My first job was making sandwiches at Quiznos.
It didn’t take long to figure out that I was one of the only people who was ready to work hard to make things happen. One of my biggest strengths (and flaws) is that I pour my entire self into what I’m working on at the moment.
No distractions. Just me and the task. Nothing else exists.
I was toasting bread, restocking the tomatoes, and pacifying impatient customers; all at the same time. I felt like a machine.
But it came at a consequence.
I burned a lot of bread. I dropped a lot of tomatoes. Customers felt like I wasn’t really empathizing with them.
Fast forward to today.
I work on multiple projects, but never at the same time.
The biggest secret to working on multiple projects successfully is to never work on them simultaneously.
Your mind can only focus deeply on one thing at a time. When you give it too much to do, your cognitive resources are spread thinly across tasks, making the quality of your work decrease.
It’s okay to have a lot going on. It’s okay to have a lot to do.
It’s not okay to do it all at once.
Ever see the movie 300? The one about the Spartans?
How did they defeat their opponents when they were so immensely outnumbered? They used a narrow gap in the mountains to line their opponents up, so they could face them 1-to-1. King Leonidas barked: “Their numbers will count for nothing!”
Take 5 minutes at the beginning of your day to prioritize and line up your tasks.
Then unleash yourself.
If I could only ___ then I could ____.
I just need to ___, then I can get started with ____.
I’m having trouble with ____, so I can’t ____ enough.
These might sound familiar. Some people call them excuses.
Some excuses are more valid than others, and some of us are better at making them than others.
So, really, not the excuses themselves that hold us back. It’s calibrating our “excuse radar” that gets us. How good are you at detecting your own excuses?
What will you do today to start being honest with yourself?
Being honest with yourself about this is the only way to open yourself to the possibility of success.
Only after we do this can we apply the hard work required to be highly productive.
The only way to get better at being honest with ourselves is by practicing again, and again, and again.
What’s an excuse you’ve made recently that’s total bullshit?
Don’t leave this post until you think of something. NO EXCUSES. You have the 15 seconds it’s going to take. Be real about this.
Once you do this, you’ll have built momentum. Notice the positive feeling you get from it. It’s accomplishment. It’s pride. It’s confidence that you can do it again.
You’ll have made it just a little easier for your brain to do it again. You’ll have started the process of rewiring your neurons to arrange themselves for high productivity.
Go get ’em.
Some people think this is a big question, and others think it’s a small one.
If you want to do something meaningful, it’s going to be hard.
Things will break. People will quit. Your family will tell you you’re crazy.
And then it’ll get worse.
You’ll run out of money. You’ll lose your house. Someone will die.
Here’s the big secret that no one seems to realize:
These are not roadblocks. They’re hurdles.
You will have to choose whether you want to sidestep, jump, break through, or turn back.
It’s up to you to decide what’s an adequate strategy for getting around/over/through them.
At the end of it all, you’re going to have to answer to yourself and your actions. You’re going to have to justify it.
That means that your number 1 priority is answering: “Why do I get up in the morning?”
Because it’s going to get hard, and you’re going to question your drive.
And if you can generate an answer that consistently puts you back in the saddle, you’re going to have a much better chance of overcoming adversity.
Why do YOU get up in the morning?