The Power of Imagination, Determination & Tenacity

            In order to succeed in business and life you only need a three core competencies. You need IQ, EQ & AQ.

  • IQ (Intelligence Quotient) – Everyone knows about IQ, the intelligence quotient that academics love to talk about. Unfortunately IQ, is only a score derived from different standardized tests designed to gauge your level of intelligence relative to your age. Essentially IQ only measures potential. If IQ was the big factor that determined ones overall level of success, Henry Ford would have been homeless, I would be living with my mother, and everyone on Jeopardy would be leading Forbes’ list of America’s wealthiest individuals every year.
  • EQ (Emotional Quotient) – Very few academics know about the emotional quotient or event talk about the emotional quotient, because this is something that people can control. Essentially your EQ measures your overall ability to rebound emotionally from tough situations. Nearly all of America’s wealthiest individuals score unbelievably high in this area. Bill Belichick the legendary coach of the New England Patriots, has an unbelievable EQ. This guy was told by every coach in high school that he did not have what it took to play in high school or college. Undeterred, he transmuted his love of the game into an intense focus for watching game film and coaching. During high school he became the guru of game film and football coaching systems. How many kids would have just given up on their football career aspirations after being told point blank that they didn’t have the skills or talents needed to succeed in football? Bill’s high EQ allowed him to focus on being the best high school coach’s assistant and team manager possible. His high EQ has turned him into one of professional sports’ most consistent winners of all time.
  • AQ (Attitudinal Quotient)  – Almost nobody on the planet has a high AQ. Those that do win. Those that do not must settle for mediocrity. Your AQ measures your ability to maintain an optimal attitude regardless of the circumstances around you. It’s easy to have a great attitude when everything is working. But what about when things fall apart? When things fall apart, most people and aspiring entrepreneurs begin to scale back their dreams. They begin to dream “safe dreams” to avoid the risk of failure. To achieve and succeed on the planet Earth, you must have a high AQ. When Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously stood up to Hitler and his fascist regime, he stood alone. Without the support of the United States, who was relunctant to get into a war with the powerful Nazis he famously stood up and spoke to the British people, “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I answer in onve word: Victory. Victory at all costs! Victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” It is simply impossible to succeed without this HIGH OFF-THE-CHARTS level of AQ.

At the end of the day, your level of success is going to be determined by the power of your imagination, the level of your determination, the intensity of your tenacity. Every week I get a call from someone that has a “BIG IDEA.” The caller always has this incredible idea that is going to “CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE DO THIS OR THAT.” And initially I am excited for the person I am talking to. However, after asking them just two or three questions my enthusiasm quickly transforms into near cynicism as they provide me with an endless list of reasons, excuses and alibis as to why their product has not taken off yet. In no particular order, here are the most common excuses I hear.

  • “I want to sell my product in nation-wide, but you have to be well known before retailers will even talk to you.”
  • “I feel like I’m on the verge of something big, but my employees just don’t seem motivated.”
  • “I know this idea will be huge, but I just don’t have the capital I need!”
  • “My business was going great and then we lost one of key employees and she stole all the business from us.”
  • “You don’t understand my business, it’s just not scalable like yours.”
  • “This line of work is different, I just can’t train people quickly like you do.”
  • “I want to make a schedule for myself, but I have to pick my kids up this Thursday…and then next Tuesday I have a game, and then Saturdays are tough because of the divorce, and…(I VOMIT RIGHT AROUND HERE).”
  • “To me I would rather have  a good family than a bunch of money. Right now I’m just focusing on my family (So that you can explain to them why all of the family’s decisions will be limited based on lack of money you earn because you lack the diligence needed to overcome adversity).
  • “In my line of work it’s really hard to hold people accountable because we are just too spread out.”
  • “My business just can’t grow because I can’t find that right people.”
  • “I just don’t have the accounting systems I need to watch expenses like I am supposed to.”
  • “Right now, we are wanting to grow, but with the economy being how it is, I just think we are going to have to wait it out until it turns around.”
  • “I have been trying to get the Performa and business strategy created, but I just had a long weekend.”
  • “I’m just not a reader. I know I should be, but I just don’t have the time.”
  • “I’m just not good at cold calling. I prefer to meet people face to face.”
  • “I feel like my customers want more of a personalized service, so I don’t want to get BIG, yet. I don’t want to grow to fast.”
  • “My fiancé (girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or uncle), thinks this might just not be a good idea right now.”
  • “It’s really hard for me to know my schedule with our type of business.”

If you are not careful, and if you say these excuses enough times you will begin to believe them. And if you have an IQ that is just high enough, you will actually be able begin using these excuses as “valid justifications” for your mediocrity. Smart people can justify anything. Most people can come up with tons of excuses for their mediocrity. But you are not most people. You are going to be a success. Success is not normal. Success is not common. You are uncommon. You are exceptional.

The story goes that once upon a time the great mind Albert Einstein was asked a question by a Mom about how to raise a child to become a genius? He responded by saying, “Read the child more fairy tales.” Essentially, people without imagination and a BIG IDEA have no hope of ever succeeding beyond mediocrity in life. However, the Mom did not ask Albert Einstein how to teach a genius to become successful? Thus, the path the success involves 2 parts. Part 1 is all about imagination and dreaming up a big idea. Part 2 is all about having the diligence, the determination and the tenacity needed to turn those dreams into reality. First comes the inspiration, then comes the perspiration.

