I was on a bike ride with my daughter Ali. She is nine years old and loves to go on bike rides. As we were riding she pulled over, got off her bike, and declared she wanted to catch a grasshopper. To my bewilderment, I stopped as well but asked her what I thought was a pretty logical question. “Why right now and why right here?” You see, I was confused how a typical bike ride could so quickly morph into an all-in, bike ditched to the side, hands and knees on the ground, exuberant pursuit of one of those bugs I can only imagine as some movie version, six foot tall, human eating monster. And then Ali gave the answer that stopped me in my tracks because I didn’t see any grasshoppers. “Because they are everywhere!”
The difference between my 46 year old self and my 9 year old daughter is simple. When I’m on a bike ride I’m thinking of everything going on in my life except for the actual bike ride. My daughter is thinking of nothing else but the bike ride. I didn’t see a single grasshopper and she saw hundreds of them. So I decided to start looking for them too. There I was, on the side of the bike path, looking around, still confused. Still, I didn’t see any grasshoppers. I began to wonder what was up with this girl. I realized my mind was still wandering. Then, I really decided to actually “look” for grasshoppers and block out all other thoughts and a spectacular thing happened. I saw one, then another, then a few more, then even more, and before long I realized grasshoppers were “everywhere.”
About six years earlier I had come across a recording from 1957 by Earl Nightingale called “The Strangest Secret.” I was captivated by this recording and actually listened to it twice a day for 30 straight days at one point. The message of the recording, distilled down to one idea, is “we become what we think about.” Nightingale had compiled the works of all the great thinkers in all of human history and realized they had all independently uncovered the secret to life.
Marcus Aurelius: “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it”
Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: “If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results. That is the simple fact, which is at the basis of an astonishing law of prosperity and success.”
George Bernard Shaw: “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Buddha: “With our thoughts we make the world.”
Back to grasshoppers. Ali wanted to find grasshoppers on that bike ride so she was looking for grasshoppers. Because she was looking for grasshoppers, she found grasshoppers. And finding grasshoppers was so easy. Had she been riding along on that bike looking for squirrels she might not have found grasshoppers but I bet she would have seen squirrels. No, Ali didn’t become a grasshopper because she was thinking about grasshoppers. The simple lesson here is that we find what we are looking for and our minds will lead us there. The fancier term for this is manifesting. I believe manifesting is really just concentrated focus. With singular, specific, and guided focus comes exacting realization.
Success leaves clues. If I want to find success, I seek successful people. If I want to find positivity, I spend time with positive people. If I want to learn how to build wealth, I learn from wealthy people. If I want great relationships, I look for great communicators. If I seek health, I go where healthy people are. Whenever I have felt most troubled in my life I’ve realized I had fallen into an absent-minded trance of “going through the motions.” This state is a troubling one for sure and lacks what Nightingale describes as “an ideal pursuit of a worthy cause.” He continued to say, “the opposite of courage is not cowardice, but conformity.” The cow in the herd only sees the butt of another cow. And there is nothing inspiring about the backside of a cow.
My lesson from watching my daughter catch grasshoppers is simple. Stay in the present. Be clear on your vision. Pay attention. Look for the thing you want and block out the noise. You just might get exactly what you intended. Having a clear intention and pursuing a worthy cause, while not following the herd of conformity, will let you find what most people wish they could.