I was working the Construction Expo show in Las Vegas recently where I bumped into Pat who is my best friend from high school. We talked about the good old days and the night 40 plus years ago when he won my old car in a poker game. He gave it back so I could drive to work the next day. Those are memories you never forget as it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for me.
Pat has done well for himself managing mechanics at huge trucking/mining companies, so the subject turned to how we broke through our past lives to get to where we are today.
If you follow my contractor tips, you know I love writing about how our thoughts control our destiny. Our minds are powerful. What we consistently think about and focus on is what we move toward. That means today, we are the product of our concentrated thoughts of yesterday, a week ago, a year ago, and even 20 years ago. According to the famous self-help author Napoleon Hill, wherever our thoughts lean, that is where we will be. Therefore, we must program our thoughts on success.
Long before I ever heard of Hill, my friend and I were unwittingly practicing Hill’s famous theory of, “If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.” However, to our detriment, our application was the opposite of his philosophy. Allow me to explain.
When we were young, we used to drive around in my beat-up Ford Maverick that we called the Blue Beater, the same car Pat won in the poker game. It was an old-school three-on-the-tree, which means it had a three-speed manual transmission with the gear shifter mounted on the steering column. I bought it from my sister for just $50. My friends and I loved that car, but admittedly, it was not in the greatest of shape. It pains me to remember how I had to put down scraps of plywood on the floorboards to keep our feet from touching the ground. The Blue Beater was not much, but at the time, I was content with what I had.
When my friends and I cruised old Blue through the neighborhood and saw people with nice cars and houses, we never failed to tell one another how we would not want anything to do with owning those nice things. We were convinced that if you had a fancy car, you would have to worry about it getting dented. That big house, it was just something to clean and maintain.
We really believed that there was no sense in having those nice things because they cost too much. No way, they can have it. That was not the life we wanted. My only desire at that time was to purchase my very own used 14’ x 70’ trailer, which, by the way, I bought and lived in for several years.
To be honest, I was saying I did not want that life, but I could not help wondering what those people did that made it possible for them to have those nice things. I wrestled with those thoughts for a long time until one day I happened upon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.” It changed my life because it shifted my thinking.
Hill explained that our thoughts are responsible for creating our reality. If we know what we want, desire and pursue it single-mindedly, have faith, and create a plan, we can think it into existence.
I remember thinking, “Wait a minute, could all these theories about not wanting to be like those people who owned the nice cars and houses be why I am living in a trailer and riding around in a car with holes in the floorboard?”
My mind was swimming because if Hill’s theory was right, I could change my thought process from seeing wealth as a burden to seeing it as a benefit. Suddenly, those people with nice things did not seem so dishonorable anymore. Success was within my reach because I knew it was within my power to shift my way of thinking.
I was trapped by a negative mindset toward wealth and success, but the book transformed my life. As I worked to renew my thinking, I realized I had to change my perception of wealth and success because it was keeping me in poverty. If I could change that notion to “I want to be like that,” perhaps my thoughts could create a different future.
Fast forward several years, and my friend and I are now a couple of those folks with nice houses and vehicles. Sometimes I wonder how many people in our community drive by and look at my home with its private five-hole golf course and stone-lined ponds, and tell their friends, “I would not want to be like that. I would not want to mow a 35-acre yard. I would not want to clean or pay taxes on that house. No way, he can have it.” If they understood that they could be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps they would sing a different tune.
Pat and I discussed why we all have this negative mindset at an early age. When we were small children, our parents guided us with warnings of what could go wrong. “Do not cross the road, you could get run over. Do not touch the stove, you will get burned. Do not eat so much candy, your teeth will rot out.”
While they were trying to protect us, we were inundated with negative messages. Before we know it, we are adults sitting in a meeting being told, “No, it cannot be done,” and we just accept it because we have been programmed that way.
Pat explained how he changed his thought pattern over the years to yes, I can do that. He told stories where his boss put him on the toughest projects (often away from home) as he had dropped the “it cannot be done” words from his vocabulary. Therefore, he was always given the toughest jobs. And, by the way, he did the unbelievable, and got those jobs done. “This is why I will never be out of a work,” he explained.
As if rewiring your brain to think in a new way was not difficult enough, Hill also said you must have an intense desire for riches or other success along with unwavering faith in your ability to achieve it. Adopting this theology is difficult and demanding, but when effectively practiced, it is incredibly rewarding.
I am in no way saying that if you successfully see it, believe it, and achieve it, you will never fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. We also discussed our failures along the way. What separated us is some will accept the failure and quit while we come up with a new plan and try again. Defeat is temporary. It means you need to get back up, regroup, and come at the problem differently. Be relentless until you get it right.
What are you focusing on right now? Are those thoughts of rags or riches? Step back and evaluate if those thoughts are detrimental or beneficial to the life you want. You are the master of your thoughts, so eliminate the internal messages that are limiting your wins and train your brain to concentrate on the success you desire.
Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Buckeye Construction and Restoration, 3 PLS Labor Services, Malta Dynamics Fall Protection and Safety Company, and EZG Manufacturing.
To view the products and equipment his companies created to make job sites safer and more efficient, visit his websites at ezgmfg.com or maltadynamics.com.