What and Who are Shaping Your Mind?

Written by Dave Rothacker on November 24, 2020

“Where do you get ideas from?”

As a writer, I get this question a lot. So, if you’re up for a little trip through the gears, pulleys and other machinations inside of my head, pack a water bottle and come along.

I generate ideas in many different ways. What I’m about to share with you is not only one idea, but first, the genesis of an idea. And then how one idea leads to another, the sum of which led to this article.

Reading Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, by Austin Kleon, this morning, I came upon this quote:

My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.

– William James, often referred to as the
Father of American Psychology.

My first notion? Mark Matteson. One of Mark’s favorite quotes comes from Charlie Tremendous Jones:

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

Notice how the quotes differ. The crop gathered from idea harvesting is not neat and orderly. But that’s an asset. The difference makes you think.

Before we go on, be sure you make a note to check out Mark’s books and podcasts. Listen and apply Mr. Matteson’s lessons and you’ll simply become a better human being.

Okay, hang on. The gears are turning.

But first. “You just published a book along with Ben Stark and Chris Hunter. We’ve read your recent articles. We know you’re going to mention It’s Go-Time. Why would you direct readers to other sites and other books?”

That’s a great question! Because there are actually people out there who advise writers to not post links in their articles. The thinking is if you leave the site you won’t come back.

This type of thinking comes from a scarcity mindset. Mine is one of abundance. My intention is to guide you, the reader, to knowledge, wisdom and resources that will aid in your development. It’s not to put a spotlight on myself. If you find value in my stuff, you’ll return.

Back to James

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.” Think social media. How are you spending your time? You know when it gets tricky? When you’re part of a professional development group and the development part takes a backseat to personal agendas. You end up becoming the frog placed in tepid water AND then the heat gets turned on. You become dinner without realizing it.

Lesson: Be judicious with how you spend your time. Continue to connect with people of value. Read books that will help you improve your craft and become a better human being.


I’ve been writing a private column for Service Nation Inc., for over 10 years. It’s titled “Saturday Rabbit Hole” and can be found in the Service Roundtable’s HVAC Discussion list.

By the way, if you’re looking to connect with serious HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical and Home Remodeling professionals, the Service Roundtable is for you. It’s not only a value, for the smart business owner it can be a profit center.

I advised business owners yesterday to develop their creativity. So that subject was on my mind this morning when I picked up and read Austin Kleon’s book Keep Going. It’s all about staying creative.

Out of the too many weekly email newsletters I receive, Kleon’s is one of the few that I actually read. He wrote a series of books that I use as journals. I use them so much that I had to buy a second round of them. The cool thing about that is to note how much my thinking has changed since 2014 when I first began reading and writing in the books. Check Austin Kleon out here.

We Journal

Mentioning how I journal in Austin’s books reminds me once again of Mark Matteson. Mark is one of the most prolific journalers I know. But the second I think that, I think about Ben Stark and Chris Hunter, two other prolific journalers.

And that thought takes me back to our book, It’s Go Time: Ben Stark and Chris Hunter Share Insights & Strategies to Help Your Home-Service Company Succeed! Meeting almost weekly, we spent over two years talking, discussing and writing.

It’s one thing for a person to say, “I did this and it made me successful.” But when you continually hear common themes of “this is how I did it,” delivered with an undertone of confidence and passion, the truth and reality burrow deep into your consciousness.

I can tell you today, beyond doubt, that journaling, and using those journals, is one reason Ben and Chris enjoyed and continue to enjoy so much success.

A Quick Final Thought

As I thought about journaling and Ben’s success, his practice, while attending industry functions, of sitting down at tables and having meaningful discussion with others, came to mind. One conversation he had at a North Texas ACCA meeting with another member was NASA liftoff on the mission to the Moon important. (That story is in the book).

But Wait, There’s More

Ideas keep coming. I mention ACCA and think, “why am I no longer involved with the association?” I really don’t know. I drifted when the commercial HVAC company I started working at, didn’t belong.

I had a conversation a few years ago with ACCA leadership and a positive inclination registered. Then listening to Ben over the course of two years and the importance of ACCA early on in his career, added to the favorable impression. And that’s not even mentioning my own positive experiences.

Recently I looked into present day ACCA leadership and I came away with the notion, “these guys are going in the right direction!” I need to get back on board.

Put a Fork in it!

Done. Because if I didn’t put a fork in it, I’d keep going. But that’s how idea generation works. The key is to start, keep an open mind and listen. Ideas will come.

By the way, did you drink that bottle of water? Stay hydrated!

Black Friday It’s Go-Time book special!!

Click here! Limited time only, don’t lose out!