People are afraid to try
When you try, you introduce the possibility of failure. You can fail for various reasons, but they all mean the same thing: either your effort, knowledge, or skill was lacking.
Rather than confront this reality, most people are content to let things happen and see where they go simply. If you do this, you can never fail because you never really try.
A life like this has no purpose.
It’s a life spent wandering, constantly reacting, moving from crisis to crisis, forever on the back foot. Sure, some good things may happen, but if you aren’t trying to make them happen, you won’t recognize them when they do.
The simple way to avoid a life of despair is personal ownership.
Not your fault, but it is your responsibility
It doesn’t matter what’s happened to you. All that matters is what you’re going to do about it.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% of how you react to it.” You don’t get to pick a lot of things that you have to deal with, but you do get to pick how you’ll deal with them.
This, by itself, determines the outcome of your life more than anything. The same hot water that softens the potato hardens the egg. Will you be the potato or the egg?
Intentionality + Responsibility = Practical solution for excellence
Set an objectively measurable goal. Lately, it’s become a fad to prioritize systems over goals. I believe this type of thinking appeals to the type of people I described in the first part of this email. The ones afraid to try.
If you always focus on your system, you never have to face when things aren’t working because you aren’t trying for a goal. By telling yourself that you’re just tweaking the system, you can justify your failures and shortcomings.
The system is in place to help you reach the goal. Not replace it.
You improve the process to improve the outcome, but without an outcome, you have no idea if the process has improved. Measurable outcomes provide viable feedback to improve decision making capabilities.
Either way, you need a goal. Set it.
Hold yourself accountable. I’m not saying you need to beat yourself up if you fail to achieve a desired outcome. Feeling sorry for yourself is worse than never trying at all, because at least if you never try, you don’t have any memories of how bad you made yourself feel when you were unsuccessful.
In the military, after every mission, the leadership produces something called an “After Action Report” (AAR). It’s a written report that details what happened, with key observations and lessons learned.
The report is neither critical nor congratulatory. It’s just a breakdown of what happened, how it happened, and an analysis of the factors that contributed to the outcome.
Don’t let that be an impediment to implementation. Also, don’t use this as a way to distribute responsibility to other parties. Only focus on your actions.
The power of accountability partner
If all of the above is difficult, consider getting an accountability partner.
On the surface, this concept seems simple: this is someone who checks in on you to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to hit your goals. That, by itself, is better than what most have. Especially people entrepreneurial or creative types who tend to go at projects alone.
However, a true accountability partner is also someone that you can bounce ideas off of.
They can help you see faster ways to reach your goals, optimize your systems, and—perhaps most importantly—help you avoid mistakes that you may miss due to your proximity to the project.
A true accountability partner is like a mastermind, mentor, and confidant. They aren’t your friend. They’re your ally.
They aren’t there to help you to feel better about the losses or gas you up when you win. They’re there to help you learn from the former and build on the latter.
If you’re a solopreneur, creative, or anyone wants to start getting better, learning from the mistakes, and they need outside eyes to do it, get an accountability partner.
I got one this past month, and I’ve made significant strides in my content output, my media outreach, deciding what to focus on, and even handling things around the house with my new son and moving.
I recommend Commit Action, a company that specifically trains people to be accountability partners. Less than 1% of people who apply are hired and many more don’t make it through the training.
Based on a fairly detailed questionnaire, they match you to someone who is the best fit for your personality, goals, and particular challenges. The service isn’t particularly expensive either, especially considering that you’re in direct text communication with someone who will hold you accountable, keep you on track, and legitimately cares that you reach your goals.
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I’m a former heavyweight pro-boxer (13-1-1) and alcoholic (Sobriety date 12/23/13), current writer, and aspiring chess master. I was raised in the projects by a single mom and failed high school, but I eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics.More Stoic Street Smarts Newsletters!