Would you be your own disciple?

Would you follow you? Are you a leader?

Let me ask that another way: Do you follow you?

It was once explained to me that ‘self-discipline’ means being a disciple of your own highest priorities. Framed in that way, choices logically follow from beliefs. They aren’t hard to make, they are necessary. You believe in what is important to you, so you set about making it happen with religious fervor.

All of this struggle with motivation, focus and productivity is not a matter of tricking yourself into action; it’s the opposite. It’s about actually believing what you say is important to you.

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“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

That’s why I’m here every day. To remind you. To help you start again. No one will ever know what you did to get what you want. But you will.

You know the sayings: Success is 80% attitude/showing up/perspiration. It’s not about the magic of genius or divine inspiration making it all possible. Success is a habit. It requires being the kind of person who can create success, not simply the person who somehow has it.

Perhaps yesterday was not your day. Things conspired against you. Or you conspired against yourself. It doesn’t matter. Today is another day, and it’s up to you to put in the work. That’s the only thing you have within your control: the inputs.

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Eat that frog.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

This unappetizing aphorism is credited to Mark Twain, but it probably came from Nicolas Chamfort, a French aristocrat living in the 1700’s. Bryan Tracy, renowned motivational speaker, thought enough of the quote to write a book about it.

Despite conflicting interpretations of what the statement really means, or why it originated, I think the lesson in it matters. You have the choice to deal with things as you see fit.

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“It ain’t all waitin’ on you. That’s vanity.”

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time, this is from No Country for Old Men.

Nary a word wasted by Ellis, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell’s wheelchair-bound relative, in this intimate and instructional scene.

We could all use an Ellis to set us straight from time to time. He delivers one powerful line after another, but my favorite comes right at the end. Wait for it…

What quotes do you turn to for inspiration, or perhaps just a little perspective?

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How do you check out to recharge?

When my wife suddenly yelled, “Q! Q! Q! Quality!!!!” bouncing up and down in her seat, pointing and giggling with joy, we all erupted in laughter. There we were, a car full of four adults, playing the most competitive hours-long game of “alphabet” you’ve ever seen, presided over by a power-trippy and slightly sadistic eight-year-old girl. For what seemed like an hour, no one could locate a word starting with the letter Q, until that spasmodic moment, and the car shook.

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How I deal with feeling unmotivated.

Motivation and willpower are not universal and everlasting. They are finite resources we use up. And I do, every day. When I’m not full of meetings, I may be flush out of gumption at 10:00 AM, but that’s no problem if I started writing at 6:30.

Because I know myself, I know the dip is coming. It comes sooner or later, and goes deeper or shallower, depending on the day. It’s not a problem to solve, nor a weakness to overcome. It’s just the truth. I want to give in and waste time. Most often, I simply listen to that feeling and acknowledge it, then choose something easier until I can kick it into gear again.

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Creating Inevitable Outcomes

What if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you try?

Launch a new company?

Learn to dance or sing?

Learn a new language, or how to code?

Lose some weight?

Run a marathon?

This sort of question has become popular, especially in the startup world where company cultures are positive, brash, optimistic and empowering. Who doesn’t wish they could plow forward without risk of failure? But we do fear failure, we can’t eliminate risk, and there’s the rub.

So let’s reframe that question:
What would you try if you knew that you couldn’t be embarrassed?

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Tolerations sap your energy. Kill one today.

About 12 years ago, shortly after I purchased my first business, I decided to enlist the help of a personal coach. She had a calm but impatient zero-BS way about her that I liked immediately. At one point, she introduced an exercise that changed my thinking about focus and energy forever.

You might laugh because many people are already very good at this. I was not.

What are Your Tolerations?

Tolerations are the small (and not-so-small) stressors you put up with daily. Things you try to ignore, or deal with later, and in so doing, they add to your daily burden. Not unlike feeling you must “get your ducks in a row” before you can start anything, tolerations hold you back because they drain your sense of agency– putting up with them makes it feel like the world is doing things to you, even on purpose.

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Holy sh*t, stop comparing yourself to other people. Stop it.

Ambition is a powerful motivator, but ambition to do or create or achieve what, exactly? Any why? Because others have already done more?

Comparison and ambition are not compatible.

Yeah, you know, there will always be someone who’s done “it” sooner than you, bigger than you, for more money than you. You know that. Rationally you are aware this statement is true. And yet, viscerally, you get jealous, resentful, even angry about what others have done that seem to have outpaced the things you have done. Useless. And stupid.  Case in point:

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I believe in you.

I do. I believe you can do what you set your mind to. I believe in your ability to adapt. I believe you have immense potential. I believe the differences in our perspectives are valuable. I believe you know things that I don’t know. I believe that I would learn something by talking with you.

Believing in you makes me powerful. Not because of something in me, but because of something in all of us. Societies move forward, faster, when we feel this way; they come to a grinding reactionary halt when we don’t.

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