The year was 1960.
Just back from summer vacation, Little Stevie’s 6th grade teacher had a pivotal writing assignment ready for her new students. The topic …
What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s a question that lights up the imagination of any 10-year-old boy or girl with a dream of one day becoming a firefighter, athlete, doctor, engineer, astronaut, or any of the infinite possibilities that makes his or her heart beat a little faster.
Though I can’t say for sure, this well-intended educator probably didn’t know exactly how important this assignment would be to the lives of her students.
Because as many self-help gurus and philosophers will tell you, one of the crucial first steps of the creative process is to write it down. In other words, and as we talked about last week, everything begins with an idea. But an idea does not exist in the physical world. It lives in our head until we act on it and bring it into form.
I like to say that our ideas are “nonsense.” We can’t see, hear, touch, smell, or taste them. So the first act we must take to bring our ideas out of the nonsense world and into the physical domain is to write them down.
In fact, we actually become 42% more likely to achieve our goals and dreams by simply writing them down on a regular basis.
Problem is, only 3% of us do it. And according to Harvard, 83% of the US population don’t even have goals. Yikes.
What many of us don’t know is that our brains are like the Google Maps app on our smart phones. When we want to go somewhere, we have to type in the destination first. Then the app guides us along the trip until we’re arrived.
The brain does the same thing. When we write down our destination and attend to it with a laser-like focus, the brain will show us how to get there.
And here’s the most IMPORTANT part. Much of the brain’s work is done unconsciously. It gives us nudges and gut feelings to turn here or make a U-turn there.
It tells us to pick up the phone and call someone who turns out to change the course of our lives, or to stop and look at a public message board where you find out about a networking event that just so happens to be where you meet your first mentor or investor.
This is why so many of us have impostor syndrome. Because we make it to our destinations and then have no idea how we got there. The unconscious processes begin the very moment we write down what we want. Then it’s up to us to stay open and enjoy the ride as it unfolds.
Anyway, that was a chai latte-induced tangent. Back to Little Stevie and his teacher …
After her students wrote down their goals and turned them in, Stevie’s teacher had each student stand while she read his or her paper aloud.
Nurse. Basketball player. Business owner. Doctor. Clap! Clap! Clap!
She could not have been more proud of her class. But when it was Stevie’s turn to stand, her pride quickly shifted to disappointment. In fact, she was so infuriated by his paper that she asked him to stand in front of the class to share what he had written. So, loudly and with the enthusiasm of a starry-eyed 10-year-old, he exclaimed:
“I WANT TO BE ON TV!”
What he’d imagined would be his gold star moment turned out to be a public humiliation, complete with a phone call to his mother for being a smart ass and a stern directive to come up with something “more believable.”
What happened next would make Little Steve Harvey who he is today, one of the most successful personalities on all of television. Click the PLAY button above to hear him tell the story!