Would you consider yourself to be an “enterprising” individual? What does the word enterprising conjure up in your mind? Well, given today’s economic realities, we all must be enterprising; it’s simply part of the power of ambition. You’re ambitious, right? Sure! But how does one become that? Is it a skill that can be learned? Well, yes, and here’s why it’s important.
Building your ambition is building your enterprising skills. Building your skills to be self-enterprising. To consistently create opportunity, new opportunity. To consistently take advantage of the opportunity that you’ve created. To be aware. To face life with your eyes and ears open to the possibilities that may be just around the corner.
An enterprising person is one who comes across a pile of scrap metal and sees the makings of a wonderful sculpture. An enterprising person is one who drives through an old, decrepit part of town and sees a new housing development. An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of life.
To be enterprising is to keep your eyes open and your mind active. It’s to be skilled enough and confident enough and creative enough and disciplined enough to seize opportunities that present themselves… regardless of the economy.
An enterprising mortgage broker will develop creative financing strategies during slow markets. An enterprising lawyer will study new laws and market herself to people who may need help in those areas. An enterprising salesman will research beyond the obvious to find new prospects for his products or services. Isolate a secondary market. Develop another benefit.
An enterprising attitude says, “Find out before action is taken.” Do your homework. Do the research. Be prepared. Be resourceful. Do all you can in preparation of what’s to come.
Think of a few people you know who are enterprising. Think of people in the news, in your office, in your neighborhood. What do these people have in common? Well, they’re probably always on the go. Developing a plan. Following a plan. Reworking the plan until it fits. They’re probably very resourceful, never letting anything get in their way. They probably don’t understand the word no when it applies to their visions of the future. And, when posed with a problem, they probably say, “Let’s figure out a way to make it work,” instead of, “It won’t work.” They take charge of the situation. You need to be like that pesky little Energizer Bunny. You need to keep going and going and going.
Self-enterprising people always see the future in the present. Self-enterprising people will always find a way to take advantage of a situation, not be burdened by it.
And self-enterprising people aren’t lazy. They don’t make excuses. They don’t wait for opportunities to come to them; they go after the opportunities. Self-enterprise means always finding a way to keep yourself actively working toward your ambition.
Self-enterprise requires two things. Number one: creativity. Creativity to see what’s out there and shape it to your advantage. Creativity to look at the world a little differently. Creativity to take a different approach. Creativity to be different. And what goes hand-in-hand with the creativity of self-enterprise is number two, the courage to be creative. The courage to see things differently. The courage to go against the crowd. The courage to take a different approach. The courage to stand alone if you have to. The courage to choose activity over ease.
And activity generally relates to how you feel about yourself. Understanding your self-worth.
How valuable are you? What could you do if you had all the skills? Took the classes, read the books, burned the midnight oil? What could you do, what true value could you develop?
This is one of the better exercises. What could I become? What could I really do in the marketplace, in enterprise, family, home, experience, love, friendship, marriage… how valuable could I become? Am I valuable enough to work on what’s not working so I can reach my full capacity? If I’m operating at 20 percent, what could I possibly do with the other 80 percent?
Once you start understanding how valuable you are, it is a whole new experience. Understanding self-worth. It plays a major role in our ability to be self-enterprising. Our self-worth makes the difference between being lazy and being active, being-self-enterprising. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we won’t feel good about our lives. And if we don’t feel good about our lives, we won’t be very interested in looking for opportunities.
So you see, being self-enterprising doesn’t just relate to the ability to make money. Being self-enterprising also means feeling good enough about yourself, having a great enough self-worth, to want to seek advantages and opportunities that will make a difference in the future.
Enterprise is always better than ease. Every time we choose to do less than we possibly can, it affects our self-confidence, our self-worth. If we keep doing a little less every day, a little less, a little less… every day that we keep doing a little less, we are also being a little less. Can you imagine what you’d end up being after 10 years of doing a little less every day? It’s devastating! Think about it… doing less could ruin your life!
Now, you can reverse the process of doing a little less, doing a little less. You can reverse this process by using your self-direction, your self-reliance, your self-discipline. You alter your course by doing a little more each day. A little more, a little more, a little more. And pretty soon, you’ll develop a new habit of doing rather than neglecting. And days and weeks and months of doing a little more will ultimately do what? It’ll increase your confidence and your courage and your creativity and your self-worth.
In the end, it’s how we feel about ourselves that provides us with the increased courage and creativity for self-enterprise. It’s how we feel about ourselves that provides the greatest reward from activity and enterprise. It’s not what we get or what we accumulate that makes us valuable. It’s what we become that makes us valuable. Our life becomes exceptional.
Success isn’t in the having. Success is in the doing. It’s the process of doing that brings value. It’s the activity that transforms our dreams into reality, that converts ideas into actuality. Self-enterprise is found in the activity. For without activity, we’ll miss the opportunity.
Let me tell you what I think most messes with the mind. I think that simply doing less than you can messes with the mind. It causes all kinds of psychic damage. I think being less than you could be, doing less than you could do, trying less than you could try, doing it with less enthusiasm than you could do it messes with the mind.
