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There will always be someone better at something than you are

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We are often unaware of the struggles that others must face in order to achieve success. As Lee Honda put it, “Success is 99{c6f8bcce09fa93f9e224a421551caa447514b3108dc88f48a0d3c68e1a538278} failure.”

Know that whatever it is you wish to accomplish, no two people, businesses, or ventures are exactly the same. You can’t help but bring a unique perspective to your endeavors and a unique combination of talents and skills.

So even if the field is crowded, understand that you can succeed, too, but in order to do so, it is essential that you put in the effort and take action to achieve your goals.

Getting discouraged at others’ accomplishments and giving up because you feel you can’t compete gets you nowhere.

Constantly comparing yourself to others is waste of energy. There will always be someone better at something than you are.

A wise person once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Don’t let the success of others discourage you from your own endeavors or make you bitter. If someone has done or is doing something you would like to do, let it inspire you and be an indicator that you, too, can achieve great things.

Achieving personal goals series:

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Fueling one’s fire from within

Excerpt from: Motivation & achievement

When one’s motivation is dependent on external sources, the moment those sources are absent is the moment one’s motivation begins to fade. This is because motivation is a state of mind.

And if a particular state of one’s mind is dependent on the availability of things it doesn’t always have control over, it can be difficult to attain the state of mind associated with those things when they’re unavailable.

This is why it’s important to learn how to develop the mental discipline necessary to be one’s own source of motivation.

When one is able to motivate themselves, they light a kind of fire that can burn indefinitely.

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“Do not follow your passion.”

[This was originally written as a response to a post by Wojtek Skalski on Medium.]

Every so often someone likes to challenge “Follow your passion” by suggesting that people shouldn’t (Huffington Post | Wojtek Skalski). And that’s fine.

But it’s important to realize that there is rarely a single approach to life that works best for all people.

“Do not follow your passion.” suggests that countless wise and successful people who have advised it are wrong. And that isn’t necessarily the case.

Because for at least some, follow your passion is the answer.

But whether it involves pursuing one’s passions or not, folks who dispense life advice would likely be far wiser offering open-minded suggestions than absolutes.

Neither is necessarily bad advice. It simply depends on what one’s source of motivation and values are in life.

Success can be defined and measured in many ways.

Not everyone measures wealth with money. Not everyone wants to lead a conventional life. And not everyone has the courage to go after what they truly want.

Whether a person ultimately succeeds at turning their passion into a sustainable career or not, one thing is for certain, they will no longer live with the regret of never having tried.

What is one of the primary purposes of life if not to continually reaching out for newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences?

People who don’t think that involves pursuing one’s passions may be successful at what they do, but at the expense of being truly fulfilled by it.

Video: Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith |TED

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The “perfect” candidate, cause, or product

From personal relationships to business to politics, the person who isn’t afraid to be themselves, make mistakes, and even challenge you, is generally acting with far more integrity than the person attempting to do, say, and convey all the right things in order to win your affection, support or business.

Beware those afraid to show their human side or the work or thought process that led to whatever they’re saying or selling.

It’s probably wiser to consider wisdom from a wise & imperfect person — that acts like a real human being — than it is to take wisdom from a “wise” & “perfect” person that acts like a robot.

The former suggests authenticity. The latter suggests someone trying to hide their true self in order to come across as something that they’re not.

It’s one thing to have the answers, it’s another to have earned them from experience.

Don’t fall victim to those seemingly perfect people or products that cater to your ego or sense of self-worth in order to profit from your patronage.

No one in this world is perfect. There are only people who pretend to be.

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“Screwing up” : Embracing imperfection

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The person who screws up & learns from the experience has a lot more to offer than the person who appears perfect because they never risk making a mistake or appearing imperfect to others.

People who suffer one failure after another — only to ultimately succeed — have a fundamental understanding of experiences that people who get lucky or cheat their way to success never get.

In fact, even people who never achieve the goal they set out to accomplish often have more wisdom to offer about the experience of trying to achieve that goal than those who were able to attain it easily or without effort.

One gains far more from their struggles in life than they do from their successes.

There is a tremendous amount of value in being imperfect.

Forgive yourself and others of past mistakes and, instead, put your focus on where it is of most value, what was learned from them.

Strive for progress, not perfection.

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The road to success

“When your determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success. On the other hand, if you think, ‘This is never going to work out,’ then at that instant every cell in your being will be deflated and give up the fight.” — Daisaku Ikeda

In order to succeed at any goal worth achieving, one must not only be prepared to face fear, challenges, hardships, and failure, one must be willing to overcome each of these things repeatedly.

It isn’t enough to simply try and fail and try again. One must build the tenacity necessary to keep trying long after one’s expectations of success have been challenged beyond imagining.

From the limited perspective one has at the onset of any journey, the pathway to one’s ultimate destination is often far less clear than it’s imagined to be — with a potential “plot twist” lying in wait at every turn.

As such, it’s important to remember that failures and setbacks are as much a part of the process of success as small victories are along the way. And that the road to success is often revealed most by the lessons learned from failed attempts to navigate it without a map.

