Ten Selfish Minutes

Ten Selfish Minutes
By Justin Wright

I recently had the experience of attending a networking event put on by my friend Michelle Wax. It was simply titled “Positive People Get-together” — I had no idea what to expect when I got in the elevator as it carried me up to the collaborative workspace in which we were set to meet.

What came out of this event was an incredible set of friends and accountability partners who all shared their strategies for getting the most out of every day. The one piece of shared wisdom that stuck out for me was the concept of taking 10 “selfish” minutes to start every morning. This was a practice I latched onto right away, and one which I asked my small group to hold me accountable in keeping.

Essentially, this practice asks you to wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, and this time is strictly to be used on something you enjoy doing (and ideally something which helps you grow and develop). I have used this time to meditate, a practice that I had let slip as my daily life became busier. Others use this time to read, or to write, or to draw. As long as it is something you enjoy, it has its place during this time.

No emails, no social media, no toiling through the day’s task list; this time is fully yours to immerse yourself in something meaningful. The beauty of this technique is its simplicity, and how it makes a strong argument for its place in your schedule. I think you will find that the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of setting your alarm just a bit earlier each morning.

A balancing act

Most activities which we attempt to add to our schedule, no matter how beneficial, must participate in the great debate: “do I really have time for this?” If you are looking at your daily and weekly tasks, it can be difficult to add more onto an already overflowing plate. In the modern world, those who wish to be successful must, by nature, be extremely busy in their daily pursuits.

The beauty of this strategy is that you are taking time which would otherwise be occupied by sleep. You don’t need to pencil it in between meetings, attempt to fit it in after lunch, or move things around. All of these acts tend to contribute additional stress, and act as a major roadblock for starting new, positive habits.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear discusses the importance of blocking new habits around pre-existing routines. By tacking these 10 minutes onto our morning routine, and simply adding them in right after we wake up, it becomes relatively easy to incorporate this new daily practice. Instead of becoming a source of stress as we try to jam it into our day, this habit finds a home during a time that is free from anxiety or worry about other things.

Furthermore, how often do you snooze your morning alarm? How often do you hesitate to get out of bed when your alarm goes off? Chances are, you can already find most of these 10 minutes being currently wasted in your morning routine. Instead of immediately opening your phone and wasting 5 minutes laying in bed scrolling Instagram, you can instead be doing something beneficial and enjoyable with this time.

Set the tone

There are two main benefits to incorporating this daily practice into your life, but the most important one may be its ability to set the tone for the rest of your day. I have discussed the benefit of a daily journaling and gratitude practice in the past for shifting our mindset and our mood to a more positive place. Imagine how much happier you could be if you started each day doing something you enjoy? Even if the time is short, it is the ability to shift our focus that is so powerful.

This shift in focus is also beneficial for reducing stress. If you are waking up and immediately jumping into your day, scrambling to get ready and hustle out the door, you are flooding your body with cortisol and putting your nervous system into a fight or flight state. This can lead to a cascade of other negative effects, elevating your stress and anxiety as well as increasing the physiological signs of this anxiety on your body. By starting your morning off slower, even by only 10 minutes, you transition into your day more easily and the stress-effects are reduced.

The other benefit of this practice is that you are carving out time to make guaranteed progress towards something. In Atomic Habits, Clear also discusses the importance of regular participation in routines. If you want to write a novel, for example, you must start by writing a single word or sentence. If you can repeat this practice every day, you will eventually complete your novel. Even if the progress is slow, it is better than the reality that most people face: making no progress at all. What could you eventually accomplish if you focused intently on something for 10 minutes a day? In the distracted age of the modern world, these minutes are a valuable and increasingly-rare commodity.

Take time to slow down

Even if you are not using this time “productively” in the standard sense, the benefits of slowing the mind down and pursuing something enjoyable cannot be understated. It is equally important to shift our perception of what it takes for us to be fulfilled and happy. Start with 10 minutes to yourself in the morning, and perhaps these 10 minutes will expand to other times during the day. Perhaps, like me, you have let a practice you enjoy slip because you have not prioritized it during other times when you are busy. This time in the morning can be your way of rediscovering that activity.

