Read this article as if you were a sleuth… the words I want you to pay attention to is “need to”, “want to”, “have to”, and “should”.
Life is much like a sword play… You can do it… as slash slash or elegantly, economical precise practiced movements, like a dance. 1
I saw something this morning.
I was knocked awake… painfully.
How many things you know how to do, how many things can you do?
Thousands of things.
And how many do you do? Tens, max.
But you don’t do them… you think about doing them. Not even in a planning to do way, but in a “that would be the thing to do” way. Like air guitar, like punching the air pretending to do karate…
Successful people do the things they need to do to get to where they want to get to, instead of thinking about them. 2
You, I, are thinking about… talking about, writing about things that successful people do. Thinking of doing the same ourselves. Building a business. Practicing the guitar. Being kind to someone. Paying attention… etc. Innovating out of some trouble… taking things in stride…
And then when we get to a tight spot, we do slash, slash, slash… and then we weep, complain. And when things calm down we go back to thinking about the things we could do, we should do, other people are doing.
I watch myself doing this every day… and it feels as if I have no power to stop the process… but it is that a sight fear lurks under the conscious level, and it is pulling the strings… render me to do what I have always done… pretty much nothing, except the things I do every day.
At one point in his life, author C. S. Lewis had a rude awakening as he took stock of the progress he thought he had been making. “I am appalled to see how much of the change I thought I had undergone lately was only imaginary,” he wrote. I want to make sure that something similar doesn’t happen to you. You’re in the midst of what should be a Golden Age of Self-Transformation. Make sure you’re actually doing the work that you imagine you’re doing — and not just talking about it and thinking about it.
“There are questions that you don’t ask because you’re afraid of the answers,” wrote Agatha Christie. I would add that there are also questions you don’t ask because you mistakenly think you already know the answers. And then there are questions you don’t ask because their answers would burst your beloved illusions, which you’d rather preserve. I’m here to urge you to risk posing all these types of questions. I think you’re strong enough and smart enough, and in just the right ways, to deal constructively with the answers. I’m not saying you’ll be pleased with everything you find out. But you will ultimately be glad you finally made the inquiries.
The habit of doing nothing is everywhere. Nothing of consequence… that is.
It is so everywhere, you don’t even notice it. It’s like the water for the fish, the air for the bird, mystery.
When all activities are “done” in the mind, and nothing gets done, nothing learned, nothing accomplished.
I watch people, I watch myself. I don’t know anyone for whom money isn’t an Achilles heel. Especially the making of the money… the making more of it.
To make more, it is rarely sufficient to do more of the same, or maybe even better of the same.
You need to do something different. In my case, I need to put myself in front of people, and do it in a different way.
The question is: how many of the hundreds actions needed to accomplish that, could I do now, or practice to do now, or learn to do now? So my life, finally, can move… in reality, instead of just in my head.
Do what’s difficult when it’s easy… but not only in my head.
My hunch is audio or video is missing.
I have known this… and I have domains that would be perfect for that… for example mavencall.com.
Everyone thinks they are a maven, so I could interview people about their work. Then put the videos on youtube…
People who want exposure, because they just wrote a book, because they are launching a course, because … can’t think of other urgent reasons.
But to do that I need to contact people, I need to learn up on what they do, what they want… I need to be curious, interested, and generous.
And unless I start, it remains only a remote possibility I can think about…
And that is how it is… Every project has actions that you can do now, much like wax on wax off in the Karate Kid. Do things when they are easy…
So when you get to the main event, you have the skills already there… you don’t have to learn to dig a well when you are already thirsty.
It is very easy to skip to the hardest part of a project, and say… naaah, I will never be able to do it.
Reality doesn’t work in jumps… everything has myriad parts that can be done now.
Have you been doing such actions lately?
The 67 step coaching program is designed to map out what you have, what you know, what you lack. Shave away wrong knowledge, and shore yourself up where you are weak.
Or, at the minimum, know what you need to do to shore yourself up.
I have seen, for myself, that my weakness in building something big enough is the lack of systems, lack of order, lack of what would make what I do today be able to accommodate a bigger business.
I know I can build systems, because I have. In this business I haven’t done that. It’s easier to just live moment to moment, and complain.
Oh, and it’s easy to tell others how to do it…
PS: If you don’t know what to do and therefore you spend the bulk of your time in your head, or doing mundane stuff, watching television, reading the newspaper or hanging out with people… then here is an assignment I have for you:
Ponder and observe your life.
- What activities that you do, or think you should do, are not integrated into your life? Work, health, relationship, self-growth…
- What activities, what learning, what practice would be easy now, that you will need if you ever get serious about becoming all you can be…Often it is not a what but a how.The only really valuable part of Wallace D. Wallace’s books is the concept: Doing things in a certain way.Doing things in a certain way is a process in which you gradually become able to put all power in all actions. But that is a system… needing to be built, needing to be improved in its every step.My mother was a stickler for doing things in a certain way… I learned the concept of “economy of actions” from her.
Where having a system for doing things makes them, eventually, effortless and graceful, elegant, and no big deal.
Like cooking. Like preparing vegetables. Like never losing your keys, your smart phone. Like always doing things when you said you’d do them. — 3
These can all be systemized.
Most people live their lives doing things the same ineffective way as they have always done. And then they are surprised that they don’t have time, that they don’t progress in life, at work, in a relationship.
Or have systems in one area of life, maybe work, but not in other areas of life.
Systems need constructive thought, and the intention to create something elegant, effortless, and economical.
That kind of thought is as rare as someone without a television, without a smart phone, today.
I don’t know if there is anyone who teaches or coaches creating these mini systems, but if there is… you need someone. Left to your own devices you’ll probably stay the same… instead of becoming a person who does things in a certain way.
It is said that very successful people have rituals. A ritual is a system… it looks like a ritual from the outside… to mystify ordinary folks like you.
- What is your life? The life into which you would want to integrate those parts into… if you wanted an integrated life, that is smooth, like a river. Flows. Not chunk, chunk, chunk, from which you are trying to get back to your “life”.The most important question is: who is the person who is common in all parts of your life? What is he/she up to? What purpose greater than themselves?That is what makes for a seamless life: that person who is the same in every part of life… The person who is so passionate about accomplishing that “impossible” so they create systems, so they can live life in a certain way.
My recommendation is that you start with one practice that you want to master. Is it getting up at the same time? Going to bed routine… Your morning routine?
Checking your phone only at certain pre-determined times?
Reading every day for 30 minutes?
If enough people want to be coached, I’ll start to offer a coaching program for the Certain Way… like I am offering for the 67 steps.
Incorporating the 67 steps into your life, and doing one step every day is something no student of mine has ever accomplished. Why? Lack of organization, lack of system, lack or rhyme and reason.
Reading 30 minutes a day? Ditto.
If you are stuck in a rut, and your life isn’t going anywhere, this is probably the biggest missing in your life. And nothing will change unless you start creating systems… and start living in a certain way.