In 2007, I read a book that changed my life.
While the book itself is simple (borderline elementary now that I’ve gone back to reread it years later), there was a single idea that I couldn’t shake at the time; one that still sticks with me today.
Before I explain what that idea is, I want to put this in context:
I first read this book when I was a 20 year old West Point cadet. At the time, I was double majoring in Russian and Human Geography with a track (like a minor, but not) in environmental engineering.
By academia’s standard, I was slightly above average in the brains department, and I was soon to be entrusted the lives of 30+ soldiers in combat, which I can only assume means that somewhere, someone thought I was a responsible adult (or perhaps I slipped through the cracks…we’ll never know).
Yet here was a book that a middle school kid could understand (and really, that every kid ought to read) that said something I’d never heard before.
Or perhaps better stated: never fully appreciated before.
What was the idea?
Everything in life is either an asset or a liability; it either puts money into your pocket or it takes money out of your pocket.
You want more of the former and less of the latter.
Of course, after finishing the book, I didn’t put it away, smugly proclaim myself smarter, and move on.
Instead, I took a deep dive into the subject, spending years devouring more books in the same genre (finance and investing). More importantly, I took action on what I learned: I saved lots of money, kept my expenses down, invested in real estate and stocks, practiced options trading, and more.
Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t – which was painful – but the important thing is that I gained an understanding of the material I was reading, not merely in concept, but in practice (this is the kind of experience that only comes from stepping inside the ring).
Finally, but no less importantly, this spurred my interest in other areas including business, publishing, and teaching.
It’s hard to put a dollar figure to an idea, but I think I can safely say I’m thousands of dollars richer now than I would have been otherwise, because I read this book; because the idea resonated deeply with me; because it caused a spark…
And this of course is the point: an idea is a spark.
It has the potential to dramatically change our lives.
But it’s also just that: a spark.
You still have to cut down the tree, haul the fire wood, and find the gasoline.
An idea is a spark, but you still have to cut down the tree, haul the fire wood, and find the gasoline.
Two points worth reflecting on:
1. If an idea is a spark, it is only as useful as your ability to make it into something more.
This requires resources (mental and physical – both of which you can create, grow, and increase over time) and hustle (accessible to every person on Earth at this very moment – if you choose to use it).
2. For an idea to reach us and cause an impact, it needs the right form and it needs the right conduit.
This idea didn’t pass haphazardly to me through a college class (I took lots of those and was never taught anything close to this), nor YouTube, nor a podcast, nor a blog post, nor telekinesis (I’m not there yet).
It passed to me through a book.
For the purposes of message spreading, there is no better form than a book. And thanks to the internet, just about everyone in the world has the ability to reach just about everyone else in the world, making it the perfect conduit.
This means if you’re in the business of spreading a message (and aren’t we all?), you should sincerely consider writing and publishing a book; the impact you can create has never been higher, nor the barrier to entry lower.
But most importantly of all: there are people in the world who WANT to hear from you, who want your ideas, who need the spark…
And I think we do a disservice to the people who matter – not to mention, a disservice to ourselves – when we keep our ideas hidden.
The simple solution:
Put your ideas out there. Create a spark. Start a fire.
P.s. next week I want to share with you the book I wrote about in today’s blog post, as well as 10 other books that have caused similar sparks in my life, and I hope you’ll share your most important books with me too 🙂
p.p.s. I’m creating a new, free course on publishing to help people create and spread messages that matter. If you’re interested, sign up here.
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