Innovative Thinking – Begin With End – Blog 100

Begin With The End In Mind


Steven Covey teaches us in “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People”, you need to visualize the end result then work backward.   Lay out the specific steps you need to take until you get to the beginning.

It’s similar to what Michelangelo said about creating his masterpiece, David when he said: “I just chipped away everything that wasn’t David.”

Michelangelo already had an image of the end product, what David was to look like upon its completion.  He had such a vivid image of the finished David, that he really did just chip away, down to where David was hidden.

Often, when I build something like a round collapsable table or an Adirondack Chair, I see the finish vision of what it will look like, I then identify every piece it takes to create the table or chair.  At that point, all I have to do is cut the pieces to match the image in my head and assemble it.

When you use this to change the direction of your life or to focus on a very large project, we often use what is called a Dream-Board or Vision-Board.

I want to share another personal example of a solution to a problem I had in 2002 that set my life on a course I could never have foreseen.  Vision Boards or Visualizing The End  Really does work.  Here’s how.

In 2001 I decided even though I had been speaking professionally on and off since the mid-eighties, I wanted to speak full time.

I contacted a friend of mine who owned one of the top 10 most successful speakers bureaus in the U.S.  I asked him what I needed to do to become a professional speaker.  He mentioned a bio, one-sheet, press photos, etc., but stressed that all successful speakers need a book.  I had never written a book before and didn’t know the first thing about being an author.

I had written 12 short stories for fun since college and had them on my computer.  I gathered them up, edited them, and put them into two books “Gratuitous Serendipity” and “Life Is But A Dream” (both on Amazon), and self-publish.  Self publishing was new and a big deal in the early 2000’s.

After I achieved this feat, I contacted my friend and told him of my success.  I didn’t have one book published, I had two!

He told me he didn’t want to burst my bubble, but he meant “legitimately” published, published by a publishing house, a real publisher, not self-published.  Needless to say, I was nearly devastated.  I knew getting a “real” publisher to publisher your book had less of a chance than getting struck by lightning.

I know you’ve heard the saying before, getting struck by lightning, but I truly would have bet on the lightning.  I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this.

I was a strong believer in focus.  Focus on the end product and you will automatically find a way to get from here to there.  As I said earlier, I used this concept for building furniture.

I decided what the…  Heck.  I set out to create a book cover.  A pretend book cover of a legitimately published book by a real publisher.  Here is the cover.

It was a back cover of a book about how I developed the First Computer To Save A Human Life and the struggle of constantly being ripped off by Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, investors, and the inevitable lawsuits.  I created a title, image, book outline, and even took the time to scan an ISBN barcode from another book just to make it look as real as possible.

I have to look back and laugh.  The website at the bottom of the cover said ““.  This masterpiece made it to my refrigerator door.  As I said early, all children’s art must be placed on a refrigerator door immediately.

It hung there for several weeks when…  I was speaking with a friend of mine who was a prolific serials author.  He had published 14 business books through several “real” publishers.

During our conversation, I walked to the kitchen to get more coffee and turned to the fridge for the milk.  As I reached for the handle, I saw my fake book cover and knowing who I was speaking with I asked “Hey Frank, I have an idea for a book.  Do you think you can introduce me to your publisher?”  He said “Sure!  Why not!”.

The idea I had for the publisher wasn’t for “When You Walk Among Giants”.  It was something I had been noticing for the past year.  When I had the opportunity to pitch the publisher, I told them that we were entering the biggest residential home construction phase in human history.  She laughed and asked for a marketing plan and said she’d take it to “Blue-Sky”, the meeting they have to determine whether or not they want to publish the book.

I submitted the proposal and they accepted my book.  That was 2004 and the book was published by Pearson Publishing. in 2005.  The book was called “Build Your New House In No Time, How To Work With Contractors”.    Do you remember what happened to home building in 2005 through 2009?

Bingo!  It worked!

I would never have thought to ask my friend about an introduction if it weren’t for the book cover being on my fridge and reminding me of my unsurmountable goal.

Vision-Boards work.  Create one for yourself.  Get pictures from a magazine or the Internet, glue them to some foam-core, cardboard, cork-board, or hang them on your refrigerator.


Lon Safko
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking


Tags: innovative thinking, creative, creative thinking, Innovation, critical thinking definition, innovation definition, critical thinking skills, creative process

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