#1 Sacrifice: The Paradox Principle
Successful people know that making decisions based on what feels good in the short term is often a deceiving shortcut that requires more work in the end. Similarly, they know that creating an easy life in the long term requires choosing some challenging activities here and now. For example, the nature of becoming wealthy requires that rather than spending our money we save it or invest it. Living a longer, healthier life might demand that we disallow the excess of certain types of foods and other substances into our body. Advancing to an influential role in an organization or in our career most likely requires more education, tougher projects, and stricter deadlines.
So, counterintuitively an easy life in the long term comes from the sacrifice of completing more difficult tasks here and now. But the paradigm-shifting insight and breakthrough that successful people have made that many others have not is that often these more difficult activities are only necessary for a short amount of time.
What seems easy in the short term really isn’t easy in the long term. What seems hard isn’t hard for very long. But we spend so much of our lives trying to make things easier and avoiding things that are difficult in the short term without realizing that much of the time it is that very behavior that makes things worse in the long term. Understanding and embracing the Pain Paradox is one of the most important things you can do on your path to true success.
#2 Commitment: The Buy-In Principle
Emotional commitment intensifies as we pursue any activity. It starts out easy, and gets more challenging, culminating in a peak, or a “pivot point.”
That key moment usually shows up in our life as some sort of breakdown. It’s when we’re faced with the decision to keep going or to turn back. It is that key moment you hear successful people talk about as the moment everything fell apart and they had a choice to make—which, looking back later, they realized was the turning point in their life.
We are all going to face that pivot point hundreds, if not thousands, of times in various areas of our lives. Some people never seem to push through those points, while others do. Everyone—whether we are successful or not—faces these critical pivot points, and more important, we all yearn to move quickly past the point of emotional turmoil and uncertainty, to return to a state of normalcy and calm. But it’s how we think in these critical moments that makes all the difference.
It’s interesting to note that very often the emotional energy of making a decision is greater than the physical energy of executing that decision. In other words, it’s not working out once we get to the gym that is hard; it’s sitting on the couch deciding whether or not we’re going to go that is more difficult and therefore more important.
#3 Focus: The Magnification Principle
In the absence of disciplined focus, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
Priority dilution is most commonly found in high-performing people—the ones who are the most busy, competent, and overwhelmed. They know what their goals are—but they nonetheless allow their attention to shift to less important tasks. They have so many emails, meetings, objectives, family matters, and other responsibilities on their plate that they can start to lose control of their effectiveness.
As it turns out, the most important skill for the next generation of knowledge worker is not learning what to do but rather determining what not to do. And instead focusing on key objectives. Peace of mind comes from falling in love with the fact that there is simply and certainly always going to be more to do than we have time for. It’s only as we embrace the incredible volume of noise in our work and our lives that we can silence it—or at least reduce it to a dull roar. Ignore the noise. Conquer the critical. Manage the minutiae.
To achieve the focus we so vitally need, we need to manage three essential aspects of ourselves: our thoughts, our words, and our behavior. We start by learning to focus our thinking because mastery of our mind precedes the movement of our bodies. And permanent changes in our actions have to be reinforced by permanent changes in our thinking.
#4 Integrity: The Creation Principle
All of creation follows a simple and powerful pattern: You think it, you speak it, you act it, it happens.
Remember that when used with integrity, there is almost nothing more powerful than your own word. Words are the first manifestation of ideas or thoughts into the real world. At their origin, those ideas exist only in your mind, but once they have been spoken or written, then they exist and have the power to shape the world around us. The moment we galvanize our thoughts into words marks the onset of creation.
Unfortunately, we don’t recognize the simplicity of initiating the creation process and so we often don’t place appropriate value on the use of our words. Here is a checklist of seven basic guidelines for preserving and harnessing the power of your word.
- Think before you speak.
- Choose your words carefully.
- Do what you say you will.
- Be where you promise you will.
- Resist the urge to use emotionally charged, untamed language.
- Assume the “mic is always on” and that everyone will hear everything you say.
- Use empowering language when speaking about yourself and others.
Integrity is one of the only things that you take with you everywhere you go. You are in charge of creating the world around you.
You think it, you speak it, you act, it happens. Now all you have to do is find a way to fit it all in…
#5 Schedule: The Harvest Principle
Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine.
