Wait but why? For what purpose? Below is one of the greatest and most eloquent reminders to enjoy the process and perpetually ask yourself, “To what end?” If you’re solely focused on the future, with no appreciation for the present, you’re all success and no happiness. If you’re fully present with no regard for the future ever, you’re all happiness and no success. Life is a rigorous balancing act, and if you’re anything like me, you lack the latter – overemphasizing the future at the expense of your happiness and presence.
Don’t get swept away in the American mania. Delayed gratification in pursuit of a worthwhile goal is noble. Grinding yourself to the bone and transmuting yourself into a miserable wreck as you chase (probably) someone else’s dream is not.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” – Jerzy Gregorek
Enjoy this short story and use it to add awareness to your direction, purported destination, and how you are managing the process.
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
Yesterday I got off a two-hour sales call that should’ve ended in half the time, and he didn’t purchase, meaning I lost and utterly wasted my time. But did I? In fact, I chose to keep the call going, knowing fairly well he was dead-on-arrival, because I was truly enjoying the process (/and his amusing squirrely ass). If you’re doing the right things in aggregate, why fret about the micro setbacks and self-perceived losses?
Easier said than done, but why not try to build this mindset? Even if you don’t give a damn about presence and happiness, and really only care about accomplishing your goals, this will still help you – high energy, optimistic people are more effective at life (don’t just take my word for it, read The Magic of Thinking Big).
Once you’ve rationalized that you will reach your end destination, if there is such a thing, you’re liberated to freely layer in mindfulness and appreciation along the way.
Find you motivator and make it happen. Mine is health. Gratitude and daily mindfulness = better health. The fact that it also allows me to be more productive and effective is simply a welcomed additional perk.
What’s your fish IPO and how are you faring in the process?
P.S. Though you’ve likely seen this, a highly recommend complement to The Story of the Mexican Fisherman: Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen
Unless you’re a complete Luddite, you’re probably spending a good portion of your day on the computer, phone, tablet, or any other addictive Apple-shaped device. If you’re anything like me (and for your sake, I really hope that answer’s no) then you get overly excited about any add-on, app, or extension that saves you time in any capacity – be it through blocking ads, speeding up recordings/videos, auto-filling, etc. This list will continue to grow, but for now I wanted to share with you a few low-cost or free apps or extensions that will give you an immediate return of your time.
This free Chrome extension revolutionized the way I spend/waste time on Youtube: 100% Youtube ad elimination. No more annoying retargeting ads chasing you from something you mistakenly glanced at a day before. No more Tai Lopez video ads haunting your consciousness. The wonderland of Youtube is now that much decluttered for you. Watch, learn, and motivate yourself, without the wasted time and distraction of paid ads.
Enounce lets you speed up your videos to save time (or slow down if beed knee). Certain video hosting platforms like Youtube let you go up to 2x max speed, and other platforms don’t let you change the speed at all. Enounce lets you modify the video speed in increments of .10 up to 3x and beyond. Trying to drag yourself through an online training course a bit more quickly? Done.
TextExpander lets you quickly autofill anything of your choosing. You can use it for the easy wins that you type on a daily basis, like your email. It’s 100% customizable, so you could program “;em” to autofill <your-email>. Single words won’t be a landslide victory (although I’m lazy enough to consider those a great moral victory) so it’s better to use TextExpander for whole sentences or paragraphs. Is there any phrase or paragraph you frequently use in your job? How about, “Thank you Mr. Customer/Prospect for being kind enough to emphatically reject my initial offering/message. May I interest you in our second best offering? It’s slightly worse with these hardly noticeable differences.” My botched humor aside, you get the point: make it work for you. Identify anything you do manually on a repetitive basis, and automate it.
Simple, actionable, easy wins. Low cost and time to implement, yet high and enduring yield. What are your favorite time-saving apps and/or extensions?
Some people have dreams, better people have goals. Facetiousness aside, we’re about being practical and action-oriented, so I will hereafter use “goals” to loosely refer to goals, ambitions, end outcomes, dreams, etc.
So what’s the problem?
“If you can dream it, you can do it!” Yay for motivational platitudes! Or how about, “It’s all about the grind, grind-grind-grind, you have to love the grind.” Again, motivational and goal achievement common speak utterly devoid of practical know-how or intelligent adjustments toward your goals.
There’s a time and place for all that stuff. In fact, if you like the rah-rah, I suggest you peruse through Instagram and land anywhere. For now, let’s review more of a checklist approach to see what you can add or eliminate to tangibly move the dial in the right direction. Your goal could be hitting X $/month in supplemental income, hitting your next fitness personal record, or quite literally anything that matters enough for you to concretely write it down and focus on.
