Struggle and Progress
Let's provide a different perspective on how we can approach challenges. The very nature of something being a challenge means that you need to apply extra effort in order to achieve the end goal. When something is challenging then you make progress at a slower rate, which might not appear to be worth the investment. Oftentimes, we view this pursuit as a struggle. I think that word has a negative label and I want to explore the reason why because I think there’s a lot of power in struggle.
My friend and mentor Daron Roberts puts it best - “No struggle, no progress.” That might seem like it contradicts what I just said, but he’s referring to a different kind of progress, which is within your personal growth. When you are struggling more is being asked of you, you must apply extra effort, and that process facilitates growth. Struggle causes you to strengthen and raise your capacity moving forward.
This thought comes from a number of different angles. In “Grit” Angela Duckworth says applying effort is the mechanism of turning talent into achievement. Anders Ericsson in "Peak" talks about deliberate practice, and how one fundamental element of it is to introduce challenge. Struggle should not solely be viewed as oppression, it should also be viewed as a catalyst.
In fact, some of the great oppressions of history - People of color in America, jews and antisemitism, women in the workplace - Have created some of the strongest and most resilient populations we know. And that’s because struggle is directly related to progress.
This quote is short, sweet, and only two words but it’s some of the best advice you’re ever going to receive. “Be you.”
We get so caught up watching other people and everything they’re up to, admiring them, that sometimes we lose sight of ourselves. We try to mold and shape ourselves to be more like what we see because we think that’s what is expected of us. But what that does is it actually silences the most valuable thing about you which is your uniqueness.
So if you see things a little differently, good! If you think about something a little differently, good! It is the “you” behind it all that offers and contributes something that no one else can! If we were all supposed to be the same then we all would be the same. But that’s not how it is, and we should celebrate that diversity.
Of course there are guidelines to fit within. I personally don’t think it’s right to be so over-the-top “you” that it comes at the expense of someone else’s experience. So it’s important that while you dedicate yourself to being the best you that you can be, and honor who that person is, you need to respect and appreciate others as they attempt to be the best them that they can be.
To wrap it up in a cheesy quote that you’ve probably seen a hundred times in a high school yearbook - “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Be you.
1% Every Day = 3,800% Every Year
You hear it all the time, grow 1% everyday. It sounds great, but what does that mean, and how do you do it?
Let’s start with doing some math. If you were to truly grow 1% every day, then you calculate the potential for growth in the year as an exponent, 1.01 to the 365th power. I’ll save you the time, that equals 3,800% in one year. That is a pretty insane amount of growth, and I think we’d all agree that would be a good year.
But what if we pick something more reasonable, say .1% every day. At the end of a year you’d experience 44% growth, meaning you’ve expanded your capacity by almost half of what you were previously capable of! That still would be incredible progress.
.1% every single day is easy. It’s parking in the back of the parking lot to get a little exercise. It’s pausing for 5 seconds before dinner to be grateful. It’s noticing that you're getting lost scrolling on social media, so you put your phone down and move on to a more productive task. It’s little habits, little decisions like this that fuel major growth.
And you’re already doing everything right! You showing up here and reading this is that .1%, because it allows you to reflect on the person you want to be, and helps you generate an awareness for other opportunities to improve in the most subtle ways.
We’re going to talk about the ‘D’ word today, "Disappointment". You can feel a lot of ways toward someone - Angry, upset, frustrated, distant, but for some reason this word disappointment is one that cuts so much deeper.
I think it’s because it’s representative of how someone feels on another level. Being angry and upset is more of a superficial, sporadic emotion, and disappointment is more visceral and enduring. When you disappoint someone, it means you let someone down. It means you didn’t meet expectations in a really important way, and it jeopardizes the trust you’ve developed with someone else. It’s the fact that the relationship has been damaged in a way that is more difficult to recover from, and exists at the level of your character.
