I am not successful. Success for me is the realisation of achieving your goals, and being content with that.
For me, mediocrity bores me. If I’m not constantly striving to be better, or trying to achieve more, I’m doing myself a disservice. I get bored with being static.
I get between 50-100 messages per week from very charming social media followers specifically asking for mentorship, thanking me for inspiring them or just offering their support.
I’m not purporting to have the answer, but I can speak from experience of how I hit rock bottom, received death threats, got diagnosed as clinically obese and turned my life around.
I’ll give all 7 points below, and then break them down brick by boring brick.
- Understand Value.
- Decide who you are.
- Set Short-term goals.
- Adopt a stoic philosophy
- Cut out toxic people.
- Ditch distractions
- Compete with yourself only.
This is by far the best lesson I could ever teach you. An old work colleague of mine called Richard Wheeler once gave me this advice. He said “In life you have friends, enemies, pets, girlfriends, colleagues & family members… The only person that’s with you for the rest of your life is you.”
Specifically this advice was to do with me breaking-up with a girl at age 17. What he meant by that, is that you need to be selfish in your choices. This doesn’t mean be a selfish person. It just means that ultimately, you need to make decisions based on progression in your life.
I know this may sound callous or cruel, but staying in that easy job because it’s secure, or sucking up to your boss because it saves on office politics is damaging to you long-term, because you could lose your job, or they could leave, or die.
Morbid though it may seem, you have to forget easy or safe. Your NEW way of thinking is about value.
“Does this person/company/wife/husband/friend value me?”
The real question is do you even value yourself? I meet a lot of people that don’t.
You need to learn what you’re worth and NEVER settle for second best. If you earn a company 12% more year on year, but never get a pay-rise, quit!
If you buy flowers for your girlfriend, and she spends her evenings snapchatting other boys, dump her in cold-blood.
Know your worth.
Decide who you are
For those that don’t know their own worth, this next step will help you. I once needed to work out what type of man I wanted to be, and I decided to make myself a list of core values.
The way I did this was pretended I was dead, and thought about what I wanted the attendees of my funeral to say about me when I’m gone. I settled on 5 things that were really important to me.
- To support my family.
- To be generous and actually enjoy giving.
- To be charming in ANY social interaction.
- To be a mentor to someone, and help them learn from my mistakes.
- To be too complicated to categorise.
Who are you? Do you even know?
It took my reputation and character being questioned to force me to actually think what type of man I am/wanted to be.
I recommend writing down what your 5 core values would be, and sticking to them. Everyone changes over time, but the point is that you’ll be positively building on these points.
Set Short-term Goals
Nothing annoys me more than someone saying they can’t do something, or giving up before they even try. It’s great to be cautious. I’d think twice about skydiving, but I’d weigh up the pros and cons logically before I made my decision.
“I’d love to do what you do/did” – I hear that a lot. So why don’t you?
I’m not a millionaire, but money is an abstract concept. Happiness comes from lifestyle, not money. Money just allows you to have that lifestyle sooner & easier.
When I was diagnosed with clinical obesity (I say that loosely, fat isn’t a disease) I did EVERYTHING in my power to lose the weight as fast as possible. I was desperate to be someone else.
I tested my blood, fasted, starved, trained 7 days per week, tried mild steroids, avoided white carbs, did back to back classes. I fat-shamed myself by posting weekly weight readings on instagram and amassed a following of a few-thousand onlookers.
Judgemental spectators or supporting fans. Whatever their interest, that spurred me on to take my goals at a weekly pace.
Now I carry on with that process in other areas of my life. I make weekly, monthly or yearly achievable goals. Then set new ones when they’re reached. I’m only in competition with myself.
If you want to run a marathon, run 1k, then 2, then a 5k… Get comfortable, train for a 10k, then a half-marathon, then work up to it.
If you want a new job, decide what you want to do, perfect your CV/resume, start applying, attend a few interviews, choose what’s right for you.
In the words of Shia Labeouf “Just do it …. DO IT!”
Adopt a Stoic Philosophy
I used to get annoyed by a lot. Horses (those big cowards), traffic jams, when someone calls you but you miss the call and call them back immediately… and they don’t answer. What’s that about? GRRRR.
It all changed for me when I stopped caring about situations that are out of my control. I only give my time and attention to things I have control over.
Perception is the medicine for pessimism.
I read ‘Letters of a stoic’ by Seneca, ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius & ‘The Obstacle is the way’ by Ryan Holiday.
Stoicism is an ancient philosophy… Stay with me. I’m not about to go all weird on you and tell you to trust in the sun and dance to the sound of nature.
