Picking Yourself — An Example for My Kids

I want to set an example for my kids of taking risk and not waiting to be picked.

Picking yourself is so much better. No one is going to give you permission to do something. You have to give yourself permission.

I have to give my parents credit for planting this idea in me. They were both entrepreneurs.

My dad set a goal to become a lawyer after an elementary school guidance counselor told him people like him (Mexican boys) become construction workers. He did it. He also started businesses to create jobs for his siblings and even support our family of 5 for a period of time.

My mom owned a gymnastics gym that she eventually sold. That gym is still running today and has been in business since 1991. That is incredible!

They both picked themselves instead of waiting for someone to pick them.

While they didn’t actively teach and promote entrepreneurship, risk taking, and goal setting, their actions planted seeds in me as a young kid.

My dad’s mantra for my siblings and me is “Always do your best.” This doesn’t mean be the best or never fail. It is a message to keep pushing, never quit, and never settle. It is a message that values trying over results and creative problem solving over passive acceptance.

This has stuck with me, and now it’s my turn to pass it on.

When my kids look back on my life when I am gone, they will be able to say their dad practiced what he preached. They will tell the story of how their dad taught them to go for it and how he helped others do the same.

If you want a great book about the importance of picking yourself, pick up a copy of Linchpin by Seth Godin. It’s perfect if you feel like you have great potential, but don’t know where to start.

Quote: Reading Too Much

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

– Albert Einstein

Force and Incentive

You have no right to ask anything of anyone unless you have first given them a great motive to do it.

I wish I came up with this, but I stole it from Napoleon Hill. Who knows? Maybe he stole it from someone else. That’s how these ideas make it to us.

Regardless of where this phrase came from, I believe it is true. Motives are essential.

Think about it. You cannot make anyone do something. You can only make them want to do it.

There are two ways to make this happen, force and incentive.

Force emphasizes what will happen if something is not done. Incentive emphasizes what will happen if something is done.

Force is fear based. Incentive is vision based.

Force leverages negative consequences. Incentive leverages positive consequences.

Force says if you smoke you will get cancer. Incentive says if you stop smoking you will be healthier.

Force says if you don’t get the project done you will be fired. Incentive says if you get the project done well and with excellence, you will get a bonus.

The best motives have a combination of force and incentive. There must be a consequence for inaction (failure to try) and a payoff for performing (completion beyond expectations).

This is true in life. Run from the beast or be trampled. Kill the beast and have food.

The problem comes when force and incentive are lopsided.

You can’t use only force. No one will move with the force is gone. Similarly, you can’t use only incentive. No one will move when the incentive is gone.

Distractions and Value Choices

In order to do great things, you have to focus on the right things.

Here is another way to put this.

If you want to do great things, you have to choose not to waste your time on the unimportant.

We live in a world with infinite distractions.

  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Phone calls
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Bad relationships
  • Our regrets
  • YouTube
  • Advertisements
  • The internet
  • Social pressures
  • Reading this blog

It is easy to waste time with unimportant things.

My biggest distraction is information. There is a reason I call myself a recovering info-maniac.

I read more than almost everyone I know. I tell myself it’s because I am passionate about learning, which I am. That’s my “good” reason. The “real” reason is because I am afraid of failing if I actually try what I learn.

Distractions feel urgent. Checking how many people liked your status or viewed your blog (I am guilty of this) gives us satisfaction. But…it is unimportant. These things make zero relevant impact on our lives.

Does it add value?

Instead, they distract us from what we should be focused on.

  • Playing with your kids
  • Looking your spouse (family, kids, friends, etc.) in the eyes and having a conversation
  • Working on your dream
  • Doing your job
  • Developing strong, IRL (in real life) friendships with people who want the best for you
  • Facing and overcoming your unnecessary fears

Whenever you feel a distraction beginning to take control of your mind, ask yourself this.

Does (distraction) add value to my life and bring me closer to (what I want to accomplish)?

Does checking Facebook add value to my life and bring me closer to developing an incredible relationship with my kids?

