“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

― Albert Einstein

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Self-Actualization: The Journey to your Ideal Self

The Huffington Post article I posted yesterday discussed how a lot of us are in perpetual frustration and unhappiness because we can’t accept the fact that the journey from our current state to our ideal future is a longer process than we think it is. Many of us believe that reading all of these books, going to all of these seminars, watching all of these motivational videos etc. will unlock some universal “secret” that we’re searching for to help us reach success instantly. It doesn’t work like that, and I’m guilty of falling victim to this type of mindset.

In this day and age, our generation and our Western-philosophy mindsets have conditioned us to be extremely future-oriented and success-driven. This actually produces distortion around how we perceive ourselves. When you have such lofty visions of your future but you don’t have it right now, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed and frustrated especially when you’ve been working hard for a long time and have yet to reach these goals.

My friend mentioned the late psychologist Carl Rogers’s work on self-actualization that had a lot of overlapping points:

According to Rogers (1959), we want to feel, experience and behave in ways which are consistent with our self-image and which reflect what we would like to be like, our ideal-self.  The closer our self-image and ideal-self are to each other, the more consistent or congruent we are and the higher our sense of self-worth.  A person is said to be in a state of incongruence if some of the totality of their experience is unacceptable to them and is denied or distorted in the self-image.

Self Actualization

“The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” (Rogers, 1951, p. 487).

Rogers rejected the deterministic nature of both psychoanalysis and behaviorism and maintained that we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation. “As no one else can know how we perceive, we are the best experts on ourselves.”

Carl Rogers (1959) believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize – i.e. to fulfill one’s potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human-beingness’ we can.  Like a flower that will grow to its full potential if the conditions are right, but which is constrained by its environment, so people will flourish and reach their potential if their environment is good enough.

However, unlike a flower, the potential of the individual human is unique, and we are meant to develop in different ways according to our personality.  Rogers believed that people are inherently good and creative.  They become destructive only when a poor self-concept or external constraints override the valuing process.  Carl Rogers believed that for a person to achieve self-actualization they must be in a state of congruence.

This means that self-actualization occurs when a person’s “ideal self” (i.e. who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior (self-image).  Rogers describes an individual who is actualizing as a fully functioning person. The main determinant of whether we will become self-actualized is childhood experience.

 

The Fully Functioning Person

Rogers believed that every person could achieve their goals, wishes, and desires in life. When they did so self-actualization took place. For Rogers (1961) people who are able be self-actualize, and that is not all of us, are called fully functioning persons. This means that the person is in touch with the here and now, his or her subjective experiences and feelings, continually growing and changing.

In many ways Rogers regarded the fully functioning person as an ideal and one that people do not ultimately achieve.

It is wrong to think of this as an end or completion of life’s journey; rather it is a process of always becoming and changing.

Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functioning person:

1. Open to experience: both positive and negative emotions accepted. Negative feelings are not denied, but worked through (rather than resorting to ego defence mechanisms).

2. Existential living: in touch with different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudging and preconceptions. Being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking back to the past or forward to the future (i.e. living for the moment).

3. Trust feelings: feeling, instincts and gut-reactions are paid attention to and trusted. People’s own decisions are the right ones and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.

4. Creativity: creative thinking and risk taking are features of a person’s life. A person does not play safe all the time. This involves the ability to adjust and change and seek new experiences.

5. Fulfilled life: person is happy and satisfied with life, and always looking for new challenges and experiences.

For Rogers, fully functioning people are well adjusted, well balanced and interesting to know. Often such people are high achievers in society. Critics claim that the fully functioning person is a product of Western culture. In other cultures, such as Eastern cultures, the achievement of the group is valued more highly than the achievement of any one person.

Personality Development

Central to Rogers’ personality theory is the notion of self or self-concept.  This is defined as “the organized, consistent set of perceptions and beliefs about oneself”.

The self is the humanistic term for who we really are as a person.  The self is our inner personality, and can be likened to the soul, or Freud’s psyche.  The self is influenced by the experiences a person has in their life, and out interpretations of those experiences.  Two primary sources that influence our self-concept are childhood experiences and evaluation by others.

According to Rogers (1959), we want to feel, experience and behave in ways which are consistent with our self-image and which reflect what we would like to be like, our ideal-self.  The closer our self-image and ideal-self are to each other, the more consistent or congruent we are and the higher our sense of self-worth.  A person is said to be in a state of incongruence if some of the totality of their experience is unacceptable to them and is denied or distorted in the self-image.

