John Sims was traveling with an associate. The associate said, “John, aren’t you going to put on your seatbelt?”
John replied with his raspy tenor voice, “Why, are we going to get into a crash?”
“No, but seatbelts save lives…”
John retorted abruptly in his usual blunt way, “Seatbelts don’t save lives.”
“Of course they do!” His friend explained, “Once, I was driving with my family and something told me to make sure everyone was wearing their seatbelts. So we all belted up, and just as we turned a corner, there was another vehicle coming at us in our lane. Even though it was a head-on collision, we all survived because of those seatbelts!”
John was firm, “No, the seatbelts didn’t save your life, whatever told you to put them on saved your life.”
Probably a decade has passed since I heard John relate that story. Leaving a lasting impression on me, its message has deepened and taken on new meaning. He’s right. It wasn’t the seatbelts that saved their lives. True, they played a part in the actual physics of keeping the bodies secure during impact, but the credit belongs to the voice of warning. The “life-saving” seatbelts were there during the entire trip. But the timeliness of the prompting, and the man’s response to it, changed the would-be tragedy into a miracle.
I am reminded of a game I played in high school. Planning to take some friends to a picnic, my friend and I prepared a tape recorder which described our every move as we traveled from our starting point to the final destination.
When it came time for the event, we told our unsuspecting friends to wait at a payphone until we called them and told them where to find the hidden tape recorder. Our instructions: “Turn it on and follow the directions explicitly!”
At the end of the journey was the picnic fit for a king. But along the way, we followed our friends, incognito. The most hilarious moments came when they tried to mimic what we had done, but in the wrong places. Having accidentally fallen out of step, our friends found that the description of our actions no longer suited their surroundings and, to us, it became absolutely laughable. If they had only known where they were trying to go, they could have improvised and found their own way.
Sometimes we look at others who have reached an admirable destination in their life, and then imitate their same steps in an effort to achieve their results. We listen to their tapes, read their books, and attend their seminars; and then we do our best to follow what they say. While we can learn a great deal from people who have what we want, we must realize that we’re not always on the same sidewalk, so to speak, as they were when they began their journey to the picnic. We’ve had different life experiences and carry with us a different variety of baggage, all of which makes a difference. We need to have the destination clearly in view, so that when someone else’s instructions do not work, we are still able to improvise our way to success.
So, how do you identify your picnic? It’s so simple that most people discard the idea as unimportant. This is one reason why few ever discover the power behind it. All you have to do is simply DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.
If you knew you could not fail, what would your goals be? This is actually the toughest part of achieving success; the part that at least ninety-seven percent of the population will never do. Create a description of the success you desire, and commit it to paper. Write it in the form of a gratitude statement as though it has already happened. Then you are entitled to, and can trust the impressions which come to your mind. By doing this, you’ve done it: you’ve ‘spotted’ your picnic table. As you hang on to the vision, you’ll know instinctively just how to get to it, because it will be in clear view. Without it committed to paper, your impressions will seem random and you’ll struggle to know what to do next. Perhaps you’ve already felt that way.
Take control of your life, and experience the exhilaration which comes from proceeding methodically toward your worthy ideal. Your success begins with the dream…and happens after you’ve done your part to enlist the voice of inspiration on your journey. See it in your mind, commit it to paper, and be grateful for it before it’s even yours. This puts you in tune with that ‘inner voice’, and you’ll finally know just what to do, and when.
This article, originally written November 14, 2003, was adapted and expanded to become the award-winning international bestseller. Read it free: The Jackrabbit Factor