Summary: Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf
Summary: Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

Summary: Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

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Everyone wants to be great until it’s time to do what greatness requires.

Everyone wants to start the next IKEA but a few are willing to put in the work and be faithful in selling matches door to door. Everyone wants to build the next Apple and Facebook but a few are willing to faithfully chop wood and carry water. Steve Job’s transformation at Apple is merely a byproduct of passion, persistence and faithfulness to execute a small idea, one at a time. 

If you’re so focused on the peak of the mountain, you’ll miss the step in front of you. The key to mountain climbing is to focus on one solid step at a time. Remember, no man ever climbs the mountain in one huge step. It’s a combination of small solid steps that he takes to make it to the peak.


Nothing in life is the test.

Even tests in your school are not tests. It’s only an illusion. Everything in life is an opportunity to learn and grow because you’re doing it for yourself. You’re building your own house.

“Do you know the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ is the combination of two words: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’?”


Never lose sight of you who you and what your values are.

It’s so tempting to feel like you’re on top of the world when you’re winning and when you make loads of money. It’s just easy to feel as defeated and depressed when you’re not winning and your career, business is falling apart. In these times, it feels like you’re failing at everything.

What remains constant in life, however, is your values and principles. It doesn’t depend on your performance and never goes up or down. Your values come from who you are, not from what you do.


Comparison is the thief of joy.

Living in the age of social media and the Internet, we’re constantly bombarded with the so-called perfect version of people. What we’re seeing really is the photoshopped version of peoples’ lives. It’s easy to think they wake up like that but really everything is staged. Your seemingly perfect friend takes fifty pictures and edits the very best one. Your favorite influencer never posts anything of them not looking their best.

You only shine under bright lights by revealing your work in the dark. We get so used to seeing superstars all day that we forget what we do not see – all the hours they spend building their craft when no one is watching.


Embrace the rough side of the mountain.

Golf balls in their early stages were smooth without any dimples on them. But eventually during testing, one man started to notice that golf balls that had been hit many times, the bruised and the rough ones, actually travelled much further than the perfectly smooth ones did (probably because the thin layer of turbulence around the ball reduces drag and allows air to flow further).

Most of us are afraid of our perceived weaknesses and shortcomings and we feel like our journey has always taken us up the rough side of the mountain. But little do we realize that these rough sides are what give us a character to go places other people are too soft and smooth to go.


Discouragement is the enemy.

Sometimes it’s the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough. Other times, it might come from giving your best and not succeeding. Regardless of the source of your discouragement, always keep your faith and fuel your heart with encouragement.


Your words either create or destroy you.

A very strong wind below over a very large oak tree. But after that same windstorm, a wind farm emerged. Words are a lot like winds. They’re everywhere. We use them every day to talk to ourselves. And just like the wind, your words either destroy or create you. You may not have control over how people talk to you, but you do have control over how you talk to yourself.


Progress is never a straight line.

Progress moves in steps, not constants. While you might feel discouraged now for a lack of perceived progress, you’re on a long plateau and in time you would eventually have another growth spurt.

“You keep watering the bamboo tree and watering it, but you continue to see nothing happening for one year, then two years, then three. After five years of seeing nothing happen above the surface, the bamboo tree shoots up to over ninety feet tall in just six weeks.”

What you don’t see happening right now is actually taking place beneath the surface.


The switch from ‘I have to’ to ‘I want to’.

There’s only one thing in life you ‘have to’ do. That is to ‘die’. You may not like the choices but when you tell yourself you have to do something, it creates a negative energy. But when you tell yourself you want to do something, the energy turns into positive.


Your mission matters more than your goal.

Goals allow you to shrink responsibility. Missions are different. Only the person in the mirror can stop you from living that out. Many people keep climbing and climbing, only to get to the top and realize they’ve been climbing the wrong ladder all along. Without a mission, it’s so easy to lose perspective on what truly matters.


Surrender to the outcomes, and trust the process.

You always have control over your performance but you rarely have control over the outcomes. When you surrender to the fact that you could fail, you commit yourself to the controllables, trust the process and operate with a posture of gratitude.

Einstein was labelled as ‘mentally slow’ by his teachers.

Oprah was fired and told she was ‘unfit for television’.

Soichiro went for a contract at Toyota, rejected and went on to build a global empire.

David Sander’s recipes were rejected by a thousand restaurants.

Henry had multiple failing businesses until he eventually built a small company called Ford.

Walt was fired from his job for ‘lack of creativity’. Today his ideas draw billions to movies and amusement parks every year.


Live by principles, not feelings.

Living by our feelings is an emotional rollercoaster. Many days, you aren’t going to feel like working out. Many days, you aren’t going to feel like honing your craft. Many days, you aren’t going to feel like treating people well. When you make the choice to live by a certain set of principles instead, it will not only protect you from your feelings, it will allow you to step into your greatest potential.


Never cross the boundaries to teach something.

Just because I were the best heart surgeon in the world doesn’t mean I have the license to perform surgery without permission. You’ve gained so much wisdom here but you must never share it without an invitation. Because most people aren’t interested in learning or changing. They just want to be heard and loved. It’s sad but completely okay. Sometimes, the best help you can give to people is simply lending your ears. Always ask: “Would you like my opinion or do you just need to be heard and want me to listen?”

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