Every failure in life provides valuable experience that, in turn, can provide illumination on one’s journey. But to reap the most from that experience, it’s important to not allow our failures to discourage us from pushing forward towards our goals.

As the Chinese proverb goes, “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”

In other words, never underestimate the power of persistence.

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Motivation & achievement

It has been said that discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. But knowing what you truly want and why you want it can be as important as the discipline necessary to attain it.

Without a genuine internal desire to accomplish a very specific “something”, it can not only be difficult to do what is necessary meet a goal, it can be difficult to simply find the motivation to get started.

While motivation from external sources such as inspirational quotes, self-help books, or motivational speakers may temporarily set fire to our desire to achieve, these fires are often quick to burn out.

Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

This is a clever saying, but it’s more of a crutch for motivation than an elegant long-lasting solution.

As I’ve said before…

You can read a million motivational sayings to pump yourself up — or echo them to others until you’re blue in the face — but that won’t change anything unless you take action and consistently change your behavior.”

This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with using external motivation as a tool. It works. But the size of the self-help industry is an indication that external motivation doesn’t last.

When one’s motivation is dependent on external sources, the moment those sources are absent is the moment one’s motivation begins to fade. This is because motivation is a state of mind.

And if a particular state of one’s mind is dependent on the availability of things it doesn’t always have control over, it can be difficult to attain the state of mind associated with those things when they’re unavailable.

This is why it’s important to learn how to develop the mental discipline necessary to be one’s own source of motivation.

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” — Stephen R. Covey

When one is able to motivate themselves, they light a kind of fire that can burn indefinitely. And for these kinds of fires to be set alight, one must know what they want and why they want it — even if what one wants is to simply to seek pleasure from something or the satisfaction of accomplishment.

It has been said that 90 percent of success is showing up. I disagree.

I’d say, the largest contributor to success is knowing exactly what you want. The next largest is having the proper motivation to achieve it. And the remaining amount, roughly 20 percent, is doing what is necessary to get results.

(This also complements The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) which states that, in most endeavors, roughly 20{c6f8bcce09fa93f9e224a421551caa447514b3108dc88f48a0d3c68e1a538278} of the work produces 80{c6f8bcce09fa93f9e224a421551caa447514b3108dc88f48a0d3c68e1a538278} of the results.)

Along the way to achieving whatever it is you desire, make sure your mindset is conducive to creating positive thought processes that reinforce your efforts.

Because until one changes the way they think, they will continue to follow familiar patterns in life. An example of this is when people start new endeavors with enthusiasm (or make New Year’s resolutions), but then fail to find the motivation necessary to follow through after obstacles arise.

The fire you light within yourself must not only burn hot enough to stay alight during turbulent times, it mustn’t be dependent on things you have no control over.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” — Les Brown

Create and maintain your own motivation by having a clear understanding of what you want and why you want it and then reinforce your positive thought process to achieve it until it becomes not just a habit, but a way of life.

“Everything you want should be yours: the type of work you want; the relationships you need; the social, mental, and aesthetic stimulation that will make you happy and fulfilled; the money you require for the lifestyle that is appropriate to you; and any requirement that you may (or may not) have for achievement or service to others. If you don’t aim for it all, you’ll never get it all. To aim for it requires that you know what you want.” — Richard Koch

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Relationships 101

Never stop doing the kinds of things that made you and your partner fall in love with each other in the first place.

Many people make the mistake of no longer furthering their efforts once they achieve what they want. Only to then wonder why they lost what they had.

___

Yes, learn from your mistakes, but don’t penalize your current partner for past partners offenses.

Every person you meet has different habits and a different history. The past is not the present.

Give people you meet a chance to demonstrate the type of person they are through their actions not someone else’s.

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Beating yourself up & tearing yourself down.

“My life sucks.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I’m not where I want to be.”

It should be obvious, but even if you’re not exactly where you want to be in life — or you’re unsatisfied with your current situation — beating yourself up over the fact that you aren’t where you wish to be only serves to make things worse.

Rather than help, this kind of negative thinking puts the one person most capable of fighting for your well-being at a disadvantage. It turns you into your own enemy.

You wouldn’t tolerate a friend belittling your accomplishments, rubbing your mistakes in your face, or trying to put you down. So why would you accept that kind of behavior from yourself?

You don’t win an award for seeing how low you can go or how miserable you can make yourself feel.

If you have a tendency to do this, it’s time to stop. It’s time to take note of when your line of thinking is leading you in a downward spiral. It’s time to remind yourself that making yourself feel worse about whatever situation you find yourself in isn’t helpful or necessary and no good will come of it.

“This isn’t helping me. I need to stop thinking this way. I need to stop revisiting these thoughts. I need to focus on something else. I need to remember that, ‘This, too, shall pass’.”

While you may not be able to immediately change the situation you find yourself in, you can change is your attitude about it. And rather than focus on your problems, you can focus on solutions to your problems. Even if the most immediate solution is to stop beating yourself up — because that’s a problem you can solve.