We’ve all disappointed someone in that past. Maybe we didn’t do what we said we were going to do, maybe we went back on a commitment we made, or maybe we didn’t speak our truth in the first place. In any of these cases, it’s important to address that disappointment so that you can grow beyond it.
A fundamental piece to managing and overcoming disappointment is acknowledgment. You need to admit the error, get on the same page with yourself and others about what happened, and begin to explain why it happened so that other people can understand. People want to give benefit of the doubt, they don’t want to feel disappointed, and vulnerability is a key element to helping others allow themselves to believe in you again.
Either way it hurts, the pain of vulnerability and the pain of disappointment, but one is much more constructive and you get to choose which one you lead with.
You Already Know What You Need To Hear
Today I’m going to challenge you a bit but trust me, it’s out of love. When it comes to your life, your circumstances, your situation, no one knows it like you do. Therefore, no one is more prepared to make a decision about your life than you are. The problem is we spend too much time waiting to be told what to do because we don’t trust our own ability to do the right thing. Well let me tell you this, you already know what you need to hear. You just aren’t doing it.
Your intuition is strong and it is there to guide you, you need to honor that. Like any normal person doubts and fear will creep in and try to paralyze you, and if you let it be successful it will stall your efforts and prevent you from getting where you need to go. That’s why it helps to take advice from a mentor or coach, because it provides some authority behind the action steps that need to be taken. This is helpful in getting you to step past your doubts and forces you to get uncomfortable in a necessary way.
But ultimately, no one knows what that step is better than you. Yes, seek advice and understand how other people have done it in the past, but think for yourself in the way you apply those learnings in your life. You already know what you need to hear, you just need someone else to tell you to do it.
The Universe Rewards Consistency with Ricky Mendez
When it comes to today’s topic, I could not agree more. As we strive to make progress on something and create change, consistency is king. Fortunately I’m not the only one who thinks this. Ricky Mendez touches on this in a compelling way.
The universe doesn’t reward scale, it rewards consistency. And I want to go a step further to breakdown why. When it comes to neuroplasticity and literally changing the way your brain is wired, it’s a matter of frequency of activation not intensity of activation. On occasion intensity can implement change, think of trauma or iconic moments, but those moments don’t happen often.
However with frequent and consistent activation your brain can begin to recognize patterns and start to develop in a way that accounts for those patterns. So believe it, it’s not just me saying it, consistency matters, even when it’s small because everything counts!
"Winning doesn't always mean being first."
We live in such a comparison based culture and I’m guilty of it like everyone. We seek to evaluate ourselves in relation to those around us. And what this does is it creates a competitive undertone in everything we do, which yes, is effective in a capitalistic society, but it has an unfortunate consequence when it comes to our self worth. We constantly position ourselves relative to others just to see how we measure up, so that we can be more secure about our relative placement.
Which brings me back to the core thought - Many people view “winning” as coming in first. Logically what that means is that you can only succeed when you beat others, when your performance is deemed to be better than others, and it creates this inferiority-superiority complex. But we need to realize that this is all motivated by the ego, our eternal desire to make everything about ourselves, and it greatly affects the way we relate to others.
If you can reject your ego and overcome the need to compare yourself, you’ll see winning for what it truly is - Self-mastery and personal progress. Not the competitive mess society has crafted it to be. Winning isn’t reserved for only one person. Winning is abundant! We all can win at the same time. In fact, one person winning invites the opportunity for more people to win, cascading and compounding in a contagious way.
I know I’m getting ahead of myself that’s down the road, but let’s start at the beginning with our awareness. “Winning doesn’t always mean being first.”
See Your Future
Something we all have in common is that we want to have a better future. That’s not to say that you can’t be grateful and mindful for what you have, but the desire to make progress and grow is innate inside each and every one of us. But when it comes to wanting to have a better future, how do you actually go about pursuing that?
Something I’ve learned is that we are all creators. We all hold the key to every door we want to open, we just need to connect with that possibility to make it a reality. And something I do to make that connection is I choose to see my future.
