35 Hard Truths Part 2 of 2
You Should Know Before Becoming “Successful”
By Benjamin Hardy Feb 22
21. Don’t Look For The Next Opportunity
The perfect client, perfect opportunity, and perfect circumstances will almost never happen. Instead of wishing things were different, why not cultivate what’s right in front of you?
Rather than waiting for the next opportunity, the one in your hands is the opportunity. Said another way, the grass is greener where you water it.
I see so many people leave marriages because they believe better relationships are “out” there. In most cases, these people start new relationships and end them the same way the previous relationship ended. The problem isn’t your circumstances. The problem is you. You don’t find your soul-mate, you create your soul-mate through hard work.
As Jim Rohn said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”
22. Don’t Wait To Start
If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve — without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives. Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered — wondering where all that time went.
As Meredith Willson has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
I waited a few years too long to actively start writing. I was waiting for the right moment when I’d have enough time, money, and whatever else I thought I needed. I was waiting until I was somehow qualified or had permission to do what I wanted to do.
But you are never pre-qualified. There is no degree for “Live your dreams.” You qualify yourself by showing up and working. You get permission by deciding.
Life is short.
Don’t wait for tomorrow for something you could do today. Your future self will either thank you or shamefully defend you.
23. Don’t Publish Too Early
At age 22, Tony Hsieh (now CEO of Zappos.com), graduated from Harvard. When Tony was 23 years old, six months after starting Linkexchange, he was offered one million dollars for the company. This was amazing to Tony because less than a year before, he was stoked to get a job at Oracle making 40K per year.
After much thought and discussion with his partner, he rejected the offer believing he could continue to build Linkexchange into something bigger. His true love is in building and creating. A true pro gets paid but doesn’t work for money. A true pro works for love.
Five months later, Hsieh was offered 20 million dollars from Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!. This blew Tony away. His first thought was, “I’m glad I didn’t sell five months ago!” However, he held his cool and asked for a few days to consider the proposal. He would make this decision on his terms.
He thought about all the things he would do if he had all that money, knowing he would never have to work another day in his life. After reflecting, he could only devise a small list of things he wanted:
A TV and built-in home theatre
The ability to go on weekend mini-vacations whenever he wanted
A new computer
To start another company because he loves the idea of building and growing something.
That was it.
His passion and motivation wasn’t in having stuff. He concluded that he could already afford a TV, a new computer, and could already go on weekend mini-vacations whenever he wanted. He was only 23 years old, so he determined a condo could wait. Why would he sell Linkexchange just to build and grow another company?
A year after Tony rejected the 20 million dollar offer, Linkexchange exploded. There were over 100 employees. Business was booming. Yet, Hsieh no longer enjoyed being there.
The culture and politics had subtly changed in the process of rapid growth. Linkexchange was no longer Hsieh and a group of close friends building something they loved. They had hired a bunch of people in a hurry who didn’t have the same vision and motivations they had.
Many of the new employees didn’t care about Linkexchange, or about building something they loved. Rather, they just wanted to get rich quick — purely self-interested.
So he decided to sell the company on his terms. Microsoft purchased Linkexchange in 1998 for 265 million dollars when Hsieh was 25 years old.
A similar concept emerged in a conversation I had about one year ago with Jeff Goins, best-selling author of The Art of Work. I asked his advice about publishing a book I want to write and he said, “Wait. Don’t jump the gun on this. I made that mistake myself. If you wait a year or two, you’ll get a 10x bigger advance, which will change the trajectory of your whole career.”
Here’s how it works. With 20K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $20–40K book advance. But with 100–200K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $150–500K book advance. Wait a year or two and change the trajectory of your career (and life).
This isn’t about procrastination. It’s about strategy. Timing — even a few seconds — could change your whole life.
24. If You Can’t Solve A Problem, It’s Because You’re Playing By The Rules
“There is nothing that is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different.” — Albert Einstein
Convention is where we’re at. Breaking convention is how we’ll evolve, which requires a gargantuan quantity of failure.
If you don’t have the grit to fail 10,000 times, you’ll never invent your light bulb. As Seth Godin has said, “If I fail more than you do, I win.”
Failure is something to be prized and praised. Failure is feedback. Failure is moving forward. It’s conscious and exerted effort toward something you’ve never done before. It’s incredible.
“The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.” — Paul Arden
25. How You Set Up The Game Is More Important Than The Game Itself
“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” — Thomas Merton
Too many people are playing the wrong game — a losing game from the onset — and it hurts like hell. It’s how you ruin your life without even knowing it.
More important than playing “the game” is how the game is set up. How you set up the game determines how you play. And it’s better to win first, then play.
How does this work?
Start from the end and work backward. Rather than thinking about what’s plausible, or what’s expected, or what makes sense — start with what you want. Or as Covey put it in 7 Habits, “Begin with the end clearly in mind.” Once that’s nailed down, then dictate the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly behaviors that will facilitate that.
