By Barry Maher
A little imagination can do wonders for changing the scale and putting things into perspective. Here are four simple visualizations I’ve found to be particularly effective for me in providing insight into the things I actually value as opposed to the things I sometimes think I value or the things I often act like I value.
This one should seem familiar. I’d be amazed if you haven’t imagined it on our own. You might want to try it a bit more seriously this time.
You’ve just come out to visit me in my home in California. But before coming to my place, you stop in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. As you’re walking through the lobby, you drop a dollar into a giant slot machine. Bells start ringing, lights start flashing, people come running up, and you’ve won the largest jackpot in the history of Las Vegas. One hundred and thirty-seven million dollars! After taxes and a small finder’s fee to me for leading you into this fantasy, the lump sum payment to you is $73 million.
What are top three to five things you want to do with the money?
The chairman of a major television network just called and asked me to give you the following message. Because of that thorn you pulled out of his paw when you were at Caesar’s, he’s going to give you an ad campaign on all the network’s top rated shows for any non-commercial message you might chose. What’s your message going to be?
Your fairy godmother’s come down with senile dementia. She’s got one wish left to grant—and it’s all yours. But in her confusion, she’s decided that it can’t be something for yourself—and no, it can’t be more wishes. It also can’t be money, or something for your immediate family. And no, it can’t be more wishes. What’s your wish?
Here’s an old motivational test I always like. Imagine a six inch wide, forty foot long board lying on the ground. What would it take to get you to walk from one end of that board to the other? Certainly you’d do it for a million dollars or to save the life of a loved one, but what’s the minimum you would do it for?
Now raise the board. Make it five feet high, stretching between two banks of a stream. It’s forty feet long so it sags a bit in the middle. What would it take to get you to cross it? Make the banks ten feet high. Now what would it take?
Add alligators to the stream.
Now, raise the board to the height of a house and try it. Keep raising the board until finally it stretches from an open window on the top floor of one towering skyscraper to an open window in another skyscraper, forty feet away. What would you cross that board to gain or to preserve or to protect?
How do your board-crossing priorities match up with the way you prioritize your time? Are you spending great hunks of your time pursuing things you wouldn’t walk a particularly high board for? How are you using your career and the working hours of your life to help you pursue the things that are really important to you?
Nothing you ever do in your work will be as difficult as crossing that board. If you can get the motivation that could get you across the board to motivate you in business, you’re going to be hard to stop.