As I write this blog post, it’s 5:20 am and I’m sitting here on a cruise ship, waiting for the gym to open. This is a My Little Pony themed ship mind you….it’s for my kids and during the day I’m surrounded by people with their families, friends and loved ones. It’s a beautiful sight for the most part. However, being a cruise, there are, of course copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and right smack dab in the middle of the ship is a Casino, for those who haven’t quite figured out how to waste ALL of their money yet. Don’t get me wrong, the beauty of the cruise far outweighs the negative images of drunk gamblers, but it’s fairly clear to see that many of these folks are drowning their desperation in alcohol, excess food and gambling. I can see this because they don’t even look happy while eating and drinking. This is normal for them. This cruise may be an attempt to escape their everyday life, but as the saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”
This leads me to a few concepts that I have come across on the nature of fulfillment and success that have stuck with me over the years. Success is fairly easy because it leaves clues. Millionaires and billionaires are common today. Their blueprints are there for anyone to look at should they wish to. What is less common is someone who is truly happy and walks around with a sense of fulfillment. Just look how many rich people consume drugs and alcohol to numb themselves from the problems of life that money cannot fix. The issue I think comes down to focus. The word focus, has been on my mind as of late. Over the last seven months I’ve become more focused- laser focused even, on achieving certain things in my life. But I have also tried to pay attention to exactly what I am focussing on, or what the story is that I’m telling myself about what is happening. Energy flows where focus goes. When I decided that I was focused on returning to the bodybuilding stage, I had to make sure I was focusing on the right things, the right people and the right lessons to achieve what I wanted. I had to sacrifice the distractions in my life. I stopped drinking completely. I gave up trying to help certain people because I was allowing my energy to be sucked away. My focus became a set of disciplines and that became strength. Mostly, I had to analyze what I was focusing on and whether or not I was focusing on my problems or my outcomes.
BE OUTCOME FOCUSED
I believe firmly that whatever you focus on you find. If you’re looking for problems with someone, you will find them. I also believe that most people focus on the things they DO NOT WANT rather than what their desired outcome is. If you are a problem focused individual, this may be a good example of the conversations in your head; “There’s never enough money. See, people can’t be trusted! I have to do everything myself. I never get what I want because I’m not special. I’ll never be rich. I can’t overcome this problem. I’ll never find someone to love. I deserve to be alone.” When these thoughts are running through your head, it’s important to remember that you are focussing on your problems rather than what you really want. I realize it’s easy to focus on the problems because life seems to be a series of obstacles that stand in the way of what we want. However, if that’s true, it would be just as easy to see problems as normal and not things that need to dominate your mind space.
IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS
When thinking about how important focus truly is, it would serve us well to remember that energy, if focused can do seemingly impossible things. A simple ray of light from the sun, if focused through a shot glass can produce extreme heat and fire. Think about this when looking to set fire to an endeavor in your life. Likewise, some of the best investors and businessmen in the world offer similar advice; the best investment you can make is to focus on on thing you’re good at, and put all your effort into that one thing. “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket”, as Andrew Carnegie put it. Diversification is often overrated. Focus is more effective. Nothing is as powerful as concentrated human effort.
As important as focussed effort is, it cannot occur without first identifying your purpose and desires and then subsequently eliminating all distractions that do not fall in line with achieving that purpose. A burning desire is fine, but if you are distracted by television, social media, gossip, the news, family that doesn’t support you, friends that are toxic…whatever the distraction is it must be eliminated. That sounds harsh, but I stand by those words. Focus and distraction cannot co-exist. My distractions were the news, drinking, eating out too often and finding fault with things and people that I had no control over. Refining my philosophy helped eliminate the distractions in my life.
So the steps here are: 1. Identify your chief desire or purpose in life.
2. Get so focussed on achieving that desire that the people you need in your life will be attracted to you and help you achieve it. (The point is not that you have to go the road alone, but rather the RIGHT PEOPLE will come into your life when you are focussed.)
PIG- HEADED DETERMINATION
One of the concepts that stuck with me from a great book, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes was that of Pig Headed determination. What he is really talking about is perseverance at all costs, but he highlights that others will see you as pig-headed when you set out on your journey. And….that’s okay! That’s what it takes sometimes to get what you really want. Note: this does not give anyone permission to be mean or violate the rights of others. Pig-headed determination simply implies that nothing or no one will deter you from arriving at your destination in life. No one can truly be successful without others, so being pig- headed does not in anyway imply that you should be abrasive or rude, rather it suggests never being distracted while finding harmony with others and working together to achieve your burning desire.
This is the hardest concept for most people to nail down. The Stoics believe that our purpose is to live in accordance with nature. They also believed that our primary job as humans is to be “good people.” I agree with the latter more than the former. As humans, we have always defied nature. Although I understand that by referencing nature, the Stoics are suggesting that we don’t waste time on things outside our control– nature. While this is true, I would suggest that too many philosophies have taken nature to mean that we shouldn’t try to alter our environment and change our external circumstances. I couldn’t disagree more. Humans were never intended to fly, yet millions do in airplanes daily. The human desire to achieve more and defy nature and genetics is what makes us human. We get to choose. We don’t have to follow nature. If it’s cold, we don’t have to fly south. We can wear a coat and turn on the heater.
So the idea of purpose really comes down to answering three questions in my opinion:
What can you do exceptionally well, if not be among the best in the world at?
How can your work help others so that more may prosper from your existence in the world? (Fulfillment)
How much value can you offer others and how much do you demand from the marketplace for your services?
Once you have answered these questions, you have found your purpose. And here’s the thing; although your work may change throughout your life, the truth is your purpose is to do the work at hand the best you possibly can. That’s all. It’s not complicated. Do the work the best you can. If the work doesn’t suit you, change it. But, don’t blame the work for your lack of effort. If your job is to sweep the floor, do it the best you can. That’s your purpose in the moment.
I hope this helps anyone looking to hone in on an endeavor in life. My goal in writing all articles is as much to help others as to remind myself of truths I have discovered in my own life. In other words, I write to remind myself of my own advice as much as any other reason. So, in closing please remember.
-Focus on what your want and keep your mind off of what you don’t want.
-Identify and eliminate all distractions that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It may help to make a DO NOT DO list. Like, do not watch TV after 9pm, do not eat sugar….whatever you know is harming you.
-Ask questions to discover your purpose so that you may align yourself with a plan to achieve your desire.
-Never forget that the ultimate goal is to always grow and then give beyond yourself because fulfillment comes from growth and giving.