Does buying these shoes add value to my life and bring me closer to getting out of debt?

Does reading this book add value to my life and bring be closer to starting the company I have always dreamed of?

If the answer is no. Don’t do it. Wean yourself from the distraction.

I’m not proposing that you never use social media or go shopping. What I am saying is this.

If something doesn’t add value to your life, if it is a distraction that is filling a void instead of fulfilling you, why do it? Why not focus on things that add value and enrich your life instead?

What do you want to accomplish, and what are your distractions?

Quote: Mistakes of Ambition

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.

– Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

Goals, Gaps, and Resolution

I was sitting with by buddy working on a side project last night.

We were both a little frustrated with trying to make something work. Well, he was more than I was. I don’t know programming, so all I could offer was moral support.

Last night we found ourselves in a place we are often in. We were stuck.

Three months ago our project was just an idea with a huge hill to climb. Now it is taking shape.

In order to pull it off, we both had to and continue to learn new skills. Like any new pursuit, we did not know where to start so we just started somewhere.

Caught in the middle

When you are in the middle of a struggle to do something new, you compare what you know to those who have done more than you. When you take a break and look back, you realize how far you have come.

It is so easy to get caught up with what is left to be done. You get laser focused on the gap in front of you until you are blinded its distance.

This is ok. Just learn to recognize it before it paralyzes you.

Remember how far you have come.

Everyone needs a break every now and then. Take some time to chart your accomplishments. Get out a notebook or a journal app. (I love Day One for daily journaling.) Write down what you have accomplished and the lessons you have learned learned. Let everything flow. Don’t edit.

Then go back and read it. You will surprise yourself.

Now, this is the most important part. Share it with someone. For me, there are few things as rewarding as sharing the lessons you have learned the hard way to someone behind you for two reasons.

  1. Helping others is good for your soul. We are wired to serve and help. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll love it or this advise is free.
  2. It gives you perspective. You go from the person with the gap in front of you to the person with the gap behind you. You will find a new appreciate for where you are.

It will resolve.

This morning I woke up to an email from my friend. The answer came to him somewhere in the 30 plus miles between my house and his.

Don’t get frustrated about the work ahead of you. Learn to embrace it. It will always be there. It’s supposed to be there.

Before it breaks you down. Take a moment to look at how far you have come.

Facing Fears and The Next 5 Things

Life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t like.

We hear this all the time. Why waste time with things that make you miserable?

This well-intentioned advice, while true, can leave us with discontent.

Why don’t we act?

Have you ever been incredibly pumped about revolutionizing the way your live you life only to end up doing nothing about it?

What happens? You dream big. Then the hangover sets in. Your dream is so far away from your reality. Taking the first step feels worthless in the context of the distance you have to travel.

I talked to a guy yesterday. He is about to do something very brave. It’s something he has dreamed of since he was a little kid.

“I just hope I don’t end up wasting my time,” he said.

This is a valid emotion. He has failed in the past. He’s struggled with the decision of giving up, pursuing more realistic goals. But…he keeps coming back to this one thing.

We hate the feeling of failure. We don’t want our efforts to be wasted. We don’t want to face rejections and I told you so’s from the critics in our lives. We don’t want to fight the voice in our heads that want us to be comfortable in our current state.

You have to take a step.

Here’s the thing. You can’t get to where you are going without taking the steps to get there.

You have to try out if you want to make the team.

You have to interview if you want the job.

You have risk your comfort and security if you want to start a company, jump out of a plane, travel around the world, or whatever your dream is.

You can’t sit still.

Get over your fear in 4 steps.

This is what you will realize when you do this. Facing fear is easier than you think. You will realize how stupid it is in the first place.

Here are some steps.

  1. Write down the worst thing that will happen if you face your fear. What does total failure look like?
  2. Ask yourself how likely it is to happen.
  3. Write down how you would fix it if it did.
  4. Write down how amazing succeeding would feel like. What would your life be like if you accomplished what you set out to do.