The humanistic approach states that the self is composed of concepts unique to ourselves. The self-concept includes three components:

Self worth (or self-esteem) – what we think about ourselves. Rogers believed feelings of self-worth developed in early childhood and were formed from the interaction of the child with the mother and father.

Self-image – How we see ourselves, which is important to good psychological health. Self-image includes the influence of our body image on inner personality. At a simple level, we might perceive ourselves as a good or bad person, beautiful or ugly. Self-image has an effect on how a person thinks, feels and behaves in the world.

Ideal self – This is the person who we would like to be. It consists of our goals and ambitions in life, and is dynamic – i.e. forever changing. The ideal self in childhood is not the ideal self in our teens or late twenties etc.

Self Worth and Positive Regard

Two Faces Illustrating High Self Esteem Saying - 'I am the best'

Carl Rogers (1951) viewed the child as having two basic needs: positive regard from other people and self-worth.

How we think about ourselves, our feelings of self-worth are of fundamental importance both to psychological health and to the likelihood that we can achieve goals and ambitions in life and achieve self-actualization.

Self-worth may be seen as a continuum from very high to very low.  For Carl Rogers (1959) a person who has high self-worth, that is, has confidence and positive feelings about him or herself, faces challenges in life, accepts failure and unhappiness at times, and is open with people.

A person with low self-worth may avoid challenges in life, not accept that life can be painful and unhappy at times, and will be defensive and guarded with other people.

Rogers believed feelings of self-worth developed in early childhood and were formed from the interaction of the child with the mother and father. As a child grows older, interactions with significant others will affect feelings of self-worth.

 

Rogers believed that we need to be regarded positively by others; we need to feel valued, respected, treated with affection and loved. Positive regard is to do with how other people evaluate and judge us in social interaction. Rogers made a distinction between unconditional positive regard and conditional positive regard.

Unconditional positive regard is where parents, significant others (and the humanist therapist) accepts and loves the person for what he or she is.  Positive regard is not withdrawn if the person does something wrong or makes a mistake.  The consequences of unconditional positive regard are that the person feels free to try things out and make mistakes, even though this may lead to getting it worse at times.  People who are able to self-actualize are more likely to have received unconditional positive regard from others, especially their parents in childhood.

Conditional positive regard is where positive regard, praise and approval, depend upon the child, for example, behaving in ways that the parents think correct.  Hence the child is not loved for the person he or she is, but on condition that he or she behaves only in ways approved by the parent(s).  At the extreme, a person who constantly seeks approval from other people is likely only to have experienced conditional positive regard as a child.

Congruence

Congruence Circles Illustrating Self Actualization

A person’s ideal self may not be consistent with what actually happens in life and experiences of the person. Hence, a difference may exist between a person’s ideal self and actual experience. This is called incongruence.

Where a person’s ideal self and actual experience are consistent or very similar, a state of congruence exists. Rarely, if ever, does a total state of congruence exist; all people experience a certain amount of incongruence.

The development of congruence is dependent on unconditional positive regard. Carl Rogers believed that for a person to achieve self-actualization they must be in a state of congruence.

According to Rogers, we want to feel, experience and behave in ways which are consistent with our self-image and which reflect what we would like to be like, our ideal-self.

The closer our self-image and ideal-self are to each other, the more consistent or congruent we are and the higher our sense of self-worth. A person is said to be in a state of incongruence if some of the totality of their experience is unacceptable to them and is denied or distorted in the self-image.

Incongruence is “a discrepancy between the actual experience of the organism and the self-picture of the individual insofar as it represents that experience.

As we prefer to see ourselves in ways that are consistent with our self-image, we may use defense mechanisms like denial or repression in order to feel less threatened by some of what we consider to be our undesirable feelings.  A person whose self-concept is incongruent with her or his real feelings and experiences will defend because the truth hurts.

To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life

This is from a Huffington Post article titled To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life by Jamie Varon:

———-

You don’t need more motivation. You don’t need to be inspired to action. You don’t need to read any more lists and posts about how you’re not doing enough.

We act as if we can read enough articles and enough little Pinterest quotes and suddenly the little switch in our brain will put us into action. But, honestly, here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords that have come into popularity: you are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.

And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.

You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it. Sometimes you’re going through something. Sometimes life has happened. Life! Remember life? Yeah, it teaches you things and sometimes makes you go the long way around for your biggest lessons.

