The boss almost gave up on one of our plumbers, Mike. His average invoice was terrible at $400. He made excuses and blamed his circumstances. He was negative, and his attitude was that "life sucks."

Mike thought nothing could change for him, and we were ready to let him go. However, one day while doing a ride-along with Mike, I recommended that he listen to "The Strangest Secret" by Earl Nightingale, a renowned motivational speaker. After all, he wouldn't read, so maybe he would listen to something.

This is really no secret, and when I learned it I grew. Mike listened and began to make these changes, too. He has become one of our more valuable plumbers and now has an average invoice of $1,100. I was shocked and amazed to see this transformation, and I want to share the principle with you.

Mike learned that he had little control over the circumstances in his life, but once they arrive, these circumstances did not determine the outcome of his life unless he allowed them to. We are not molded by these circumstances. We are molded by how we respond to these circumstances. Mike couldn't make the prospect say yes, and he couldn't control the calls that dispatch gave him. However, he learned that he could control how he responded to the chaos.

Could Mike rule his own heart? The heart is the center of our mind, will and emotions. Whatever we allow to be planted there will return multiplied. Mike learned that if he allowed allow fear, doubt, anxiety and negativity to creep into his mind and live there, he would wind up in a ditch — which is where he was most of the day. If he fretted over things that he could not control, it would lead him to destructive outcomes.

Mike is learning to rule his own heart and understands that out his heart flows the issues of his life. Be diligent to guard your heart like it is a well-tended vineyard, because it's a similar place. What you plant in your heart is like what you would plant in your vineyard. Good wine takes good seed, and a good life takes good thoughts and proper responses to circumstances.

Yes, what you sow you will reap. It's as simple as that.

Why is this law often outside our awareness? The trouble is that its effects are not immediate like gravity. We don't associate the action with the reaction. We all well know that if we step off of a ladder, we'll get hurt. Gravity is no respecter of persons, and the crook falls as does the saint. Everyone is subject to the law of gravity and gets hurt immediately, regardless of their goodness. The law does not care.

How are sowing and reaping different? All seeds do not sprout, we reap in a different season and the harvest can come from places other than the field in which you sowed. It's difficult to associate the reaction with the action taken earlier. However, you are the sum total of your thoughts, choices and actions that you previously took.

If you consistently think in negative terms, you will reap negative results. If you consistently cheat, lie and steel, you will wind up in jail or prison. You may be able to avoid man's laws for a while, but you will not be able to skirt the laws of the universe.

We usually don't reap when we sow. Generally it comes later in a different season, but we always reap more than we sow. Thoughts we dwell on today are like seeds, but the circumstance may manifest years later. Take the Chinese bamboo tree, for example. It does not sprout for five years but grows 90 feet in six weeks.

Furthermore, do not allow your mind to run in default mode, and be careful what you expose yourself to because you will think about what you most expose yourself to. Ask Mike, because he is spending less time with his negative friends. Sometimes to change your life you also have to change your friends.