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A grandmother for all seasons
on March 29, 2011
In this his latest book, Tim Sanders creates a context, a frame-of-reference, for several concepts introduced in earlier works, notably in Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference (2008), The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams (2006), and Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends (2003). More specifically, the lessons he learned from a grandmother who raised him after the death of his mother. For a period of time, he lost touch with her (Billye) and with her wisdom. Eventually, he was reunited with both. So what we have in Today We Are Rich is a prequel to the earlier books.
As Sanders explains, his grandmother probably had the greatest influence (the most beneficial influence) on his professional as well as personal development. When introducing the first of seven principles of Total Confidence, that fact immediately becomes obvious:
Principle 1: Feed Your Mind Good Stuff
"Billye got up with the chickens at the crack of dawn and yet kept bankers' hours. What did she do during the hours in between? She fed her mind good stuff.
"Billye was just as judicious in her response to what others tried to put in her head. She avoided "gossip snipes" as if they had an infectious disease. She even dumped negative-minded friends after one too many offenses. When one of the ladies at our church asked her why a Christian woman would quit friends over the words they used, Billye would paraphrase Dr. Norman Vincent Peale from The Power of Positive Thinking: "What comes out of the mind is what you put in the mind. You must feed your mind like you feed your body."
"Her positive-intake plan wasn't selfish--it was purposeful. The filter she put on what or whom she listened to wasn't prudish--it was prudent. The secret to positive thinking, she had learned, lies in consuming the right mind food. From waking thoughts to the edge of sleep, she fed her mind mostly good stuff."
* * *
"You should be as careful about what you put into your mind as about what you put into your mouth. Your mind is a machine. When you ingest a piece of information, your mind goes to work, chewing on it, digesting it, and then converting it into a thought. When good stuff goes into your mind, good thoughts emerge. People who maintain purposeful mind diets of positive stimuli think healthy thoughts.
"The reason it is so important to feed your mind good stuff is that the resulting thoughts determine your success or failure, your happiness or misery, and most important, the circumstances of your life. Those who do not have a diet plan for their minds are subject to their worst memories and the world's constant fear chatter--and those result in disturbing thought patterns.
"That's essentially the premise behind Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich: `Every man is what he is, because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind. . . . We are what we are, because of the vibrations of thought which we pick up and register, through the stimuli of our daily environment.'
"And Hill wasn't the only one to write about the importance of our thoughts. James Allen wrote his groundbreaking book As a Man Thinketh in 1903, with Proverbs 23:7 as its premise: "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (King James Version). The premise of his book was simple, yet profound: `Good thoughts bear good fruit; bad thoughts bear bad fruit.'"
This extended excerpt offers at least some indication of how and why Billye's influence on young Sanders proved to be so significant. With regard to the other six principles, they are:
Principle 2: Move the Conversation Forward
Principle 3: Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle
Principle 4: Give to Be Rich
Principle 5: Prepare Yourself
Principle 6: Balance Your Confidence
Principle 7: Promise Made, Promise Kept
My maternal grandmother arrived from Sweden as a teenaged indentured servant to a wealthy family living in the Hyde Park area near the University of Chicago. Eventually, she married and had four children, my mother the youngest. After my parents divorced, my mother and I moved in with Edith Johnson in a large house shared with two bachelor uncles, a married aunt, and her family. My mother worked six days a week (and frequently several evenings) to earn enough to support us and so, to a significant extent, I was raised by my grandmother. I think she and Billye were kindred spirits.
As I read Sanders' accounts of his conversations with Billye, I fondly recalled my own grandmother in the kitchen baking Swedish coffee cakes, sharing (in her own words) almost exactly the same advice that Sanders received from Billye.
This is Tim Sanders' most important book, at least thus far, because he focuses so eloquently on values and behavior that ultimately determine how "rich" or impoverished a person is. For him and for me, and probably for many others, the value of having a grandmother for all seasons is incalculable.