“Everything is reps and mileage.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
During my first 4.5 years of blogging, I pitched guest posts to every website. I emailed every influencer. I tweeted every writer. I hand-wrote letters to best-selling authors and asked if they would mentor me.
Maybe 5% ever responded — most of which were thanks-but-no-thanks rejections.
But 2 years ago ago, I finally started taking myself and my writing extremely seriously. I started focusing on the process, not the outcome. I stopped emailing websites hoping people would say yes and just focused on building something people could no longer ignore.
The results were astounding. To name a few:
I began attracting enormous success when I made PROGRESS my biggest goal.
I finally stopped chasing success. I knew the more I improved, the more success I would attract; success would take care of itself.
In his autobiography, Bryan Cranston (Walter White of the renowned Breaking Bad) described the lesson he learned that helped him go from an average actor to an extraordinary one. Here’s what he wrote:
“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living…but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.
I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.
I was going to give something.
I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Take come chances. Enjoy the process.”
Cranston went on to say after he made this mindset shift, he felt much more relaxed and free. There was no longer any pressure, because the outcome was irrelevant. “Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into,” he wrote. “Which meant I could relax. I was free.”
Soon after this shift, Cranston was offered a role in the wildly popular Malcolm in the Middle, for which he was nominated for 3 Emmy awards. He is now one of the most respected and well-known actors in the world.
Ordinary people focus on the outcome. But extraordinary people focus on the process. This is how they achieve such enormous goals.
“Ignore what other people are doing. Ignore what’s going on around you. There is no competition. There is no objective benchmark to hit. There is simply the best you can do — that’s all that matters.” –Ryan Holiday
A lot of people base their success on how much better they are than “the competition” — other companies, colleagues, coworkers, even friends and family. You “win” by beating “them.”
This is ordinary thinking. It’s how most of the world works. It’s how most companies work.
But extraordinary companies, sports teams, and individuals don’t focus on beating the competition. They become extraordinary by focusing on what they’re incredible at, and practicing that skill for a long time.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins spent years researching the world’s most successful companies and how they sustained their success for so long. He wrote:
“Those who built good-to-great companies weren’t motivated by fear. They weren’t driven by fear of what they didn’t understand. They weren’t driven by fear of looking like a chump. They weren’t by fear of watching others hit it big while they didn’t. They weren’t driven by the fear of being hammered by the competition.”
Most people act from fear and pain-avoidance. They play it safe, and operate on the same playing field as their competition, hoping to be slightly better.
High-level thinking does the opposite. They don’t play it safe; they put all their eggs in one basket, and put 100% of their focus in that basket.
When you change your focus from the competition and back onto what you need to do today to win, a shift happens. You feel less anxious, less tense, and more free.
You can’t control the competition, you can only control yourself. Focusing on the competition creates anxiety; focusing on you brings relief.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.” -Ernest Hemingway
“Small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.” -Darren Hardy
Personal evolution stems from small, good choices, every day.
In the past year, I’ve read over a dozen autobiographies from very successful people — Kevin Hart, Steve Martin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tina Fey, Phil Knight, Stephen King, etc. And you know what one of the most common themes was?
They all reached success from making good choices, every day. Small, good choices.
Working out. Eating right. Writing. Reading a book. Meeting a good person to know. Practicing their craft. Going to bed on time.
Little things. And these things add up.
One of best leadership coaches in the past century John Maxwell once wrote:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”
A lot of people think successful people know a ton of secrets the rest of us don’t know; how to “diversify their portfolio” or “grow their influence” or “get rich quick.”
What I’ve seen from countless interviews and stories of these successful people doesn’t show that at all.
Honestly, it seems like they just kept making small, good choices longer than those around them.
Small, seemingly inconsistent steps create enormous momentum in your life.Consistency is hard, and those who choose to remain consistent are usually the ones who end up winning.
I’ve been writing for over 6 years now. The first 4.5 years, I never wrote consistently. Finally, I was sick and tired of all the failure, so I decided to be consistent. I wrote every day for a month.
By the end of that month, I saw my view go up from 1,000 views/month to 40,000 views/month.
A few months later of that consistency, and it was up to 300,000+ views/month.
There were other factors — I was writing in the right place at the time right, and so on. But I’ve also learned that these factors — “luck” — only apply to those who do the work.
What are some small, good choices you can make today?
Now do them.
“Every day, check these 4 boxes: Have I improved 1% on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health?” -James Altucher
“Big changes come in small packages.” -Tim Ferriss
Small tweaks can result in enormous change.
Entering into the top of your field actually isn’t that complicated. Not everyone can be Michael Jordan or Beyoncé; almost anyone can become very good at something over time.
You get here by focusing on the small things.
Nick Saban is one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, with 6 championships and counting.
A reporter once asked him how he got to be so successful. He thought for a minute, and described the mentality he teaches his teams:
“Don’t think about winning the SEC Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you needed to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.”
A lot of people are focusing on big goals: becoming a millionaire, starting a huge company, writing a New York Times #1 best-seller.
But when you look at the people that have actually done these things, you realize that they just focused on the small, simple steps of the larger process, every day. Eventually, they reach their goal.
The American author George Lorimer once gave this advice to his young son entering the business world: “Most people would rather make a million dollars in their head every night than $100 dollars in cash every day.”
Don’t waste time and energy dreaming without action.
Focus on the small things, and the big things will follow.
Focus on the micro, and the macro will take care of itself.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to achieve a goal — and not hate your life in the meantime — is to take it one day at a time.
Years ago, I used to live on top of a huge hill. My goal was to bike up the hill without stopping.
I tried for weeks, with all kinds of strategies — getting a big head start full of speed, going in zig-zags, drinking gatorade for the sugar rush…but nothing worked. I’d always quit halfway.
Finally, I made a rule that I wasn’t allowed to look up — I could only look straight down at the pedals. (Frankly, I was a bit worried I’d run into someone because I wasn’t looking).
See, every time I looked at the top, I was exhausted and tired, and seeing how far I had to go broke my spirit.
But this latest strategy worked!
It was the slowest pace I’d done. I felt like an idiot looking down. But pedal by pedal, I focused on the process. I focused on the micro, and the macro took care of itself.
Just take it pedal by pedal.
If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.