If You Can Imagine It, You Can Actually Build It

Ed Alfke is the living, breathing proof that nothing is impossible. It all begins with him visualizing his ideas and dreams.

Ed grew up in the far north of Canada in a small town. He did not have a university degree, nor a formal education in business, but he is now an internationally recognized serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and mentor. All he did was take action and start doing.

Ed’s passion for entrepreneurship had been a part of his life since the age of 19 when he began to build one successful business after another. He is a founding member and director of the National Angel Capital Organization and member of the Angel Capital Association’s National Co-investment Committee. He is perhaps most renowned for building two very successful companies, Rent-A-Wreck and Practical Auto Rentals. Ed has spoken widely in North America and Europe, has been the subject of a case study in Canadian University MBA and Commerce programs, and has garnered prestigious honours for his contributions to business and the environment.

Many people believe that their age prevents them from being an entrepreneur and creating their own business. Ed, however, has proven to us that anyone can be an entrepreneur if they choose to.

Age is not a hindering factor; It is just a number. Whenever I think I am too young to accomplish something great, I would remind myself of the people who ignored their age and took action to do epic things anyway:

– Tina Wells founded Buzz Marketing Group at 16

– Brian Wong founded Kiip at 19

– Henry Ford founded Ford Motors at 40

– Jerry Baldwin founded Starbucks at 42

– Colonel Sanders founded KFC at 65

… and the list goes on and on.

Ed identified the elements he possesses that contributed to his success today. These elements already exist inside every single one of us. Ed’s insights are not only applicable in starting a successful business, but also in accomplishing practically any goal you have in life – be it small or massive.

Here are some success keys that I picked up from Ed’s talk:

Have Genuine Passion

In essence, passion is simply the energy that allows you to bring more of you into what you do each and every day.

Ask yourself this, “What do I genuinely love to do?” Write it out. Display it on paper, or a whiteboard, or sticky notes on the wall… whichever way works best for You.

You will brings clarity to your visions and your end goals, letting you see what is truly important to you at this very moment. When it is clear, it is easier to realize it.

Have The Right Attitude

Do you think you can build a positive life, or get positive results in your business with a negative attitude? No, you can’t. The benefits of a positive mindset have been widely recognized and supported by science.

In The Happiness Advantage, Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s research showed that if you can raise your level of positivity in the present, your brain performs significantly better at everything you do than at negative or neutral.

Ed wasn’t born with a great positive attitude. He had to work on it, build on it and develop it day by day. If he can do it, so can you!

You can start by looking at the good in what you do, and looking at the good in what others do around you. Most important of all, you need to look at the good inside of yourself. A positive attitude carries through your ups and downs, allowing you to learn from your mistakes and grow.

People are afraid of making mistakes, but learning is never a mistake! We grew up in a culture where mistakes are often frowned upon by default, but innovation and creativity are always accompanied with numerous mistakes and failures. Thomas Edison had 10,000 failures before making the light bulb, and changed the world as they knew it. Rovio Entertainment made 51 games over the span of 6 years and went almost broke, before creating the successful Angry Birds video game franchise that put their company on the map.

To succeed in today’s fast-paced and innovative society, we have to put away outdated models of reality and accept that making mistakes is an unavoidable step towards achieving success. Ed encourages all his employees to have the courage to make mistakes because that means they are pushing, growing, and getting out of their comfort zones.

Full-time Commitment

The idea of commitment is not only essential during the tough times, but in the good times as well. Even when things are going great, they can always get better. Be cautious of giving into complacency and don’t stop growing.

The idea of persistence is the success key that Ed values the most about himself and the successful entrepreneurs he mentored. Being 100% committed gives you the drive and the direction to realize the dreams you set out to accomplish without sidetracking.

In the 1968 Olympic marathon, runner John Stephen Akhwari fell badly – his shoulder hit hard against the pavement, and he wounded his knee and dislocated that joint. However, he kept on running and finished last among those who completed the race. The winner of the marathon finished in 2:20:26; John finished in 3:25:27. When interviewed and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” With determination and commitment, John achieved what he set out to do, and has earned the respect of many for his impressive accomplishment.
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So start where you are today and do what you love. What are you excited about? What kind of dream life would you like to create? In Ed’s words, “If you can imagine it, you can actually build it.”

You already have the tools inside of you. The “How” comes naturally as you focus on the “Why” and “What”. Ed founded the “How” for all of the dreams he realized simply by focusing on his success keys and end goals. Trust that the “How” will show up when you need it, and start living your life to the fullest today.


Do You Want more?

You can learn more about turning awesome ideas into action by attending TEDxStanleyPark on May 23, 2015 at the Granville Island Stage. There are many talented and thought provoking speakers this year, and tickets are selling out fast, so get yours today at www.tedxstanleypark.com!

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