It’s important to remember that success in anything is often comprised of many failures. And comparing your life to others isn’t fair. We are each on our own unique journey. No two people are following the same exact paths in life.

And not only do people rarely make their struggles known, they often don’t highlight their failures either. What you see when you look at others’ lives is often only a fraction of a complete picture.

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steve Furtick

If revisiting the past in your mind makes you miserable or comparing yourself to others makes you feel like a failure, stop doing it. Because no amount of thinking about these things in this way is going to help you. No matter what you do, you cannot change the past.

The only thing you have complete control over is your attitude and how you choose to act in this moment. This moment matters.

Rather than waste time and energy tearing yourself down, use that time to focus on what you want to achieve. Taking steps to stop yourself from feeling worse is a start.

You, more than anyone, have the ability to be your own best friend, it seems a shame to waste that opportunity by becoming your worst enemy.

Retire those tired old dysfunctional thoughts. Push forward with new ones. Be thankful for what you have and work with it and take positive action.

You can be the hero of your life and the champion of your well-being, but first you have fully commit to the role.

And that transformation will only take place after you stop beating yourself up & tearing yourself down.

Don’t give power to your unfriendly thoughts.

*This isn’t about positive thinking or negative thinking. This is about stopping the barrage of unfriendly thoughts that lead one down a debilitating downward spiral that often leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless.

Negative thinking can actually lead to positive change, but it requires that one be in a mental state capable of finding the motivation to initiate that change. There is a huge difference between focusing on self-abuse that makes one’s self miserable and using negative thinking to initiate positive changes.

As I’ve written before, it’s ok not to be happy.

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Leveling up in life

It is a fact of life that once we’ve reached a certain level of comfort in nearly any particular skillset, finding the motivation to further improve — or “level up” — one’s abilities in that skillset can be a challenge.

This is because, after a certain point, we reach a plateau and appear to stop getting results. And although we may try for a while, the struggle to further improve upon something is often fraught with failed attempts.

So instead, where we once saw a consistent path of improvement, we fail to get results.

People often assume that, because they stop improving, they have reached the apex of that particular skillset. It often comes with the thought, “Well, I’m no longer getting any better at this, so this must be as good at this as I will ever be” and they leave it at that. Or, because something doesn’t come easy, “I guess I’m just not very good at this particular thing. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

“I will never be a faster typer than this.”
“I will never be able to perform this skateboarding trick.”
“I will never be able to run a 5 minute mile.”
“I will never be able to paint like the pros.”
“I will never be fluent in another language.”
“I will never be able to play the piano well.”

And so on.

And that’s unfortunate because they’ve just fallen victim to a self-limiting belief. It’s not, in most cases, that they truly can’t, it’s that they no longer make any attempts to try.

Others fall into the trap of believing that if they simply continue to use a particular skill that they are comfortable with enough, they’ll get increasingly better at it.

The issue with that is that after you effectively hit a “plateau” with a skill (or a muscle), any further repeating of the same thing you’ve been doing will no longer yield significant gains, changes, or growth.

And that’s because it is the struggling and working hard, not comfortably, at something that causes one to get better at it.

And if you haven’t made the connection as to why this is important, this not only applies to skills, or strength training, but life as well.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”

It’s also why a wise person once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Joshua Foer, in his 99U talk (video) suggests that you need to “step outside your comfort zone and study yourself failing”.

From his talk description:

“When most of us learn a new skill, we work to get just “good enough” and then we go on autopilot. We hit what journalist and bestselling author Joshua Foer calls the “OK Plateau,” where we have gained sufficient skills for our needs and we stop pushing ourselves.

But experts do it differently. Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.”

So if you want to “level up” your skills & abilities and be outstanding, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

You need to get back to challenging yourself and failing. And learning from your failures and pushing forward despite them.

And, above all, don’t give up until you begin to see positive results. Results being positive changes in your perspective, approach, style, or abilities.

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” — Andy Rooney

Getting Results:

When you don’t get results: Try something else.
If you don’t get the results you want: Try something else.
And if you stop getting results: Try something else.

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From the comments:

Carl: Great post! I have felt like I was at a plateau in my artwork for some time, and this thinking may have been part of it. One needs to examine their process with an eye towards learning how to work smarter, because just taking the same approach and expecting to get better can be just reinforcing bad (or less than ideal) habits that are holding back progress.

While “just doing more work” can lead to unexpected/accidental discoveries that lead to progress (as well as being important for maintaining current skill levels), intentionally thinking about why one approach or another may be better, and trying different approaches to find out what might work better (or finding out what approaches are used by those who are better than you) is likely to be more effective. I need to remind myself of this, more.

Zero: I agree. You can improve simply by doing more work — and have those serendipitous moments (happy accidents), but those, too, are often caused by making mistakes — or certainly by trying something new.

But if you want to improve faster, make more mistakes faster. :)

And I agree with working smarter, not harder — but, in the case of plateauing, it is often our lack of wanting to work hard that keeps us from improving. We’re not willing to make extra work for ourselves when we know of a “shortcut”. But we also never learn what hidden gems are on those long hard roads we fear to take.

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