“Every day, check these 4 boxes: Have I improved 1% on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health?” -James Altucher
Small, seemingly inconsistent improvements, made consistently over time, will create huge results.
The problem is, most people are focused on trying to look good, not making actual progress. There are many reasons — inner progress isn’t easily visible, progress is hard, and it’s just easier to look good. Your image is very visible and can get immediate praise.
But when you focus on your outer scorecard —looking good, getting attention, impressing other people — every victory will start to feel hollow. In the end, other people’s praise will never fill you up. If you let other people define success for you, you can never be satisfied.
That’s why you should focus on making consistent progress, not just trying to “look good.” Ironically, you’ll actually start to look good without even trying when you make “progress” your #1 goal.
Make “Progress” Your #1 Goal
“It isn’t so much what you know when you start that matters. It’s what you learn and put to use after you open your doors that counts most.” -David Schwartz
The biggest success happens to those who keep setting higher and higher standards for themselves.
When you’re constantly asking yourself, “How can I do better?” you’ll quickly become better versions of yourself. Entering into the top 5–10% of performers often only requires a few small lifestyle tweaks. You can do incredible things if you make time to do them.
#1 New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss once said there is, ironically, far less competition for big success; most people are content to remain average, so there is widespread competitions for all the average, middling opportunities.
Rarely do individuals invest in themselves so much, they begin to believe big success is possible.
Once you make “progress” your most important goal, every part of you begins to fall in line.
See, progress is infectious.
If you start eating healthier, you start sleeping better. If you have more energy, you start producing better work. When you produce great work, you’re given opportunities to be the best. Soon, you become the best.
If you want truly big success, make “progress” the ultimate priority.
Everything else will fall in place.
The Difference Between Average and Extraordinary People
Average people spend most of their time talking.
World-class people spend most of their time listening.
“Once upon a time, there was a wise Zen master. People traveled from far away to seek his help. In return, he would teach them and show them the way to enlightenment.
On this particular day, a scholar came to visit the master for advice. “I have come to ask you to teach me about Zen,” the scholar said.
Soon, it became obvious that the scholar was full of his own opinions and knowledge. He interrupted the master repeatedly with his own stories and failed to listen to what the master had to say. The master calmly suggested that they should have tea.
So the master poured his guest a cup. The cup was filled, yet he kept pouring until the cup overflowed onto the table, onto the floor, and finally onto the scholar’s robes. The scholar cried “Stop! The cup is full already. Can’t you see?”
“Exactly,” the Zen master replied with a smile. “You are like this cup — so full of ideas that nothing more will fit in. Come back to me with an empty cup.”
Most people walk around as a full cup, so to speak. They think they already know everything; there’s no room for improvement or growth.
This is pride personified. It’s arrogant. It’s like declaring your life is so great you don’t need any help.
In the 12 months after college, I conducted around 30 informational interviews. I would find an interesting contact on LinkedIn I wanted to meet, and asked them to coffee. They almost always agreed.
I was shocked to hear from many of these professionals they had rarely been asked for such a meeting. These were millionaire CEO’s, founders, creators — amazing people doing incredible work, entirely willing to share their knowledge.
And nobody was asking for it!
I gained an immense knowledge in that 12 months. In less than a year, I became decades more knowledgable and savvy than most of my peers.
I saved myself untold years of wandering in the desert because I decided to get the map first. Don’t try to look good — try to learn as much as you can. In a world designed to keep you distracted, any progress is good.
Consistency Will Make You Feel Like a Loser
“Success comes through sustained effort. (The key word in that sentence is not ‘effort.’ It’s ‘sustained.’)” -Todd Brison
If I told you that you needed to write 41 articles before one of them went viral, would you write that many?
How about that you needed to go to the gym 41 times before you noticed any weight loss? Or 41 ask’s before you got your first client?
Most people wouldn’t do the work.
Talented, attractive, lucky people are everywhere. Everywhere. They’re all over my feed, peppered all throughout my community and friend groups. They’re freaking amazing at this one thing.
But rarely is any one of them a consistent person.
That is why eventually, they will fail.
And that is why you will succeed.
Consistent people are extremely rare. If you can learn to cultivate consistency in your work, you’ll eventually beat any talent, luck, skill, and even quality — just by being consistent.
Consistency will make you feel like a loser. All the time you’ll spend working, trying, failing, trying again, failing again, trying again and failing again will make you think you’re a loser.
You’ll feel like a nobody who sucks and isn’t good for anything and should just quit because you’ll never be good enough.
At least, that’s how I feel.
Focus on Your Inner Scorecard, Not Your Outer One
In his autobiography, billionaire Warren Buffet shared the following insight about living a good life:
“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”
When you live your life by an outer scorecard, you give your power to others. “Pleasing other people” becomes your life goal. People are harsh critics; they can be judgmental, blunt, even cruel. Living your life according to their standards is a recipe for an empty, hollow life.
Instead, choose to live by an inner scorecard — doing things that make you happy. Best-selling author James Altucher once wrote, “Only read books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human.” Who care what other people think? They’re not the ones you have to answer to at the end of the day.
Focus on your inner scorecard. Do things that make you proud — don’t do things that make you ashamed, or to please other people. Trying to get everyone to like you isn’t a worthy goal, yet it’s one countless people across the world focus on every day.
Here’s What Happens When You Stop Looking To Other People For Validation
In some ways, we all look to other people for validation. Cute girls, bosses, family members, friends, even strangers walking past us on the sidewalk.
But when you stop looking to other people for validation for your life, something will start to happen:
You’ll begin to feel more free and powerful.
You can’t control what other people think of you. Whether they like you or dislike you, that’s their choice. You can influence their decision by what you say, do, and wear, but ultimately, it’s out of your control. When you spend all your time trying to control something that’s out of your control, you’re bound to see an increase in anxiety, fear, resentment, even depression.
But when you stop letting others validate you and focus on being truly you, you’ll start walking into rooms feeling more powerful and free. You’ll start doing things because you actually want to do them, not because it’d look good on social media.
Not being you will eventually destroy you. Letting others define success for you always leads to unhappiness and an empty, hollow life.
Don’t focus on looking good. Spend all your time making progress and being you.
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