The following is penned from the book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. I recently reread the book and this is one of my favorite sections from it.
Here you go –
It is quite easy to get approval if we ask enough people, or if we ask those who are likely to tell us exactly what we wish to hear.
The likelihood is that most will tell us nice things rather than be too critical. Also, we as humans have a tendency to mute out the bad that comes from others, and only hear the good. Selective hearing some could say.
So if you have produced a pleasantly acceptable piece of work, you will have proved to yourself that it is good because others will say so.
The work you have done is probably okay, but probably not great.
Instead, if you look at your product with some what is wrong with it glasses on, you are much more likely to get an answer that will help you improve.
Your idea as a whole may even improve.
And yet you are always in the position to reject criticism if you feel it is incorrect.
Arden’s book is stocked full of 1-2 page short essays that each hit you with an incredible truth. The precision of the ideas make it easy to decipher the meaning behind his words.
A week or so ago as I listened to the Joe Rogan Podcast episode that featured Robert Downey Jr (who I have learned refers to himself as Bob), I heard something that has really been sticking with me. The two were on the topic of acting and playing certain roles in movies – when Bob mentioned something that he uses on set to be as good of an actor as he is.
He said that the most important thing to remember on set is not the lines or the placement in the shot. It is not the cues or the movements.
He reminds himself – ‘What is your action?’
In the sense of acting it means what your character is truly doing.
Not just running.. but attempting to escape from a otherworldly being that is chasing after you.
Not just crying..but mourning the loss of a loved one.
Obviously I am not an actor, but this is something that I – and all of you – can bring with us to work, to the house, to family gatherings, to community service, the list is never ending.
If you truly think about what your action is supposed to be, it will make it 10x easier for you as well as make you more effective.
As most of you already know, I am currently a high school teacher. My action every day is not to be a teacher.
My action is to transform the lives of young people. My action is to provide them with the knowledge and the tools they will need to succeed in life.
As an auto mechanic your action is not simply to change a tire. Your action is to make someone’s vehicle work properly and keep them safe when they are using it.
See the difference?
Stop thinking of things in such a literal sense and begin to find the meaning behind what you are doing.
If you find yourself sluggishly making your way through the day at work – remind yourself of your true action.
What is your action?
I have written about this before, but I personally need to hear it so I am going to write about it again.
Working your butt off each and every day like you will receive the benefit before you lay your head down to go to bed, but understanding that the best rewards are the ones you have to wait for.
Instant gratification does nothing for anybody. It tricks us.
However, when you are able to accept the fact that you will gain the most from that which you have to wait the longest, you will increase your chances of achieving what it is you wish to achieve.
Work urgently. Be patient.
Work like you have to get everything done today – but expect it in a month.
Construction sites are a great example of this. At a construction site the workers begin by laying a single brick – or propping up that first frame made by 2×4’s.
They know on the first day of construction that when they leave the job site, it won’t resemble anything close to what the final projection looks like. It won’t resemble the final product at all.
How often is there a construction site on your daily drive to work that you pass by twice – sometimes more – each day?
You play games in your head for a couple of months trying to guess what it will be before the building finally takes shape, right?
I know I personally do this.
Now think about the workers. They know the entire time what the project will look like when it is completed, don’t they?
Yet they are still content with leaving the construction site without so much as a brick laid on top of another. Why is this? It is because they practice such great patience. They know that the fruits of their labor will hardly be soon received. Yet they build, build, build, every single day – like they will leave the site with it complete.
It should be no different in your personal life.
*Again, I personally need to hear this, which is why I am writing about it – but I hope you enjoy it and get something from it as well.
You should attack every day like you are going to achieve all of your goals that very day.
Work like you are going to sign that 5 figure contract that day. Workout like you are going to lose 30 lbs that day. Write like you are going to finish the book that day. Paint like you are going to finish the portrait that day.
Keep all of this in mind.
Work urgently. Be patient.
It might take you some time to figure out what methods and systems work best for you, and that is perfectly fine.
What isn’t perfectly fine however, is giving up after trying only a handful of things.
The beauty is in the process. While it may not seem like it, you have time to figure it out. Regardless of how you old you are, your drive to improve and find what works for you should never diminish.
I’m thankful every day for the time I have ahead of me to figure out what Skyler should be doing. I have time to try, and fail.