It somehow damages the mind. It damages our self-image. Because here’s what I’ve discovered happens. The minute you turn this around and start extending yourself, you’ll see immediate rewards. Maybe not monetary ones, not yet. But it’s how you feel about yourself that’s the greatest value. You see, it’s not what we get that makes us valuable. It’s what we become. Discover all you can do. See how much you can earn. How much you can share. How much you can start. How much you can finish. How far you can reach. How far you can extend your influence.
Some people out there would have us believe that positive affirmation is more important than activity. Instead of doing something constructive to change our lives, they would have us repeating slogans and canned affirmations like, “Every day and in every way, I’m getting better and better.”
Well, getting better and better doesn’t just happen from wishful thinking. Getting better and better only happens with the discipline of doing better and better. Discipline is the requirement for progress. And, affirmations without discipline are—in all reality—delusions.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. There’s nothing wrong with affirming the good life, as long as we are disciplined enough to take action. Affirmations can be effective as long as we remember two very important rules. Number one, we should never allow affirmation to replace action, activity, enterprise. Feeling better is no substitute for doing better.
And number two, whatever we choose to affirm must be the truth. If the truth happens to be that we’re broke, the best affirmation would be to simply say, “I’m broke.” Wow! Face it. Accept it. Be responsible for it. And change it. By admitting that you’re broke, by saying it out loud, you’ll probably be disgusted enough to start the thinking process for how to change it. Anyone saying “I’m broke” with conviction will most likely be driven from ease into action.
Confronting harsh realities has an incredible effect. Confronting the truth, and then applying the discipline to express the truth—instead of disguising it—inevitably leads to positive change.
And reality is always the best beginning. You see, within reality lies the possibility to create our own personal miracle. Our own personal miracle. And the power of faith starts with reality. If we can bring ourselves to state the truth about a situation, then, as the saying goes, the truth will set us free. Here’s another old saying. “Faith isn’t faith unless it’s all you’re holding on to.” If your life and your circumstances have resulted in a situation that is ugly, call it ugly. If you’ve lost it all, admit that you’ve lost it all. Be responsible to it. And, if faith is all you’ve got left, use it. Create your own personal miracle.
Once we understand and accept the truth, the promise of the future is freed from the shackles of deception. Once we accept the truth, the promise of the future will pull us.
Here are some creative techniques that’ll help keep you on the right track toward that promising future. Remember, creativity is the first requirement for self-enterprise. Number one. Think on paper. You can’t take a trip to somewhere new without a road map. You can’t build a house with the plans in your head. You can’t build a company with the business plan in your head. You can’t seek venture capital with the financials in your head.
But here’s what you can do. You can put it all on paper. Your road map, your blueprints, your business plan, your financial projections. When you put it on paper, you can analyze your path, solve your problems, and isolate what works and what doesn’t. You can use this for your life as well.
If you’re faced with a mental roadblock, put it all down on paper. When you put a problem on paper, you take the emotion out of it. With the emotion gone, you can look at the roadblock objectively. You can figure out what you did right. You can figure out what you did wrong. You can figure out how to change it.
So, here’s what you do. Pick a problem out of your head and pull out a piece of paper. And then draw a line down the middle. On the left-hand side, jot down the problem. Just what is the problem? Write it out. We’ve got so much going on in our heads that we can’t figure things out until we take a piece of it out and put it on paper. What is the problem? This is the problem. State it the best you can.
The doctor says, “Oh, you look good. Come and see me in a year.” And you say, “No, Doc, I’m hurting here.” He says, “No, that’s negative; just be positive.” No. No… we’ve got some negative stuff we need to deal with.
So what is the problem? State the problem. Write it down. Now, on the other side of this paper you put the answers or the solutions. And I’ve got three questions to ask in order to find the answers. And by the way, these three questions can be used to solve almost any problem. Here they are:
The first question you need to write down is this, “What can I do?” What can I do? Because you don’t want to go any further than that if you can solve it yourself. “What can I do?” Then what you do is develop working papers. You just start jotting down… I could do number one. I could do number two. I could do number three. Here are some alternatives. And then, you start analyzing them. Let’s see, number three, no… that one would take too long. I haven’t got that much time. Okay. Number two? Not sure. Okay. Let’s look at number one. Maybe this is my best one, the one I thought of first.
Now, if that won’t work, here’s question number two: “What could I read?” Maybe there’s a book on your problem. Somebody spent a lifetime trying to figure out this problem. Maybe it’s written out in concise language somewhere to give you the instant benefit of somebody’s advice. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel… do your homework and find the solution.
And then, you start developing some working papers on what you’re reading. Book number one. This just isn’t for me. Book number two. Not enough meat here. Book number three. This person’s got some interesting things to say about this problem. This will solve something.
I’m telling you, if you want to solve a problem, the best questions to ask are number one, “What could I do?” And number two, “What could I read?” Don’t miss the book that could help.