Maybe you use the time to meditate like I have. Maybe you read a book you have been meaning to pick up for some time. Maybe you write, creating ideas for you to expand on later. Maybe you use this time to rediscover exercise or a healthy practice such as yoga. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it awakens your spirit and makes you happy. Find something you truly enjoy, and don’t let anyone or anything take this time away from you.

I think you will find that it is relatively easy to set aside 10 minutes every morning for yourself. While it may be slightly difficult at first to set that alarm earlier, you will begin to look forward to this window of time, and thus look forward to waking up every morning. You will start each day on a positive foot, and will already have accomplished something before your normal day has started. This momentum will help carry you through the rest of that day, helping you maintain a positive outlook. You will likely find that you are more productive simply because you have set the tone early by utilizing your selfish time effectively.

No matter how busy you are, or how busy you think you are, start building 10 extra minutes into your morning. Be selfish, use this time to do something positive for yourself. Return to a state of play and enjoyment. In an increasingly distracted world, this time will continue to become even more valuable. What you sacrifice in “snoozing” will pay for itself rapidly in the form of increased happiness and fulfillment!


Question your Foundation

Question your Foundation
By Justin Wright

I recently found myself frustrated with a group I was leading, and I was complaining about small issues and grievances that had been occurring more frequently. What I came to realize was that I had been doing exactly what I caution so many others against. I was focusing on the problems and not the solutions to those problems. Fundamentally, I was not looking inwardly to find out how I could make the situation better and what actions I could take to improve the things that were frustrating me.

So often we look externally when trying to analyze problems. We focus on what others are doing or not doing, the actions they take that cause us frustration, the character traits we assume they have. This is the foundation of office gossip everywhere. It is an outward focus on how everything else in the world around us is wrong, and we are a victim of circumstance in dealing with it.

What if we shifted that perspective? What if, instead of complaining about others, we complained about our lack of action or our apathy? What if we looked internally and questioned our beliefs, the way we act, or the way we lead? Many crises in life can be averted as long as someone is willing to take action in a positive way. The masses tend to react by talking about the things they wish to change, but so few actually take action and put that speech into motion. In order to act effectively, we must first question the ground we walk on.

What if it’s my fault?

The next time you dislike a situation that you are in, or get frustrated with the way things transpire, I want you to ask yourself one simple question: what if it’s my fault? Taking ownership for the bad things that are happening to us is difficult and uncomfortable because we have a natural tendency to get defensive any time our motives, beliefs, or actions are called into question. Being wrong is painful, and our ego will fight this notion violently if we allow it.

What I also want you to understand is the important distinction that the problem is likely not your fault to begin with, but becomes your fault if you allow it to continue. What exactly does this mean? Let’s say, for example, that you are in charge of a team of employees at work. You manage them well for the most part, but performance from a couple starts to slip. You begin noticing a trend that people are taking advantage of the current systems and bending the rules to their benefit.

If you are that manager, it isn’t your fault that people have started to exhibit signs of laziness. When we get comfortable we get complacent, and these types of minor issues happen on teams frequently in every industry. It does become your fault, however, if you allow this behavior to continue. It is up to us to reinforce the environment we want to be a part of.

A quote I heard about coaching long ago that stuck with me is, “if something bad is happening on your watch, you either taught it or allowed it.” Most of us are not going around teaching bad habits to others, but how many of us are allowing things to happen that bother us? If we allow things to occur that frustrate us, upset us, or otherwise reduce our quality of life, we are just as guilty as the perpetrators.

Lead by example

It is crucial that we lead from the front in our lives. We must represent the change we wish to see, and we must embrace opportunities to grow and evolve. Even if you are not in a leadership position currently, we all must find opportunities to lead others on a daily basis. Even if you are the lowest person on the proverbial totem pole in your community, your voice can have an impact and push others to act in a positive way.