Painfully obvious yet frequently overlooked. What is it that you want? What lights you up inside to give you the sustained motivation you’ll need to stick with it until fruition. If it’s a nice-to-have, it’s not happening. In the wise words of Derek Sivers, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” -Lewis Carroll
If you want 10 things at once, join the club, then decide which one or two are most important to you. Once you establish your end outcome, you can move on to reverse-engineering the smartest and most efficient way to get there, fueled by the requisite motivation and intention.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” -Viktor E. Frankl,
Bar none, the best way to springboard yourself toward your desired outcome is finding and modeling after the right mentor, coach, or example. Nothing novel here, but what people don’t emphasize enough is the criteria to find the right model or mentor. For such an important question, the answer is remarkably simple; the best mentor or person to model after is someone is a) is currently doing what you want to learn and b) is doing it well and at a level to which you aspire. If you miss one of those, you’ll likely (not always) run into trouble. They have to be in the weeds of the business/activity NOW, to be up-to-date enough to be able to help you, versus. them spewing out antiquated information that worked for them in a prehistoric period. The other criterion is a bit more self-explanatory: if they haven’t achieved the results you want, for themselves, how could they possibly teach you or get you there? The frequency with which I’ve seen pudgy trainers training someone skinner is both disturbing and perplexing. #NoJudgements
Modeling after success applies to almost anything. Marketing 101 will teach you to swipe or model after advertisements and campaigns that have already proven to be successful. You rarely, if ever, have to reinvent the wheel. Figure out what’s already working, or who’s already figured it out, and start following what got them there.
If you can’t find or afford the right coach, keep looking, but let’s move on to the next best thing: reverse-engineering the goal. Consider all the possible activities that could inch you one step closer toward your desired outcome, and pull out the 80/20 – the 20% of the activities that will result in 80% of the total positive impact. You could do a lot of things, but only a few will make the most difference, and they tend to be the most obvious and mundane. For example, if you wanted to get a handle on your health, you could cycle through 30 different protein powders and supplements, or you could simply cut gluten and sugar, and get enough sleep. If our friend Pareto isn’t giving you a clear answer and you don’t know which are the 80/20 activities, here’s another question to consider:
“Which one of these, if done, would render all the rest either easier or completely irrelevant?” Timothy Ferriss, Tools of Titans
Now that you have identified the highest leverage tasks, it’s time to obliterate all the noise in your way to perform at your peak. Near and dear to my heart, we have…
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” – Greg McKeown, Essentialism.
In a world inundated with notifications, social media, and instant messages, we’ve conditioned ourselves into a culture of expecting immediate responses and engagement on a 24/7 basis. This is fabulous for OPA (Other People’s Agenda) but detrimental for you accomplishing anything of value, beyond the facade of busyness. Clear the path so that you can execute your highest leverage activities on a daily basis with consistency and quality. What you eliminate or subtract is equally if not more important than what you add in to achieve your expressed goals. This elimination process requires perpetual revisiting and constant reassessing of what is on your schedule or in your way hindering you from executing with clarity, ease, and focus, yielding Flow. Distraction= person, place, or thing that doesn’t directly bring you materially closer toward your stated goals.
Here are a few common distractions to help you get started:
The path has been cleared, you know what you need to do, and why you are doing it. There a few theories (pre-calendar/timeslot everything, Pomodoro Technique, etc.) of how to execute most effectively, but the bottom line is to find a way to get the activities completed by the end of the day. I recommend you make your execution process a habit or routine, so you don’t waste cognitive resources each day deciding when/where/how you will complete your tasks (adding yet another barrier to achievement).
Be honest with yourself here and figure out what it’s really going to take for you to accomplish your day with consistency. Who do you need to talk to, what do you need to see or do, to put yourself in the focused and motivated frame of mind to get it done. If watching re-runs of Rich Froning makes you feel like a sufficient POS (piece-of-shit), compelling you to step it up, then I’m not (self-)judging.
Have a written list, on paper or via digital notes/reminders, and check it off each day. If you want more help coming up with the list or inspiration, check out Andy Frisella’s “Kill It Every Day” podcast episode.
I’ve observed a war between the “work smarter not harder” and the “grind until Gary V is proud of you” crowds, so if you implement Step 2 and Step 4 here, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Ready. Fire. Aim. Like any plan, you must reassess and make minor or even major modifications along the way. Again, as is evidently the answer for everything, the answer is balance; you can’t give up before you ever had a chance to succeed/improve, but you also can’t work yourself to death ignoring the signs along the way that you’re doing something dead-wrong. Can you find a better mentor/coach? Can you automate something with software that you had previously delegated or were doing yourself? What other variables can you manipulate or test to prove out a more efficacious path?
“You’ve learned the Ultimate Success Formula: Know your outcome, develop the sensory acuity to know what you’re getting, develop the flexibility to change your behavior until you find out what works—and you will reach your outcome.” – Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power.
I interpret the, “develop the sensory acuity to know what you’re getting,” part to be Tony’s nice way of saying don’t be a complete imbecile by disregarding the writing-on-the-wall information if something either worked or didn’t.
Test, re-test, persist. Along the way, you can pad your ego from others by telling them you’ve “pivoted” or “changed strategies” to mask your failed experiments. Repeat this entire process, moving up the food chain on to bigger, more impactful, and more challenging projects until you no longer want to grow or until you D.I.E., whichever comes first.