Jim Carrey wrote himself a $10 million check. Then he set out to earn it. He won the game first, then played. So can you.
26. Leverage Your Position
No matter how small your wins along the way are, leverage your position!
You have a high school diploma? Leverage your position!
You know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy? Leverage your position!
You get an article featured on some unknown blog? Leverage your position!
You have $100? Leverage your position!
Sadly, most people can’t stop looking at the other side of the fence. They fail to realize the brilliant possibilities currently available to them. This is bad stewardship.
There are people you already know who have the information you need.
There are people you already know who have capital you can use.
There are people you already know who can connect you with people you should know.
Instead of wanting more, how about you utilize what you already have? Until you do, more won’t help you. Actually, it will only continue hurting you until you learn to earn something for yourself.
It’s easy to want other people to do it for you. But real success comes when you take ownership of your life. No one else cares more about your success (or health, or relationships, or time) than you do.
Your current position is ripe with abundant opportunity. Leverage it. Once you gain another inch of position, leverage it for all it’s worth. Don’t wish for more. Wish you were better. And soon enough, you’ll find yourself in incredible positions and collaborating with your heroes.
Success is based on choice.
Success is based on having and maintaining a motivation worth fighting for. It’s based on believing what others might call a fantasy. It’s based on leveraging your position and maintaining the momentum of every step you take.
27. Your Work Should Be A Performance
The cool part about poetry is that to most poets, how their poems are performed is just as important — if not more important — than what is actually said.
In a similar way, when you go to an event or to hear a speech, you’re usually going to see the speaker, not hear what they have to say. You already know what they have to say.
No matter what type of work you are in, it will be better received if you see it as an art-form. You are performing for an audience. They want you just as much as they want your work — often more.
28. You Get To Decide How It Works
Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way, explains what he calls “the moment,” which every skilled creative has experienced. “The moment,” is when your eyes are opened to the mechanics and behind-the-scenes of your craft.
Until you have this moment, it all seems like magic to you. You have no idea how people create what they create. After you have this moment, you realize that everything is done by a person intentionally creating a particular experience.
I was recently watching Lord of the Rings and it dawned on me that those movies would be completely different if they weren’t directed by Peter Jackson. Completely different!
Every shot, every set, the lighting, the costumes, how the characters and landscapes look, and how the whole film feels and is portrayed. It all would have looked and felt completely different based on the experience a different director was trying to create.
Thus, there is no right or wrong way. Rather, it’s about doing things your way. Until you experience this “moment,” you’ll continue attempting the correct or best way to do things. You’ll continue copying other people’s work.
But if you persist, you’ll become disillusioned to those who were once your idols. They are people just like you and me. They’ve just made a decision to create in their own way.
The idea of imitation will become abhorrent, freeing you to create as you see fit. You’ll emerge with your own voice and original work. You’ll be less troubled about how your work is received and more focused on creating something you believe in.
29. Five Minutes Is A Lot Of Time
When you have five minutes of downtime, how do you spend that time? Most people use it as an excuse to rest or laze.
By lazing for 5 five minute breaks each day, we waste 25 minutes daily. That’s 9,125 minutes per year (25 X 365). Sadly, my guess is we’re wasting far more time than that.
I was once told by my 9th grade English teacher that if I read every time I had a break — even if the break was just for a minute or two — that I’d get a lot more reading done than expected. She was right. Every time I finished my work early or had a spare moment, I’d pick up a book and read.
How we spend our periodic five-minute breaks is a determining factor to what we achieve in our lives. Every little bit adds up.
Why can we justify wasting so much time?
30. One Dollar Is A Lot Of Money
I was recently in Wal-Mart with my mother-in-law buying a few groceries. While we were in the check-out line, I pointed an item out to her I thought was interesting (honestly can’t remember what it is anymore).
What stuck out to me is that she said, “One dollar. That’s a lot of money!”
Why this surprised me is that my in-laws are not short of money. Actually, this happened while we were on a family trip (30+ people) at Disney World — the whole thing is paid for by them.
Understanding the value of one dollar is the same as coming to appreciate the value of time. To thoughtlessly spend one dollar may not seem like a big deal, but it actually is.
That frivolous spending compounded over a long enough time could be millions. It also reflects a lack of care about the details, which is where the true art and value lies.
Additionally, most millionaires are “self-made”, 80 percent being first-generation rich, and 75 percent were self-employed. Not getting paid hourly challenges you to take more responsibility for every minute and every dollar. Consequently, a great majority of millionaires are extremely frugal — or at least highly mindful — with their money.
31. Retirement Should Never Be The Goal
“To retire is to die.” — Pablo Casals
The most powerful way to punch someone in the face is to aim a foot behind their face. That way, you have full momentum and power when you make contact. If you aim only for the face itself, by the time you reach it you’ll have already begun slowing down. Thus, your punch will not be as powerful as you intended it to be.
Retirement is the same way.