I recently watched an interview with Jocko Willink where he discussed the most effective way to provide constructive criticism to a team. His belief is that it first starts with owning the problem and taking responsibility for the solution. Instead of blaming the people responsible and providing feedback on how they can be better, we should approach the conversation from a position of collaboration. We should take ownership of our lack of assistance in initially finding the right solution and offer our help and effort in doing things the right way the second time around. In essence, we should ask ourselves, “what if it’s my fault?”.

Leading by example and leading from the front means always being willing to own a problem and take responsibility for finding a solution. It means taking action when others are more content complaining about the status quo while not altering their routine. To use an extreme example, if you stubbed your toe every time you walked around a corner because something was in the way, wouldn’t you eventually want to move the object in question? So many people are perfectly content stubbing their toe day in and day out, complaining about the pain instead of asking how they can be a part of the solution.

Question your foundation

The hardest part of taking ownership in these situations is being reflective. Sometimes, we have to come to the realization that our current worldview is limiting us from moving forward. Oftentimes we are a part of the problem because we get into a routine. Our focus narrows as we get comfortable, and this comfort can lead to complacency.

The next time you find yourself complaining about a situation, try to pinpoint any limiting beliefs you may have that are contributing to this situation. Are you trying to solve a problem from your perspective that instead requires a different perspective? Do you have all of the information available? Are you biased in your thinking due to your current position, status, or upbringing?

In order to grow and evolve we must constantly reflect on who we are and what we believe in. We are fluid creatures, and this fluidity means that we must revisit our core beliefs often. It is important to spend time being reflective and to question why we think and act the way that we do. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you do, people who question your viewpoints and are willing to engage in intelligent discussion.

The only way to know if we stand on firm ground with our beliefs is to constantly check that ground for cracks. If we get too comfortable doing things the way we have always done them, there is no way to know if our foundation has slowly started to crumble. I have encountered many gifted people who succumbed to outdated viewpoints and lost their edge. If you want to know just how dangerous this phenomenon can become, look no further than the KMarts, Blockbusters, and MySpaces of the world. These were all business that, at one time, were extremely successful. The reason they ultimately failed is because their leadership refused to adapt to changing information and adjust their belief systems accordingly.

Take ownership

In his book Going Right which I have discussed often, author Logan Gelbrich points out that we must be responsible for reinforcing the type of character we wish to see in the world. The cost of a better future must be paid by all of us. If you wish to improve your life, or wish to fix the things that make you unhappy, it requires you to reinforce this behavior. You must lead from the front, and you must be the one to take action when others stand by and complain.

By taking ownership of the problem and making it your responsibility to find a solution, you will inspire others to do the same. By constantly questioning your beliefs, by looking for evidence to either support or disprove your worldview, you will create a circle of people who hold themselves to a higher standard. The bad that happens to us was either taught by us or reinforced by us. As soon as you are willing to take responsibility for this, to question your foundation and seek to reinforce it, you will be pleasantly surprised by how many problems are easily solvable.


Morph Your Mind Podcast: Believe in your Capability

In Episode 41, co-hosts Justin Wright and Chrissy Barron discuss how to reflect on past successes as motivation for current hardship or failure. When you are going through difficult times or having trouble moving forward, look to your past experience, your past successes, and even the knowledge gained from past failures to increase confidence in your own abilities.

Lean List Planner: Buy Now!
15% off at Nova 3 Labs:

For a video of some of the podcast:


Tick Tock

Tick Tock
By Justin Wright

I was recently sitting in my office at the gym finishing up some work when I became overcome with excitement. My heart started to beat a little faster as I became briefly distracted by thoughts of training that afternoon. The images of promised suffering flashed across my mind, and they brought with them a sense of peace and contentment that I find hard to articulate.

I know there are others out there like me, and I know that many of you have likely read a number of these blogs. My hope with this one is to explore my inner-workings a bit, to expose myself like a clock that has been disassembled. Perhaps, by wading through the gears, coils, and springs, I can more deeply understand what makes me tick. In the process, I hope I can connect on a deeper level with those of you who feel these same feelings.

