In my May 2014 review, I talked about how I was in a funk for the majority of the month. That doesn’t mean I was unaccomplished, just much less so than I’m used to, and much less than I’d planned for.
But, honestly, how can I really say, “I was much less successful than I’m used to”? Many of my successes of late have spawned out of new Habits I only just created in March. Perhaps what really happened was: I had a few amazing months followed by one a little less amazing. But the reality of the situation doesn’t change the emotion of the situation. I still got in a depressive funk for the entire month.
You know, we are all our own worst critics. If you really take the time to look at yourself long enough in the mirror, you’ll find things that you’re absolutely unsatisfied with and that you want to change. Dave Ramsey usually talks about financial debt in that manner: “The problem with my finances is that guy in my mirror. If I could just get him under control, everything would be OK.” But the problem is:
- We look in the mirror,
- Desire a change,
- Make a valiant effort to change,
- And then give up after a week when we don’t see any progress
For me, March and April were so full of rapid and dramatic lifestyle change, that a handful of negative experiences in May sent my brain back to looking in that mirror again. And rather than focusing on the changes I’d begun putting into action, my brain concentrated on the man I’d been before that – fearing that I’d stay that way.
- I wasn’t changing as fast as I desired
- Life was moving both too fast (for me to keep up with my goals) and too slow (for me to see the realization of those goals)
- I just wasn’t feeling good, so I stopped pushing myself to achieve, which caused me to feel more discouraged at not accomplishing my goals.
- And because I wasn’t feeling good, I listened to LOTS of Motivational books and speeches (DOUBLE what I normally listen to) to try and break me out of the funk and get me back on the high-speed highway (I thought) to achievement.
But reflecting on things now, I realize that the typical notion about Success is completely wrong – because we’ve learned it from Hollywood.
Success in the Movies
The following is an excerpt from the latest book I’m listening to: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson:
Because we are a culture raised on television and movies, we’ve lost track of time. We don’t understand time any more. I’m not criticizing television and films. Film is an amazing art form, television is a powerful medium, and in the hands of true artists, they can both teach us valuable lessons about life. Just not about time.
Through a great film, you can experience the triumph of the human soul over adversity, the drama of a struggle between doing what’s right and succumbing to the temptations of the world, a moving encounter between generations, the flowering of a powerful romance, the struggle and birth of a nation…
But it all has to be finished in two hours.
Can you imagine a nation being born in two hours? Meeting the person who will become the love of you life-the dating, courtship, romance, struggle, triumph, wedding and life thereafter-in two hours? Of course not. But in a world filled with instant coffee, instant breakfast, instant credit, instant shopping instant news and instant information, we have come dangerously close to losing touch with reality and believing we have access to instant life….
In a film, we never see the little steps, repeated hundreds of times, which create the results. There isn’t time. We might see a quick sequence of steps that conveys a super-compressed sense of the evolution of the thing-the “falling in love montage” in practically every romantic comedy, or the “training sequence” in every sports movie. But there little Slight Edge-like dramas never last longer than thirty or forty seconds!
In real life, everything important happens through time. Success, remember, is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. All generations born since the advent of television (and especially since the rapid-cutting style of MTV stepped up the pace) have a hard time grasping that. Which is one reason the Slight Edge is more important than ever.
Success in Real Life
The premise of The Slight Edge is virtually the same as The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (and I highly recommend both books). And a third book by John Maxwell, Today Matters, can give additional insight into the concepts developed in those two books:
- The Slight Edge says basically, “Everyday’s choices give you a ‘slight edge’ – either toward accomplishing your goals, or moving you farther away from them. Over TIME, your ‘slight edge’ will turn into a major advantage or disadvantage.”
- The Compound Effect says, “The choices and actions you make today will have a ‘compound effect’ on your life – much like compound interest in the bank. You won’t notice it much at first – probably not even for a few years, but over TIME, the results will be extraordinary.”
- Today Matters says, “And that’s why Today matters. It’s about making and then managing the core decisions that define who we are and that over TIME will determine our Success in Real Life.”
The Importance of Time
The following quote from Jim Rohn illustrates why Time is such a big deal:
A patient man is always richer than an impatient one, even if the patient man has less money. Why? The patient man can always afford to wait. The patient man is never desperate. The patient man has time to spare. While the man in a hurry is always on the verge of bankruptcy as far as time is concerned.
All of that above is a pretty good descriptor of me in May.
- I felt bankrupt of time.
- I was expecting a powerhouse “Eye of the Tiger” montage to carry me through the month on its shoulders.
- And I forgot that life is full of unexpected surprises that come – not to set you off track, but to test your character, perseverance, and staying power.
In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olsen also talks about another important product of time that many of us have all but forgotten about:
There is a natural progression in life, which everyone knew intimately back in the days when we were an agrarian society. You plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest. Plant, cultivate, harvest.
In today’s world, everyone wants to go directly from plant to harvest. We plant the seed by joining the gym, and then get frustrated when a few days go by and there’s no fitness harvest. Taking recreational drugs IS an effort to go from plant directly to harvest. So is taking steroids to enhance athletic performance. So is robbing a bank; so is playing the lottery.
The step we keep overlooking (and overskipping!) is the step of cultivating. And that, unlike planting and harvesting, takes place only through the patient dimension of time.
Give Yourself Some (More) Time
Everything worth doing requires more of it. Remember that most people just give up too early. Consider again the principle of a penny doubled every day for a month.
- After 1 week, you’ll have $0.64
- After 2 weeks, just $81.92
- After 3 weeks, $10,485.76
- But it won’t be until the last THREE DAYS when you finally break (and then smash) the million dollar mark.
Or consider another example if you don’t believe that doubling something every day is possible (another example from The Slight Edge):
Imagine increasing your personal effectiveness by merely 3/10 of 1% every day. That’s only an increase of 0.003 every day. Think you can do it? Now, do that for a year, and you will be 109.5% better. You’ll be a completely different person in just a year even if you only increase by 0.3% every day!
Time is the key to Success. But every day matters. TODAY matters. Imagine how much longer the previous examples would take if they weren’t a DAILY thing.