As do you, regardless of your age. Because the amount of years you may or may not have left is not what I mean when I say time. I mean you have plenty of tries.
It’s like you are playing a baseball game and you are up to bat – but you will never strike out!
Swing as many times as you want. Try and hit the curve ball in the dirt. Take a hack at the high and inside fastball. You might not always hit the ball, but guess what? Here comes another pitch. Here comes another day.
Whether you know baseball or not is not the point, but I will mention that of all the professional baseball players who have hit hundreds and hundreds of home runs in their careers, some were better than others at hitting curve balls for home runs, and some were better at hitting fastballs for home runs.
(That was a long sentence, and I apologize for that) ^
But just because your neighbor wakes up and goes for a run every morning, that doesn’t mean you have to be the person who gets up while it is still dark out to go for a jog.
You can be the one who finds time over a lunch break.
You can be the one who can get the most effective workout after work.
And it isn’t just exercise.
Just always keep in mind, different stokes for different folks.
I (think) I am finally finding out what works best for me, and it isn’t what works best for my friends. And that is awesome to me.
Take your time and try a bunch of different methods. Different diets, different workouts, different morning routines, all of it. Move things around and test it all out, you will eventually find out what works best.
A good way to do this, but you have to be careful, is to let yourself idle for a short moment.
Do nothing and be nothing, and find out what comes naturally for you.
I took a step back for a moment to find out what I naturally do, and I have found out that it is a task for me to get up and eat breakfast every day. So what works best? Intermittent fasting. I skip breakfast and don’t eat until a little after lunch, and then I eat big for just a few hours of the day.
Enough about me though, this isn’t what this is about.
This is about YOU.
Do YOU. Find out what works best and roll with it!
There is only one word I will be focusing on for the next 365 days.
I am extremely proud of where I have put myself as a young 24 year old man, but I am not anywhere close to where I want to be.
Towards the end of 2019 I let myself slip a little bit. Not a fly off the rails type of slip, but I have lost some discipline in areas of my life that I have previously been much more disciplined.
Instead of concerning myself with keeping some of the good habits I may have lost and removing some not so good habits I may have picked up, I am going to aim to build in 2020. All of those habits will eventually fall in or out of place.
I have sat down and locked in on four areas of my life that I will build this year.
- Bank Account
I have also sat down and categorized almost everything I do on a regular basis, and filtered them down to either being a builder, or a destroyer.
It may seem a little extreme, and maybe too black and white, but at the end of the day, everything you do either helps you or hurts you.
I found the things that I need to do more of in order to build certain categories, and things that I need to do less of to prevent myself from destroying certain categories.
For example, something that builds my body is getting a lift in, and something that destroys it would be In n Out for dinner.
I’m sure you get the picture.
But if you haven’t seen or heard from me anywhere else, I will be having my first baby girl in May of this year. She still has a little while longer inside momma’s belly, but she has already lit a fire underneath me that will not burn out any time soon, or ever.
If I can successfully build the four categories I am aiming to build, she will be looking up to an incredible father. She will be surrounded by parents that love each other to the ends of the earth, and parents that will do anything to help her become the best young lady she can be.
Less about me, and more about how you can use the word Build to shape the beginning of this next decade.
Pick four categories that are important to you, I would highly suggest Body and Mind being two of them, because if you are aiming to build yourself in those areas alone, you are sure to tighten up in many other areas as well.
Some examples may be:
- Knowledge in a certain subject
- A particular skill
- Self talk
- Love life
If the four you choose are Mind, Body, Community, and Painting, let’s break down things that categorize as either a builder, or a destroyer.
- Builders – trip to the gym, yoga, walking, stretching, a full nights rest
- Destroyers – fast food, no sleep, smoking, drinking
- Builders – reading, writing, drawing, listening to a podcast, meditating
- Destroyers – too much social media, video games, porn, complaining
- Builders – volunteering, community clean up, organizing life groups
- Destroyers – being rude, staying home all day, littering
- Builders – taking a class, practicing, visiting art shows
- Destroyers – negative self talk, comparing your work, wasting time on other things
This was a pretty short list obviously, and if you truly sit down and choose your four categories, there will be plenty of meaning behind them. You will know exactly which categories you need to do a better job of building, and you’ll be able to pinpoint the destroyers pretty quickly.
