Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall
~ Attributed to Oliver Goldsmith
Each Saturday morning throughout the spring and summer, I try to meet up with a group of friends and together we all go on a long bike ride.
The group leaves at 8:30 sharp. So depending on our meeting place, I need to leave my home between 7:00 and 7:30 to ride over to meet my friends.
I’m typically out of bed before 6:00 each morning so I generally have plenty of time to have a cup of coffee, check my e-mail, get dressed, and provision my bicycle with food and fluids.
Yet as mundane and automatic as this might sound, I regularly find myself trying to frantically catch up with the group after they’ve left because I simply didn’t leave the house on time.
This past weekend I told myself that things would be different... I would leave the house on time and start out with the group.
In order to ensure that this would occur, I gave myself a penalty... if I didn’t get to the end of the road before 7:30, I would force myself to turn left instead of right... causing me to ride alone whiling adding another 30 miles to my ride.
On Saturday, even with the self-imposed penalty, I was unwilling to do what was needed to be done to leave early... so I forced myself to turn left and completed a much harder ride.
It’s not that I’m lazy... it’s just that I have a hard time getting started... even if it’s something as easy as leaving the house on a bike ride that I was already committed to do.
Steven Pressfield, author of my favorite book, The War of Art, has a name for it... he calls it "resistance".
Resistance is simply preoccupying ourselves with something else... something much less important than what we should be doing.
Resistance comes in many forms... procrastination... fear of failure... fear of success... perceived lack of resources, knowledge, skills, talent...
In my case, I think of it as inertia.
The term inertia comes from the Greek word, aergia, meaning inactivity.
In 1686, Sir Isaac Newton, first published his laws of motion in his celebrated work Principia Mathematica.
His first law, the Law of Inertia simply read:
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalance force.
Saturday morning I was laying down on the sofa reading all about Brexit on my iPad. I was a "body at rest"... and I would stay at rest until acted upon by a compelling force.
The prospect of not seeing my friends that morning was not a compelling force nor was the thought of 30 extra miles..
Although my head and heart told me I should move... my body continued to stay at rest.
The incident this past Saturday is not an isolated event in my life... or others that I know.
We know that we should be doing something... something important... yet we choose to do something else that completely takes us away from our work.
We sit in front of the television when we know we should be exercising...
We practice the same old songs on the piano instead of learning that new piece or technique... or worse we never play the piano any more at all... although we were once a very accomplished musician.
We read trashy novels instead of learning a new skill that might help keep us employed.
We wait until April 15th to file our taxes, even if we are due a refund...
We never start that novel... that room addition... or our passport application.
There is no need for additional planning... we know what needs to be done... now all we need is to "just do it"...
Now...I know what I speak...
I fight the resistance in my life each and every day...sometimes I win... and sometimes the resistance wins... currently... it’s about 30-70 with the important things in my life on the losing end.
Now mind you... I pack my life with a lot of things... so even with this really bad ratio... it still appears to outsiders that I’m getting a heck of a lot of things done...
...but in reality... I could be so much more productive.
I tell myself that if I just eliminated the distractions and diversions I"d be able to focus on my work... but guess who puts the distractions and diversions into my life to begin with... me of course.
I don"t need to be constantly checking e-mail... participating in social media... or reviewing how many people read my last blog...
Although they are interesting and fun, do I really need to spend time at conferences and walking trade shows?
How many magazine articles do I need to read that are entitled "5 essential things that successful people do"?
There is a growing back-log of incredibly important things on my desk that need my immediate attention... yet I invent new ways each day to avoid attacking the "important" side of my to-do list in lieu of completing the "unimportant".
Now, I’d like to think that I’ve cornered the market on inaction... but in reality... there are millions (if not billions) of people just like me...
These are people who have dreams... they have goals... they have daily to-do lists...
They are the proverbial hamsters on a wheel... running really hard but going nowhere... because they aren’t working on the things that matter...
I truly believe that each of us were put on this earth to do something special... and I trust that most people believe this too. We each have our own higher purpose.
Yet we go on living our lives without making that difference because we never start.
We make promises to ourselves... but those promises go unfulfilled...
We have good intentions... but those intentions are simply paving material on the road to nowhere... good intentions don’t mean squat if we don’t make the conscious effort to act.
Now is not the time for talk... for promises... or for intentions...
Now is the time to be disciplined enough to say I will do what needs to be done.
Now is the time for action... doing what is important right now... beating resistance only for this one moment in time...
We should be able to go to bed each night saying to ourselves, "I accomplished something meaningful today".
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse as we continue in our quest to do the important things in order to protect the world.