You don’t get to control everything. You can wake up at 5 a.m. every day until you’re tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don’t want to come to fruition, they won’t. You can show up every day to your best intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s just not the fucking time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.

“If it’s not the time, it’s just not the fucking time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.”

Sometimes the novel is not ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can make your masterpiece into something that will feel real and true and raw to other people. Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, one day, it will be the opus upon which you build your life.

We all know this: Our experience cannot always be manipulated. Yet, we don’t act as though we know this truth. We try so hard to manipulate and control our lives, to make creativity into a game to win, to shortcut success because others say they have, to process emotions and uncertainty as if these are linear journeys.

You don’t get to game the system of your life. You just don’t. You don’t get to control every outcome and aspect as a way to never give in to the uncertainty and unpredictability of something that’s beyond what you understand. It’s the basis of presence: to show up as you are in this moment and let that be enough.

Yet, we don’t act in a way that supports this lifestyle. We fill every minute with productivity tools and read 30-point lists on how to better drive out natural, human impulse. We often forget that we are as we are until we’re not. We are the same until we’re changed. We can move that a bit further by putting into place healthy habits and to show up to our lives in a way that fosters growth, but we can’t game timing.

Timing is the one thing that we often forget to surrender to.

Things are dark until they’re not. Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. We believe we have control – and our self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we should be able to change our circumstances, that we should be richer or hotter or better or happier. While self-responsibility is empowering, it can often lead to this resentment and bitterness that none of us need to be holding within us. We have to put in our best efforts and then give ourselves permission to let whatever happens to happen–and to not feel so directly and vulnerably tied to outcomes. Opportunities often don’t show up in the way we think they will.

You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than you tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough. You need to let timing do what it needs to do. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s right now becomes inspiration later. You need to see that wherever you are now is what becomes your identity later.

“There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it.”

Sometimes we’re not yet the people we need to be in order to contain the desires we have. Sometimes we have to let ourselves evolve into the place where we can allow what we want to transpire.

Let’s just say that whatever you want, you want it enough. So much so that you’re making yourself miserable in order to achieve it. What about chilling out? Maybe your motivation isn’t the problem, but that you keep pushing a boulder up a mountain that only grows in size the more you push.

There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it. We have to just let it be, to take a fucking step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and to let the cogs turn as they will. One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.

Give yourself permission to trust that.

Book Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Book Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins

I just finished reading the book Good To Great by Jim Collins. It’s been recommended to me so many times that I decided to give it a read finally. So the idea that sparked this book was to answer questions about how good companies might become great companies, and how they went about doing so. The study looks at companies from 1965 to 1995, looking for those that, for 15 years, either tracked or underperformed the stock market, followed by a transition, and subsequently returning at least 3 times the stock market for at least 15 years. The goal was to eliminate “flash in the pan” success from the results. Further filtering was performed in order to ensure that companies also outperformed their industries, so as not to include spurious results showing entire industries that grew by leaps and bounds in a given period. Eleven companies were located that matched these criteria, and were studied in depth, and compared to competitors in their fields:

  • Abbot Laboratories
  • Circuit City
  • Fannie Mae
  • Gillette
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • Kroger
  • Nucor
  • Philip Morris
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Walgreens
  • Wells Fargo

Level 5 Leaders

All the companies studied had what Collins describes as “Level 5 Leaders”. Despite sounding like something from a space-alien worshiping cult, what the term refers to is an individual who is very humble on a personal level, but who possesses a great deal of drive and desire to succeed, where “success” is not personal, but defined by creating something great that will outlast their time at the helm. These are people with an unwavering will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive their organization to the top. Most of the good to great executives discussed luck as an important factor in their success. Level 5 leaders, are, in any case, the kind of people who do not point to themselves as the cause for an organization’s success. The chapter closes with a discussion of whether Level 5 Leaders are born, or made, with the conclusion that many people probably have the kernel of abilities and attitudes necessary to attain that status.

First Who … Then What

During the transformation from good to great, rather than concern themselves first with the “what” – products, direction, strategy – the companies studied ensured they had the right people “on the bus” before anything else. By having a strong team, these companies avoided the pitfall of the “lone genius” CEO. “Great” companies are those that have a very solid foundation, and don’t depend on the brilliance of any one person.

The research indicated that compensation did not correlate at all with the “good to great” process. No particular compensation scheme appeared to be advantageous.

