No. 40 - O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y

No. 40
THE $25,000 IDEA

There is an old American saying that goes, "Time is something we ain't got nothing but." Time is also the great equalizer, because every living person has exactly the same amount of time each day: twenty-four hours, no more, no less. Since achieving success is a worthy goal for most people, it really comes down to our priorities and how well we manage our time. If you would like to get a lot more accomplished in the days ahead, I have an idea to share with you that may be very helpful. This idea has been called "The $25,000 Idea" and as you will soon see, it's been around for years.
I discovered this idea several years ago quite by chance and it's been one of the most profitable ideas that I've ever employed. However, before I share it with you here is a word of caution that can be summed up with this quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Ideas are something that must work through the brains and arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.”
Some time after the turn of the century, Ivy Lee, a consultant with the Rockefeller Foundation was making a call on Mr. Charles Schwab, chairman of the board of Bethlehem Steel Company. Lee was telling Mr. Schwab how he could help him do a much better job of managing his company and Mr. Schwab broke in and said, "Look, what we need is not more knowing. We need more doing. If you can tell me how to get more done, I'll listen to you and pay you what I think your ideas are worth."
At this point, Ivy Lee asked Mr. Schwab to take a piece of paper and a pencil and write down the six most important things he had to do the following day. When he completed this task, Lee told him to go back and number the six items in the order of their importance. With this finished, Ivy Lee then told him to put the paper in his pocket and the first thing the next morning, go to work on number one and stay with it until it was completed, then to move on to number two and so forth, down the list. If something should force his delay, go on to the next item. This way he would always be working on the most important task and in order of its importance. When each item on the list was completed, repeat the process. It should also be noted that by developing a new list each day, the most important tasks would always be first at hand.
In about six months, Mr. Schwab wrote Ivy Lee a letter and told him the idea he had given him was the most profitable, from a money standpoint, that he had ever received and he enclosed a check for $25,000. You can just imagine what that $25,000 would be worth today! It was later reported that the simple idea of writing down the six most important things to do each day and numbering them in order of their importance was responsible for turning a little known steel company into the second largest independent steel producer in the world.
One of the key ingredients in this idea that may not be readily understood is the fact that before Mr. Schwab could write down the six most important things he had to do the next day and arrange the tasks in order of priority, he had to first know what his goals were. Now to the obvious: this idea will be of value to any person who will first decide what they wish to achieve and then write down the six most important things to do each day and number them in order of their priority. You see, this will take most of the confusion out of our days and allow us to focus on doing the things that are most important to us. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)