The first way of doing this is by letting your future exist in your physical environment. Write out your goals and put them on the wall, create your vision board, change your laptop screensaver. When you do this, and as small as it may seem, you begin seeing your future on a daily basis just based on the stimuli around you. The more accessible the visual is the more exposure you get, and the more your mind can develop around that idea.
The second way of seeing your future is through visualization. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal future and imagine it in vivid detail. Find a way to revisit that space often because each time, it primes your brain to seek out opportunities that will help you to ultimately create it.
I know, when it comes to building your future there’s more to it than just imagining it or looking at pictures - You need to take action. But seeing your future cultivates an awareness and makes the future you want to have more top of mind, more often. And you can’t get there unless you start seeing it!
Did I Do My Best To...
I learned a lesson in 8th grade that really stood out to me, and 13 years later it’s something I think about often because it left a strong impression on me.
My math teacher, Mr. Smith, had us do a really interesting and reflective exercise. At the beginning of the semester he asked us to set intentions about how we were going to show up to class. But the nuance here is he encouraged us to think in a realistic way so that we could actually deliver on the intention. Instead of saying “I will give 100% in class everyday”, he suggested we say “I will give everything I have on any given day”, helping us acknowledge that things aren’t always going to be perfect and we need to plan around that.
Typically in goal setting I focus on stark objectivity, but this idea introduces a necessary subjectivity. Each action you take exists within the context of the day, and many things beyond your control. It’s hard to be enthusiastic and excitable when a loved one passes away, or you hear other bad news, or you didn’t get enough sleep for some reason. And that’s going to happen, so introducing some subjectivity gives you the leeway you need to handle a variety of different situations.
Marshall Goldsmith, a world leading executive coach, does this perfectly. He asks people to establish a number of priorities, and then everyday evaluate their performance toward that priority by asking themselves “Did I do my best to…”. In this way, you make it about the effort, not the outcome, which is always in your control.
With this in mind, I recently adjusted my goal setting and tracking to be more compliant with this. I’ll let you know how it goes!
It's Good To Feel Guilty
When it comes to feeling guilt, we usually relate to it in a negative way and hold a negative perspective toward it. I want you to challenge that, specifically by way of this reframe I learned from Brendon Burchard.
First, what is guilt? And I don’t mean guilt in the court of law, I mean the emotion of feeling guilty. Guilt is a negative reflection of how something went, something that didn’t go according to plan, where you feel partially at fault for some unintended negative consequences. At first glance this seems like an entirely bad thing because something bad happened, but if you go a layer deeper and think about what that guilt actually represents you’ll quickly realize a silver-lining.
When you feel guilty you acknowledge that you were responsible for the way things went. You are internalizing what it was about your actions, choices, and behaviors that could have been different. What this means is you recognize that you didn’t meet the standards you set for yourself, and your feeling guilty is a reminder that you are capable of doing better.
Guilt is an emotion that brings our awareness to the fact that something was off between what we did and who we want to be. That’s a huge deal! If you’re not guilty or remorseful for something, then you have no desire to change how things went. So when you feel guilty, even when things didn’t go according to plan, at least you can know that you expect better from yourself moving forward.
And that’s what I want guilt to mean for you. Sure, the end-result may have been less than desired, that’s life, but how do you handle those moments and use that to make a better future?
Task orientation is the philosophy that you only focus on the next thing that needs to get done. You can overcome the overwhelm and disempowerment you face when trying to accomplish your big goals by narrowly thinking about the next step you need to take. The doubt you experience when thinking about your dreams arises because it’s so far out and imperceivable. But the truth to making real progress, and achieving your dreams, is it doesn’t happen all at once. It requires incremental steps in the right direction, and that’s what task orientation does.
