If You Don’t Use It, You’ll Lose It


If you don’t continually hone your mind and body, they become foggy and flabby.

What happens to a garden if you stop tilling the soil and weeding it? It gets overrun and disheveled.

Is there ever a point you can stop nurturing the ground? Even after you’ve planted beautiful plants and removed all entanglements? Obviously not. But there are deeper truths embedded in this idea.

Ideas that go counter to most of the fundamental assumptions of Western Ideals.

Firstly, it’s important to realize that NOTHING is permanent. Everything is in a state of movement, even if you yourself are stagnant.

Identity Follows Choice

Your identity is not fixed. You don’t have some personality you were born with that remains the same. Like a garden, your identity is either becoming more polished and refined, or more entangled, confused, and distracted.

Your identity does not produce your behavior. Your behavior shapes your identity. You are responsible for who you become. You are the designer of your personality.

In the brilliant book, The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves, author Annie Murphy Paul explains, using plenty of hard evidence, how personality tests — our Western obsession — are dooming us to failure.

Western thinkers are obsessed with isolated variables and fixed traits. We fail to realize the continually altering context that shapes and re-shapes those traits and variables. There are no permanent traits, but continually changing STATES.

Then why do we see such regularity in our behaviors and attitudes? According to Stanford psychologist, Lee Ross, “We see consistency in everyday life because of the power of the situation.”

Ross further posits that ultimately, it’s the situation and not the person, that determines things. “People are predictable, that’s true… But they’re predictable because we see them in situations where their behavior is constrained by that situation and the roles they’re occupying and the relationships they have with us.”

Supply Follows Demand

“I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.” — William Durant

Most people believe they have a fixed and permanent identity and personality. They overvalue and rely on such things as personality tests.

They don’t put themselves into situations of high demand that force them to become something fundamentally more and different than they currently are.

You can put yourself into a situation — mentally and physically — where the demands are high. This is a very potent cocktail for forward movement.

You need both: the internal and external to pull you forward. The internal and external are two indistinguishable parts of the same whole — not separate.

Internally, you need a white-hot WHY. As Friedrich Nietzsche wisely said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Thus, the advice to “live within your means” is actually quite terrible advice when taken to its logical conclusion. Rather than living within your means, you need to DECIDE what you need, then let the means come to you. They will come once you’ve fully decided what you seek. To quote Rumi, “What you seek is seeking you.” Once resolved and committed, “the universe conspires to make it happen” as Emerson put it.

Externally, you need a situation that has enormous demand. So much demand that the supply comes, both from you and from external factors. When you’re clear on what you want and why, magic happens. Dreams become realities. Faith becomes sure knowledge.

Inspiration Follows Action

But where does this clarity and purpose come from?

Again, here Western culture generally has it backwards. The common belief is that inspiration creates action, when the opposite is more true.

Action creates inspiration.

Forward progress creates motivation.

Bold action reshapes your conscious and subconsious patterns.

Action generates the best thinking, because positive action creates inner confidence — which is the soil for positive thought.

Paralysis comes from analysis. As author and performance coach, Tim Grover, said, “Don’t think. You already know what you have to do, and you know how to do it. What’s stopping you?”

You know enough. The reason you’re mentally blocked, demotivated, and confused is because you’re not acting.

Behavior shapes identity.

Behavior shapes ideas and motivation.

Begin acting well.

Create situations that FORCE you to act well. Situations of such extreme DEMAND that trigger both an internal and external SUPPLY to match the demand. When the why is strong, the how develops organically. The most clever and bold strategies come when the demand is high. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The WHY becomes strong as you act. You must act. That is where your freedom lies. When you act, the ideas will come. As you continue to act, more ideas will come. The bolder the action, the greater the shattering of subconscious patterns — opening the window for better and clearer thinking.

Creativity Follows Creation

As you act, you’ll get an inflow of thoughts and ideas. You’ll then need to turn those ideas into tangible creations for the use and benefit of other people.

Inspiration doesn’t lead to creativity. Creating things leads to inspiration, which then generates a greater desire to create. The quality of your ideas come from the quality of your choices. Every choice generates like offspring of thinking and ideas. Hence, success begets success. Creativity begets even greater creativity.

Behavior shapes identity.

Behavior shapes ideas.

Put yourself in a situation that demands your greatest behavior. Then watch as a seemingly endless supply of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic help aids you.

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