The fatal flaw

Every hero in every story has a fatal flaw. This is generally their undoing, the one thing that causes them to perish or that causes the story to end in tragedy. For the great warrior Achilles, his pride was his downfall. He truly felt that no man could defeat him in battle and this led to his demise.

This tragic flaw doesn’t necessarily lead to the hero’s death, but it is a weakness that causes them to struggle. To use a modern example, Harry Potter’s flaw is that he is willing to sacrifice himself for those he loves. He is willing to put himself in danger to do the right thing and protect others. While this gets him into trouble, it’s also the only reason that he becomes a hero in the first place. Without this aspect of his character, there would be no story.

I believe that every single one of us has a fatal flaw. No human being is perfect, and there is one aspect of everyone’s character that both defines them and destroys them. Every person has the opportunity to be heroic, and thus we share the same penchant for being flawed that every hero possesses. The sooner you can learn to understand your flaw, the sooner your story can begin.

Growth and challenge

I spent nearly a decade pursuing the opportunity to be a professional athlete. The process cost me a great deal including personal relationships, career progress, long-term health, and short-term comfort. I created and participated in an indoor Ironman-distance machine triathlon to raise money for charity and test my will in the process. I completed 24 grueling hero workouts in 24 hours to raise money for the Navy SEAL Foundation. More recently, I have chosen to wrestle in a local tournament after a decade away from the mat. I have not been around a group of human beings who enjoy suffering as much as wrestlers since I stopped after high school, and boy did I miss it!

It was while sitting at home after one particularly hard practice that a true understanding of my own flaw materialized in my mind. As I stared in the mirror, cuts across my face and forehead, pain radiating down my neck, I began to smile. For better or worse, I enjoy pushing myself to the brink because the constant challenge and the constant growth are necessary for me to be happy. I am an adventurer, an explorer, but in ways much different than Indiana Jones. Instead of pursuing treasure in an abandoned temple, I am instead searching deep within myself for the essence of what makes us human.

I am obsessed with this challenge, with the never-ending quest to grow and evolve. There is a higher level of consciousness available to those who are willing to pay the price of physical hardship for mental and spiritual growth. The mind has so much untapped capacity, but it requires us to exhaust our physical reserves of energy to successfully excavate it. How many tales, books, and movies describe this concept? It is a common plot because it is inherently true: the hero can only reach their highest potential after a crucible of will, one that often brings them to the brink of death.

True understanding

It is at the times where my physical discomfort is highest that I think the most clearly. Some of my most lucid thoughts have occurred at the darkest times during the challenges I have pursued. At five o’clock in the morning, working through hour 19 of 24, I felt clear-headed, rejuvenated, and refreshed. It is times like these that leave no question about my passion and my purpose.

There are many vessels for growth and development in this life. I have found none as effective and time-efficient as a true physical crucible. Just like our favorite heroes, it is only at the brink of disaster that we can achieve our full potential. Only once we have exhausted our physical body, and must instead rely on our will, can we realize exactly how much we are capable of. Until you have truly made a decision to keep going at all costs, to ignore your body giving up on you, you cannot access this higher level of self.

The price is steep, and most are not willing to pay the cost of admission. The road is hard, and most are not willing to carve out a path. The doubt is crippling, and most are not willing to believe in themselves. Ah but the victory, the victory is so sweet and most will sadly never experience it.

What makes you tick?

I have known for a long time that I had an obsession with finding the edges, with exploring the limits. It took deep reflection to understand the connection that this had with my happiness. It’s funny to realize that some of my best memories are during times of intense suffering. There seems to be a correlation with the degree of physical discomfort and the clarity of that memory in my mind. I can see the darkest times playing like a movie inside my skull, and reflecting on these moments makes me smile.

Find what makes you tick, find what makes you excited to be alive, find what makes you jump out of bed in the morning. Life is precious, and I believe that it is a shame to leave our edges unexplored. There are countless stories of men and women doing incredible, impossible things because their willpower exceeded their physical limitations.

