Have you ever been infected by an idea?
Have you ever had an idea take hold of you, and imprint itself so strongly in your mind that you can’t even function unless you are taking action on it?
It consumes you, to the point of obsession, and you only feel at peace if you are moving towards it. It you aren’t taking action on it you feel a void, and restlessness inside.
It’s like a virus. It consumes you. It changes you from the inside out, and later spits out an entirely different person.
I believe when the idea is positive, and you take action on it, the person that you become is the person that you were always meant to be, and the idea is simply our becoming what is our inner core, especially when the circumstances of our life has caused us to deviate from that purpose.
My favourite story about an “idea infection” is the one that the musician Sting recently told, concerning his life, at TED. You can find the whole talk here, and I’d highly recommend you listening to his version of the story (starting at minute 12). Because the authentic version is so good, I won’t attempt a paraphrase. But I will give one hint: it’s an event that occurred in his life as a boy involving the building of a ship, the Queen Mother, a Black Rolls Royce, and a resulting idea that infected him so strongly that it dictated the rest of his life.
I’ve been infected by an idea. Twice. Both very real. Both of which I’m utterly driven to take action on.
The first happened when I was 20 years old. It was 1999 and I was living in Utah. A random series of events occurred and, strangely enough, I found myself at the home of Stephen R. Covey, chatting with him in his living room. I had no idea who Mr. Covey was at the time. Nor did I know that he was a famous writer, speaker and leadership expert. I knew nothing about the 7 Habits, or his Franklin Covey leadership consulting firm. He seemed like a friendly gentleman, and we were engaging in small talk. I asked him what he did. I’ll never forget his answer,
I write books that help people live the best life that they can
I didn’t engage him much about his career after that. I didn’t ask what books he wrote. He was pleasant for the remainder of the 10 minutes I was at his house and then I left.
But the idea never left me. It has never left me to this day. It has only grown stronger inside of me.
At the time I thought that I was going to go into medicine. I distinctly remember leaving his house thinking:
Really?? He does that? That’s incredible. I didn’t realize you could get paid to do that!
But an even more radical idea took hold of me that day as well.
One day, I want to do that as well.
That idea never left me. It has been inside of me ever since, and even though my career took an 8 year detour (3 years of law school and 5 more in legal practice) eventually the infection took hold and I found myself compelled to write. My first book is done, in print, and being sold and I’m 122 pages into my second book (which I hope to release next year). Both of them are about empowerment, and helping people to live the best life they can. I can’t stop myself from writing every single day. The infection has taken hold of me.
The second came a little over 5 years ago. I was practising law, and quite unhappy. I hated the fact that my time and my money were connected, and the only way that I could make more money was to spend more time doing legal files.
I became consumed with an idea:
There has to be a way to free my time up. I don’t accept that this is my life. There has to be a way to make money without having to be at work all day long.
The idea became an obsession. I thought about it every single day. Dozens of times a day. Then I stumbled across a book – The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. At about the same time my wife got interested in a new product coming to Canada from the US – Scentsy. She joined as a consultant, and several months later I realized that this simple little product was the answer to my obsession. It would be the way that we freed ourselves. It would be the passive income that we wanted. We poured our heart and soul into it, and in less than three years from the time that I read that book we were making substantially more in this side business than I was in law and in 2012 I quit law. Since that time our business has gone global, expanded even more substantially, and has created a real freedom that was only merely a dream 5 years ago.
All I can say, from my experience with the “idea infection” is that when it takes hold of you the best thing that you can do is to accept it. Better yet, embrace it. It is there for a reason. You can’t let go of it for a reason. I think that it has something to do with your higher purpose in life. My life is a million times better right now because I yielded to the infection. I didn’t fight it. I embraced it. I took action on it. Now I feel that my life is purposefully driven.
All of us will be infected by different ideas. When your infection comes. Embrace it.