Turning Thoughts Into Reality

"The NFL Draft, 1936," Gail Folwell's masterpiece for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

"The NFL Draft, 1936," Gail Folwell's masterpiece for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

Everything around you—from skyscrapers and best-selling novels to solar panels and self-driving cars—began as a thought in someone’s mind.

Take the artist, perhaps sculptor Gail Folwell, whose studio we’re privileged to house inside Black Lab Sports. All of her pieces, from downhill skiers and mid-stroke swimmers to linemen in the three-point stance, are inspired by human movement and planned as meticulously as they are sculpted. Marveling at them, it’s difficult to imagine them as raw, lifeless slabs. But if you follow her progress, day after day, you’ll find that Gail is not simply an artist; she’s a master of using sculpture to express grand ideas.

Athletics offers another example of action rooted in thought. Everything that we do with our bodies—our tools on the playing field—originates as an idea and is honed through repetition. Whether imitating our childhood hero, putting ESPN’s latest tips into action, or following a coach’s instructions, first we decide what we want to do. Then we practice it, over and over. And finally, when the opportunity comes in a tryout or game, we do our best to execute the plan.

At Black Lab Sports, turning thoughts into reality is not just words; it’s a practice and a skill, and something we work on daily. It’s also the mindset from which Black Lab Sports was conceived, following my commitment to unleash greatness in those around me. Honoring that attitude, my colleagues and I follow the same chain of thought as the artists and athletes that inspire us: we start with a vision and then we work to achieve it, gaining experience and fitness in the training grounds of the marketplace. Our driving goal is readiness to perform when our moments arrive. We call this Go-To-Market Readiness.

Thoughts are things.

isplack: from inspired hunch to team spirit mainstay.

isplack: from inspired hunch to team spirit mainstay.

isplack offers a great case study. Before it became a team spirit mainstay, before it tapped into every NFL franchise, and long before it hit international markets, it was an idea, inspired unknowingly by two high school softball players. In the process of nearly colliding into my front hood next to Boulder High School one evening, the duo sparked some questions that outlasted my fright. What were those girls doing in the road at dusk? And why were their faces decked out in eye black when the sun had already set? The image of those uniformed, face-painted girls stuck in my mind.

The next morning, it hit me: Eye black is not about glare protection. It’s about the power and emotion we feel when we’re part of a team, either on the field or in the stands. I took that idea and I ran with it, first concocting green eye black in my kitchen and distributing it to my kids’ teams (thanks, 2013 Boulder Valley Lacrosse Team!). The color repertoire expanded as more and more teams (often our opponents) asked for their own sticks, and from a humble thought a business was born. Less than two years later, isplack is retailed at every Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the country.

Final Thoughts

Turn thoughts into reality. If this is a new concept, don't run from it; try it. Start simple, maybe picture someone you care about smiling, then figure out a way to make it happen. Cool, right? You just created that. Move on from there and choose a next-level thought—and turn that thought into a reality. Practice by doing, consciously and purposely. We can either be victims of circumstance or creators of our shared future reality. For me, the latter is significantly more interesting.

Turn your thoughts into reality, and be great!