Every one of you reading this, right now, is capable of 10 or 20 times more than you think you are (and that’s a low estimate). Accessing this increased ability is remarkably simple: all you have to do is make a choice. You have to decide, firmly, that you will accomplish what it is that you wish to do.

The problem is that this decision requires you to give up comfort, to pay full-price in sweat and blood. There is no buying on credit when it comes to your ability. The sacrifice must be paid up front, in full. I know there are others out there like me. I know there are other people exploring, looking for answers. This is my flaw, but it is also what has told my story. There are many more chapters to be written, and I hope that I can inspire some of you to pick up your own pen as well!


Morph Your Mind Podcast: Lessons in Entrepreneurship

In Episode 40, co-hosts Justin Wright and Chrissy Barron reflect on the lessons learned from entrepreneurship. There are also important takeaways from the corporate world included. This episode is a must if you are running your own business or are in a position to be creative and entrepreneurial at the workplace.

Lean List Planner: Buy Now!
15% off at Nova 3 Labs:

For a video of some of the podcast:


Keeping Yourself Motivated

Keeping Yourself Motivated
By Justin Wright

Motivation is an interesting term, and one that gets brought up often. While I generally believe that seeking motivation is a less-than-ideal strategy for long-term success, I do understand and appreciate its power for instigating change. While I have discussed developing discipline in place of motivation in the past, I want to take a slightly different approach this time around. Let’s discuss motivation through the lens of Neuro-linguistic Programming, or NLP.

NLP was created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970’s. This practice attempts to change behaviors quickly, often in an instant, that have taken years of traditional therapy to address. While the practice itself is somewhat outdated, a combination of its methodologies with modern neuroscience can be an effective tool for understanding and bolstering motivation.

New or improved behaviors

Motivation entails some urge to change, some desire for continued growth. It either applies to new behaviors or to increased levels of current behaviors. Think about the following: you gain the motivation to finally get back into the gym and take control of your health and wellness. Once you get into a routine, and going to the gym becomes habitual, it is just something that you do. Barring disruptions to your routine, exercise is a regular part of your weekly schedule.

Motivation was required to start this new habit but, once it passes into the realm of the subconscious, little to no additional motivation is required. If, however, you want to train for a specific event or challenge then you are upgrading your routine. Motivation may now be required to reinforce the increased discipline associated with your new goal. The good thing is that motivation compounds when we utilize it to push into new territory. Feelings of excitement and hope that are associated with developing new habits fuels our motivation in the short term.

We must take advantage of this fuel in order to drive behavioral change. If we are content with our current lot in life, it is easy to become complacent. The benefit of motivation is that it can disrupt this complacent behavior. Therefore, it is crucial that we understand how to actually create behavioral change in order to rekindle our motivation and drive forward progress.

Pleasure and pain lead to behavioral change

There are two motivating factors behind any behavior in life: we are either pursuing pleasure or fleeing from pain. All emotional states, likewise, can be associated with pleasure or pain. Happiness? Pleasure. Embarrassment? Pain. Love? Pleasure. Fear? Pain.

Our current behaviors tend to be hard-wired based on these two poles. Watching television, for example, is a pleasurable experience for many people. After a long day at work, the external stimulation provides entertainment and a brief escape from reality. There are a number of habits that are more beneficial than television, but breaking this behavior requires us to alter our neuro-associations. This is where NLP and modern neuroscience can work together to provide us with a solution.

Many behaviors are associated with short-term pleasure or the aversion of short-term pain. As human beings, it is difficult to for us to find motivation in long-term rewards. It is challenging to resist eating a piece of chocolate now, knowing that the experience will be pleasurable, for the promise of a better physique tomorrow. Addiction is such a crippling disease because it is amplified by these short-term pain and pleasure receptors. While this may seem like an insurmountable challenge when it comes to rekindling motivation, the reality is that we can use this to our advantage.