If you want to run a marathon, focus on this week of training. If you want to start a new business, determine what paperwork you need to file first, and how to get your first customer. If you want to mend a relationship, take small actions now in whatever way is appropriate. When you become really clear on the objective you can break down what needs to get done in order to meet that objective. This also allows you to set short-term expectations that you feel like you are capable of meeting, motivating you to take the necessary action.
So if you want to implement task orientation in a daunting area of your life - Filing taxes, being honest with a partner, incorporating a new morning routine, anything! - First think about the steps you need to take to get there. Once you’ve done that, then you focus on taking those next steps with full faith that they are in the direction of your ultimate goal. It’s okay to dream big, in fact I encourage it, but when you do break up that goal into smaller elements that illuminate your path to achieving it.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Let’s go back to the timeless example of the tortoise and the hare. If you’re not familiar with the story, a tortoise and a hare decide to race each other. Clearly the hare is much faster than the tortoise, and he was confident he’d win. However, the hare was overconfident and decided to take a nap during the race, allowing the tortoise to slowly catch up and eventually beat him.
The punchline to this story is “Slow and steady wins the race.
Let me dissect this story in a few ways. First is the pre-judgment. Everyone assumes that the hare would win because he is so much faster, but that’s not what the race was about. It’s important to understand how there are many qualities at play when it comes to generating outcomes, not just the obvious ones. It would have been a shame if the tortoise had ruled himself out before the race even started.
Second is the idea of how much something is valued. The hare didn't take the competition seriously, and fell asleep because he thought it was so easy. However the tortoise, who had to work hard for every step, was more motivated and committed because of the investment he had to make.
Then thinking beyond the story, and relating it back to you, what race are you running? I can guarantee it’s different from the race everyone else is running, so it’s impossible to judge your progress next to someone else’s. What you need to do is focus on the effort, the pursuit of the goal that you deem worthy, and trust that your ways of making progress are enough and worthwhile.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone with Joel Brown
This is something we all know to be true, but it could always use a bit more perspective. It’s the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone. Something I’ve learned is that you cannot succeed unless you put yourself in a position to fail, and you cannot grow unless you expose your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. This thought was articulated incredibly well by Addited2Success founder Joel Brown.
Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t need to be a bold and defiant act. You can stretch yourself slowly but surely, in small ways to build that elasticity and tolerance, and it’s something that you need to take action on and prioritize now. The reason why certain elements of your life aren’t perfectly how you want them to be is because you aren’t actively pursuing them. Start stepping outside of your comfort zone and you’ll start recognizing how much opportunity there is to grow.
Let me run a scenario by you - You’re on the roof of a 100 story building. You see a long, narrow plank that spans from where you’re standing to the rooftop next to you. If you cross the plank I’ll give you $20. Would you do it? Now how about this scenario. You're a parent, and your child is in danger alone on the other rooftop. Would you be more likely to cross the long, narrow plank? I imagine you are. And why is that?
It’s because in those two very similar scenarios only one variable changed, and that was your necessity. It was how necessary and important it was that you walk across the plank. For $20, I could probably do without it. For my child? I’ll do anything. You are making very different decisions in those two scenarios.
As I learned in the book “High Performance Habits” by Brendon Burchard, necessity is an incredibly influential factor in your behavior. And knowing how valuable it is, there are ways that we can manufacture necessity to get us to commit to the behaviors we know are good for us.
One thing you can do is generate accountability. This could either be having a duty or role that others are relying on you to fill, or by holding yourself to an ideal that you set for yourself. Another way is by cultivating urgency - Setting a deadline and stretching yourself to meet it.
If you must do something, then you will, and creating more necessity in your life can help you take the necessary actions required of you to make progress.
"When you're in a hole, stop digging."
