginning of my career, it can be overwhelming. The tax codes, individual returns versus corporate returns, and so on. However, over time, I master these skills and learn what matters most for minimizing the amount of tax my clients have to pay. To be certain, each year I take a week or two and go to a tax conference, but for the most part, I have got this and put it on auto-pilot. I am earning a stable living, I am producing value for my clients, but I am limited in the amount of value I can provide. As we say in the entrepreneurial world, I, as the accountant, am not scalable, so my success will be limited. However, if I add an element of thinking every day about taxes and accounting, I will generate new strategies for helping clients save, grow, or think about their taxes. I can package those thoughts in book or video form. Maybe I can develop a podcast that adds more value to the market and helps thousands versus the limited number of clients I can support individually. Success isn’t just about money; it is a measure of whatever is valuable to you. Money is a measure for some and means nothing to others. My personal measure is the number of lives I can impact through sharing my message. My pleasure comes from making a difference in the lives of others. What matters to you? Whatever it is can be multiplied when you start thinking and taking action based on those thoughts. Here is how to go from consumer to producer to thinker:

Accept responsibility for your future and your success. 

Since the beginning of time, humanity has worked hard to pass off responsibility. If you want to become a thinker and grow your success, it must start with accepting responsibility for your life.

Take time. 

My father said to me, “Son, you can’t find time; you have to take time.” He is right. We should never wait for our ship to come in because it might not show up. Thinking must be scheduled. It should be on your calendar before anything else. If you want to succeed and progress, you will need to prioritize thinking.

Be a student. 

Thinkers are naturally curious. They want to understand everything, so they study and ask questions. They study their craft and identify ways to improve and grow. Learning for thinkers is a life-long pursuit. How many books will you read this year? What will you focus on learning? Why is that important to you?

Get around thinkers. 

If you want to make a difference and leave a legacy, you will need others to push you. It is critical to spend time with people that will challenge your mindset and push you to think differently. These are special people that will not accept the standard norms of an average society. These people expect more and want to be around people that expect more as well. Find a mastermind community that will challenge and push you. If you can’t find one, make your own. Go to conferences that have attendees focused on growth and improvement.

Share your thoughts. 

Success can never be achieved in a vacuum. Learning to share your thinking in a way that allows others to grow and also to challenge you is a key to long-term success. Thinkers don’t keep their thinking to themselves because they are not content with their model of the world. They realize others have insights and feedback that will help them to enhance their model, and they desire that feedback. In today’s media-driven environment, we are drowning in content and starving for wisdom. There is a lot of noise, but thinkers know how to focus on valuable information and apply it to their model of the world. Many platforms make it easy to share your thoughts today.

 My hope is that you only consume what is necessary and that what you consume helps you grow. Move away from media and other platforms that are only there to attract your attention because they won’t serve you and only exist to entertain. After you have built these skills, you can begin producing and adding value to others. Get great at producing and you will advance into leading. Then you can really begin to make a difference by thinking. Thinking is how you can go from producer to influencer. Communicating your thinking with others will allow them to grow and offer feedback. This feedback will enable you to improve your model and further its influence. Grab a pen and paper, maybe a cup of coffee, and start with a thought. Expand the thought into a concept, then from concept to a model. Share with others and improve the model. Do this every day for twenty or thirty minutes. Thinking is the most rewarding activity you will ever experience. It won’t be easy because it requires discipline, and discipline is hard. What is easy to do is also easy not to do, and therein lies the challenge. You can make an incredible difference in this world. Think about it.

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