The biggest trap I keep falling into

I want to be good at everything. I want to do everything. When I think I have something figured out, I usually want to move to something else.

The chase never ends and I see no end in sight.

The problem is that most business doesn’t work that way. You have to narrow your focus to find success. Being an inch wide and a mile deep is the key. Being a mile wide and an inch deep is a facade.

But I never seem to stop myself from spreading too thin and trying too many things. I think there is something within me that wants to keep learning and mastering new things, but also a little fear that if I do settle on something and it fails, then what?

I preach commitment to myself (and I’ve written about it a bunch on this blog), “burn the boats”, focus like a laser, etc… it’s fun and easy to write about, but much harder to do.

I should probably focus on changing that.

Try to mess something up every day

It’s essential to set goals and even clear visions of how you’ll get there, however, if we focus on results along the way to the end goal, we will paralyze ourselves and kill momentum.

Simply put, analyzing outcomes along the way is what leads to “paralysis by analysis.”

Set the overarching goal and operate like a madman while chasing the goal. Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day wins and losses.

Why are you worrying?

When we worry about things that we don’t control, those things will control us.

You and I are both more effective people, workers, and friends when we worry about doing what we can do and changing what we control for the better.

I have also noticed that I feel more passionate about the things I do when I concern myself with the things I can do better and change while ignoring the things out of my control.

Aspirations, Goals, and Our Habits

We set the goal, but our habits dictate our success.

Our habits propel us toward our dreams and goals, there is no other option.

Either our habits must change to propel us to our goals, or our goals and progress will be changed according to or habits.

Bad habits, bad outcomes. Good habits, good outcomes. Your choice.

Grace under fire

You might have heard of it before. Those people who have that magical ability to remain calm when the pressure cranks up.

It comes down to two things. Accountability and resignation to the thing at hand.

Accountability that no matter what happens you both had a hand in bringing that outcome to pass and also it is only you who can control your reaction to that outcome.

Resignation to the fact that you won’t always win. Sometimes it is a difficult situation or a full-scale meltdown. Either way, understanding that these things happen and being accountable for your role and response will help you respond with class and effectiveness in the toughest things.

Are you living the dream?

Taking photographs of other people, running a YouTube channel, or working that veterinarian job you’ve got may not be THE dream.

But never forget, it is A dream for somebody grinding the 9-5 every day.

On difficult days, I have to remind myself how much of a dream it is to run my own business and have the ability to call my own shots.

Write it down now

I constantly have ideas for the next blog post I’m going to write. Well, except when I sit down to start writing.

I’ve learned that, when I have an idea pop into my head, I must immediately write it down. Notebooks, iPhone notes, bookmarks, even scribbled onto my hand if need be.

I have a nice list of thoughts and ideas now, but it’s incredible how often I have an idea I love and STILL assume that I will remember it in the next ten minutes or so only to realize I’ve completely forgotten what I was thinking about in about 30 seconds.

Write that thing down. Now.

How to get people to trust you

It begins at home. You earn the trust of others by changing your behavior.

If you wish to influence others, change what you do and how you respond.

Trust is earned by the behavior you exhibit, not yielded by the position you hold. It’s that easy and that difficult.

No autopilot

Autopilot is the enemy. You must hate it and fight it, always.

Autopilot is when you cruise through life. Life speeds up and loses meaning.

More importantly, you stop learning, you stop getting better, heck, you're cruising so you're not even trying to get better.

No autopilot. Push harder, work harder, read more, be better in everything.

It’s all about the effort, not the ability or intelligence

I am sure that steady effort is the key to accomplishing anything you want in life. The bigger the goal, the more intense the effort required.

It will be hard and painful, but embracing the grind and doing the work at the moment is essential.

By working hard and overwhelming this struggle, you establish personal self-discipline, mettle, resilience, and the fulfillment of your wildest dreams.

When the mind tells you to shut down, focus on the moment, give no thought to the enemy, defeat that thought and press on.

The hardest work to do…

I write about doing the work that sets you up for success because I know I should be doing more of it. I know it, but I’m still working on committing it to my mind as a true belief, something I can’t help but do.

Building in the dark helps us get to the light.

We must do the small stuff that we’re not sure will work because without it it’s guaranteed not to work.

In baseball, you can’t score 3 runs without getting men on base, but when those men get on base, they don’t know if they will score or not. They just do their job and get on base.