It was actually easier for me when I did this to come up with the destroyers, because as I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, I have started to let some aspects of my life slip. I knew right away when I came up with the four categories what I need to do, but more importantly, what I may need to stop doing.
I hope this helps you set up the right track for your 2020.
Also, another builder I have in mind, is that I will start posting here much more consistently again.
I have a bad habit of always wanting to wait until things are just right, or expecting that circumstances will change when there is some type of external change.
Deep down I know that no situation will be perfect, and no timing will be excellent, until you make it that way.
It is up to you and only you to make your life what you want it to be.
A bigger paycheck won’t do it for you.
A new boss won’t do it for you.
The only way things will ever be perfect, is if you strive to make them perfect. And in order to do that, damn near every day needs to be perfect.
Fine tune the little things because there really is no truer statement than this –
How you do the small things, is how you do all things. Anonymous
And when you let small habits slip, or let bad habits creep in to your life, you notice the changes begin to happen on a larger scale.
You notice that all of a sudden, you’ve packed on an extra 10-15 pounds.
Or you notice that all of a sudden, it has been 3 months since you have seen the inside of a gym.
It is estimated that all of us have a group between 5-10 habits that we perform the exact same way, every single day.
These may range from how you brush your teeth, which phone your pocket sits in, to which route you take to work.
But when one of these things changes, it can throw a wrench in our day to day lives.
When one of these habits change for the worse, or even worse – you develop a new bad habit – there is a domino effect that essentially turns in to you not believing in yourself anymore.
Because now that you have a habit you don’t like – you aren’t performing as well as you used to be.
Because you aren’t performing as well as you used to be – your belief in yourself begins to diminish.
The tipping point comes right here.
You have arrived at the figurative ‘fork in the road.’
Your bad habits can stay with you, and make you a new version of you – a worse one.
Or you can kick those habits in the ass and never see them again, creating a better you.
The most important step in this process is realizing that you are at a fork!
Praise God that there are different actions you can take. If you have this realization you will literally consciously make changes to be better, or consciously choose to continue to get worse and worse.
Nobody in their right mind would choose to continue becoming worse – would they?
Getting worse is EASY.
Getting better is HARD.
Getting fat and unhealthy is EASY.
Losing weight and getting in shape is HARD.
You will NEVER receive a reward without first going through something and achieving what you set out to achieve.
There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.
You will not get an amazing life if you don’t work your ass off through a hard time.
People who retire at the age of 35 with $100,000,000 in the bank did not achieve that by doing things that were easy.
People who are still working to pay rent and buy groceries at age 70 are in that position most likely because they wanted the easy road earlier in their lives. They wanted to stay at the job that didn’t pay very well but was easy. They wanted to watch TV and eat shitty food every day because it was easy.
Staying up a little bit later to learn something about your business you run is not easy.
Waking up early to work out because you won’t have time that day is not easy.
But things like this, the not easy things, are what will guide you to the life that you envision for yourself.
The life you envision is not sitting on a couch watching Netflix and eating McDonald’s – so why is that what you do??
You will get out what you put in! Putting that in will only get you that result in the long run.
However, the g
ood GREAT news is that you are in the drivers seat!
You control where the car goes and how fast it goes. You control whether you change the oil and put air in the tires or if you want to ride on flats and damage your rims.
Nobody controls your life the way that you think they do.
The only person who controls your life is YOU. Corny yes – true yes.
If you consistently wake up on time, prepare yourself for the day, stay on task and complete everything you set out to complete, fuel your body the correct way, nourish your mind with positivity and productivity, give and receive the utmost amount of love as humanly possible, you will have an incredible life.
Just as soon as you began to feel your life dip down in to a slump, it can be revived! You know this because you have felt it. You have literally done it.
You know for a fact that it is as easy as taking things one day at a time – getting out of the rut and on to the right path – for you to be where you want to be again.
Don’t be ashamed of your progress either.
Don’t give a damn about other people.
Don’t care so much about broadcasting everything.
It may seem like creating a social media brand and this and that is a great way to go, but dammit; wait until you are already somebody worth branding!
Blah blah blah self worth. I’m not shit right now – I know this.
I want to be the shit though??? So I will be. But I need to stop pretending I am, until I really am.
I will write another post – probably on the other account – about how I will know when I am the shit.