About six years ago, Richie Norton had a "stupid" idea. He wanted to write a book about how successful people start things.
Over time, he gained inspirational ideas and learned universal principles. Unfortunately, he also exerpienced life-changing events, including the deaths of two family members.
What emerged was a book titled "The Power of Starting Something Stupid," which has received critical acclaim from notable authors and entrepreneurs like Steve Forbes, Seth Godin, Jack Canfield, Stephen M.R. Covey and Joseph Grenny.
"People who live to start their so-called stupid ideas really do start living. There are a lot of people who are living dead, who wonder what they are supposed to do with their life," Norton said. "This book is proof, an artifact of the work to get a stupid idea completed."
Norton, a graduate of BYU-Hawaii, started gathering information for his book more than five years ago when he discovered a pattern.
"I started finding out that a lot of the time, it was the stupid ideas that turned out to be the greatest successes," said Norton, named one of Hawaii's top 40 best and brightest young business persons by Pacific Business News.
The next principle was learned amid tragedy. First, Norton's brother-in-law, Gavin, a healthy 21-year-old with a zeal for life, died unexpectedly in his sleep. A little over two years later, Norton's wife had a baby they named Gavin, but the infant only lived 76 days before dying of pertussis (whooping cough).
Amid their grief, a friend asked a question that changed their lives.
"So, what have you learned?"
"My brother-in-law was gone, our son was gone, and there wasn't a thing in the world I could do to change any of that. Suddenly, my life took on a very real sense of urgency. There was, in fact, a time limit," Norton said. "I realized there needs to be a sense of urgency to get these ideas done."
Norton felt that same urgency while interviewing elderly people who had waited their entire lives to finally realize their dreams, which they had procrastinated due to lack of time, money or health.
"I realize we have ideas, but we may put them off because they are stupid, we’re scared, or it’s not the right time," Norton said. "I coupled that with the fact that life’s short. We don’t really have the time we think we’re going to have, and if we wait, we’ll have a whole new set of circumstances to navigate, so we might end up living life in regret because we didn’t do anything with those ideas."
Thus began a grueling process of organizing ideas, writing and editing what he had learned. Thanks to his wife, Natalie, the goal of the book was eventually realized.
"Writing a book is a roller-coaster ride," said Norton, currently working toward a master's of business administration at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz. "You have highs and lows. The days you are down, you've got to push through. The days you are up, you've got to ride as fast as you can to get those ideas out."
The book's foreword is written by best-selling author Stephen M.R. Covey, who highlighted three reasons why he admires the book. First, the book disrupts conventional thinking in a smart way; second, it identifies how successful people serve, thank, ask, receive and trust; and third, he is impressed with Norton personally and professionally.
"The net result is that Richie gives his readers an author they can trust," Covey wrote. "This book has rekindled my spirit and given me a renewed outlook on life and business."
Most people fail to realize their dreams because of fear, Norton said. Once while surfing with his young son, Norton spotted a lurking dark shadow beneath the water. It was a shark. He considered whether they should paddle toward the shore or deeper waters to escape the large predator.
"I figured it's going to eat us anyway, so probably better to be closer to shore, so we paddled with the shark toward shore," Norton said. "I try to apply that as sometimes the safest thing you can do is paddle with your fear (your stupid idea). Sometimes it's more dangerous to paddle away from the fear. Sometimes the fear can guide us to our most significant opportunities."
Crushing your fear is one of many lessons that Norton hopes readers take from his book.
"Lean into your fear, lean into stupid, don't be afraid," the author said. "Starting something stupid may be the coolest and most meaningful experience of your life, and not just for you, it will influence others for good too."
For more information on Norton, visit RichieNorton.com.
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