Mayumi runs her own dog walking and pet sitting business. Occasionally, as a part of her service, we’ll even sit at our own home for a few hours to keep a pooch company. A while back it was Baxter, a white terrier from the 17th floor who came for a visit. I was cooking dinner and Mayumi wanted to give Baxter a treat, specifically a bone. I asked her if dogs like bones and she quickly replied that they did. “Dog’s love bones,” were her exact words. I said they did not love bones, “Dog’s like steak, they settle for bones.” We proved this together by giving Baxter a choice and set both down on a plate. Of course Baxter went for the steak.
I told Mayumi that people do this to themselves too. We settle all the time and tell ourselves we’re happy. Sometimes it’s because it’s all we know but often it’s a convenient lie we tell ourselves so that we don’t have to work harder or take risks. And sometimes we just confuse gratitude with satisfaction.
Be grateful for what you have but work like hell for what you really want. Just because you desire more doesn’t mean you’re unhappy with what you have. It’s OK to follow your dreams and your potential. No, not follow, chase! Go after it with a club even, as Jack London used to say.
Don’t settle for bones if what you really desire is steak.
There are three ways to create better relationships:
1. You can find great new relationships.
2. You can transform your current relationships.
3. Or you can change who you are.
One of my top 5 desert island favorite movies is 13 Tzameti. I won’t spoil it for you but the plot revolves (see why I did there) around the game of Russian Roulette. Russian roulette is a potentially lethal game of chance in which a player places a single round in a revolver, spins the cylinder, places the muzzle against his head, and pulls the trigger. This is of course risk taking at its most extreme.
Have you ever woke up and instinctively reached for your phone only to see an email that had an immediate and negative impact on your mood; maybe it even shaded a greater part if not your entire day? Of course you have, we all have. Why do we do it then? Why do we play this game of emotional Russian Roulette? Some of us do this every single day.
We all know our time is the most precious commodity we have yet many people do very little to manage it, protect it or organize it. They wake up and become a human pinball, reacting to the deluge of emails, phone calls, and derisory distractions, many self-inflicted, until the day is over and they go to sleep only to get up and play this victim routine all over again.
Now think of a time when you achieved something you were proud of. Maybe you lost 15 lbs or ran a 10K. I’ll bet you had a routine and a schedule that you stuck to. You likely planned your shopping, your meals, and what workouts you were going to do and when. You may have even recruited family and friends for support. And you might chalk all that success up to willpower or focus but you’d be wrong. The single biggest impact on your success was that you had a plan, a routine, and a schedule and likely made yourself massively accountable either to yourself or others. Now did you keep the weight off? And if not, why? You certainly didn’t lose your desire to become healthier and you might have felt better about yourself than ever before. The only thing that likely ended once you crossed the finish line was your schedule.
The truth is willpower is a myth: What gets scheduled gets done.
Your minutes and routines compound to make your day, and your days make up your years and then of course your life.
You either design your life or someone will design it for you.
Happy, healthy and successful is not an accident. It’s something that is scheduled and executed.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
– Albert Einstein
Watching Frozen with Mayumi (again) :)
My good friend Robert recently reminded me that, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is just the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” It’s a quote by the late teacher, Jim Rohn. (See Lessons Of A Lifetime.) It’s was also the foundational concept of basketball’s legendary coach and leader, John Wooden.
This might offend you:
I was lurking, I’ll admit it. I couldn’t help it. On my flight to Phoenix last week, the woman next to me was reading a magazine article with, “Instant Ways to Look and Feel Healthier.” They included things like getting a new haircut, buying a new outfit, applying make-up, getting a massage, standing before a mirror while saying positive things to yourself and even just smiling! But looking and feeling healthier is not the same as becoming healthier and two days later, possibly hundreds of dollars poorer, when the makeup washes off and the shoes are back in the closet, you’re no better than you started. You’ve actually wasted time and money to get absolutely nowhere.
This REALLY might offend you:
I know people, people I dearly love, that have read everything from Oprah to Wayne Dyer yet still can’t seem to lose the weight, find the perfect relationship or create wealth and success in their life. They might post inspirational memes on Facebook and have book shelves replete with homeopathic approaches, some that even make the law of attraction seem nearly scientific. What they don’t have is one single book about marketing.
No amount of Deepak Chopra or practicing The Secret will help your enterprise whether it’s a business, to lose 20 lbs, or finding the perfect partner without both a fundamental knowledge of the topic and consistent application of tactics.
I get it though, I really do. These books make you feel good. They make you feel like you’ve already achieved success even before you have. Far easier to convince, accept and love yourself as you are than go run for 45 straight minutes at the gym. And it would be nice if there really were a ‘Universe’ out there, constantly conspiring to give you everything you want if you only know how to ask but there isn’t.
Years ago, when I first really committed to my own personal development, I read about a famous study illustrating the power of visualization.
It was conducted by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago. Dr. Blaslotto split people into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make. After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour. The second group just visualized themselves making free throws and the third group did nothing.
After 30 days, when he tested them again, the first group improved by 24%. Amazingly, the second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball! And the third group did not improve which was pretty much expected.