Also important was that, while the companies were “tough” places to work, they were because of the general high quality and hard-working mindset, not because of ruthless management. Some practical tips for how to be rigorous:

  • Don’t hire someone unless you’re %100 sure that they’re the right person. It’s better to wait and get someone that you knowis a good fit.
  • Once you realize you need to fire someone, don’t put it off. Do it quickly and fairly, but do it and be done with it, rather than put it off.
  • Give good people good opportunities, rather than the biggest problems. Fixing problems makes you good, but taking advantage of the right opportunities can make you great.

Good to great teams were mostly composed of people who had a good sense of balance with the rest of their lives – family, church, and so on. Of course, they had a deep commitment to their companies, but not one that blinded them to the other important things in their lives.

Confront the Brutal Facts

One of the key factors in the success of the great companies was a series of good decisions. The good decisions flowed from the fact that they all made a consistent and thorough effort to confront reality, internalizing the facts relevant to their market. Having lofty goals can be good, but you can never lose sight of what the reality is on the ground, no matter how much you will it to be different.

In a large organization, where it’s impossible to personally poke your nose in all corners of the company every day, it is crucial to create a climate where honesty is valued and honored. If people aren’t telling it like it is, those at the top may not realize the truth until too late. Some tips to create this kind of climate:

  • It’s often better to ask questions rather than dispense “answers”.
  • Encourage healthy debate. It has to be real debate, not a show put on to make people feel included. It should also not just be argument for the sake of argument – reach a conclusion and move on.
  • When things go wrong, investigate to avoid repeating the mistake, instead of assigning blame. If people are too worried about protecting themselves, it becomes difficult to honestly analyze and learn from failures.
  • Create mechanisms, “red flags” that allow people to communicate problems instantly and without repercussions, and in a way that cannot be ignored.

Amidst these “brutal facts” that must be faced, you must also have faith in your final goal. By maintaining this vision, and keeping your ear to the ground, it won’t be necessary to motivate people – if you’ve got the right people, they’ll be motivated of their own accord.

The Hedgehog Concept

The “hedgehog concept” refers to a parable of a hedgehog and a fox, where the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. The good to great companies were by and large built by “hedgehogs” – this doesn’t mean stupid – it just means that they were able to focus on one big important thing that made their companies great. Sometimes it takes real genius to see through all the clutter and grab the one, simple, unique thing that gives you the advantage.

The “three circles” is an idea regarding how to find your “hedgehog concept”: think of three interlocking circles, representing 1) what you are passionate about, 2) what you can make money at, and 3) what can you be the best at. At the intersection of these three things lies the winning target. If you can bring all three things to bear, you have found a way to excel. Learn to realize, as well, what you will never be the best at – those are things you must avoid, if possible. The economics of various industries varied widely, but the good great companies were winners, even within industries that weren’t rising stars. One consistent rule of thumb is to identify a ratio, profit per X, (where X could be customer, web site user, per unit sold, per employee etc…) and focus on that. Sometimes it may not be obvious.

Passion, on the other hand, does not come from executive rah-rah sessions with employees, but by doing things that make people passionate on their own. Passion isn’t something that can be forced on people, it has to come from a mission that they truly believe in, that’s more than just a paycheck.

Another practical suggestion is to create a “Council”, of between 5 to 12 people, to discuss and gain insights into the organization. It should meet regularly, not a one-time group. Its members should bring to the table a deep understanding of some portion of the firm. They need the freedom to speak their minds, and always have the respect of the other Council members. The Council exists to help the chief executive, not reach a consensus. It is an informal group, in the sense that it is not spelled out in official documents or org charts.

Culture of Discipline

Great companies have both an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of discipline. They are both necessary – without the drive to try new things, and some degree of independence, a company becomes a rigid, stifling hierarchy. Without some sense of discipline, things begin to break down as the company grows. The best companies have both latitude for individual action, as well as a culture of disciplined behavior. This begins, once again, with the right people. It’s useless trying to create rules to force the wrong people to behave correctly – it simply won’t work. Instead, you need to find people who have an innate sense of self-discipline that doesn’t come from above. There is a big difference between having a “tyrant” that enforces a culture of discipline by fear, and finding people who naturally adhere to a disciplined approach. The former will disintegrate when the leader moves on, the latter creates a lasting system.

One helpful approach to discipline is to have a “stop doing” list. Stop doing the things that aren’t central to your business. Stop doing the things that are just clutter, but even more importantly, stop doing even things that might be seen as important, if they are not in your “three circles”.

