Here is the full text of author Jim Cathcart’s talk: How to Believe in Yourself at TEDxDelrayBeach conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: How to believe in yourself by Jim Cathcart at TEDxDelrayBeach
Somewhere deep inside, you know what kind of person you were designed to be. If you want to produce great acorns, think like an oak, not like an acorn. Think like the person you intend to become, like the Christian question what would Jesus do? Ask yourself how would the person I’d like to be, do the things I am about to do.
The acorn has three parts: it’s got a stem, a cap, and a seed. And the stem represents its connection to the pass, all the acorns and all the oaks that have ever existed in its line before are encoded in that, transferred through that stem, the legacy into this acorn. The cap holds on to the seed, until the seed is ready to grow on its own, so the cap represents your coaches, your mentors, your role models, your guides, your parents, your friends, your teachers. And when you’re ready to grow on your own, the seed of that acorn holds not only your potential but the potential of every future generation of acorns that will spring from that line.
So let me ask you a question. What kind of seed is in you? See, I believe part of our responsibility in life is to find out who we are, to discover ourselves. First off, we need to respect our nature. We need to realize we are part of a continuing chain that carries a legacy and a responsibility. And if that’s the case, then we need to recognize that we were not biological coincidences. I believe there is a creator, and I believe you were intentionally created for a myriad of purposes. There are many things we can do with our lives, and I think it’s our job to find out what those things are and to do them as well as we possibly can. So that we’re passing along the right imprint for the next generation. And that’s just simply my life philosophy, that’s the way I look at it. So first, we need to respect our nature.
Second, we need to know our nature. Take Aristotle’s advice: know thyself, but know things about yourself that most people don’t discover. For example, know how you’re smart, not just how smart you are in comparison to others. In what ways, are you smart. Know what you care about. What are the values that motivate your choices? Know what your personal velocity is, the intensity and drive with which you naturally operate. Know the background imprint, positive neutral or negative that you carry with you, and what effect it’s had on you.
Know your behavioral style; how you come across to other people. Know the patterns in your choices so that you’re continually learning more and more about what it’s like to be you, so you can do an even better job off it. And then we need to apply our nature, we need to nurture our nature by expressing ourselves in the world.
See, I never expected to be anything but ordinary. I was raised to be nice and ordinary. I expected I would grow up to be, like dad worked for the phone company. I figured I’d go to work for the phone company, maybe work in an office. I figured I’d work till 65 and I’d have 1.34 kids, I’d retire at 65 and then I’d die at statistical average age for my gene pool. That’s what I expected. Until one day in 1972 on the radio in the next room to mine, I heard a voice that changed everything.
I was working for the Little Rock Housing Authority, Little Rock Arkansas, urban renewal agency. I was a government clerk making $525 a month. I weighed 200 pounds. This is 148. I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day. I never set a goal in my life. I didn’t have a college degree and no money in the bank. I was newly married with a new baby at home, and I didn’t expect much from life.
And in the next room, I heard the voice of Earl Nightingale, known at the time as the dean of personal motivation. He was on 900 radio stations around the world, and what he said that day will forever resonate with me. He said, “If you will spend one extra hour each day studying your chosen field, you’ll be a national expert in that field in five years or less”. That hit me like a tornado, it rearranged everything in my life.
I started doing the math, an hour extra a day, say five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that’s 1250 hours over five years. If I spend, me just ordinary me, 1250 hours studying one subject, wow! I could actually be a national expert. What I want to be an expert at? It was not urban renewal. And then it occurred to me a few weeks later, I want to do what that guy on the radio’s doing. But I had no idea what that was. I just knew it felt right to get into the field of human development. I thought we’ll see, an hour a day, I am a government clerk. I’ve got eight hours a day. I could do this by Thursday.
And then I started thinking about what he’d said and I took him seriously, an hour a day. I focused, well I thought I was kind of behind the game, so I needed two hours, and three and four and five. So I over compensated and I became fanatical about the field of human development. And in that five year period I went from being a government clerk with very little aspiration to being a full-time speaker and trainer. In two years, that was 1972, in 1974 I started buying Earl Nightingale’s training materials and selling them to businesses.
By 1984, his company was selling my training materials worldwide. They sold $3.5 million worth of one of my first audio albums. In the first two years it was out. I was blown away. His formula works, and I’ve seen it work for hundreds and even thousands of people in the many many years since that time that I’ve been sharing that massage.
Think about that. If you were to focus one – well, you here at TED audience, if you were to focus half an hour a day extra, just beyond the TED talk that you always watch, right, every day, okay, beyond that, if you were to focus half an hour of study on one field of endeavor for five consecutive years, you’d not only transform you, you’d transform the world around you. And we collectively would transform the world as we know it today.
You and I were born with the gift to make this a better place. Even if we didn’t improve, we can make the world better right now. We can encourage people, compliment people. We could solve problems, we could pick up trash, we could fix things, we could bring new ideas. But as you grow you become a bigger source for the rest of life to express itself through you. You were put here for a reason. It’s contained in that acorn. So nurture your nature, figure out first off, I am valuable, accept that. I want to know who I am and I want to know how I operate, and how can I understand me better.
And then I want to nurture that nature. I want to apply myself in the world and put myself to work in such ways that the rest of the world says, well, that’s cool. If he or she can do it, I could probably do it. I wonder how they did it. And then we start spreading that and the ripple goes worldwide. So ask yourself every day, how would the person I’d like to be. Do the things I am about to do.