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.
Beneath the flowers and the stems,
lie the roots and weeds to condemn.
You look so pretty up top,
underneath are you clean or a dirty workshop.
You must dig to find out,
look in every corner for why you may doubt.
Shackles and chains,
always deny what you wish to attain.
Grab a flashlight and look for the dark,
make it light and get it right.
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 will come a time in your life when you find yourself at the bottom of a mountain. Most of the time, this will be right after you think you got to the top of a previous one.
Our lives don’t stop moving, and neither should we.
I have found myself at the bottom of yet another mountain, with an extremely daunting climb in front of me.
It would be easy to stay on the same path I have been on, but easy will not get you to the top of a mountain.
Easy will keep you at a plateau and a plateau will keep you mediocre.
Mediocre is not where I want to be, nor will I ever be there.
When you lay everything out in front of you, you quickly realize how hard you need to work, and how hard you haven’t been working.
Thankfully, I had a moment yesterday that opened my eyes to the things coming down the pipeline for myself.
It made me realize that I haven’t been doing enough recently, and I need to get better at the things I am doing.
I need to learn more. I need to spend less time wasting time, and spend more of my time climbing.
I have more people than just me to take care of.
I think my first step in getting to the top of the next mountain will be contributing here more, and using more of my energy to mold my future.