Eldon Grant asks, " Why Should You Listen to Me?"
I grew up a hard-core Utah cowboy who never went to college and wasn't a corporate executive, so I get asked a lot, "How did you develop problem solving skills so powerful, that they set you apart from everyone else?" A really good question that deserves an answer. The soundbite answer is that I discovered how to think in terms of principles as opposed to information and knowledge.
I know our society today loves soundbites, but every single soundbite ever written, is entirely useless (except for advertising) without the right kind of training from the right kind of mentors, which includes the right kind of practical/first-hand experience. I definitely don’t say that from arrogance or to brag. To the contrary. It was an extremely difficult and painful journey for me. I say that because I know if I discovered it, so can you! In fact, I’d love to show you how to do the same and avoid a lot of the pain that I went through.
Farms and ranches are ideal places to learn problem solving techniques because almost more than any experience, you never know what your day will be like and you usually don't have time (or money) to call in some so-called expert. It's the old cliché, "make do or do without" that runs most family homesteads .Even when you do have time and money for an “expert”, you are far better off to ask your older neighbor who has been farming and/or ranching years longer than you. The majority of “experts” have heads full of information and knowledge, but very few are truly wise.
From my dad and my older brothers, I learned to ride, rope, break horses, work with animals, operate farm equipment, tend and harvest crops and find a balance among all the people and duties that hit me. I have to admit, though, despite many good examples from family and others, I was a bit of a "hard-case."
Our family moved several times within Utah during my childhood, finding ourselves, at one point, on a small farm in Roosevelt, where my dad also owned and operated a custom cabinet-furniture shop and where I began my education in woodworking. My apprenticeships on the farm and in that shop were my own personal testimony of the same fact that history has taught us for 6000 years—that apprenticeships are the best mentoring programs ever designed. Really good mentoring programs are the only experiences that have ever qualified as the correct definition of real education.
We gave up the farm and moved to Monticello, Utah, just before my junior year of high school. It was strange—even awkward for me to live in town and the first time in my life I didn’t have daily farm chores to do. I greatly missed the open space, the animals and nature. I got luckier than I can describe however because Monticello was the first and only place where a school teacher took the time and energy to prove that I was personally important to him. Joe Wolfe Davis was my wrestling coach. He wasn't a certified speaking professional or a world-famous self-help author, but something far more powerful. He was a real teacher, a worthy trainer, role model and mentor. Coach Davis single-handedly took our small band of half-witted, scraggly, trouble-making, mediocre wrestlers and turned us into a phenomenon:
During that year, we won first place in every one of our meets and tournaments, finishing as our region and state champions. His mentorship program was simple: He insisted we were champions from the beginning and demanded that high moral standards as well as wrestling performance were part and parcel of being champions. He insisted that every move was executed with as near perfect form as possible, whether in a competition, practice, or even goofing around. This was an idea my older brother taught me about roping years earlier—bad habits are the easiest to learn, so you have to force yourself to do it right—even exaggerate it, until it becomes instinctive. Otherwise bad habits will creep in and hurt you when you most need to get it right. Today, as a motivational speaker, Seattle is my home base, but I travel extensively and I see the truth of this idea confirmed every single day. It is among the ancient, unchanging concepts that create success.
After high school, I worked two years as a proselyting missionary for my church. In the summers before that mission, between school and for a while after, I worked for my brother, Byron, as a carpenter; for a brother-in-law, Randy Bird, as a lumberjack; and for another brother-in-law, Elden Pace, as a semi-truck driver. As I look back on these early jobs—all in small, family-run businesses—I see they were also mentor programs. I greatly enhanced and learned additional problem solving skills in my own business ventures. Believe me, when your own life and family is at stake, you pay closer attention and learn far quicker. I continue to use and master them in my corporate mentoring programs. Years later I realized that even preaching the gospel (I'm still a lay minister in my church) and business inspirational speaking are essentially the same thing. They define profit in different ways (saving souls—mostly your own—vs. earning money) but the laws that govern success are identical. In fact, I came to realize that everything in life is governed by a set of universal laws or constants that, largely through the industrial revolution and urbanization, have become lost to our modern society and educational systems.
We (meaning, the ever-increasing majority) have become far too dependent on others for our success (however we define "success") and we miss the opportunities presented to us to create a better—even, dare I say, miraculous?—future for ourselves. It isn’t that miracles are any less possible today than the past, it is simply that we have traded discovering principles, for gathering information and gaining knowledge. Thus the great universal principles are becoming lost—and with it, the ability to harness the laws of creation in such a way that they build us up instead of tear us down. The exponential increase of technology is wonderful, but without principles to hold its integrity in tack, we are creating our own demise instead of our evolution. We (as a whole) no longer intentionally design our lives in a way that our children discover and honor principles for themselves. As a result, more and more individuals and thus families, organizations, businesses, communities, etc. are decaying faster than they are growing.