I’ve seen this study referenced many times since and it sounds great! It almost makes it seem as though to get better at something, all you have to do is visualize it, right? But the funny thing is I’ve yet to know a single person who reached the NBA by merely visualizing it – or a champion bodybuilder who sat around and just imagined strength training. These achievers train, study and condition themselves for years to actualize their success. Or maybe someone never told them all they had to do was just sit around and think about sinking three pointers? At best, people are putting the cart before the horse and at worst, just intellectually lazy. To achieve real success, success at a high kick-life-in-the-ass level takes work, time and dedication.
I’m not suggesting there aren’t benefits to theses thinking systems. I believe and practice many of them. I meditate, I visualize and I practice gratitude every day of my life. And yes, many great athletes also practice visualization, but these things don’t create propulsion to your goal. They’re the added value, the turbo, and the afterburners. Propulsion comes from consistent applied effort of the proven fundamentals.
There are no shortcuts but there are efficiencies.
Want to know the real secret? Work hard, be patient, and take 100% responsibility for your happiness, health and success. Appreciate, cherish and love what you have and kick ass for what you really want.
When researching for this post, I found there might be no evidence on record of a Dr. Blaslotto or the popular study that continues to be circulated. See http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/8531/is-visualisation-almost-as-effective-as-practice
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious.
Success is just the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
– Jim Rohn.
Last week I posted on Facebook that I had signed up for my first triathlon. A Half Ironman in fact, along with another fact, I can’t swim. Not properly anyway. I now need to find a good teacher for lessons as soon as possible because I’m pretty certain they frown upon people drowning at these events. This came as little surprise to my friends and they responded with some pretty funny posts of their own. But to quote Hellen Keller, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Right?
Yes, I avidly pursue personal development and I also tend set some super audacious goals in life and not just in fitness. I’ve done this throughout my career, in my investments and even in my relationships.
And the one secret I’ve read to achieving goals, one that almost every single book I’ve ever opened on the topic has repeated is this: To succeed at anything, you need to have a why. Your why is more important than your how. Strategy is key but passion rules the day. If your why is big enough and important enough, you cannot fail. For some that why is just the pain of embarrassment. For others it might be contribution and connection. I know normally sedate people who’ve run distance races in honor of a friend or even a parent who passed away of some disease. A goal to look better in a bathing suit is not a very strong reason to get healthy but fear of not being around to see your children grow up might be.
So today as I sat on the beach researching training schedules and equipment and nutrition programs, I gave a lot of thought to my whys. Some of them are deeply personal (the best ones are) but here’s the one consistent reason I do almost anything…
I truly believe we have a moral duty to chase down our potential. This includes not just our physical capacity but our capacity to love and our capacity to give as well. If I can be healthier then I should be healthier. If there is a way I can be a better role model to my daughter or husband to my wife then I should. If I have a business that helps my customers and employs people then I should grow it and make it as successful as I can so that it provides for even more people. Growth is not just a privilege but an obligation. It’s about taking 100% responsibility for the relationships in your life.
Most people don’t set big goals because they’re risk averse. They might be afraid of something as big as loneliness or as shallow as embarrassment. Steve Jobs said, “The knowledge that one day we are going to die is the single best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” Knowing we’re here for only a finite amount of time, why would you leave anything on the table? I will always take the pain of training, embarrassment and even failure over the pain of regret.
It doesn’t really matter how many people believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.
I’m flying to Hawaii today for some exercise and meditation. I take these trips at least a few times a year; usually for just a few days but sometimes longer. I regularly practice meditation and gratitude during these ‘resets’ too but like yoga, these things are very difficult to master. To calm your mind, to focus and hold one’s attention for more than thirty seconds let alone hours can take years of practice. Add the fact my picture should be next to a definition of ADHD in the dictionary and forget it!
But I have my own cheat code.
In video games, a ‘cheat code’ is a password or series of steps that provides access to a particular item, an ability, or level that’s otherwise unobtainable without completing additional steps. And over the years I’ve discovered my own life-hack for tapping into deep feelings of abundance, relaxation and the kind of gratitude that brings tears – all without sitting for years under a tree in the lotus position.
1. Go far away:
And take very little with you. Just by going away to a place where no one knows me, I conserve incredible amounts of energy and focus. I have no expectations or desire to communicate much less impress. I blend in and become nearly invisible. Even the best of us spend considerable effort and energy on people and things outside of ourselves. Both psychologists and biologists call this an adaptive versus natural state.
2. Make no plans:
I make a cognizant decision not to plan a single moment. I don’t plan activities. None. I don’t plan when or what I’ll eat or when I’ll sleep or when I get up. I just go with each passing thought or moment without any judgement. Surfing, reading, writing or just napping in the sun. Another thing people rarely do is simply be present in the moments they are in. Often, our time is preoccupied with the next moment or the day or the week or even worse, the past.
This last step is now automatic. It requires no effort at all once you’ve done steps one and two. Because a funny thing happens after a few days of this kind of travel. By taking away all the ego driven behavior, worries and distractions we can all impulsively to go to at even the first fleeting sense of boredom, my mind starts really processing. And those old axioms, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight out of mind” become very real.
You get exceptionally clear about who and what you truly appreciate when it’s not at arm’s length anymore. Gratitude becomes more than a nice thought; it becomes a very profound emotion. You also learn what you never missed at all. It’s an effective way to dial in on what’s important to you and what’s not then turn that appreciation into a plan. Because let’s be honest, gratitude is an action and not just a thought. You can tell what’s truly import in your life by the condition it’s in and if it’s not in the condition you want, well then you have some work ahead of you, don’t you?