In 1965, Robert M. Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, sailed from the United States to England in a 13-foot sailboat—3,200 miles across the North Atlantic in a boat so small you'd hesitate to take it out on Lake Michigan or Long Island Sound as small-craft warnings were flying.
For 78 days Manry and his tiny 36-year-old sailboat battled one of the toughest stretches of saltwater on earth. Gales blew the boat on its side. Manry tried to nap during the day and sailed at night so that he could try to avoid being run down and chopped into kindling and hamburger by great ocean-going steamers. On several occasions, he was washed over the side in heavy seas. Each time he would haul himself back aboard by a lifeline he kept tied to himself in the boat. He suffered terrible hallucinations, the result of having to take so many pep pills to stay awake during the long nights.
Why? What made him do it? It wasn't publicity; he went about the whole thing so quietly—practically no one knew what he was up to. He thought no one would pay attention to him, and that was fine with him.
The reason was that he had dreamed of sailing the Atlantic ever since he had been a small boy. He bought the dinky old boat for $250. He completely rebuilt her, taught himself navigation, and practiced long-distance sailing on Lake Erie.
He told his wife the real reason for his embarking on so incredible a journey in so vulnerable a craft. He said to her, "There is a time when one must decide either to risk everything to fulfill one's dreams or sit for the rest of one's life in the backyard." Now this is why Mr. Manry went sailing over the mountains of deep water in a boat only about twice the size of your bathtub. This is why he sat in his tiny open cockpit and weathered storms that caused the passengers to clear the weather decks of giant ocean liners. He was fulfilling a dream he'd carried in his heart since he'd been a small boy.
As a result, offers for books and magazine articles poured in to him. Cleveland gave him a hero's welcome, as did the 20,000 people who wildly cheered the successful end of his voyage when he arrived in Falmouth, England. It's been proposed to Congress that Manry's boat, Tinkerbelle, be placed in the Smithsonian Institution alongside Charles Lindbergh's plane, Spirit of St. Louis.
But all this fame and sudden stature in the eyes of the world—this was not why he made the trip. It was because he believes that there is a time when one must decide either to risk everything to fulfill one's dreams or sit for the rest of one's life in the backyard.
Courage, the courage to finally take one's life in one's own hands and go after the big dream, has a way of making that dream come true. It seems to open hidden doorways from which good things begin to pour into one's life. But only after we've made the journey in our own way. For Manry, at 47 years of age, it was sailing 3,200 miles of the North Atlantic. Each of us must make his or her own voyage through darkness and danger to the light that beacons in the distance. A journey to fulfillment... or sit in the backyard.
The Profile of a Creative Person
The creative person realizes that his mind is an inexhaustible storehouse. It can provide anything he earnestly wants in life. But in order to draw from this storehouse, he must constantly augment its stock of information, thoughts, and wisdom. He reaches out for ideas. He respects the mind of others — gives credit to their mental abilities. Everyone has ideas—they're free—and many of them are excellent. By first listening to ideas and then thinking them through before judging them, the creative person avoids prejudice and close-mindedness. This is the way he maintains a creative "climate" around himself. They “reach for ideas.”
Ideas are like slippery fish. They seem to have a peculiar knack of getting away from us. Because of this, the creative person always has a pad and a pencil handy. When he gets an idea, he writes it down. He knows that many people have found their whole lives changed by a single great thought. By capturing ideas immediately, he doesn't risk forgetting them. [Note: a great way to save ideas easily is to text message them from your cell phone to your main email account. You are rarely without your cell phone, and this allows you to record your ideas for later review and action.]
Having a sincere interest in people, our creative person listens carefully when someone else is talking. He's intensely observant, absorbing everything he sees and hears. He behaves as if everyone he meets wears a sign that reads, "My ideas and interest may offer the hidden key to your next success." Thus, he makes it a point always to talk with other people's interest in mind. And it pays off in a flood of new ideas and information that would otherwise be lost to him forever.
