I heard some very powerful words this week from a CEO that I respect immensely. It was one of those times where you feel convicted and know immediately that you need to improve at something. The meat and potatoes of what he said was ” People justify lack of action because of external circumstances.” This one really hit home with me and I am sure many people can relate at some level.
From working as a firefighter/paramedic, recruiter, and in sales in the past, I heard it thousands of times (literally). “I can’t because I don’t have enough time. I can’t because I just moved into a new house and am settling in. I can’t because I might have a new job in a few months. I can’t because I am not in the best shape right now.” I must say these excuses would frustrate me almost every time. The conviction came from realizing that I am that person sometimes too.. Although it was hard to admit to myself.
A great example (I will go into greater detail in another blog post) was the last 8 days for me. Since high school, I have gotten debilitating migraines. Whenever they happen, I lose my vision within 30 minutes and eventually it looks like I am looking through a kaleidoscope. It makes me nauseous to even think about it.. After an hour, I start vomiting like I have food poisoning. I can’t look into the light or any type of screens, and I can’t hear anything too loud. I just have to attempt to lay there in the dark, even though I can’t sit still because of the pain in my head. This migraine 8 days ago was the worst I had ever had. I ended up throwing up 40 – 50 times, and it didn’t go away for over a week. Normally, they are 3 days long and by day 2, I can start to function almost normally. Not this one though.
The worst part of it all was after a few days I started feeling sorry for myself and mad at the world, until I heard those words about “external circumstances.” Almost every champion or high achiever I know has dealt with countless negative external circumstances while pursuing greatness at the same time. They don’t let anything stop them, and always fight through the obstacles. Instead of the “poor me” type of mentality, they find solutions. They take action and do so relentlessly. Think of Kobe Bryant when he ruptured his Achilles. He stayed in the game and sank 2 free throws, and the Lakers went on to beat the Warriors 118-116. Absolutely incredible.
Although it is always easier said than done, these set backs or external circumstances can be used to help us improve in some way. These set backs can help you create a calloused mind like a Navy SEAL, or force you to improve on a lacking skill. For me with the migraine that lasted over a week, it forced me to be more focused and intentional every time I work. At times I felt like I was wearing a badge of honor for working 14 hour days and grinding non stop. Although grit is needed in success, working for 14 hours just to say you worked for 14 hours.. is pretty pointless. All of the effort doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t produce results at some point. Since staring at a computer screen all day long strained my eyes to the point of a migraine, it later forced me to work with intent, and stay highly focused with the task I was doing. I now execute my important tasks with purpose, and then take short breaks to give my eyes a rest. The migraine ultimately has improved my skills that were lacking beforehand.
Let’s go through these challenges head on regardless of external circumstances. Let’s use these obstacles to help us develop our skills. Let’s take imperfect, but relentless action every day to move the needle. Next time you tell yourself that you don’t have enough time… you know what to do.
Stay Mission Driven everyone.