How do you motivate yourself? In my case, my ability to look back and connect directly with my childhood experiences has been not only a huge source of learning, but a deep well of fresh inspiration, energy, and excitement I can draw on to keep me young at heart now. The story I share here centers on an experience that has remained incredibly meaningful throughout my life.
My introduction to exciting forest adventures.
The readers who follow this blog know that as a child I really did not like school.
When I was six and not settling well into the first grade, my mother, to drum up some excitement about what school had to offer me, gave me probably the best advice I’ve ever received. She told me that I had to go to school because they would teach me how to read, and once I could read, I would be able to go anywhere I wanted with my mind.
The first book I was given was The Adventures of Robin Hood. Written in 1910 by British writer Henry Gilbert, it wasn’t a child’s book at all. It was steeped in history, and as I discovered much later in life, Robin Hood was actually an amalgam of five or six historical British characters, cleaned up to present him as better than he likely was.
But I idolized the magical Robin Hood in my book, an outlaw who was devoted to alleviating the suffering of the poor. He made a huge impact on me, and when I finished reading the book, I immediately saw the possibility that the woods that ran along the end of our farm and the two adjoining farms could become my own personal Sherwood Forest.
Imagining and acting out the adventures in the book occupied hours and hours of my time. I’ve reread my childhood book periodically over the years, and I still find it as fascinating as I did then.
From imagination to reality.
A few years ago, I was in London with my wife and business partner Babs Smith. Babs knows well how deep my interest in the stories of Robin Hood lies, and she had been busy organizing a surprise birthday gift for me.
Babs arranged for a very knowledgeable guide, an archeologist who had lived in the area his entire life and knew the complete history of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest going back thousands of years. Our time spent with him touring the forest and learning from his wealth of knowledge was amazing.
But the greatest part of the gift is that Babs purchased a sapling that has been nurtured from a cutting from “The Major Oak,” a tree in Sherwood Forest that played a big part in the Robin Hood stories and still stands 1,000 years later.
This sapling will soon be coming over to eventually be planted in our garden in Toronto. It’s amazing to me that a part of something I’ve been fascinated with since I was six years of age is now going to become a living reality at our home in Toronto.
A lesson: Tap into a new source of energy.
I’ve observed that the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years seem to have almost a direct connection with who they were as children — how they thought about things, their dreams, the picture they had of who they were going to be in the future. My thinking is that these things are to be taken seriously.
In my own experience, 15 years ago, I was an aging adult in good health and quite fit. But since I’ve gotten back in touch with who I was as a child, both my health and my fitness have improved. I feel younger, I’m more curious, I have more fun, and I’m much more willing to try new things.
I believe the reason for this is that I’m tapping into a new and great source of imagination and inspiration.
Your childhood passions are an untapped source of energy and excitement.
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A short turn-back-the-clock exercise.
I encourage you to take a pen and paper, and spend some time recalling and writing down your observations as a six-year-old child, when the world was an exciting place, and you were motivated, energized, and open to learning all sorts of new things when they presented themselves.
- What were you thinking about, the things that really fascinated you?
- What were you dreaming about doing in the future?
- What did you think you were going to be in the future?
How do you motivate yourself? My feeling is that there is a great deal of energy in the answers you put down on that paper, and when you keep in touch with those answers, you’ve discovered a whole new source of energy and excitement in your life.
Personally, I’m never going to disconnect from this amazing resource again.