Most people planning for retirement begin slowing down in their 40’s and 50’s. The sad part is, as momentum-based beings when you begin to slow down, you start a hard-to-reverse decaying process.
Research has found that retirement often:
Increases the difficulty of mobility and daily activities
Increases the likelihood of becoming ill
And decreases mental health
But retirement is a 20th-century phenomenon. And actually, the foundations undergirding this outdated notion make little sense in modern and future society.
For instance, due to advances in health care, 65 is not considered old age anymore. When the Social Security system was designed, the planners chose age 65 because the average lifespan was age 63 at the time. Thus, the system was designed only for those who were really in need, not to create a culture of people being supported by others’ labor.
Furthermore, the perception that people over 65 can’t provide meaningful work no longer makes sense either. Retirement became a thing when most work was manual labor — but today’s work is more knowledge-based. And if there’s anything lacking in today’s society, its wisdom, which people in their later years have spent a lifetime refining.
Retirement should never be the goal.
We are fully capable to work — in some capacity — until our final breath.
My 92-year-old grandfather, Rex, was a fighter pilot in WWII. In the past five years, he’s written three books. He goes to bed every night at 8 P.M. and wakes up every morning at 4:30 A.M.
He spends the first 2.5 hours of his day watching inspirational and instructional content on television. He then eats breakfast at 7 A.M. and spends his day reading, writing, connecting and serving people, and even doing physical labor around his son’s (my dad’s) house.
He even walks around his neighborhood proselyting his faith and asking random strangers how he can help them.
I have no intention of stopping or slowing down. Contrary to popular belief, humans are like wine and get better with age.
32. Yesterday Is More Important Than Today
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
Our present circumstances are a reflection of our past decisions. Although we have enormous power to change the trajectory of our lives here and now, we are where we are because of our past. While it’s popular to say the past doesn’t matter, that simply is not true.
Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. What we do today will either enhance or diminish our future-present moments. But most people put things off until tomorrow.
We thoughtlessly go into debt, forego exercise and education, and justify negative relationships. But at some point, it all catches up. Like an airplane off-course, the longer we wait to correct the longer and harder it is to get back on course.
Time is absolutely marvelous. We get to anticipate the experiences we want to have — which is often more enjoyable than the experiences themselves. We get to have the experiences we long for.
And then we get to remember and carry those experiences with us forever. The past, present, and future are uniquely important and enjoyable.
33. You’re Not “Way” Behind
In sports and all other forms of competition, people perform best when the game is close. Which is why big magic happens at the end of games like on-sides kicks retrieved followed by 30-second touchdown drives. But when the contest is decidedly in one opponent’s favor, neither side acts with the same effort.
When you’re winning big, it’s easy to get lax and overconfident. When you’re losing big, it’s easy to give up.
Sadly, you probably perceive those at the top of your field “in a different league” altogether. But when you do this, you perform with less intensity than you would if you perceived the “game” to be closer.
When you elevate your thinking — and see yourself on the same level as those at “the top” — you quickly become disillusioned by the fallibility of those you once perceived as immortal. They are just people. Most importantly, you will begin playing with an urgency that often surpasses even them.
The game is close. The game is close.
34. The Music You Listen To Determines Your Success In Life
“Without music, life would be a mistake” — Friedrich Nietzsche
One study found that the type of music you listen to affects how you perceive neutral faces. If you listen to sad music, you’re more likely to interpret people being sad. By listening to positive music, you’re more likely to see happy faces which will influence how you interact with people.
Listening to moderate noise level makes our mental processing slightly more difficult, which leads us to utilize more creative methods of problem-solving. When that music is ambient, we can delve deeper into the wellsprings of neural creativity.
Other research found that your music preference reflects your personality type. For example, they found that classical music fans tend to have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease; and that chart pop fans tend to have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease.
Science highlights the fact that in some cases, silence is not golden. For instance, listening to classical music enhanced the visual attention of stroke patients while listening to nothing at all worsened attention.
Other research found that cyclists who listened to music required seven percent less oxygen than those listening to nothing. Indeed, music can literally change our entire energy, emotion, and motivation in an instant. It’s a powerful and beautiful tool.
You can also use music as a trigger for optimal performance. For example, Michael Phelps had a routine he did religiously before each swimming event involving music. He’s not alone. Many athletes use music before events to trigger relaxation from the pressure and even to psych themselves up.
When asked by Time Magazine about his use of music prior to races, Phelps said it kept him focused and helped him “tune everything out and take one step at a time.” When asked about the kind of music he listens to, he answered, “I listen to hip hop and rap.”
Interestingly, research has found that high tempo music like hip hop can create strong arousal and performance readiness. Other evidence finds the intensity of the emotional response can linger long after the music has stopped. So, while Phelps is in the water swimming, he’s still hyped from his hip hop.
Lastly, research has found that the types of music we listen to impact our level of spirituality. This last point is particularly important to me. Spirituality heavily influences everything I do, from how I interact with my family, to what and how I write, to how I develop and pursue my goals.
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