A young man once approached Socrates and asked the philosopher how he could acquire wisdom and knowledge.
“Follow me,” Socrates said in response, as he led the young man down to the sea. The young man followed as Socrates began wading through the water, first at ankle, then knee, then waist, and finally to shoulder height.
Then, rather abruptly, Socrates grabbed the young man and dunked him under the water. The young man struggled desperately and just before he blacked-out, Socrates pulled him up.
Infuriated, the young man screamed, “What are you doing?! Trying to kill me?”
Calmly, Socrates responded, “Absolutely not. If that was my intention, I would not have pulled you up.”
“Then why did you just do that?” the young man gasped.
“When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it,” Socrates replied while looking the man in the eyes. Then, he turned to the shore and walked away.
“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” — Napoleon Hill
If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen. However, if you don’t want something, even the best of strategies won’t serve you.
Unfortunately, most people are incorrectly seeking strategies of how to get “success” or some other thing. In this way, they are putting the cart before the horse.
The right strategy will show itself when you are clear on what you want. So how do you know what you want?
Most people are waiting for an epiphany. They’re waiting for someone or something outside of them to rattle or shake them. Or, they just want a quick fix. Hence, the focus on strategy and not on vision and values.
If you’re waiting for something to “wake you up” so you finally have the passion, motivation, or desire to put your whole soul into life, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Rather than waiting, your only chance at fully living is to proactively do something yourself.
When was the last time you did a workout where you literally put everything into it?
When was the last time you really tried, I mean REALLY tried, at anything?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably putting half-thought and half-effort into most of what you’re doing.
Paul Arden, the famed designer and author, once said, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” He also said, “Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you got, and fix it along the way.”
Interestingly, the research in psychology over the past few years has made a shift. It was assumed for decades that our minds could alter our physical state, but not the other way around. However, research is now showing that your body, even your posture, directly influences your mind and emotions. You change from the inside-out, yes, but also from the outside-in. And you can leverage that to your benefit.
If you want more motivation, do something about it.
Put your heart into something. Not “the next thing,” but the thing right in front of you.
Not into tomorrow’s workout, but today’s workout.
Not into tomorrow’s work, but today’s work.
Not into tomorrow’s people, but today’s people.
As Thomas Monson has said, “There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.”
Nothing feels better than trying your best. Nothing.
In his book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie Norton begins by telling the story of his son’s death. The painful realization of the fragility of life shook Norton. He vowed to never waste another day of his short life again. His mantra became:
Thus, Norton further states, “No more tomorrows. Today is the day.”
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
Look at your life.
Where are you now compared to where you could be?
In his book, The Little Minister, J. M. Barrie says, “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”
What should you have started last week, last month, or even last year?
Where would you be if you had started last week?
Where would you be if you had started last month?
Where would you be if you had started last year?
Where would you be if you had started 5 years ago?
These thoughts may be somewhat depressing, but hiding from them isn’t going to help. The brutal truth is what you must face if you’re serious about making your future better than your past.
Your current position in life is a reflection of your previous desires, planning, and choices. If you want a better future, you’ll need to make some immediate and powerful changes and choices right now.
Now is the time.
It will never be convenient to be and live how you know you should. If it was convenient, everyone would be living at a much higher level. There would be no internal conflict. Instead, most people are continuing to wait for someone or something outside of them to wake them up or pick them.
It’s not going to happen for those people.
If you want something from life, you have to want it as bad as you want air. And you have to start TODAY.
In the movie, Gattaca, a young man, Vincent, is born with every disadvantage imaginable. It simply isn’t his “fate” to have the life he wants.
But he doesn’t accept that fate. Instead, he does everything, even risks his very life, to have the life he most deeply desires.
One scene in the movie is particularly moving. Vincent and his far genetically/mentally superior brother, Anton, swim out from the shore of the ocean as far as they can. The first one to turn around and head back for shore loses. Thus, they must keep in mind the energy they’ll need for the swim back.
All throughout their lives, Vincent and Anton have had this competition. Every time, Vincent was the one to turn around first and swim back to shore. However, at the end of the movie, Vincent is changed. One last time, the brothers step into the water and begin swimming.
Eventually, Anton cries out, “Vincent! Vincent! Where’s the shore? We’re too far out.”
“You want to quit?” Vincent asks.
“We’re too far out!” Anton yells.
“You want to quit?” Vincent repeats.
Pausing and considering his safety, Anton pridefully yells, “No!”
So they keep swimming, further and further out.
Eventually, Anton pauses and calls out, “Vincent! How are you doing this? Vincent, how have you done any of this? We have to go back.”
“No, it’s too late for that. We are closer to the other side,” Vincent responds.
“What other side? Do you want to drown us both?” Anton says in frustration.
“You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back,” Vincent said resolutely.
Terrified, Anton turns around and desperately begins swimming back to the shore. Eventually, Anton begins to drown and Vincent saves him and pulls him back to shore, swimming on his back and looking up into the sky.
When was the last time you wanted something badly enough to die for it? Similarly, when was the last time you were willing to actually live for something?
I’m certain there is SO MUCH in your life right now that is worth living for. You have people in your life right now that you’re taking for granted. You have an endless well of untapped potential within you, just sitting dormant.
There is no next opportunity, only the one right in front of you.
When are you going to start living?
Nothing can stop you once you decide what you want. But you have to decide. To quote Napoleon Hill, “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
Are you proactive? If so, check out my 7-page checklist of the most effective morning activities. Life awards the doers.
Originally published at medium.com