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The Quality of Your Thoughts

It’s often spouted as conventional wisdom that anyone can have a great idea. What makes a great book–like a great company or invention or system–is the work. The commitment and unique persistence applied to making that idea fly.

It sounds so true it has to be true, right?

Well, not exactly.

It turns out that some people have greater ideas, and more of them too. And what’s most astonishing about that is that it’s for the very same reason they achieve great work.

Why do some people consistently have greater ideas?

First, because they’ve worked hard. They put in the time others didn’t. When the questions came up of whether they were wasting their time and throwing money and relationships and hobbies away for this, they blew right by them. They might have considered those things, but they didn’t stop. That made them keep learning while others didn’t. First foundation for success.

But a very close second, and the one you don’t hear touted nearly as often, is that in the process of blowing by all those questions because they were too busy actually working, was that the quality of their ideas naturally grew progressively and empirically better. Their thoughts moved beyond the standard ones. The basic ones. The early-work considerations. They left all that behind and started thinking of questions that led to ideas most people never get to.

Why? Because they kept going when others asked, Why should I work so hard without any assurance of pay off?

It’s no shame to start there and ask that question. But what you have to know is, it’s a beginner question. Once you accept that and keep going, you’ll see it’s a ruse, a clever deceit that keeps most people small and uncontributing. Under control.

Want to contribute? Risk wasting your time on what you love. You’ll stand out by your commitment. But even better, you’ll begin having better ideas more often.

And then you might develop a habit of an unsurpassed quality of thought. You might inspire others to push on because you’ll have shown this truth and embodied it. You’ll have contributed to raising someone else’s quality of thought, not to mention their quality of life as well.

Books are written from books. Lives are made by other lives. Thoughts are improved by other improved thoughts.

If you want to write, never question your investment in books. Instead, maybe question whether you’re investing enough. What other investment could have such an unbeatable return?

6 Responses to “The Quality of Your Thoughts”

  1. Jenelle. M says:

    Oh such conviction here! I just happen to be checking my email, which has been rare lately, and bing! this pops up and smacks me in the face. God knows, oh how He knows and gives me your training and confirmation just when I need it most. It’s a beautiful thing :)

    • Mick says:

      You too? :) I needed a little afternoon boost. Glad you could use it too. Let do this.

  2. suzee says:

    okay OB. you are on a roll. either you are procrastinating in style and impressive flourish or you are committed to writing period! i like it. “risk wasting your time on what you love” that might be what you are doing, except for one major flaw, this is not wasting your time cause you are helping people right and left. books from books, lives from lives, thoughts from thoughts, YEAH! music from music and the beat goes on. as mr. rogers would say, i’m proud of you. you have my attention here. and i don’t even need cliff notes!!!!
    suzee B

  3. Just me says:

    I once read Dolly Parton said when she was young, when she was getting ready to record an album, she would write, or start to write, some 30 songs, hoping to find 10 for the album. Later, it would be more like 15-20 songs, because she got better at recognizing lesser ideas quicker, and discarded them without expending too much time. I think that’s similar to the process you’re talking about–the more you risk creativity, the better you get at recognizing good ideas; and the less time you expend on lesser ideas, the easier it is to hear the great ones. Maybe. I hope.

  4. Jenelle. M says:

    I knew something was up because you posted multiple times and it was only Tuesday. Let’s do this, indeed. See you on the other side…

    Just me, I’m sorry for not knowing your name, but thank you for that Parton example. It’s one of hope.

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