That’s just it. Do your job. Complete the task. Go from point A to B with as much effort and focus as you can. Do that 15x a day. Stop focusing on the goal or what you expect from the task. Just do it. Doing nothing is almost always worse than doing something/anything.

You can’t hit a grand slam without getting three men on base first. So keep focusing on getting on base and let the grand slams happen where they may.

Trying to be perfect will make you worse at what you do

Because you won’t do as much of the good work you’re capable of. You’ll chase perfection and cut off so much you have to offer to others before it has a chance to be seen. You’ll destroy your work and your sanity chasing what is unattainable, this side of heaven.

Being perfect is not perfect, it’s suffering.

Make it beautiful and other passionate moments

There are various things I do for others. Usually either for their approval or out of a personal obligation.

But the little things I do for myself that nobody ever sees are the things I know I love and I’m passionate about. They are at the core of how I operate. They are things I really believe in.

Who cares if I plate my morning omelet in the center of the plate and put the cheese right where it goes. Who cares if the roasted Brussel sprouts are perfectly cut in half? Who cares if the sauce is drizzled over the plate to form the pattern I think is most beautiful? But I want it to be the best I can make it and I want it to look beautiful.

That omelet will be seen by nobody on earth.

Still, I try to make it beautiful. Because I love doing that and it’s something that I do just because I love it.

Find things like that in your life. It’s nice.

Creative drought, burn out, and time moving faster

I go through periods of creative drought every year. I think it’s what people call “burn out”, but I can’t bring myself to admit that that’s what it is.

It does happen every year for 6-8 weeks, though. That’s a huge amount of time.

I’ve been slacking on the work I need to get done, keeping up with email, creating new stuff, working out, completing my morning routine, and even my daily posts here have suffered from this malaise that I have allowed to ensnare me like an invisible octopus living in my head.

I’m almost at a year of writing six-days-a-week and I’ve missed a couple of days so I’m writing extra posts today to fill in the missed days and complete the body of work I set out to do about a year ago.

I’m almost there and I will stay the course and get after it.

Kindness as the modus operandi

It takes self-confidence to assume the default position of kindness.

I’ve been working on making my instant reaction to someone else’s good news or success a reaction of happiness for them, not looking for some way that it can benefit me.

It’s been a few years in progress, but it’s nearly always my initial response these days. It’s a brainwave-straight-from-my-mind-first-thing-I-think kind of level.

It’s easier than being jealous or envious of others and it feels great to be nicer to other people when you genuinely feel it from the inside out.

Start before it's popular

We can get so obsessed with the results which we want that we overlook what it takes to get there. What we really believe will spur us onward to do the work when nobody is looking or giving us kudos for our work.

The work you do in the dark when the audience isn’t cheering you on and showering you with love that will bring you to the promised land you envision. 

It may feel disheartening, but you must keep going and you must believe that your work will matter. (If you do what you do for the "love of the game" you will not experience this as much as somebody who wants fame or money or skill quickly.)

But it takes a real belief in your heart that a culture of putting in the work, working with intentionality, direction, and focus is what you must be doing that will foster a culture of success.

This culture is vital because it forms your real, in-the-moment reactions and responses when things get difficult or when the original plan falls apart.

Retreat is easy when you have the option

Optionality is a great ace to have in your pocket, but too many options will cause a lack of focus and certainly a lack of productive discomfort.

That uncomfortable teetering we do on the edge of failure or success will hone your focus and transform you into a powerful doer.

The feeling of "having options" or having a safe back up plan will do the opposite. So remove your options and force yourself into the uncomfortable places where work can get done.

Like Cortes did when he landed at Veracruz centuries ago, burn the boats behind you, the only way to go is forward.

Chop the log and let the chips fall where they will

Break it down and make things simple. We have this bad tendency to over-think much of what we do.

But life and business both have too many variables to consider every angle. Meanwhile, the opportunity has passed by while we analyze.

They say to "bloom where you're planted" and I say to chop away and let the chips fall where they may. Give your best effort, be honest to everybody, and think good things about people. Then make your decisions and let the chips fall where they will.

The battle is with yourself

It's time to take accountability for your actions. No more blaming others, blaming our circumstances, or defending ourself anymore.

The hunger to build the business or make fresh art after you've had some success is much harder than making artwork trying to find some success in the first place.

You're battling with yourself and trying not to get complacent when things start getting good.

The first win you get is easy, after that it gets harder and harder. Be prepared and demand better for yourself. No blaming others, this one is on you alone.