Technology

“Great companies adapt and endure” – technology is not a differentiator in and of itself, but rather something that enhances great companies. They use it to further increase their leverage, in a conscious, directed way, rather than rushing to embrace it for the sake of its newness. Technology won’t light a fire where there is none, but where there is already good momentum, judicious use of technology can help accelerate it. Technology is an enabler of change, not the cause of it – but the “people factors” must be in place before application of technology will do any good. Technology as a reaction – to the latest fashion, to the competition – was not what was found in great companies. These companies possess a drive that pushes them to be the best in their chosen field, and picking the right technology is a natural part of that.

The “Flywheel” and “Doom Loop”

These two concepts represent positive and negative momentum. A flywheel is a heavy wheel that takes a lot of energy to set in motion – to do so usually requires constant, steady work, rather than a quick acceleration. Great companies’ transformations were like this as well. There was no magic recipe or no ‘aha’ moment when everything changed. Rather, with everything in place, lots of hard work slowly but steadily got the great companies going faster and faster, with a lot of momentum. Once it’s in motion, all that stored energy tends to keep it moving in the right direction.

Conversely, the “doom loop” is the vicious circle that unsuccessful companies fall into, rushing first in one direction, then another, in the hope of creating a sudden, sharp break with the past that will propel them to success. Some attempt to do this through acquisitions, others through bringing in a new leader who decides to change direction completely, in a direction incompatible with the company. The results are never good. The difference between the two approaches is characterized by the slow, steady, methodical preperation inherent in the flywheel, as compared to the abrupt, radical, and often revolutionary, rather than evolutionary changes within the company.

Built to Last

The results from this book were obtained without regards to Collins’ earlier work, Built to Last, but when all was said and done, Good to Great is what has to happen before a company becomes Built to Last. Much of what is present in Good to Great was present during the creation by their founders of the Built to Last firms. Companies that have endured have a raison d’être beyond simply making money – they have distinguishing and unique characteristics, goals and ways of operating that go beyond a simple desire to make money. These core values are preserved, while tactics change continuously to deal with an restless, tumultuous world that never stops.

The “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG), a concept introduced in Built to Last can be either good (as motivation, something to pursue), or bad (if it’s impossible or a bad fit). Good BHAGs are those formulated from a deep understanding, whereas bad ones come from brash recklessness without regard for the actual values and capabilities of the company. Companies need to exist for a higher purpose than mere profit generation in order to transcend the category of merely good. According to Collins, this purpose does not have to be specific — even if the shared values that compel the company toward success are as open-ended as being the best at what they do and achieving excellence consistently, that may be sufficient as long as the team members are equally dedicated to the same set of values.

Words of Wisdom about Failure

I recently came across a post on reddit (r/Entrepreneur) in which someone posted about how he has “failed” numerous times on his entrepreneurial career path and is losing hope:

Since graduating back in 2005 I’ve been starting and running a number of my own companies, when times got hard I’d take on work but these jobs would last a couple of months at best as I’m simply not capable of working a 9-5. I literally lose my mind and find it impossible to even go into a regular office and spend all day with strangers doing something I hate. Unfortunately, following the long term failure of all my business ventures over the years I’m now in debt, have earned a tenth of what my peers have in the same time and I’m back living with my parents at the ripe old age of 33. I really feel like I’ve reached the end of the road and my confidence has bombed so low I feel I couldn’t even imagine walking into a job interview for a low level job never mind running a business. I guess I just wanted to see if anyone here has managed to pull through long term failure and poverty like this and if so, how did you manage? Thanks for reading.

As always, the comments/replies to this post were extremely, extremely insightful, inspiring, eye-opening, and a nice cold “slap-in-the-face” reality check. These are the top comments I loved:

