Sometimes subtraction is the best addition. Sometimes
what you stop doing can be just as effective as what you start
Want to get more done than the average person? Stop thinking
the way the average person does.
Step 1: Stop making excuses for doing less.
Norman Mailer said, “Being a real writer means being able to do
the work on a bad day.”
Say you’re a manager. When you’re having a bad day, are you
a great leader? If not, you’re not a real leader. Or say you’re a
nurse. When you’re having a bad day, are you as focused, as attentive,
and as caring? If not, you’re a nurse in title, not in fact.
If you want to succeed, you can’t make excuses. Forge ahead.
Establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort.
Success and achievement are habits, and it’s incredibly easy to
instantly create a bad habit by giving in, even just once.
Plus, the moment you make an excuse for doing less is the
moment you stop the virtuous cycle of motivation in its tracks.
Without achievement, there is no motivation.
There are just excuses.
Step 2: Stop letting disapproval, or even scorn, stand
in your way.
Work too hard, strive too hard, appear to be too ambitious, try
to stand out from the crowd . . . It’s a lot easier, and much more
comfortable, to reel it in so that you fit in.
Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd is something you
simply can’t worry about. (You may think about it, but then you have to keep pushing forward. And yes, I know, that’s hard. I
struggle with it too.)
To succeed, hear the criticism, take the potshots, endure the
laughter or derision or even hostility—and stick to measuring
yourself and your efforts by your own standards.
Seemingly every successful person has faced tremendous
criticism and rejection. Stephen King’s first book was rejected by
thirty different publishers. Soichiro Honda flunked his interview
with Toyota and decided to make scooters. Lucille Ball was told
by acting teachers to try another profession. If you’re trying to do
something different—if you’re trying to be different—other people
will think you’re odd. That’s okay. Do what you want to do.
That’s the only way to achieve what you want to achieve.
Step 3: Stop letting fear hold you back.
An old client of mine is an outstanding and extremely successful
comic. Audiences love him. He’s crazy good. Yet he still has
panic attacks before he walks onstage. He knows he’ll melt
down, sweat through his shirt, feel sick to his stomach, and all
the rest. It’s just the way he is.
So just before he goes on he takes a quick shower, puts on
fresh clothes, drinks a bottle of water, jumps up and down, and
does a little shadowboxing. He’s still scared. He knows he’ll always
be scared. He accepts it as part of the process. Preshow fear
is part of the deal. So he manages it—and keeps moving forward. Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous. Anyone
trying to achieve great things gets scared.
To succeed, you don’t have to be braver than other people;
you just need to find the strength to keep moving forward. Fear
is paralyzing, but action creates confidence and self-assurance.
Step 4: Stop waiting for inspiration.
Most people wait for an idea. Most people think creativity happens.
They expect a divine muse will someday show them a new
way, a new approach, or a new concept.
And they wait and wait and wait.
Occasionally, great ideas do just come to us. Mostly, though,
creativity is the result of effort: toiling, striving, refining, testing,
and experimenting. The work itself results in inspiration.
Don’t wait for ideas. Don’t wait for inspiration. Big ideas
most often come from people who do, not people who dream.
Step 5: Stop turning down the help you need.
Pretend you’ve traveled to an unfamiliar country, you know only
a few words of the language, and you’re lost and a little scared.
Would you ask for help? Of course.
No one knows everything. No one is great at everything. Yet
most people soldier on and hope effort will overcome a lack of
knowledge or skill. And it does, but only to a point. Ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of strength—and is the
key to achieving a lot more. Ask Dany Garcia, cofounder of Seven
Bucks Productions with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. “One of
Dwayne’s keys to success is he can detach his ego completely
and care solely about who has the best answers,” Dany says.
“He’s extremely coachable. He’s really coachable in wrestling;
as an actor he’s really coachable. . . . He’s totally detached from
the ego side of decision making. When you’re talented and
coachable and willing to find the best answer, no matter who has
it or where it comes from, that’s extremely powerful.”
Take a step back and don’t just decide where you want to go.
What, and who, can help you get there?
Step 6: Stop stopping.
Successful people finish—unless there’s a very, very good reason
not to finish, which, of course, there almost never is.
Excerpted from The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Jeff Haden, 2018.