Widening his circle of friends and broadening his base of knowledge are two more very effective techniques of the creative person.
The Anticipation of Achievement
The creative person anticipates achievement. She expects to win. And the above-average production engendered by this kind of attitude affects those around her in a positive way. She's a plus-factor for all who know her.
Problems are challenges to creative minds. Without problems, there would be little
reason to think at all. She knows it's a waste of time merely to worry about problems, so she wisely invests the same time and energy in solving problems.
When the creative person gets an idea, she puts it through a series of steps designed to improve it. She thinks in new directions. She builds big ideas from little ones and new ideas from old ones: associating ideas, combining them, adapting, substituting, magnifying, minifying, rearranging, and reversing ideas.
Be Creative for Yourself
Creative and productive people are not creative and productive for the benefit of others. It's because they're driven by the need to be creative and productive. They'd be creative and productive if they lived on a deserted island with no one benefiting or even aware of what they were doing. They experience the joy of producing something. That others benefit from it is fine, but only secondary.
This is a story of the painters who were before their time. Renoir was laughed at and rejected not only by the public but by his own fellow artists, yet he went right on painting. Even Manet said to Monet, "Renoir has no talent at all. You who are his friend should tell him kindly to give up painting."
A group of artists who were rejected by the establishment of their time formed their own association in self-defense. Do you know who was in that group? They were Degas, Pissaro, Monet, Cezanne, and Renoir. Five of the greatest artists of all time, all doing what they believed in, in the face of total rejection.
Renoir, in his later life, suffered terribly from rheumatism, especially in his hands. He lived in constant pain. And when Matisse visited the aging painter, he saw that every stroke was causing renewed pain, and he asked, "Why do you still have to work? Why continue to torture yourself?" And then Renoir answered, "The pain passes, but the pleasure, the creation of beauty, remains." One day when he was 78, finally quite famous and successful, he remarked, "I'm still making progress." The next day he died.
This is the mark of the creative person... still making progress, still learning, still producing as long as he or she lives, despite pain or problems of all kinds. Not producing for the joy or satisfaction of others, but because he or she must. Because it brings pleasure and satisfaction.
The Great Problem-Solving Tool
All creatures on earth are supplied at birth with everything they need for successful survival. All creatures except one are supplied with a set of instincts that will do the job for them. And because of that, most creatures don't need much of a brain. In the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Archibald MacLeish's play The Secret of Freedom, a character says, "The only thing about a man that is man is his mind. Everything else you can find in a pig or a horse." That's uncomfortably true.
Take the magnificent bald eagle for example. To see one of them swooping down and pluck a live and sizeable fish from the water on a single pass is astonishing. More astonishing still is the eagle's eyesight. And because of its need to see small rodents moving in the grass from high altitudes or a fish just inches under the surface of the water, its incredible eyes take up just about all the space in its head. For the eagle, its eyes are the most important thing, and everything else works in unison with them. Its brain is tiny and rudimentary. It doesn't think or plan or remember; it simply acts in accordance with stimuli.
And it's the same with most other living creatures. Even the beautiful porpoise, with a much larger brain, and the chimpanzee are easily tamed and taught. Only one living creature takes 20 years to mature and has dominion over all the rest on the earth itself, and has today the power to destroy all life on earth in a couple of hours. Only one is given the godlike power to fashion its own life according to the images it holds in its remarkable mind.
The human mind is the one thing that separates us from the rest of the creatures on earth. Everything that means anything to us comes to us through our minds, our love of our families, our beliefs, all of our talents, knowledge, abilities. Everything is reflected through our minds. Anything that comes to us in the future will almost certainly come to us as a result of the extent to which we use our minds.
And yet, it's the last place on earth the average person will turn to for help. You know why? You know why people don't automatically turn their own vast mental resources on when faced with a problem? It's because they never learned how to think. Most people will go to any length to avoid thinking when they're faced with a problem. They will ask advice from the most illogical people, usually people who don't know any more than they do: next-door neighbors, members of their families, and friends stuck in the same mental traps that they are. Very few of them use the muscles of their mind to solve their problems.