By the way, when I was 25, my oldest brother, Jerald, invited me to California to be a carpenter's foreman for his company. One morning, Jerald's business partner and brother-in-law, Terry Leib, asked, "Eldon, have you ever danced before?" I replied with an uncontrolled smile, “sure, all the time—breaking horses.” “Seriously” he continued, “a young lady I are in charge of organizing a big dance festival and her partner has suddenly become unavailable.” I told him flat out I was the wrong guy. But Terry insisted, “She is a world-class ballroom dancer and she can teach you. She can teach anyone!” After a lot of pleading and seeing his desperate plight, I reluctantly agreed.
You may guess the rest of the story. Jackie, Terry's friend, and I danced together most nights for the next three weeks and before the year was out, were married.
I'd like to say, "and we lived happily ever after", but we didn't. We've had some really rough times; we even got to the point where divorce was more probable than staying together. I'd always been a bit of a workaholic and that got worse as my family grew and problems increased. I was self-employed and wanted to provide for their every need, but I failed to understand that they needed me as husband and dad as much, or more, than they needed the money I earned.
Again, you've probably guessed the moral of this story: The same rules that apply to success in church, in school, in business, etc., also apply in all relationships, especially marriage. My wife let me get away with neglecting her and our children for far too long. We were both at fault and we both had to change. However, since I couldn’t change her, I realized that I was the one who had to change myself and set the right example.
May not sound like the birth of the great Seattle motivational speaker, or does it? Well, any woman will tell you that birthing a baby is pure agony, and this birth sure qualifies. I mentioned early on that, despite good direction from family, I was a hard-case as a kid. I was just as hard-headed as an adult. I already knew I had to change because, despite some nice successes, I was in a deadly tail-spin, on the verge of losing everything I valued: wife, kids, health, friends, business, spirituality, and self-esteem. Worst of all, the most frightening thing I could imagine was someone else finding out I had problems, so I didn't ask for help. Conventional wisdom says what you don't know can't hurt you. Let me clue you in, "conventional wisdom" isn't. At best, it's an illusion, at worst, it's pathetically stupid or even an outright lie. I could hide behind the illusion of the perfect life, but only for so long, and my time was up.
One evening, after an entire year of dead-end searching for answers, I was channel surfing while suffering from severe insomnia and I found an infomercial with Robert G. Allen, the famous real estate investor. After watching him for a while, I thought, "I could do that," and I ordered his book. I was never much of a reader, so, ordering this book was no small leap of faith for me. Still, I started to read. The words on the pages seemed to address me personally. It was as if Mr. Allen himself was saying, "Eldon, I can teach you all the techniques and strategies to become a successful real estate investor, but it won't do you any good until you change the way you think about and value yourself. Your life will never improve until you begin to feel worthy of the improvements you think you want." This was a whole new concept to me and my wife but, over time, we learned. Today, after 35 years we are not just still married but our relationship and love has blossomed bigger and brighter than we ever imagined. It makes “falling in love”, pale by comparison.
Books, tapes and seminars followed; I studied these men and women and made them my role models and mentors. I became completely obsessed—that old 'workaholic' character began to reappear but in a good way this time. After a while, I began to recognized that these motivational speakers, Seattle-based or from wherever they were from, weren't always worth my timed, effort (and money). Just because he or she had written a book or two or ten and might even be famous, didn’t mean they knew what they were talking about.
I realized why the true experts cautioned me to be careful about the advice I followed. I'd found and studied ideas that sounded great on the surface but were contrary to those principles I'd learned on the farm, in my own and other family businesses, and at church. Being a religious guy, I think God sent us, His children, to Earth to learn these principles, which I would call "God's great plan of happiness". For those who aren't religious, let me just say that I've discovered how any person can solve every problem they ever face—laws and principles that are as true today as they were anciently, and which you can learn if you study and practice the wisdom of ancient sages like Confucius, Plato, the Buddha, Jesus and many others in every culture.
Today, I am honored to be known as Americas Wisdom Mentor and Master Problem Solver. I am a mentor, Seattle-based with my family, but ready to come to you through my books, articles and corporate mentoring programs or organizational mentoring programs that can teach you to develop problem solving skills that will enable you to envision and create the life you really want. Again, I do not say all that to impress you. I have simply developed a passion for discovering truth and compared to what I want to know, I know very little other than the fact that I am unquestionably on the right track.
That, my friend, is the key to creating a better future. Life is a work in progress, we're never done creating or leading and so should never be done growing. My experiences have enabled me to share ancient, crucial life principles with many audiences over the years. They have brought me to where I am today; to publish my first book, Solve Every Problem in Your Life, Secret Ancient Principles Guaranteed To Grant You Wisdom, and a couple other books in the series so far. As well, to launch my business to teach the skills to discover what I have come to call “the principles that lead to wisdom and harness the laws of creation.”