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What Do You Dream Of?

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Thursday, September 21, 2023

How can someone with nothing to offer achieve greatness?

What’s your dream?

What’s the thing you want so bad it keeps you up at night?

We all have some “thing”. 🙂

For a young man (whom you’ve probably never heard of) named Edwin C. Barnes, that “thing” was becoming the business partner of a certain prolific inventor: Thomas Edison.

But he had one big problem.

He had no money, no education, and no influence. In other words, he had nothing at all to offer Edison.

So how does a person with nothing to offer… achieve their big, wild dream?

Well, the young Edwin C. Barnes did have one thing — the audacity to travel by freight train (he couldn’t afford any other mode of transportation), stand before the great inventor Thomas Edison, and ask to be his business partner!

Upon meeting the young man, even Edison had to admit there was something special in Barne’s eyes: “He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression on his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after.”

Thomas Edison refused his business proposal, but gave Barnes a job as a sweeper.

Barnes accepted the job as a sweeper and stayed vigilant for an opportunity to prove his real worth to Edison.

Eventually, that opportunity came in the form of one of Edison’s inventions, called the “Ediphone”, which Edison’s sales team said they’d be unable to sell. Barnes created a plan to sell the “Ediphone”, which was approved by Edison and worked very well!

Shortly thereafter, Barnes got his wish and the company, ‘Edwin C. Barnes and Bros’ was formed!

This story (and many others) are recounted in detail in one of my favorite books of all time: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (if you don’t have a copy, get one here!).

Barnes was SO clear in his vision and SO determined in his pursuit that he was willing to go to any lengths to reach his goal.

More often than not, that’s what it takes.


What’s YOUR dream?

Here are 4 takeaways (as I see it 🙂) from this story for achieving your dream!

FIRST, Get REALLY Clear About The Goal — There’s no way Barnes could have become the business partner with Edison if he hadn’t known exactly what he wanted. To reach a specific goal, you need to have a REALLY specific dream!

BUT, Stay Flexible To The Path — Barnes original plan was to become Edison’s business partner right away by showing his raw determination. That didn’t work, though, and he was given a job as a sweeper. Barnes wanted it badly enough, though, that he worked several years as a sweeper until he finally was given the chance to prove his value. Keep your eyes focused on a specific goal, but realize the path might change!

SECOND, Let Naivety Drive You — Naivety is a beautiful thing at the beginning of a pursuit. It often drives us to do and try things we wouldn’t do if we knew how difficult it was actually going to be. So embrace your naivety and let it drive you!

BUT, Temper Your Naivety With Grit — Of course, naivety will only get you so far. You also have to temper your naivety with an understanding that the path ahead is going to be longer and harder than you probably expect. Barnes was naive when he first stood before Edison with nothing to offer, but he showed his grit when Edison gave him a job as a sweeper and he accepted.

When I first read Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, I had a lot of lightbulb moments — and I’m having just as many on my 100th (honestly, I’ve lost count) read-through of this book.

Get your hands on everything Napoleon Hill wrote if you want to THINK and grow rich :)

- Russell Brunson

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