Those Bullshit Excuses

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”The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”Jordan Belfort

We always have excuses. Not enough money. Not enough time. Being too old. Being tired. Not having the skills. I could go on and on. I could find a thousand of bullshit excuses. During the last 4 months, I’ve postponed writing something for the simple reason that I was telling myself that I didn’t have enough time.

Really? In all honesty, I had time to watch tv, play video games and lose my time on internet. In the end, we choose what we really want. We choose that we are too tired. We choose that we don’t have the skills. The universe doesn’t use magic against us. It’s all us. It’s our damn choice.

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The Next Chapter

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“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)

Deep inside, we fear change. We are afraid of going out of our comfort zone. Why do we feel that fear? It’s because what comes next is unknown. We can’t predict the future, therefore we cannot anticipate the chaos and turbulence that could happen in consequence. Still, it’s critical for each individual to embrace change.

Societies has evolved through time with revolutions, inventions, wars, new ideas and big changes. We aren’t where we are today because of stagnation. We are here because some people did it. They went beyond their threshold to make the human race evolve.  Without changes, we would still be in the stone age.

It’s the same for each and every one of us. We need to confront fear. We need to go beyond the comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow. Stagnation was never the answer. Make the next chapter happen, whatever it is.

Start and Ignite

No matter what we say, starting is essential. Without the start, nothing will get finish. Look at all great works around you, they most likely comes from a small first step. That little step is most often the most difficult. We have ideas. A lot of them. But, fear and resistance keep us from going forward. I’ve had the fear of the start for a very long time. I was always waiting for the perfect moment. Their will never be a perfect moment. I couldn’t handle the idea failing. In Poke the Box, Seth Godin explains that pattern:

Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.

Did you know that the game Minecraft was started as a sideline? I can bet that Markus Persson didn’t know that one day he would sell it for 2.5 billions dollars. Without starting, the game would have never happened. Nobody has a clue of what they start will be a success or failure beforehand. We can’t predict the future. One thing we can be sure about, starting will increase your chance of success. On the other hand, waiting will decrease them.

You must repeat to process of starting and failing on and on. Worst case scenario? You will fail. Nothing dramatic about it. We are feed with stories of success, but we rarely see the thousands of attempts that lead to success. There is no magic formula. A dynamite will never explode if you don’t commit to start and ignite it.

The Five Minutes

A little can make a big difference. George Leonard expressed that idea in a similar fashion in his book Mastery. For him, the five extra minutes of work his the chief difference between an amateur and a master. In other words, “the five minutes” means giving the second effort.

Think about it. You want to learn cooking. If after each time you try a recipe, you give an extra five minutes to write about it. What was good. What went wrong. What you could improve the next time. Those extra five minutes in 10 years could be worth gold.

What are your five minutes?

Unbreakable

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There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. – Malcolm X

We often look at the best like they never have any struggles. We imagine that they have a kind of magic aura, that nothing can defeat them. The bests aren’t gods, they are humans just like us. They have known countless struggles in their journey, They have tasted defeat. George ”Rush” St-Pierre, the ex UFC welterweight (170 pounds) champion, isn’t an exception. GPS’s career had his ups and downs. Let’s rewind to November 2006. At that time, St-Pierre had the chance to face Matt Hughes for the championship belt. St-Pierre gave a brilliant performance and won a remarkable victory over Matt Hughes by way of knockout.

GSP was now at the top of the world. He was the undisputed champion and the best welterweight fighter on the planet. The wind was in his favor. His future was really promising at 25 years old. He was young, popular and good-looking. He had truly everything. It was time for celebrations and it’s exactly what George did during the months following his conquest. GSP was living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. For his first title defense, he would have to face Matt Serra. His adversary was a total underdog. He didn’t even had an impressive record. It was considered a piece of cake by George. The fight wasn’t hyped, people thought GSP would easily beat Serra. Matt Serra even said in an interview that he felt out of place being in the same cage as GSP.

That night of April 7th 2007 in Houston will forever be in GSP’s head. Against all expectations, Matt ”The Terror” Serra gave St-Pierre the beating of his life. It is seen by far as the biggest upset of the UFC history.  What were the odds for that result? What went wrong? GSP didn’t make any excuses for his bad performance. Many years after the event, it was said that GSP wasn’t prepared for the fight mentally. He had many distractions leading up to the fight, one of them being his father death. The other being that he disregarded his opponent. Serra took everything from GSP that night. He let a bittersweet taste in St-Pierre’s mouth that would last for a year.

