One of the first times I encountered the power of purpose was on the opening day of my sixth grade education. The teacher announced that our star basketball player was now living outside the boundary of the school. He would have to go to a different school. While I was slow, uncoordinated, could not jump, and had been a bench warmer in on the fourth and fifth grade teams, I had a sudden vision. I could see myself replacing him as the best basketball player.
That day, after school, I began acting on my aspiration. I spent hours practicing. I did it every day. When the season came, a shocking thing happened. I was the high scorer in every game. From then on basketball became central to my identity. Over the years I had many meaningful experiences because I played basketball.
That experience in the sixth grade was the first time I ever acquired a driving purpose. The growth that followed my disciplined effort led to the discovery of a previously unimaginable principle. I could shape my own future.
We are free in any situation to focus our attention as we see fit. In the short run, how we focus our attention determines what we achieve. In the long run it determines who we become. If we hold an image of a result we want to create, our behaviors will begin to align with our mental picture. Our picture becomes a stabilized point of potential and our energy begins to organize around the picture. We begin to develop hope and enthusiasm. That hope and enthusiasm gives us the capacity to persist in the learning process that is necessary for the aspiration to materialize.