“Think and Grow Rich” is Still Relevant 80 Years Later – Here Are 4 Things It Taught Me About Reaching Goals

Many of us can think back to a singular person or experience that changed the course of our lives—that defining moment.

For me, it was an exercise that my high school football coach taught our team when our record was anything but victorious. As one of the winningest coaches in Illinois, he could outthink, and encourage his players to outwork the competition. My junior year, with a shocking 5–4 record, he took action and invited a swimming coach who trained Olympic-caliber athletes to our practice.

What happened next taught me something invaluable that I still apply to my work today: that the first step towards success is to envision it and that, ultimately, what we think is what we become.

As a team, we pictured what we wanted, then set team and individual goals to get us there. We routinely visualized the perfect play, committed to winning the state championship and then posted our specific goals in a visible place so we were constantly thinking about them—on a daily basis.

Much of our success the following season can be attributed to the mental work we did that year. With a final record of 11–1 (that season-ending loss is still a sore subject almost 40 years later), we just missed playing for the state championship, but did set school records for points scored and points allowed. From that point on, I realized that shifting your mindset matters and makes all the difference.

Many of these same themes are chronicled in the popular 1930s tome, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. It happens to be one of my favorite books, so much so that I recently read it for the third time. While some anecdotes are dated (please excuse them to history), most of the concepts are timeless and serve as powerful reminders.

As we usher in a new year that’s full of possibilities, most of us are undoubtedly thinking about what we’d like to accomplish in 2019. And while there’s no magic formula, here are some pointers, many inspired by Think and Grow Rich, to help you begin living the life you’ve imagined for yourself:

1.    You are what you think you are

Reiterating what I learned firsthand on the football field, our mind guides our behavior, and our behavior determines what we become. I can’t overstate how important it is for our minds to actually visualize our desired outcomes. Personally or professionally, how do we achieve what we set out to? While effort is an important part of the equation, the first step is to quite literally train our brain.

2.    A roadmap is essential

Almost as critical as No 1., creating an actionable plan—and sticking to it—will distinguish the walkers from the talkers. No matter your company size or industry, setting sales goals and objectives and identifying a roadmap for achieving them is key. In my experience, a plan can take virtually any form. If you’re looking for some help with structure, quite a few sales plan templates are available online. If you belong to an industry association, ask the member services team if they offer any templates specific to your field. At AIA, for example, we provide our Owners with Cloud-Based sales planning tools and direct access to an Owner Success Manager to provide a real-time look at their sales performance and a personalized coach to help them meet their goals.

3.    Be part of a community

Napoleon Hill called them mastermind groups. This notion is built around the idea of surrounding yourself with a group of like-minded people (he recommends 5–7) who think like you do, are eager to share ideas and are invested in your success. Nowadays, we may call these individuals mentors or industry peers. This community can be local, such as your area Chamber of Commerce, or national, like a trade group, or, many times, both. Consider online groups too—many local business and industry-specific groups on LinkedIn and Facebook offer real-time, peer-to-peer counsel and support. (I offer more ideas on how to build your community here.)

4.    Find a routine that works

I’ve found that creating a set of habits, and having the discipline to follow through with them, is a huge differentiator. Through trial and error, establish a schedule that allows you to prioritize certain tasks. This could be a morning routine that includes exercise and meditation, followed by time to sit and plan before jumping into work to-dos. Or maybe you carve out 20 minutes in the afternoon to not work on your business, but simply think about it—taking stock of where you are, considering the bigger picture and asking yourself what you need to do to make it all happen. Referencing your plan (No. 2) and working towards your goal(s) on a regular basis, even if just in small amounts, needs to become a conscious part of what you’re doing.

Here at AIA, we’re continually looking for ways to propel ourselves forward. As part of our culture, we challenge complacency and think beyond the status quo to better serve our network of more than 300 promotional products distributors and 3,000 suppliers. The beginning of a new year can be an ideal time to not only visualize what you want to achieve, but to also set specific goals that you’ll work towards in the coming months.

In that spirit, I’d like to take this opportunity to share AIA’s goals for 2019.

1.    Grow our Owners’ sales by achieving a topline revenue goal of $210 Million.

2.    Build our team by welcoming at least 20 new distributors to our AIA Community.

3.    Continue to serve our Owners by matching innovative resources with their different needs.

4.    Build and strengthen our partnerships with key suppliers and support their sales growth to be commensurate with AIA’s.

5.    Continue developing the strongest leadership team within the promotional products industry.

6.    Recognize and celebrate the success and achievements of our Owners, Suppliers and AIA employees.

Whatever it is that you set forth to do, remember to dream big, believe in yourself and work relentlessly to make what you want a reality.

As CEO of AIA Corporation, Matt Gresge helps propel idea people by providing industry leading financial, technical, sales, marketing and purchasing solutions to entrepreneurs in the distribution business. Most recently, he was named to the Counselor 2018 Power 50, a list of the most influential people in the promotional products industry.

Original publish date: January 11, 2019