Shoutout to my friend Wallis for sharing this thought with me. It is very simple, and I think it's the simplicity that made it so compelling. “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
How true is it that we find ourselves in a certain situation, usually at our own fault, only to think that we know how to fix it so we try and then just make it worse. I certainly can speak to this. When things go wrong for me they quickly get worse. I enable this to happen by taking a wrong responsive action, and it turns into a really slippery slope. This is because when things start to go wrong it creates discomfort, and as a byproduct our body produces adrenaline to prepare ourselves for the uncertainty, and often leads us to bad decision making.
But we can fix this, and David Meltzer puts it perfectly. He says stop, drop and roll. Specifically in this situation - Stop whatever you’re doing because it is taking you further off trajectory. Drop your negative thought patterns and recenter your emotional state. And then roll toward a more constructive and productive direction.
This process keeps you from acting reflexively and helps you be more intentional with your behavior. So when you’re in a hole stop digging, and let that be the beginning of your solution.
Lose Your Excuses
First we need to understand the role excuses play in our psychology. Excuses are a defense mechanism that are meant to protect our self-esteem and self-confidence. By giving an excuse for something, we deflect responsibility and don’t internalize the criticism, so that we can separate ourselves from the failures or shortcomings in the result.
But there’s an expression I love that sheds some light on the truth - “Excuses are like buttholes, everyone’s got one and they all stink!”
The problem with making excuses is that by not taking the necessary responsibility, you don’t put yourself in a position to grow. Where is the lesson without the pain? When you justify why you didn’t meet expectations by making excuses, you are doing yourself a disservice that prevents you from developing in a way that will allow you to meet expectations next time.
To share a quick example of this in practice, a few weeks ago we had a family photo shoot and allowed a photographer in the backyard. We have been extremely careful to take precautions and not expose ourselves to others who might have COVID. There were times when he touched furniture and things we’d prefer he didn’t touch, and he unmasked a few times out of comfort. Instead of making an excuse and saying “Oh it happened so fast, it was out of my control”, in reflection I recognize that I could have communicated to him sooner that we wanted him to follow strict quarantine protocols. Had I done so we could have avoided the situation and now I know how to act moving forward.
So I encourage you, lose your excuses. Take full responsibility, full ownership for the events in your life. Instead of making a comfortable excuse, try reflecting on the decisions you made that led to that result. You’ll find a lot more is in your control than you realized, which is great because then you know what you can change for next time!
Daily Motivation and Fuel
Let me start by giving you some credit. There are a lot of things to balance in life and the fact that you have taken the time to come to this resource is incredible. And I can’t express to you how grateful I am because of it. But let’s take it a step further and talk about why that is important.
Every time you show up for yourself it provides evidence for the person you want to be, and over time it becomes more and more effective. Essentially, slowly but surely, you can prime yourself to embody the traits that you access and make it more of a subconscious, natural response.
It’s important, because when it comes to taking action throughout the day you’re going to need some of it. That’s why exposing yourself consistently to motivational content helps you to be more motivated. Your daily choices serve as the fuel for you as you go throughout your day on a mission.
And if I’m not enough for you, then my friend Spencer Ferrari Wood has you covered. He’ll send you an email every single day with "40 seconds of Fuel", to help you fill up your tank so you can go out and conquer the day!
Having Structure In Your Life
You probably hear it all the time, you need to “lay the right foundation” or “have structure” in your life. It sounds great, but what does it actually mean, and how do you actually do it? To me, it means that you need to first spend time establishing the basics and fundamentals so that you can grow on top of it with the assurance that you will be supported.
Well, personal development is growth, and every time you grow you put stress on your foundation. With a strong and solid structure, you can challenge yourself to be more consistent in difficult areas, you can put yourself in more uncomfortable situations, and you can gain confidence in yourself because you know that your foundation will hold you up through it all.
So how do you build a stronger foundation? You invest in it. You put systems in place to help you carry the weight of uncertainty and doubt. You get proactive and adapt your belief system so that it interacts effectively with the context of your life. And you validate it by having faith in the process, and that you are capable and worthy of everything you desire.
I know that’s a lot... but I want to help you have more structure in your life!