Part 1: The Power Imagination

The famous author, L. Frank Baum who wrote the classic, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” had one of the most prolific imaginations of all-time. This guy wrote over 55 novels and 200 poems during his epic career. In his novels and writings he wrote about the laptop computer, he wrote about his visions for color televisions and a phone without wires. His imagination had not limits. But, what if he didn’t have the determination and the diligence to write it all down? How long does it take to write 55 novels and 200 poems? Do you think this guy ever had “writer’s block?” Absolutely. Did he ever quit? No. During Walt Disney’s famous career he too had BIG DREAMS and a WILD IMAGINATION.

As an ambulance driver, young Walt day-dreamed of becoming an artist. He would doodle on anything he had in front of him and he even went to the extreme of painting his ambulance “to be more appealing for young kids.” However, what if he did not have the determination to overcome his first and second failed business ventures? Each time he started his studio, his costs would outrun his income and his businesses would fail. Could you imagine starting 2 businesses that completely failed? Most people don’t have the boldness and the courage needed to start one business, let alone to start another one after having failed.

Henry Ford had the BOLD IDEA of transforming the world with his “assembly line.” Because no one had ever witnessed his inventions in their physical reality many people thought he was crazy. He envisioned machines that people could use to mass-produce an automobile that affordable for the masses. He believed that the expensive luxury item of its day would eventually become something that whole country could enjoy. However, what if he had quit after he went the first time? He could have justified it. What if he would have quit after he lost it all the 2nd time? He could have given his friends a valid excuse for his failure. What if he quit after the 3rd or 4th times? I’m sure his friends would have patted him on the back and told him some ridiculous false kindness something like, “Hey Henry, at least you did your best. You know maybe it just wasn’t mean to be?” Maybe a spiritual friend would have said, “Henry, sometimes God has to shut a door before he opens another one up?”  To quote the incredibly deep American classic film, “Dumb & Dumber” he would have been known as “one pathetic loser” if he can not gotten off the ground. Dusted himself off and started again, determined to win.

Remember Super Bowl Camp & Dallas Cowboys’ coach Jimmy Johnson? Remember his hair? He had the big idea that he could team up with his college buddy Jerry Jones to reignite the passion and the success of America’s team. He started out 1-15 in 1989. And 1990 wasn’t much better. Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll believed that he could turn the Steelers into Champions, he started out 1-13 in 1969. The mastermind behind the San Francisco 49ers dynasty and the designer of the famous “West Coast Offense” Bill Walsh started his first year out 2-14 in 1979. What if these men didn’t have the guts and the tenacity to believe in their system?

Part 2: Determination & Tenacity

Determination and tenacity are the thing that keep us hammering away when our hands get sore and our arms get tired. Determination is that thing that actually causes us to increase our resolve with each rejection. Determination is that degree of separation that makes people winners or losers. Whether you are opening up a salon, starting a wedding entertainment company or building an insurance office, success is not possible without determination.

Do you get reinvigorated, stirred up, and more motivated by each rejection or do you have only enough determination to put your system in place for one year? Would you know who Walt Disney was if he had quit after going broke the first time?

Did you know the success is absolutely unavoidable when a person has a GREAT BIG IDEA and the WILL TO NEVER QUIT? Did you know that Coca Cola only sold 400 cokes during its first year? Did you know that President George Washington was getting slaughtered by the British troops before he decided to completely reformulate his strategy of fighting against the British? Do you remember when Apple Computers was the laughing stock of every high school computer lab? No one wanted Apple computers. People mocked them and they had a such a small percentage of the market share success seemed impossible to almost everyone, except for Steve Jobs. Did you know that Conrad Hilton started a bank that failed. Did you know Mr. Hilton ran out of cash during the depression and actually came within $25,000 of bankruptcy? Did you know he asked everyone he knew for the money and the only person who came to his aid was his mother? Have you asked your mother for $25,000? Have you asked everyone you know? Have you called every lead? Have you actually gotten back up after being knocked down? Have you raised your AQ and EQ to the level needed to achieve success. My father always told me, “In the game of football it is not a question about whether you will get hurt or not. It’s a question about how many times you are going to get hurt and how bad you are going to get hurt.” Business is the same way. If you aren’t prepared to spend some time rehabbing from an injury every once in awhile you shouldn’t start a business, and you reduce to size of your dreams immediately so you can quit wasting your time.

Harvey Mackay, who is a fabulous author and successful business person wrote, “Be like a postage stamp. Stick to it until you get there.” This phrase is absolutely what it is all about. So how does this apply to you and your business?

  • How big of a vision do you have for your life? Do you dream safe dreams so that you won’t have to deal with rejection? What would Steve Jobs do?
  • How tenacious are you being about your prospecting? Do you quit after 75 calls to run home early because you are frustrated? What would Conrad Hilton do?
  • How determined are you being about your systems? Do you quit when the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th hourly employee won’t follow it? What would Walt Disney do?
  • In what areas of your life are you dreaming small?
  • In what areas of your business are you showing feeble amounts of determination?

It’s a good thing that IQ is not the main variable that determines someone’s success or failure. As stated, if that was the case I would be living under a bridge banging on buckets for money. The level of your EQ and the level of your AQ is what matters and it is something that you can control. You will achieve success, I have achieved success and my clients have achieved success because they had a big imagination and the determination and tenacity needed to turn these “BIG IDEAS” into “BIG RESULTS.”

Clay Clark

U.S. Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year

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  • Founder of DJ Connection
  • Founder of Epic Photography
  • Founder of the Tulsa Bridal Association Wedding Show
  • Founder of Make Your Life Epic Marketing / Advertising Agency
  • Founder of
  • Former Owner of Party Perfect (Which is now
  • Co-Founder of Elephant In The Room Men’s Grooming Lounge
  • Co-Founder of Fears and Clark Realty Group
  • Co-host of the Thrive Time Business Coach Radio Show