"We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate"
~ Erica Jong
My brother Jason and I had a brief argument this past week...
Anyone who knows Jason is immediately aware that he is a gym rat and body builder so he believes himself an authority on physical fitness.
Jason and I were discussing the best training techniques when he said that the last set of any weight lifting were the hardest to do.
I countered by saying that for most people... the first set of any weight lifting routine was infinitely harder than any other.
He thought I was crazy until I explained my logic.
Although everyone wants to be working out, nine out of ten people weren’t even at the gym but rather sitting on their sofa... helping their kids with their homework or worse yet... still at work.
Therefore I concluded, feeling confident that I had won the argument, for 90% of the population, it is the first set not the last set. The last set is indeed the hardest to complete... because they never go to the gym in the first place.
I used to know a man, Will, who would say to me (with a straight face nonetheless), that his head was full of great ideas and that he wished that someone would pay him handsomely for access to those ideas...
"Instead of working, I could just join a "think-tank" and develop good ideas for other people to implement", he would often say to me.
I would then just shake my head and reply, "good luck finding that job".
There isn’t a waiter or hair stylist in west Los Angeles who isn’t writing a pilot for a new hit reality show... or a barista in the Bay Area who isn’t thinking of a new killer phone app... or a staff worker in Washington, DC who does have a better way of running the government if they were only President for a few years...
Coming up with great ideas is the easy part... the hard part is actually doing something to make the good idea a reality.
It’s hard because it requires that you take a risk... it’s hard because it takes you away from doing other things you like to do... it’s hard because it takes capital (either yours... or convincing someone else to give you some of theirs)...
For a lot of people the day to start writing that book is "someday"... the day to start that diet is "someday"... the day to start that new company with the great idea is "someday"...
I recently read, Do Something Now, by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, authors of several best-selling leadership books including their New York Times best seller Nuts! - Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Personal and Business Success.
In their book, they describe two different classes of people... players and spectators.
According to the Freibergs, players are those who charge on the field to win... they are the doers... they are the ones in the game... they are creators... they are the risk takers... they are the alphas of the tribe...
Spectators, on the other hand, are those sitting in the stands watching the players play, they are the ones criticizing the game, they are the ones who shrink from their God-given talents. Spectating is easy... there are no risks involved... no skin in the game...
Spectators like to sit around and plan, observe, gather more data, debate the merits of the plan, and then change the plan... they seem to do a lot of work... but somehow nothing ever seems to get done. (Maybe this describes your organization... or an organization that you know).
There is a cost of being a player... that is... you’re always being held up to scrutiny by the cynics... the skeptics... the spectators...
Players aren’t obsessed with consensus... they understand their jobs and they do them... they lead by example... not by committee... sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail... but that goes along with the turf.
Players use their failures as learning lessons... and try to do it better the next time... or the time after that... or even the time after that... because players rarely give up.
Players fight for what they believe in... no matter how scared they are... they understand that courage isn’t the absence of fear... rather courage is moving forward in spite of the fear.
What gives them their courage is believing...
They believe in themselves... the idea... the product... their teammates... the mission.
Most importantly, players believe in doing something now.
Right now is the perfect time to start...
Now there are those readers who might read these words and say, "It’s easy for you to preach... you don’t have young kids in school... you don’t have a mortgage to make each month... you don’t have my problems, my obligations, my responsibilities..."
My response would be... "You are absolutely correct... I don’t have your problems... I have my own problems... and the woman down the street has her problems... we all have our own unique set of issues that we need to find a way to deal with each and every day... that’s called life ".
In life, we can only control two things - our attitude and our effort.
Our attitude comes from taking responsibility for ourselves, our actions, and the countless decisions that we make each and every day.
Attitude is doing your best but knowing that you can do better the next time... that you don’t know all the answers... that you need to keep going no matter what happens along the way...
Attitude is giving thanks for what you have and being grateful for the opportunities still in front of you.
Attitude is graciously accepting the help of others with the tacit understanding that you’ll pay it forward by offering your help to those who want or need some of your assistance.
Attitude is found between the ears... it’s the thing that drives you to new places and help you to reach for new plateaus.
If attitude is found between the ears... then effort is found in your heart.
Effort is getting out of bed each morning ready to start a new day and it keeps you going no matter what obstacles stand in your way.
Effort is trying new things... striving to get better... doing the hard work instead of taking the easy way out just because you can... effort is leaving everything you have out on the field, on the road, in the workplace, at your home...
Effort is your character... doing the right thing, not because you’ll get caught... but because it is the right thing to do.
Effort is showing up early and leaving late. It is leading by example. It is having the patience of being a teacher and the integrity of a role-model.
Effort is doing that last set of reps, the final mile, the last sales call... but more importantly... it’s doing the first set, the first mile, the first sales call... because it’s the first one that takes the most amount of effort.
Effort is doing it today... not waiting for that perfect moment (because that perfect moment will never come)... not waiting for divine inspiration... not waiting for permission... not waiting until tomorrow... because today is yesterday’s tomorrow... and yesterday you promised that you’d start tomorrow.
Lead with your head... but always follow your heart...
...and do something now...
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