George Bernard Shaw said, "Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week." I will be writing a whole series here on directing your mind by asking questions, and I will encourage you to do the kind of thinking that can lead to increased determination, stronger motivation, and greater persistence. Those are the feelings that lead to success.
But the price you have to pay is thinking. And not many people want to do that. If you will do it, if you will take the time and think, you can probably achieve more than you've ever dreamed.
What do I mean by "thinking?" I mean asking yourself a good question and not stopping as soon as you've found an acceptable answer. Ask yourself a good question and keep asking. Pondering a good question can completely change your life. Let's look at an example.
William Wells Brown was a slave in the early 1800s, but he had decided to emancipate himself. The first time he escaped, he went with his mother, heading for the Canadian border, but they were caught. As a punishment, his mother was sold to a cruel plantation owner, and Brown never saw her again.
When he finally successfully escaped in 1834, he got a job. This was the first time he was ever paid for work he did, and he was paid 25 cents. This was a monumental event for Brown. With the 25 cents in his hand, he was faced with the first decision of this kind he had ever made in his life. He didn’t know what to spend it on. He carried it for days thinking about it, wondering what he should spend his money on.
His decision, when he finally made it, was a good one. And it was so good because he took his time and really thought about it.
He decided to spend his 25 cents learning to read and write. He bought a spelling book for 15 cents and bought 10 cents worth of candy to bribe kids to teach him.
The simplicity and beauty of this decision is impressive. And his plan worked. Brown ultimately became very literate and well-read, and made it his mission in life to end the institution of slavery.
He went to Europe and gave almost a thousand lectures on the evils of slavery. He wrote newspaper articles and became the first African American to write a travel book, a novel, a play, and a history book.
When he returned from Europe, he spoke passionately and eloquently in the United States about slavery, right up until the Civil War broke out in 1860.
And he was able to do all this because he was literate.
And he was literate because he really thought about what he wanted to do with that 25 cents.
It pays to take the time to think. Ponder a question for days, even weeks or months. Don’t give up if you don’t get any good answers. Don’t settle for only okay answers. Keep thinking until you come up with something really good. It might pay off for the rest of your life.