So, I’m asking you. Don’t sell yourself short here. You can find some answers. Now, first, try to find them yourself. From your own experience. Then, second, if you can’t find them yourself, now, ask, “What could I read?” Go to the library. Go to the bookstore. Search your own library. Go back through your own journals to find the stuff that’s been helpful and valuable to you. And see if, maybe, you’ve made some notes that could be helpful in your situation. Now, if that doesn’t work, then ask question number three.
And question number three is, “Who could I ask?”
Now, guess what you’re prepared with when you ask somebody to help you? You’ve got your working papers to show them. You say, “You know, I’ve got my working papers. I’ve tried my best to figure it out myself… and that finally left me short. Here are some of the books I’ve read. I’ve researched this material, and I’m still short. Now, could I possibly ask you? And, could you possibly help me?”
You can’t believe how willing somebody will be to help you if, first of all, they’ve gotten the idea that you were willing to help yourself. Yes, it is legitimate to ask for a fish if you’re hungry and starving and you’ve got no choice.
So, if you’ve got a problem, pull it out of your head and put in down on paper. Then, ask yourself, “What can I do?” And, if that doesn’t work, ask yourself, “What can I read?” And, if after researching all you can, you still can’t come up with the answer, ask yourself, “Who can I find to help me?”
I promise you, if you try these ideas and ask these questions when you’ve got a problem, you’ll be able to solve about anything that gets in your way.
The second step to keeping yourself on the right track and to being self-enterprising is to develop the ability to brainstorm. Develop the ability to brainstorm. We hear this term all the time. But what is brainstorming? Just what it sounds like. Letting your brain go. Being free from all inhibitions and objections and negatives… just putting an idea into your brain and letting it take off. Free associating. Not planning a train of thought, but thinking freely.
Now, if you’re planning a creative strategy session with your associates, a brainstorming session, let me give you a little hint. Effective brainstorming can only happen if you’re free from your ego. You can’t be worried about saying something stupid, or silly, or totally off-the-wall. Because your silly thought may trigger someone else’s brain to take it one step further. Brainstorming in a group is an experience of collective thought, an experience of developing one idea, or several ideas, through a variety of thought processes.
Here’s another hint on brainstorming. It can’t be effective unless everyone involved is comfortable with each other. If you don’t feel comfortable within the group, you may withhold the very thought that provides the solution to the problem. You may withhold it because you don’t want to appear unknowledgeable.
How do you think all the advertisements you see on TV and in the magazines get created? How do you think some of those crazy campaigns are born? The process happens through hours and hours of creative brainstorming. And working papers. Every member of the team jots down notes, and one idea builds on another idea, and another and another, and pretty soon, a campaign is born out of the collective thoughts of the group.
Now, I don’t believe that the best decisions are made by committee, but great ideas are often created by committee. That’s number two to keeping on the track of self-enterprise. Finding answers through brainstorming. Whether you’re letting your brain go by itself, or whether you’re part of a group, brainstorming can often lead you to solutions. Solutions you’d never have thought of if you’d imposed parameters on your thought process.
Here’s number three for creatively keeping on the track of self-enterprise. And it’s really an extension of number two. Number three says, imagine outlandish solutions. Get your brain out of the rut by considering ideas without considering their practicality.
Consider ideas without considering how practical they are. You see, if you allow yourself to think without confinement, you may come across a solution that seems totally inappropriate. But, guess what else this type of thinking will do? It’ll allow you to open up the process, which will eventually lead to totally appropriate solutions.
The fourth creative technique for keeping yourself on the right track to self-enterprise is through flow charts and doodles and formulas. That’s right. Doodling. The thing you got in trouble for in grade school is actually quite stimulating to the brain. Because, the way you think while doodling is quite different from the way you think while creating a flow chart or writing a formula.
Your doodles may end up looking like some symbol that will trigger your brain to think of an alternative solution. Drawing creative doodles wakes up a different part of your brain. Try creating a flow chart showing the path to success. What does it look like? Is it a straight course? Is it a varied course? Does it have a lot of curves and corners and different angles? Try creating your flow chart to success. It doesn’t matter if it ends up being accurate or not. What matters is that it’s stimulating the creative thought process.
And once you awaken that creative part of you, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that were always there, ones you never saw before. It’s all a matter of how you look at life and opportunities.
The fifth method of creatively staying on the self-enterprising track is to access the information highway. It’s amazing the kind of information that one comes across these days. With your computer, you can go online with hundreds of services. You can access stock quotes. You can access worldwide newspapers. You can do research. You can directly ask questions of other users. You can make new contacts, develop an entirely new network.
By taking advantage of our electronic age, you can learn more than you could otherwise learn. Network with people whom you’d otherwise never meet. You can find information that your library may not have. You can share information faster than ever before.
The sixth technique for staying on track? Commit yourself to learning. Feed your mind.
Sharpen your interest in two major subjects: life and people. Learn how you can better interact with others. Learn more on how to get the most from life. Learn all that you can so you can become all that you can become.
Learning is the beginning of a life worth living. Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of happiness. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality and faith. Learning and searching is where the process of creating your own personal miracle begins. Learning is the beginning of self-enterprise. Keep learning!
So, there you have the six steps for building your self-enterprising traits and ultimately building your ambition. Put them to work for you.
By Jim Rohn
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