Yet living successfully, getting the things we want from life, is a matter of solving the problems that stand between where we are now and the point we wish to reach. No one is without problems. They're part of living. But let me show you how much time we waste in worrying about the wrong problems. Here's a reliable estimate of the things people worry about: Things that never happen: 40%. Things over and past that can never be changed by all the worry in the world: 30%. Needless worries about our health: 12%. Petty miscellaneous worries: 10%. Real legitimate worries: 8%.
In short, 92% of the average person's worries take up valuable time, cause painful stress, even mental anguish, and are absolutely unnecessary. And of the real legitimate worries, there are two kinds. There are the problems we can solve, and there are the problems beyond our ability to personally solve. But most of our real problems usually fall into the first group, the ones we can solve, if we'll learn how.
The average working person has at his or her disposal an enormous amount of free time. In fact, you'll see if you'll total the hours in a year and subtract the sleeping hours: If we sleep 8 hours every night, we have about 6,000 waking hours, of which less than 2,000 are spent on the job. Now this leaves 4,000 hours a year when a person is neither working nor sleeping. These can be called discretionary hours with which that person can do pretty much as he or she pleases.
So that you can see the amazing results in your own life, I want to recommend that you take just one hour a day, five days a week, and devote this hour to exercising your mind. You don't even have to do it on weekends. Pick one hour a day on which you can fairly regularly count. The best time for me is an hour before the others are up in the morning. The mind's clear, the house is quiet, and, if you like, with a fresh cup of coffee, this is the time to start the mind going.
During this hour every day take a completely blank sheet of paper. At the top of the page write your present primary goal clearly, simply. Then, since our future depends on the way in which we handle our work, write down as many ideas as you can for improving that which you now do. Try to think of 20 possible ways in which the activity that fills your day can be improved. You won't always get 20, but even one idea is good.
Now remember two important points with regard to this. One, this is not particularly easy, and, two, most of your ideas won't be any good. When I say it's not easy, I mean it's like starting any new habit. At first you'll find your mind a little reluctant to be hauled up out of that old familiar bed. But as you think about your work and ways in which it might be improved, write down every idea that pops into your head, no matter how absurd it might seem.
The most important thing that this extra hour accomplishes is that it deeply embeds your goal into your subconscious mind, starts the whole vital machine reworking the first thing every morning. And 20 ideas a day, if you can come up with that many, total 100 a week, even skipping weekends.
An hour a day, five days a week, totals 260 hours a year and still leaves you 3,740 hours of free leisure time. Now this means you'll be thinking about your goal and ways of improving your performance, increasing your service six full extra working weeks a year, 6½ 40-hour weeks devoted to thinking and planning. Can you see how easy it is to rise above that so-called competition? And it'll still leave you with seven hours a day to spend as you please.
Starting each day thinking, you'll find that your mind will continue to work all day long. And you'll find that at odd moments, when you least expect it, really great ideas will begin to bubble up from your subconscious. When they do, write them down as soon as you can. Just one great idea can completely revolutionize your work and, as a result, your life.
Each time you write your goal at the top of the sheet of paper, don't worry or become concerned about it. Think of it as only waiting to be reached, a problem only waiting to be solved. Face it with faith, and bend all the great powers of your mind toward solving it. And believe me, solve it you will. This puts each of us in the driver's seat.
Each of us has a tendency to underestimate his or her own abilities. We should realize that we have deep within ourselves deep reservoirs of great ability, even genius that can be tapped if we'll just dig deep enough. It's the miracle of your mind.
Everything fashioned by human beings is a result of goal setting. We reach our goals. That's how we know that the diseases that plague us will be conquered. We've set goals to eradicate every disease that plagues us and eradicate them we will, one by one. We have never set a goal that we have not reached or are now in the process of reaching.