Essentially stoicism is losing unnecessary emotional reactions to events in your life that our out of your control, and learning what’s really important.
I’m going to keep this short, as I can’t do those books mentioned above justice, but I’ll let you know how it helped me.
I now try and see the positives in everything (Not always), and I stopped caring what others thought about me. This is the biggest lesson to learn I think. People are so concerned and insecure about themselves, that they’re probably too busy to judge you, and if they do, they’re only showing themselves to be low-value individuals. Not worthy of your time anyway.
This brings me onto my next point nicely… as if I planned this to happen 😉
Cut Out Toxic People
The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to count your true friends on any one of your hands.
The higher you climb on the ladder, the less you’ll see the people on the ground.
That last metaphor needs me to potentially elaborate, because it sounds like you’re in the wrong for forgetting about those people, but they’ve chosen not to climb that ladder with you. It’s on them.
I’m a nice person. Every waiter, uber-driver, neighbour, hair-stylist, checkout-assistant will tell you the same. I interact and am polite with everyone I meet. Those minor social interactions add value to my day, and often un-assuming people are the most interesting people you’ll meet. I’ve made many friends this way.
HOWEVER, I am unapologetically ruthless when it comes to people I don’t feel reciprocate a positive attitude, or friendship.
I have no time for guests at weddings who think they know me for my 3 minute appearance on TV almost 4 years ago, I won’t offer a second time to help someone with their bags if they assume my “excuse me” is to get them out of the way, instead of to offer some help, and I won’t go to dinner with a friend from school who talks about me behind my back.
You are the sum of the 5 people you hang-out with the most. So don’t let that be negative, bitchy people.
A former colleague (lovely girl) once told me her and her husband had a telephone conversation once about how I drink my tea from a glass tea-cup. They speculated as to whether I was gay (I’m not for clarity), and laughed about my choice of beverage receptacle.
I didn’t mind, I felt pity that the most interesting thing they had to talk about in their marriage was me. I was the punchline of their joke, but the real joke is on them.
If you find yourself being attacked, just be proud that you’re worthy of being a target and move on.
99% of people are pleasant and charming to be around, but don’t wear a false smile for an easy life. Delete that Facebook friend request, say no to their gracious birthday party invite or don’t answer their call if you feel that person may be toxic.
Toxic people will ruin your life, if you let them.
I don’t own a TV. This is strange to most people, but I decided to give myself a year without one, and I don’t miss it.
I download Suits online (great show btw, I want you all to check it out) but that is my only vice.
Working from home off my own steam requires focus, and I can’t afford to get distracted. Even having a long-term relationship harmed my efforts in the gym, and I started to gain weight back. That’s nobody’s fault but my own, but when priorities shift in life, something else will naturally fall by the wayside.
The less distractions you have the better. Concentrate on what you want to achieve and give that your full attention.
I promise you the best opportunities will organically materialise in your life when you’re ambitious, kind and focussed.
You no longer have spare time. Spare implies you can’t use that time effectively. I think you can.
Even now writing this, I’m planning how I’ll cook food next, and then head to the gym after that. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. (Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls said that in an interview before, and it’s always stuck with me.)
Compete with yourself only
Remaining humble is important. Being sincerely supportive of your friends and family members as they progress is just as important as having your own goals.
I have to curb my own arrogance. My confidence or willingness to share life experience is perceived by some as arrogance. To me it’s offering help, but sometimes when I correct somebody on their pronunciation of ‘espresso’ instead of ‘expresso’ I replay that conversation in my mind.
“What a dick move that was”
Pedantry is never cute.
With that in mind, my only competition in life is me. I am my biggest critic and biggest enemy.
That internal battle, or urge to out-do myself is all I care about. Are sales up by 10%? Whatever, how about 20%?
Did I bench 80kg for 8 reps… Not good enough. I need 90.
Being right about a strategy, campaign or magic effect being successful is flattering for my ego for precisely 1 day. Then I’m not happy.
The right side of my bedside is stacked with books from the self-help category.
Not because I feel helpless, not because I’m depressed… Far from it. It’s because I always want to find ways to be more confident, charming, well-read, strategical or thoughtful.
Don’t think about what others are doing, don’t look down on their progression in comparison to your own. It is not a competition between you. Your only job is to be the best you.
On that cliché, I think I’ll end this here. This has been a rather personal outburst for me that will hopefully have some value for some of you, and if not, still works as a kind-of therapy for me. I feel relaxed and more inspired now.
Words have influence.