Thinking Long: Why it’s the Most Unheralded Secret of Success

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Thinking Long: Why it’s the Most Unheralded Secret of Success

“Most people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do designing their life, especially their financial future”.

—Canfield, Jack; Mark Victor Hansen. The Power Of Focus


his year, I have been a big champion of calendars—personal calendars at that. I think one of the most beautiful things you will see of a human being is that they are planned out. They know what is coming, where they are going. Three aspects of life are absolutely crucial in making an impact in life:

  • Knowing what is happening,
  • Knowing why it is happening,
  • And knowing How to make things happen!

The worst place to be at in life is being absolutely clueless of any of the three above…but the best place to be at in life is when you have sharp and clear knowledge of the things you want to make happen…even if you do not know how…yet.

Why We Don’t Make Things Happen

Frankly, I perceive that the main reason why I never make things happen is because I do not think. The thinking I am talking about is not the subconscious level of not being engaged. I am talking about sitting to deliberately carve out and plan the life of impact that I could make. Stay with me for a minute.

If I am to live a life of impact, a life that contributes to the betterment of others in the world, do you think it will happen arbitrarily? Do you think it will happen by itself? Life today is structured in such a way that we have so much to worry about that we can’t have time to think. The bulk of our daily existence, if we are not careful, is spent on tackling challenges, answering to requests and mainly fulfilling our obligations.

This means that if we will not take time to think, at the end of it all, our life will have been spent on matters simply related to us, but nothing that impacts the world.

[ictt-tweet-inline]I think we do not do so much because we do not ‘think long’.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

Peter J Daniels is an Australian Billionaire Christian Businessman whose friends include royalty, Presidents and movers and shakers of the world. When asked about what makes him successful, Peter said the following:

“I schedule time to think. In fact, I reserve one day a week on my calendar just to think. All of my money making ideas and ventures started with the days I took off to think. I used to lock myself away in a den with strict instructions to my family that under no circumstances should I be disturbed”

Benefits of Thinking Long

As you can see, thinking long is the first step towards living a life of impact. There are millions of definitions of success out there. The worst of them all is what someone else has imputed in you. My point is simple: you ought to have your own definition of what impact, success, fulfillment means to you and how it really looks like. For example, my own definition of success is “The continuous mastery over challenges”. You see, when you sit down to think long, what you are doing is projecting the best possible outcome for your life against the challenges that life throws at you.

“The media defines success as the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the homes we live in and the vacations we take.”

—Canfield, Jack; Mark Victor Hansen. The Power Of

Thinking long:

  1. Helps you to zero in on your purpose
  2. Helps you to locate what really matters in life
  3. Helps you to get your head above the mundane details of the day that distracts you from the big picture of life
  4. Helps you channel your focus and energy in every activity that you do
  5. Helps you to see how full your potential can be maximized.
  6. Helps you connect with other big dreamers and visionaries
  • When God created a man, told him to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion on it, He was thinking long. In fact, God does not think long, He thinks eternity.
  • When JFK was talking about landing a man on the moon, he was thinking long
  • When Steve Jobs was recruiting Sculey from Pepsi and told him to stop selling sugar water but join him in making a dent in the universe, he was thinking long.

You can see that thinking long is never a selfish thing. The human who sits down and thinks really hard and long over life and what life is requiring from them is a selfless human being. And that is what we all should do. [ictt-tweet-inline]The reason we have many problems in the earth is that we are more selfish than we are selfless.[/ictt-tweet-inline] The reason why we are more selfish than selfless is that we do not take time to really think long. We only think about lunch, clothes, our houses, our families and our kids. We engage in useless competitions of the now to see who is “better” in the things that we have acquired in the universe.

Life in the Mundane

 “We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much; smoke too much; spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast; get too angry; stay up too late; get up too tired; red too seldom; watch too much TV and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arriver there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits, we talk too much; love too seldom and lie too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble to cross the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space, we’ve done larger things, but not better things; we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice we write more, but learn less; plan more; but accomplish less; we make faster planes, but longer lines; we learned to rush, but not to wait; we have more weapons but less peace; higher incomes but lower morals; more parties but less fun; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends, more effort, but less success”

—Dr. Bob Moorehead (“The Paradox of our Age”)

What is Moorehead saying in summary? That we are short sighted with our life mission. We only deal with the things of the by and by and now and now. We are mostly responders and reactors to what life bring, never the planners and visionaries that it needs.

We are more selfish and self-centered than we are selfless and other-centered.

How to Think Long

1. Be Deliberate

This means that there ought to be a time and a place to do this. If you are in the corporate world, this is so easy for you to do. You know about those strategic plan meetings especially at the beginning of the year? Do they just happen arbitrarily? No. They are deliberate. The same thing must apply to your own life. I think one of the biggest paradoxes of life is that we have professional accountants who prepare financial books for corporate organizations but their own personal books are in a mess. We have motivational speakers who are not motivated themselves, neither are they applying what they are preaching. You get the picture. It only changes to the degree that we choose to be deliberate!

2. Be Authentic

That is simply a fancy way of saying that you need to use what’s in your heart. We all have hearts that are passionate about something. That is where our thinking long should start. Elsewhere, I have said that the message of “Think Big” is wrong, and I still stand by that. If you have not thought from your heart, then it doesn’t matter how big you think, it could be off. In other words, you might end up with something that is not really your business, but someone else’s.

3. Be daring

Teddy Roosevelt famously said:

“Far better it is to do mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure than take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that neither knows victory nor defeat”

The reason why many people do not think big is that it puts lots of pressure on us. Thinking big makes us sweat and squirm from side to side in our seats. I have come to notice however that few months or sometimes weeks after I have thought that I thought big, the object of my thinking normally comes to fruition and it looks so common. We shall be daring to the degree that we are filled with compassion or anger over something that we want to change. Being daring could involve doing something new, or something that spans a larger geographical area, or something that involves huge numbers.

4. Be habitual

 “The only reason people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory”.

–Paul Fix

In other words, the thinking long needs to be something that we are doing over and over again until it becomes part and parcel of our psyche.

5. Be Accountable

I am talking about not just thinking with no paper an pen. I am talking about documenting your thoughts, journaling your musings and mullings and putting the thoughts in the language and format of goals. One of the most inspiring things in my life is to go back to my goal setting books and see how far I have come. I am accountable to myself first. After that you can share your big thoughts with a trusted friend, mentor or spouse so that you are accountable. Why? Because you will always have alternatives and if not accountable, at times you will take alternatives that are easier and do not feed to the long thinking.

6. Be Generational

This is how you know you have thought long. When you are thinking of specific aspects of your grand children before you see them, that is thinking generations. Such thinking helps you to prepare their parents (your kids now) to fit into the vision that you saw. All of us are patriarchs. One day we shall be remembered or forgotten to the degree that we thought long about our generations. This helps you to think about your death. It helps you think about your succession and sustenance of your vision.