Reliving the past

The next time you find it difficult to gain motivation for a new change or new pursuit, you must learn to manipulate your neuro-associations of pain and pleasure around that desired behavior. For those seeking motivation to get back in the gym, think back to the last bad memory you have about being overweight or out of shape. Relive all of those sensations and emotions. Focus on the extreme pain of that situation, and associate those feelings of pain with skipping out on the gym or eating that cheeseburger. Due to our human inclination to avoid pain, you will actually find that your urge to exercise and eat healthier foods instantly increases.

When it comes to rekindling lost motivation, perhaps after falling off the wagon, think back to a positive experience. Focus on the feelings and emotions when you were at your healthiest, when you had been consistent with your routine. Think back to the happiness, the joy, and the pride you had in that state. Be as vivid as possible. Associate this extreme pleasure with the act of getting back into your fitness routine.

By manipulating the neurological signals of pain and pleasure surrounding these activities, it can become relatively easy to find motivation once it has been lost. In fact, our desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain is so strong that these changes can happen instantaneously. These neuro-associations are hard-wired into our DNA; the essence of what makes us human also gives us a secret weapon when it comes to rekindling motivation!

Positive reinforcement

Once you have gone through the process of changing your neuro-associations, once you have associated extreme pain with avoiding your desired activity and extreme pleasure with pursuing it, the final step is reinforcing those associations. It is not enough to just go through this exercise once. While that will work initially, there is a reason that motivation tends to fade quickly. Our old habits became habits in the first place because they were deeply associated with our pain and pleasure centers!

Every time you perform the desired activity, whether it is going to the gym, eating healthy, getting work done on time, getting to bed early, etc. you must reward yourself for that behavior. The reward should be pleasurable but should also be in line with the type of person you want to become. If your goal is to lose weight, for example, your reward for exercising shouldn’t be a piece of chocolate. Find something positive that you enjoy, and indulge in that behavior when you successfully find the motivation to make forward progress.

If you don’t know what things or activities you enjoy, start by making a list. Find the activities that bring you pleasure while also being aligned with your current goals. Maybe you enjoy reading and learning new things, so you make time in your schedule to open a new book. Maybe you enjoy being outside, so you take a long walk after lunch when you have had a productive day. The goal is to consistently reinforce our new, learned behavior, so that it becomes habitual. Rewards are a highly effective way to do this.

Motivation is temporary

No matter what you do, no matter what positive habits you develop, understand that motivation is a temporary phenomenon. While the above strategies will provide new sources of motivation, the more important thing is that you now have a framework for breaking bad habits and forming new ones. By using the neuro-associations of pain and pleasure, it is possible to instantly change chronic, bad behaviors by replacing them with new, positive ones. Once you go through this process, it must be reinforced in order for the learned behaviors to become deeply ingrained into your subconscious.

The important thing to understand is that all motivation, and all sources of change, must come from within. No one else can take the steps necessary to change your life for you. When you find motivation lacking, when you find it hard to change, take stock of your current behaviors and disrupt the cycle to experience continued growth.


Morph Your Mind Podcast: Motivation and Burnout

In Episode 39, co-hosts Justin Wright and Chrissy Barron delve into mental burnout and how it’s okay to not “always be on.” There is constant pressure from society today to always be on the move, always be creating, always be grinding. Sometimes it is okay, and even necessary, to take a step back.

Lean List Planner: Buy Now!
15% off at Nova 3 Labs:

For a video of some of the podcast:


The Waterfall

The Waterfall
By Justin Wright

Being decisive is a seemingly lost art in the modern world of distractions. Since our attention spans are so limited, it has become easier than ever to procrastinate and push our responsibilities to another day or another time. If we can’t make up our mind, it’s easy to shift focus to some new task and come back to our thoughts later. The problem is that we often never return to these thoughts.

Making decisions is a critical step in our personal growth and development. There is no room for hesitation when it comes to setting and accomplishing goals. If we want to be truly successful in whatever endeavors we are pursuing, we must make a choice. We must choose our path and pursue our dreams with conviction. Far too many people wait, hesitate, and let life make decisions for them. Take control, and do not leave your future in the hands of fate!