You will realize your fears are exaggerated and the odds of you accomplishing your goal is more reasonable than you think.

Focus on the next 5 things.

Next and most importantly, write down the top 5 things you will do each day to move you closer to your goal. Plan in days and weeks not months and years.

In “No Shortcuts to the Top”, Ed Viesturs (irrational honesty: I completely butchered Ed’s last name when I first posted. It’s not Viespers.) talks about how he broke down climbing the worlds highest mountains. He said instead of looking at the next 100 yards which seemed completely undoable, he would look at a rock ten feet in front of him. Then the next ten feet and so on until he had made it.

Looking months and years down the road is great for dreaming, but it is foolish for planning. There is no way to accurately plan. It will seem too far way anyway.

It is much easier and more realistic to plan your next 5 steps than your next 1000 steps. Break it down.

The most difficult part in all of this is changing our habit of discontent and pessimism. I know. I am a recovering idea guy and info-maniac. I have been replacing the active role of doing with the passive role of reading and planning.

In the end, I just planned my way out of trying because the work seemed too much and too difficult.

What are you next 5 steps? Write them down each day. Then do them.

Originally published at www.scottreyes.com on July 25, 2013.

Facing Fears and The Next 5 Things

Life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t like.

We hear this all the time. Why waste time with things that make you miserable?

This well-intentioned advice, while true, can leave us with discontent.

Why don’t we act?

Have you ever been incredibly pumped about revolutionizing the way your live you life only to end up doing nothing about it?

What happens? You dream big. Then the hangover sets in. Your dream is so far away from your reality. Taking the first step feels worthless in the context of the distance you have to travel.

I talked to a guy yesterday. He is about to do something very brave. It’s something he has dreamed of since he was a little kid.

“I just hope I don’t end up wasting my time,” he said.

This is a valid emotion. He has failed in the past. He’s struggled with the decision of giving up, pursuing more realistic goals. But…he keeps coming back to this one thing.

We hate the feeling of failure. We don’t want our efforts to be wasted. We don’t want to face rejections and I told you so’s from the critics in our lives. We don’t want to fight the voice in our heads that want us to be comfortable in our current state.

You have to take a step.

Here’s the thing. You can’t get to where you are going without taking the steps to get there.

You have to try out if you want to make the team.

You have to interview if you want the job.

You have risk your comfort and security if you want to start a company, jump out of a plane, travel around the world, or whatever your dream is.

You can’t sit still.

Get over your fear in 4 steps.

This is what you will realize when you do this. Facing fear is easier than you think. You will realize how stupid it is in the first place.

Here are some steps.

  1. Write down the worst thing that will happen if you face your fear. What does total failure look like?
  2. Ask yourself how likely it is to happen.
  3. Write down how you would fix it if it did.
  4. Write down how amazing succeeding would feel like. What would your life be like if you accomplished what you set out to do.

You will realize your fears are exaggerated and the odds of you accomplishing your goal is more reasonable than you think.

Focus on the next 5 things.

Next and most importantly, write down the top 5 things you will do each day to move you closer to your goal. Plan in days and weeks not months and years.

In “No Shortcuts to the Top”, Ed Viesturs (irrational honesty: I completely butchered Ed’s last name when I first posted. It’s not Viespers.) talks about how he broke down climbing the worlds highest mountains. He said instead of looking at the next 100 yards which seemed completely undoable, he would look at a rock ten feet in front of him. Then the next ten feet and so on until he had made it.

Looking months and years down the road is great for dreaming, but it is foolish for planning. There is no way to accurately plan. It will seem too far way anyway.

It is much easier and more realistic to plan your next 5 steps than your next 1000 steps. Break it down.

The most difficult part in all of this is changing our habit of discontent and pessimism. I know. I am a recovering idea guy and info-maniac. I have been replacing the active role of doing with the passive role of reading and planning.

In the end, I just planned my way out of trying because the work seemed too much and too difficult.

What are you next 5 steps? Write them down each day. Then do them.