  • List your last 5 projects. I would bet that your projects are more of the “brilliant idea” types and not the “simple solutions that other people already provide” types. I could be wrong, but I’d be interested in seeing what your last 5 were.
  • I hear you when you say you hate working 9-5, but if you don’t have a steady income you hardly can focus on your own venture, you will be distracted by emotional pain. Don’t treat your life as a failure. It’s an experience. You can build something on it. You know what doesn’t work for you, which is good. You certainly won’t repeat many mistakes. Divide your goals into short-term (aka “survival” goals) and long-term. Find an occupation that meets your short-term goal. Something you can sustain. In these situations people usually hate jobs, because they feel like defeated. Don’t feel like that. Any job, new people give you a chance to study something new, probably that’s where the business idea of your life hides from you! So meet that short-term goal, but keep your long-term goal in mind as well.
  • Entrepreneurship requires great discipline and working a lot of tedious jobs. People who can’t stand 9-5 jobs usually also have no discipline and can’t deal with tedious jobs.
  • Entrepreneurship is not just about having good ideas, it’s about working for yourself. It’s about work, it’s about seeing opportunities and taking advantages of them, even if it’s not fun. Self discipline is probably the most important skill in this field, if not in life in general. I really wish I would have know that when I was younger. If there was one thing I would go back and tell myself as a child, it’s that you need to learn self discipline and control, that things that are difficult should still be done, even if they’re not enjoyable. Productivity and accomplishment come from either passion or discipline (however, this doesn’t guarantee success). Ideally you have both. But few people have passion enough to last through the hard times, it’s discipline and a sense of duty that sustains. I know a guy who everyone thinks is brilliant, and he is, but I’ve known the guy for 30 years and can tell you that what makes him valuable isn’t his intelligence, it’s the amount of work he puts in to things, even if it’s stuff he doesn’t enjoy doing. It’s purely the amount of work and effort that he puts into things that keeps his company going and profitable. I remember some magician, I think it was Penn Jillette, who said that a lot of magic tricks are really about spending an insane amount of time learning to do something that no sane person would spend time learning to do.
  • Dude, I’m still reinventing myself at 42. All this stuff that happens makes you a better, more rounded CEO when you get back on the horse. Don’t stay down long, …6…7…8… get back up and start swinging. Keep meeting people, keep finding new things to do and keep learning. You’ll be fine. Last point, this shit is a game. If you don’t enjoy playing the game and only care about winning every single time, you’re in the wrong game. Go make furniture or something. Business is hard and you are going to get your ass kicked sometimes. How would you know if you’re up if you’ve never been on the mat, with your consciousness waning and the taste of pennies in your mouth.
  • Mindfulness my friend. Retake your brain. Your post is all about can’t and not reaching what others have. Your current situation is more than likely a product of letting your thoughts run the show. Trust me, if your were successful you would still be in this state of mind. Fix the foundation first.

     

 

There were a ton of more golden pieces of wisdom in that thread, but the most important theme that resonated throughout most of the comments was the need to have the right attitude and mindset. Many would say persistence is the key to succeeding, but I would argue that it’s actually very difficult to keep persisting if you don’t have the correct mindset in place first. How do you see the path in front of you? Do you have a “do whatever it takes” mentality? This post gave me the inspiration and dose of reality I needed to understand at least the foundation I need to start building as I start looking ahead toward the goals I want to accomplish. Failures will come and go – they are inevitable. But with the right mindset, they should be seen as “challenges” or “lessons” rather than “failures” and I think this is one of the foundational keys of success for those that were able to achieve the things that we dream of one day achieving.

 

Be nimble, and keep moving and pivoting when you hit a wall. It’s like a maze – are you going to just give up when you hit a dead-end, or are you going to keep moving until you finally figure out how to reach the end. Keep going.

Rinsing Your Cottage Cheese

“Good-to-great companies became like Dave Scott. They rinsed their cottage cheese.”

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Sounds disgusting, but I promise this has a point. The analogy comes from a disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott, who won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. In training, Scott would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters, and run 17 miles – on average, every single day. During his training, Dave Scott believed that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would give him an extra edge, so he would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. Whether this actually helped him or not, this small action showed Scott’s discipline, diligence, focus and commitment to be the best. A word that author Jim Collins uses that relates to this story is “superdiscipline.” Before you explore what superdiscipline would look like for you in whatever journey you are on, the first question that must be answered is, “Do you want to be the best?” The easy answer is “yes” but what does being the best mean and are you REALLY willing to do what it takes to reach that?

There was a story written by a Team USA trainer who recounts the insane work ethic of Kobe Bryant, in which Kobe called him at 4:15 AM to work on his strength/conditioning. After an hour and 15 minutes of training, the trainer went back to sleep and awoke again at 11AM for team training. He recounts the next morning as such:

On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”

“Huh?”

“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”

“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”

“So when did you finish?”

“Finish what?”

“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”

“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”

My jaw dropped. Mother of holy God. It was then that I realized that there’s no surprise to why he’s been as effective as he was last season.

If you really want to be extraordinary or be the best in any field, are you willing to sacrifice the time and effort needed for whatever superdiscipline is needed? Most basketball players aren’t willing to be up all morning and make 800 jump shots, and that’s why most players aren’t Kobe Bryant. Do you have  the discipline to rinse your cottage cheese?