Jim grew up in Tulsa, OK. All through his teenage years, his one dream and passion was to become a star football player and play in the NFL. He didn’t have a safety net or a Plan B and he pursued football to the exclusion of almost everything else.
During a routine sports exam for his high school football team, he was diagnosed with a condition that would cause him to lose his sight early in life. Everything came to a halt. He realized that not only would he be eventually blind, but he wouldn’t be going to the NFL either to live his life as a football pro.
He had to come up with another option. He switched his life path and became a weightlifter. He was able to end his athletic career having experienced championship and a Gold medal in the weightlifting arena. Shortly thereafter, in his late 20’s, he did lose the remainder of his sight. For a while, he was depressed and scared. It was a neighbor who turned him onto to his first motivational speaker, and he began to devour those messages. So much so that he’s now on his 3rd copy of that same program, ‘The Psychology of Winning’.
Over time, he got back into life, got his act together, and started a company that makes movies and television accessible to the visually impaired. Out of that, he became a speaker and then an author. Today, he has written over 30 books, 6 of them having been made into movies, has a weekly syndicated newspaper column and speaks to millions of people in arenas all over the world.
Most Influential Mentor:
- There are many but if he had to name one, it would be Napoleon Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
- As he meets successful people around the world at the top of their game, when he asks them what book they would recommend, more of them cite this book than any other title.
Biggest Challenges and Lessons:
- When he lost his vision, he did believe his life had ended. It wasn’t only the end of his sight and embarking on a life of physical disability; it was also the end of his dream of living his life as a professional athlete.
- He was depressed and despondent and broke and scared. On reflection, he believes this is an important phase for everyone to go through-it’s like the grieving process upon death. You need to experience that pain but limit it so that you can use it to rebound, reflect and refocus.
- His process started with a little old lady in his neighborhood who brought him the tape series, “The Psychology of Winning” by Dr. Denis Waitley.
- In it is the epic poem, “If you think you can, you can”. It is an amazing piece of writing.
- At the same time, people around him told him he’d never be able to go anywhere or do anything, while the tapes said otherwise. He said to himself “someone is lying to me” and he chose to believe the Dr.’s message.
On Becoming a Bestselling Author:
- He had never intentionally thought about being an author. The encouragement of his colleagues Dr. Waitley and Dr. Schuler is what prompted his first book, an autobiography, “You Don’t Have to Be Blind to See”,
- He thought that would be the end since he’d told his whole story but the publisher wanted another and then another.
- After a few more non-fiction titles, he decided to just ‘make up a story’ when the publisher wanted another book. That first novel, ‘The Ultimate Gift’, became a worldwide phenomenon and runaway success.
- The chances of a manuscript becoming a book and then a movie are about 1 in a million so he is still rather surprised when it happens. To see a character that was a figment of your imagination come alive on screen is an amazing experience.
- He believes the key to writing a good story is creating great characters and then letting them go.
- We have a tendency to compare our first drafts to the completed books of others but we never see their first drafts either, so we think our writing is bad. The key to being a good writer is to be a bad writer and just keep writing through.
What’s On The Horizon:
- Earlier this year, he released ‘The Millionaire Map’, his story of rising from abject poverty to becoming a multimillionaire.
- He also started a new series, ‘The Homecoming Historicals’, that all have high school athlete characters. The first in this series is ‘One Season of Hope’. It’s already been optioned for a movie.
- He just recently released ‘Ultimate Hindsight’, based on interviews with well-known public figures on what they wish they had known before and their advice for others.
- ‘Ultimate Legacy’, the final movie in the ‘Ultimate’ novel trilogy will be released January 2016.
- He has plans for more books in 2016-he is definitely staying busy!
What is His Legacy?
- Our legacy is not something we should be scraping together at the end of our lives to leave behind. It’s something we build on every day with everything we do.
- Ask yourself every day, “What would I do right now if I were amazing?” You’ll find that if you approach everything as if you are amazing, then you will have an amazing life.
- That amazing life is your legacy. For Jim, he hopes that his legacy is nothing more and nothing less than being the guy who held up a mirror for someone else to examine their goals, dreams and ambitions to create their own legacy.
Faith is a Relationship
- For Jim, faith is not a part of his life-it is his life.
- We can’t compartmentalize our life. Too many people’s faith is religion-a series of duties and rituals that you only have to pull out one day a week.
- But, religion is only great until you come upon a great turmoil in your life. Then, you have to go from religion to relationship.
- Religion is a theory. Relationship is a life. When you have a religion, you have constraints on your life. When you have a relationship, it becomes who you are and is part of your whole being.
Advice on Being ‘All-In’:
- The only thing you have to do to have a great business is to ask yourself, “How can I help other people avoid that problem?” The world will bring you great success and fortune if you help other people solve their problems. The only way we get ahead in this world is to create value for other people.
- We have to be willing to be bad to be good. Too many people give up too fast.
- Don’t ever take advice from someone who doesn’t have what you want.
- This life you’re living is not a practice game. It’s every tournament and playoff rolled into one. If you don’t feel that kind of passion for what you do every day, you need to make a diametrical change in your life.
- The meaning of life is to find our gift and the purpose is to give it away to others.