Standing Out

arnold

Today I was listening to a podcast interview of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the interviewer brought up an interesting topic. He said that from looking at Arnold’s photographs from his first bodybuilding competition (that he won) as a teenager, he could actually assume that Arnold won that competition without looking at any of the competitors’ bodies – just by looking at the confidence in young Arnold’s face. Arnold went on to explain that from an early age, he always had a clear vision that he was going to be a world champion in bodybuilding. So when he stepped on stage, he competed as if he was already the best.

What makes people like Arnold so special? There are many factors, for sure, but we can all agree that successful people in any field have this innate characteristic that makes them stand out from the crowd. Especially in the startup world, most investors always invest in people first, idea second. They look for certain qualities that make an entrepreneur an outlier – someone that can get things done and make something happen in this world. Someone that doesn’t necessarily have a gift, but they’ve cultivated certain qualities within them over time for an investor to think, “Wow, I want to join this person on this ride.”

I have a maxim that I wrote on a sticky note and have up on a wall in my room. It reads:

YOU HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO DO CRAZY.

crazy.jpg

Put in another way, if you want to do extraordinary things within your lifetime, you have to be willing to break away from the thought and actions patterns of the average. I was masterminding this morning on this topic with a close friend of mine, and he brought up a great point – when we think of these outliers that we admire and emulate (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, Gandhi, etc. etc), it’s very natural to think that these figures are/were gifted with character traits that only the 1% have (i.e. the “I can never be like them” mindset). I thought about it for a moment, and I took the opposite point of view – it’s actually not as hard as we think to stand out.

It doesn’t take a lot to stand out and be “special” actually. The threshold is so low. Even in the classroom for example, raising your hand puts you in the top 50%. Going to office hours puts you in the top 10%. Researching what the professor worked on in the past and cares about puts you in the top 1%. By nature, most people in groups will conform to the actions of the majority. So it doesn’t take a whole lot to stand out.

So try a thought exercise: think about what it would take to stand out in a current situation in your life that could have a positive impact. What would it take to stand out in your company? To be noticed by that investor? To impress that girl?

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There is always a third door

All highly successful people treat life, business, and success just like a nightclub. There are always three ways in.

There’s the First Door, where 99% of people wait in line, hoping to get in.

There’s the Second Door, where billionaires and royalty slip through.

But then there is always, always…the Third Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, climb over the dumpster, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, and sneak through the kitchen. But there’s always a way in.

Whether it’s how Bill Gates sold his first piece of software, or how Steven Spielberg became the youngest director at a major studio in Hollywood — they all took the Third Door.

– Alex Banayan

David Goggins – Breaking Human Limits

I tend not to watch motivational videos anymore since I think motivation itself is pretty useless – it’s only a spark of energy that’s extremely fleeting, whereas grit and drive are everlasting. However, I came across the story of David Goggins through the below Youtube video interview, and I can honestly say that this is probably the most motivational video I have ever seen. David Goggins is a man that was born in “darkness” and suffered through hardships and adversity and decided to make a willful decision to break his mold and change his life.

“When you think that you are done you’re only 40% in to what your body’s capable of doing.that’s just the limits that we put on ourselves.”

Sponsoring Thoughts

Lately I’ve been reading several books which I guess would be categorized as “spiritual books” but an important lesson I’ve learned from these books is of the immense power of the mind, but more so how we are improperly using our minds. Or rather, how our minds are actually using us.

In the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the author suggests our minds are a magnificent tool for us, but we are not our minds. For most of us, we don’t control our minds – rather, our minds control us. This is apparent in the fact that many of us can’t shut our thoughts off at will and be still, and we’ve become addicted to thinking. The mind has possessed us to the point that we’ve started to believe that we are the possessor! Your mind is a tool in the sense that you pick it up when you need to use it, and place it back down when you’re done. That is how to consciously use your mind, and a great phrase he teaches to help you be aware of your thoughts is by “watching the thinker.” Just simply observe your thoughts as if you were a parent observing a child. What kind of thoughts do you think about on a daily basis? Are they mostly positive or negative?

After practicing this for a bit, I started to realize for myself that actually many of the thoughts my mind produced throughout the day were negative. But that’s OK – you don’t have to attach yourself to your thoughts. They’re just mental constructions produced by your mind, and your mind is not you. But what I did realize is that our thoughts DO help dictate our mood, emotions, direction in life, attitude etc. In this sense, this is an even greater case for figuring out how to control your mind and thoughts, rather than having your mind control you. In the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, he states that our minds are filled with a lot of “Sponsoring Thoughts” which are basically original thoughts about major concepts that we hold as truths. However, our Sponsoring Thoughts are oftentimes wrong, cause us to form biases and prejudices that unconsciously repel us from exactly the things we want, and for the most part have been placed in our minds by others. For example, many of us may have sponsoring thoughts about money such as:

  • Having a lot of money is bad
  • People with a lot of money acquired it through dishonest means
  • Only successful people have money, and because I don’t have money now, I am not successful
  • Money is difficult to acquire.

The list goes on and on and many of these thoughts weren’t even placed in our minds by ourselves. For example, our parents place a lot of our sponsoring thoughts about life and the world in our mind from a young age. But my question to you is this: What Sponsoring Thoughts do you have and are they true? Are they true statements that align with reality? Are they serving you? If not, simply replace them.

You see, I’ve realized that most of the thoughts we have on a daily basis really stem from a select amount of our Sponsoring Thoughts. If you have a negative Sponsoring Thought about money, all of your thoughts throughout the day surrounding money or finances will stem from that negative, original thought. To try to refresh my mind and implant new, positive Sponsoring Thoughts in my mind, I’ve created a list of thoughts that I repeat to myself every morning:

  • I consciously create abundance in my life
  • Everything I touch turns to gold
  • I am an intelligent, capable, driven leader
  • When I act, all providence and life moves with me
  • I can do and achieve anything I decide to
  • I’m wealthy financially, health-wise, in relationships, and all of life
  • I’ve got more money than I know what to do with and there’s always more where that came from
  • I create billion-dollar businesses and change the world.

 

By replacing my existing Sponsoring Thoughts or Original Thoughts with the list above, all of my thoughts throughout the day will stem from these. I want to use my mind properly and have the bulk of my daily thoughts controlled by the Sponsoring Thoughts that were set by me, not by others. It’s been a great exercise for me so far, and I encourage all of you to try it out as well.