One thing I have come to know through the years: We thinking people can have whatever we want out of life. Maybe it’s because God answers prayer, maybe it’s because of the Law of Attraction, maybe it’s because we are gods ourselves. I don’t know.
You could pick up any self-help book and find most of the things I’m about to share. What follows are some of the tips that have worked for me for turning “nothing into something.”
-Decide what you want. I’m paraphrasing, but Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the entire world is an open catalogue. All we have to do is pick what we want, pay the price, and have it. Maybe you won’t get exactly what you want, but if you shoot for the moon and miss, you still land among the stars. When I bought a car on a very limited budget last year, I had “Jeep Cherokee” in mind. We were searching and searching, and ended up with a Toyota 4Runner, which is the same class of car. We could have kept pressing until we found our Jeep, but in that instance, we got close enough to what we wanted to be happy. If we had just settled for anything at all, we probably wouldn’t be this happy with our decision a year later. She still runs great, by the way.
-Pay the cost to be the boss. Jesus speaks of the importance of “counting the cost” because he knew we could have anything in creation, but we have to give an equal exchange to obtain it. He could only heal people after long periods of prayer and fasting. The hip-hop artist who would sell several million albums and have a great world tour will probably have to lose some sleep and miss out on a family function or two. If you want to do something outside of your current job, you have 2 choices. You can quit your job and pursue your dream (and live with the immediate financial consequences) or you can work on it in your off time. Coming home from work and planting yourself in front of the TV till you fall asleep ain’t going to cut it. The point is, accomplishing (significant) things takes (significant) sacrifice.
-Keep it in mind. People often focus and pray for a particular thing for a while, and then they just stop thinking about it and working towards it, though they still claim they want it. Part of the magic of reaching goals is having a burning, intense desire to reach them. If you’re lukewarm about an idea, you probably won’t be able to pull it off well. The things you want to do in life should excite you. When I decided to propose to Isis, I was a full time grad student with no credit card, but I was determined to get her a respectable engagement ring. I thought and thought and thought about how I could do it legally. I thought about it in class, I wrote out plans, I went window shopping, I took extra work at a funeral home, I talked to recently married men. Every time I thought about asking my baby to marry me, I wanted it so bad I could taste it. She ended up hating the ring I got and we went together to exchange it later, but at least I was able to afford it and more importantly, she said yes!
-Make the decision right. People spend too much time worrying about whether or not they made the right decision, and that can paralyze your success and progress. When I’m preparing a sermon, one of the first things I have to do is decide which 1 or 2 of the 10,000+ verses in the Bible I’m going to preach from. Sometimes I choose a passage, work with it for a while, and conclude that it’s just not “preaching” and I have to pick another one. There are times when it’s wise to jump ship, but for the most part, once I’ve picked a scripture, I stick with it. If it’s not immediately preaching, I dig deeper until it starts to. If you decided to sell pre-paid legal services (or whatever) and you weren’t successful, don’t immediately jump ship to Amway thinking that will solve all your problems. Pre-paid legal has a winning formula, commit yourself to working it.
-Don’t be afraid to bark. When you have an idea that you feel strongly about, it’s easy to talk about it everywhere you go. Whatever you’re selling or whatever you hope to accomplish, does everyone you know know about it? If not, you’re probably not doing as well as you could with it. I was a stand up comic in NYC for over 3 years. Before you become a big name and garner a following, you have to hustle to bring people into the club to see you. Not a time to be shy. In addition to emailing everyone I knew in the city to let them know what I was up to, I also stood outside clubs and “barked,” announcing to the passers by that there was a comedy show going on inside. The miracle of barking is, once they heard about it, people who had no intention of coming to a comedy show went into the club and sat down for my show. If I had been too timid to say, “hey, you know about the comedy show?,” they would have just kept on walking. Sure, the winters were cold, but how else do you expect to turn nothing into something? We also faced a lot of rejection out there, but so what? If you want to make it, you have to go for broke. Not only are you telling everyone you know, you’re telling everyone you don’t know, too. I’m putting together a class to prepare kids for the SAT. Last time I did it, I went to the 5 high schools closest to where the class was held, and I ended up with three students. This time, I called the 100 closest high schools, and the response has been stronger. It has created more work for me, and more opportunity for reward, too.
-Stick to the script.The first time I actually barked some people into a comedy show and they put their money in my hands, I could hardly believe it. It was an incredible feeling. My faith, my personal magnetism, my strong desire, it had all paid off. I was so stoked that I basked in the glory of the moment for the next 45 minutes–and I didn’t bark anyone else in that night. Once we taste the fatness of success, it’s all too easy to forget about what we had to do to get there. How many of us have had our backs against the wall, prayed, gave more at church, promised God we’d change, and once we get out of the jam, we ended that high level of devotion and commitment? It probably wasn’t long until we found ourselves in another pickle. When you find the keys to success (vision, faith, persistence, love, etc), they are not just gimmicks to get you through the month. Jim Rohn called it when he said success is not something you pursue, it is something you attract by the person you become.