Time management seems to be the number one problem that individuals, families, companies, and entrepreneurs all share. With an infinite number of options vying for our attention, just deciding how best to spend our time and fit everything in is a major cause of stress today.
Unfortunately, we’ve been led astray by popular misconceptions about time that don’t serve us well. First and foremost, the myth of balance. We hear the word “balance” all the time these days, particularly in the all-too-commonplace phrase “work-life balance.” Many of us think of balance as dividing our time equally among equal activities because, by definition, “balance” means equal distribution in opposite directions. But if you take a step back and consider this for a moment, you’ll see that it’s an impossible and dubious goal as it relates to how we spend our time. It’s also a somewhat useless strategy for managing time because some activities simply don’t require as much time as others.
Balance shouldn’t mean equal time spent on equal activities. Balance should mean appropriate time spent on critical priorities. For example, being in great physical shape can be accomplished in 30 minutes on just three days a week. There is no need to spend the same amount of time in that area of your life as in the amount it takes to complete your work.
A professor once had a glass jar sitting at the front of his class with large rocks in it up to the top. He asked the students, “Is this jar full?” To which they all replied, “Yes, of course it is.” The professor then took a handful of pebbles from behind his desk and dropped them into the jar, where they settled in around the rocks. He then asked, “Is the jar full now?” And then with a smile they said, “Okay, now it’s full.”
From behind his desk the professor then pulled a cup of sand, which he proceeded to pour into the jar, watching as it filled in comfortably around both the rocks and the pebbles. He then asked once more, “Class, is this jar full?” Now realizing that it couldn’t possibly be filled any further because there was no visible space, they said, “Okay, now it is definitely full.”
Yet again from behind his desk the professor pulled out another element. This time it was a pitcher of water, and as he poured it in, it filled in the last remaining space in the jar. He then turned to the class and said, “As in life, we often think we can do no more, but when we push to be creative, we find that there is always room for us to fill.”
So many people live with the excuse “I don’t have time.” They let that be the reason they can’t be a great husband or wife, mom or dad, business owner or employee. That is probably the single most cited excuse that we use as to why we don’t achieve our dreams.
Don’t allow yourself the indulgence of saying, “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time.” It’s an indulgence because as soon as you say, “I’m too busy,” your creativity disengages and you are suddenly “off the hook.
#6 Faith: The Perspective Principle
Faith can take many forms. It can mean faith in God, or some other higher power. It doesn’t matter what you call it, or if you even give it a name at all. Having it means the difference between constantly worrying about the present and having the peace of knowing that you will transcend life’s day-to-day setbacks in the long run.
You can’t make the hard right decisions today without faith in tomorrow. Why would you eat healthy food if you didn’t believe it would actually make you healthy? Why would you work out if you didn’t believe it would actually make you look and feel better? Why wouldn’t you charge your credit card into oblivion if you felt there would be no price to pay in the end?
Sometimes we make choices not out of a lack of discipline, but out of a lack of perspective and faith. Broadening our perspective, taking a step back to look at the entire tape measure of our lives, empowers us to make decisions that will make us happier in the long run. It shrinks our momentary ups and downs to their appropriate size. It provides an explanation for setbacks and even tragedies. Broadening our perspective allows us to have peace of mind.
#7 Action: The Pendulum Principle
The bottom line of seeing change and results in your life is you need to ACT! You have to go and do something!
Wisdom is simply the application of knowledge and the application of everything you’ve learned. You start doing the things you don’t feel like doing. You set aside short-term discomfort for long-term results. You move. You act. You create motion. You cause change. You win.
People who are struggling with inaction or procrastination invariably have one of the following three deep-rooted attitudes:
Fear: “I’m scared to do it.”
“FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.” It’s okay to be scared—do it scared. It’s okay to be unsure—do it unsure. It’s okay to be uncomfortable—do it uncomfortable. Just get started where you are. That is the attitude of the most disciplined and successful people on the planet.
Entitlement: “I shouldn’t have to do it.”
Entitlement gets us nothing; only action does. Entitlement is the end of achievement. Reject it. Get busy doing something that matters with your life, and you’ll wake up one day with the rewards of success, even more than you ever thought you deserved.
Perfectionism: “I won’t try to do it if I can’t do it right.”
The irony of this crippling fear of making mistakes is that mistakes can be our greatest teachers. No one has all the answers before they start. Successful people take action despite not knowing how it will turn out, and they embrace the idea that success is messy along the way.