The river of life

In his classic book Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins discusses what he calls the Niagara Syndrome.(1) Our lives are like a river, and most people jump in without any real sense of direction or destination in mind. They allow the river to passively carry them along until they start to hear the sounds of the coming waterfall. By the time they take action, it is already too late and they tumble over the falls with great pain and hardship.

We have discussed in the past that life is indeed like a river; the current is always flowing and we are either moving with it or against it. There is no such thing as simply “staying in place” in life. We are either making forward progress or regressing to a lesser state. So how do we navigate life’s river? How do we ensure that we are prepared long before we reach the waterfall?

The power lies in our decisions. Robbins goes on to describe just how quickly we can take control: “You must know that you can make a new decision right now that will immediately change your life.” Is it really that simple? The short answer is yes; navigating our life successfully can indeed start with a single decision!

Decisions shape our identity

One of the most successful ways to set and accomplish goals is to base them around your desired identity. What type of person do you want to be in the future? What qualities does that person have? What have they accomplished? What do people think about them? Once you understand who you want to be, it becomes much easier to focus on how you will become that person.

Note that the first step in achieving this identity is definitively deciding that we want to become a better person. We must make up our mind, we must choose who we want to become. There is no room for hesitation here. Growth and development require consistency, and consistency begins with our decisions. If we are always changing the destination then we can never make measurable progress.

While it is important to know who we want to become, it can be just as important to know what we want to avoid. We can be equally decisive when it comes to things we don’t want, character traits we want to shy away from, or paths we don’t want to take. You cannot go through life just letting things happen to you. Take control and decide who you don’t want to be now, so you can focus your energy on becoming the best version of yourself in the future.

Fear of failure

Making decisions is hard. Every time we choose, there is an inherent risk. What if we make the wrong choice, what if we make a mistake? Failure is inevitable! In making a choice, we will likely choose poorly many times before we end up on the right path. What often separates successful people from those who have yet to achieve success is the number of failures they have each experienced. While one would assume that successful people have failed fewer times, the reality is that their failures are precisely what led to their success. By failing quickly and often, they were able to correct course and move closer to the right path.

The fear of failure is so strong in many people that it becomes paralyzing. They are unable to make any decisions for fear of being wrong. The important thing to understand is that decision-making is a practiced skill just like anything else. According to Robbins, “The way to make better decisions is to make more of them.” While this advice may seem obvious, ask yourself how often you put yourself in the driver’s seat. How often do you actually force yourself to choose?

If failure is a prerequisite for success, and if we learn to make better decisions by making them more often, then what we must do becomes clear. The more often we can put ourselves at a crossroads, the faster we will arrive at our ideal destination. Embrace the challenge that comes with choosing. Embrace the risk, because there can be no great reward without the presence of risk. Overcome the fear of failure through deliberate practice.

The red pill or the blue pill

In the movie The Matrix, there is a famous scene where Morpheus offers the protagonist, Neo, a choice of two pills.

“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” — Morpheus, The Matrix

Neo chooses the red pill because he is no longer satisfied with the illusion of his current life. He wants to dig deeper and find out more about who he really is. Look at your life right now. How many opportunities do you have to take the red pill? How many things are you currently unsatisfied with?

Our time is precious, far too precious to waste it by doing things that cripple us from becoming our best selves. If you want to achieve something, then make up your mind. Decide right now that you will pursue your goals with all of your effort and energy. No one has ever accomplished anything meaningful by kind-of, sort-of, maybe committing.

You will struggle, you will fail, you will make the wrong choice more often than not. These failures will provide lessons, and every time you make a decision you will gain valuable information. You will gain a better understanding of how to succeed the next time around, and you will continue to strengthen your decision-making muscles. The more often you take a stand and decide, the easier it becomes to continue doing so in the future. The next time that waterfall approaches, you will be better prepared for the fall.

(1) Robbins, Tony. (1991). Awaken the Giant Within, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.


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