To Have Continuous Success, You Must Constantly Defeat Yourself
“You control your body. It does not control you. You shut out the fear and emotion and physical stress and you do the thing you dread.” -Tim Grover, Relentless
Your natural state is actually not one of progressive, forward movement.
No — our natural desire is to stay where we are.
We want to become as comfortable and as safe as possible, as fast as possible.
In the ancient words of the philosopher Seneca, “You must persevere, must develop new strength by continuous study, until that which is only a good inclination becomes a good settled purpose.”
Most of us only have the seedlings of good intentions. That’s all they are — good intentions.
Developing and nurturing those seeds into meaningful action is difficult work, and most people never put in the time.
There’s nothing wrong with this default behavior to seek comfort — that’s just who we humans are.
But if you’re an individual who is committed to becoming extraordinary and becoming truly successful, that means you must be willing to constantly go against your nature — to sleep in, to avoid confrontation, to eat nachos and watch Netflix all day — and make progress despite your reluctance to improve.
Over time, this mindset can become “second nature.” You can train yourself to begin “desiring” the more difficult path and the more arduous route.
Once you commit to this way of life, you’ll literally become unstoppable. Because the biggest obstacle in your life isn’t your boss, your job, the economy, other people, or God.
And once you learn to defeat “you,” you’ll achieve success far greater than you’ve ever imagined.
“A noble and godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking.” -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Seek Out Challenges, Obstacles, and Difficulties
In the words of world champion chess player Josh Waitzkin:
“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously.
If left to my own devices, I am always looking for more ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable.
When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid confrontations but to become at peace with it. My instinct is to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.”
This is the voice of a man who intimately knows the benefits of overcoming challenges.
This dedication to seek out challenges (and like it) rather than remain in the safety of comfort can only happen after you witness firsthand the benefit of declining comfort in favor of growth.
This means you need to get started. From now on, obstacles and difficulties aren’t unfortunate punishments of fate — they’re learning opportunities you’re grateful to have.
This mindset has been around for millennia, perhaps most notably in the philosophy of Stoicism. This mindset is grounded on overcoming challenges through cool, calm composure.
“For you, every setback is an advantage, an opportunity for learning and glory,” writes Elif Batuman in The New Yorker on Stoicism.
She goes on: “When a difficulty comes your way, you should feel proud and excited, like ‘a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck.’ In other words, think of every unreasonable asshole you have to deal with as part of God’s attempt to ‘turn you into Olympic-class material.’”
Most people will never become Olympians.
But we can reach Olympic-class levels in our ability to remain poised and practice equanimity in the face of difficult obstacles.
Constantly defeating yourself is an extremely difficult commitment.
But if you start practicing embracing obstacles as learning opportunities that teach you how to become a better version of yourself, you’ll quickly (and I mean quickly) become extraordinary.
Gratitude is the antidote to pain. When you become thankful for your difficult circumstances, they cease to trouble you.
Individuals with this mindset are rare. But then again, achieving true and lasting success is rare, too.
Train yourself to see obstacles, problems, and difficulties as blessings and learning opportunities.
“Within every obstacle is a chance to improve our condition.” -Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way
Prioritize Learning Over Entertainment
“Unsuccessful people choose entertainment. Successful people choose education and learning.” -Benjamin Hardy
“You” just wants to sleep in, relax, and binge watch Netflix.
But you can’t let “you” call the shots anymore.
There is a constant battle that goes on in the mind of every person — the battle to make progress and improve, or to stay in comfort.
For some people, the battle is so one-sided it’s over before it even began.
This goes for both sides — some people have trained themselves to intensely seek out challenges, shying away into safety barely registers as an option.
But other individuals have become so accustomed to their unhealthy diet, toxic relationships, and negative behavioral patterns that only drastic measures could create substantial change.
A helpful way to win this battle is to start prioritizing learning over entertainment.
Said Robert Kiyosaki, “Intelligence solves problems and produces money.” On the other hand, lack of intelligence creates problems and produces emotional, physical, and financial stress.
Achieving your ultimate lifestyle — perhaps this means owning your own business, being 100% financially independent, the ability to never work again — requires a tremendous deal of learning.
It requires an intense dedication to gaining knowledge, learning important lessons, and receiving teachings that add to your wisdom, experience, and education.
Most people don’t realize that the most successful people are also the most well-read, who have invested immense time, money, and energy into self-education.
“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning
Most People Have Plateau’d Without Realizing It
“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” -Leonardo Dicaprio
Ask yourself with brutal frankness:
Are you about the same person you were 6 months ago? 12 months? 5 years ago?
Unfortunately, most people have plateau’d without realizing it. The person they are today looks very similar to the person they were a long time ago.
“Most people change slowly and unconsciously over time. For the most part, these changes aren’t improvements.” -Benjamin Hardy
If they’re being honest, many people are still eating the same foods, working at the same jobs, and plagued by the same fears as they were long ago. Of course, consistency is a strength, but not in the way most people practice it. Being consistent at negative behaviors just means practicing self-destruction.
The reason most people plateau is because they stop challenging themselves.
The person I am today is entirely different than who I was 5 years ago, or even 6 months ago. I feel like I’ve aged 20 years in the last 5. Perhaps you feel the same way.
I’ve read hundreds of books, endured years of intense therapy, started a podcast, wrote eBooks, received a Masters degree, moved to a foreign country, and more. I refuse to plateau.
Here’s an example:
I’ve started playing a ton of pick-up basketball here in South Korea. After a month or two, I realized I could drive by most people to the basket fairly easily and make a layup. But I sucked at jump shots.
The other day, I spent 2 hours practicing my jump shot. I told my wife, “Honey, I’ve decided to practice doing mostly jump shots during games. That means I’m probably going to miss a ton of shots, and that means I’m probably going to lose a lot of games.”
She thought I was crazy.
But I was bored. I had plateau’d in my game, and I needed to get better at something else in order to keep improving.
This is how, as the saying goes, you can become “an old man in a young man’s body.”
Most people have plateau’d without realizing it — in their finances, their workouts, their career, even in their marriages and family.
The key to deeper, more meaningful, and more evergreen success is to keep challenging yourself.
If you’re bored, that means it’s time to become a small fish in a big pond again and learn something new.
In the words of Nicolas Cole, top writer on Quora:
In order to achieve “success,” you need to constantly ask yourself these five questions:
1. What Is My Unique Ability?
2. Am I Still Growing?
3. Am I Taking Care of Myself?
4. What Is the Next Skill I Need?
5. What Am I Most Proud of?
C.S. Lewis once told an anecdote about the process of transformation in our lives.
“Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man,” he said. “It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you.
He will not be made into a man if he can help it.”
We all have a part of us that doesn’t want to move forward.
But if we want to experience true, lasting success, we must defeat this part of ourselves every day.
Call To Action
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— Anthony Moore