It could have been a downfall from their. It isn’t unusual to see good fighters crumble after a reversal of faith like Serra vs St-Pierre (see football player Tim Tebow).  During the succeeding months, GSP had to learn what it meant to truly be unbreakable. He had to face himself in the mirror. The only thing he was thinking about was vengeance against Matt Serra. He was completely numbed by that desire. He wasn’t thinking about his actual next opponent: Josh Koscheck. The truth? He wasn’t ready. He realized his mistake after meeting with a sport psychologist. He talked about that critical moment in his book  Way of the Fight. The psychologist told him that he was carrying a brick. That brick was Matt Serra. As long as he would carry that brick he wouldn’t be able to be himself again. He told GSP to write the name of Matt Serra on brick and carry it. When I would be ready to embrace his future, he would have to throw the brick in the river. And that’s exactly what George did.

GSP choose another path. He understood that he was defeated, but he wasn’t destroyed. He knew that he hasn’t said his last word. He made the decision that he would learn as much as possible from that defeat. Never again that situation would happen. He would be back and nothing would stop him. After that understanding, GSP consecutively defeated Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes in the following months. He was once again on the path of glory. The 19th April 2008, GSP was back in Montreal. It was time for GSP vs Serra II. Face to face with his nemesis. He finally got the chance to redeem himself from that painful night. St-Pierre came to fight with a killer instinct. He took back his lost prize in a devastating fashion. After that fight, GSP went undefeated for 5 years until his retirement from competition in 2013. He was unbreakable until the end.

Always the Hard Way

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We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”John F. Kennedy

Human is lazy by nature. We are triggered for the easy stuff. It’s not a surprise that it’s more difficult to wake up to go for a run than staying in bed. Unless we impose ourselves to go on the harder path, we won’t fall on it by luck. You can find yourself on the easy way without even knowing it. Just look at your life and you’ll most likely see areas where you’re avoiding hard work. I’ve found that the hard way can be tricky. What used to be a zone of danger, can become the new comfort zone. Therefore, even in the improvements that we achieve, we will find a way to keep to status quo.

One of my best personal example, I’ve set a goal to read much more during the past three years. This year, I will be near the double of my last year number. It’s ten time bigger than it was 5 years ago.  I’ve notice that the more I’m reading, the more I tend to go for books that I’m comfortable with. I’m plainly avoiding the hard way. I know I should be reading thick books like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Last Lion Trilogy or War and Peace. In the end, they would give me much more benefits and knowledge. That’s why I’ve started The 48 Laws of Power that was in my bookshelf for years. That’s why I’ll get into The Selfish Genes after even if this is the kind of book that isn’t easy for me.

I did the same pattern in the gym for a few years. I was avoiding the most difficult. I was skipping deadlift and squat. Plain and simply because they are difficult and painful exercises. The truth is that it was what I needed the most to do. What we tend to avoid is most likely what we should be doing. I’ve avoided having a real weightlifting plan before stumbling upon 5/3/1. It was way easier to write my own program and build it around my skills. Doing more of the easy, doing less of the difficult. 

You can see through history than many people had success by taking the hard way. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the hard way when he has decided to move to America. He left Austria, his friend and his family behind. He wanted to be a professional bodybuilder and that’s what he did. Without that move, maybe we wouldn’t even know him today. Taking the hard way lead him to take it again and again. It became a habit for him. Watch Pumping Iron and you’ll someone who is embracing the hard way. Doing Hollywood movies with english as a second language isn’t the easy way. We could say the same for becoming governor of California. All his life turned around doing hard things.

You want another example? Napoleon Bonaparte was dethroned in 1814 and was sent in captivity in the Island of Elba near Italia. He was a prisoner, but he was living the life of a rich noble. He could still see friends and family. He was free inside the island, but couldn’t leave it. Staying there for him was the easy way. He chose to escape in 1815, he went back to France and took back his throne in a matter of days. He stayed 100 days in power until he was defeated in Waterloo. It didn’t finish well for him. He tried and he could have succeed. He went on the hard way instead of dreaming about it. The good news is that unlike Bonaparte, most of the risks we will take during our lives won’t be as dramatic. 

The whole idea is doing what you aren’t comfortable of doing. Look at the thing you are the most avoiding. Start doing them. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Go beyond your threshold. You will see how your life will take a sudden turn. I was afraid of doing For Victory or Death for months until I decided to take the hard way. I was finding every reasons on earth to avoid writing. Looks like I’m not dead yet.