If you do what’s easy, life is hard. And if you do what’s hard, life is easy.
In the past few years, the world and social media have been flooded with self-help gurus that fed into people’s insecurities and told them exactly what they wanted to hear: relax, you can win at life if you’re positive enough. That’s all you have to do.
Like any self-respecting self-taught student of life, I also bought into the false teachings, plus a lot of books and expensive seminars.
Would I say it was a complete loss? Absolutely not. I’d say it was a gain, from 3 points of view.
They made me feel amazing.
When everybody tells you how great you are and that you can change the world with the power of your mind, you feel like a million bucks. It’s the same feeling that will keep you from getting a million bucks, but that’s a different matter. It would be a huge win in and of itself, but it doesn’t last. That’s the drama.
I learned how to meditate.
Prompted by the general trend towards meditation and journaling, I started to meditate and learned how to do it properly. I can say without a doubt that if I had to choose just one best thing that I ever did for myself, it’s meditation.
I pursued my true calling.
With my self-esteem inflated by all the positive messages, I had the guts to leave my corporate job and start a life as a creator. It’s a move that I never regretted for a second. I have no doubt that being a creator is my true calling and it’s a pity to waste it on unfulfilling jobs, more fitted for people who are not artists at heart.
Did all the self-help gurus deliver on what they said they would: success, wealth, and money? Absolutely not. They did create the confidence premise for that to happen, but they didn’t just underdeliver, they also made sure that the whole endeavor would stop at the premise.
After years of struggle and daydreaming about how awesome my life could be if the universe would just deliver what I was fervently asking of it, I finally figured it out.
The universe is not my courier service. It doesn’t deliver. I’ll have to get out and get it.
So instead of reading all the ‘secret’ books and going to all the Bali retreats, I read what successful people were doing. And got off my comfy couch and started to do the work.
Here’s what I discovered:
1. Feeling good about yourself keeps you poor.
Success doesn’t come from feeling good about yourself.
Success comes from a drive to prove yourself to the world, from a need to be loved by the crowds, from an inner desire to finally make your father happy, or an obsession with a field that makes you ruin your health and spend countless nights in the lab.
If you feel good about who you are and where you’re at in life, you just don’t have the necessary superhuman drive to outwork and outsmart everybody else.
If you’re not driven by inner forces that make you need massive success, if you’re content with yourself and even mildly happy, I’d say you’re in the best position of all.
But if you want to get everything you’re looking for, you need to do everything others are not.
Look at the very successful people out there: they work their life away, and they sacrifice their families and themselves, all on the altar of a fickle success god that asks for everything you have, including your soul.
Pain is the price of admission. Know what you want and decide if you’re willing to pay the price. And also know that success comes with self-sacrifice. If you like your Self, why would you sacrifice it?
2. Letting others treat you like shit makes your life miserable.
Haven’t we all been there? I know I have. An entitled boss, bad friends, or toxic lovers.
See if these sound familiar: ‘If we just give it time, I’m sure s/he’ll change.’ ‘They’re just having a bad day, they didn’t mean to say that.’ ‘Maybe if I work weekends my boss will finally see me. Acknowledge my hard work and treat me like a human being.’
In most cases, they won’t. They’ll never see you because they don’t care about you and they’ll never treat you better because they like treating people like crap.
There is only one person in your life responsible for treating you well and you have full control over them. Even when it feels like you don’t. That person is you.
Abusive treatment is not something you should tolerate. The moment you figure out what’s going on, you need to ask for better treatment. If nothing changes, leave.
The time spent being treated like shit will undermine your self-confidence and your mental health. If you stay there enough, it will come for your physical health as well.
And no, you won’t get that promotion, the love you’re looking for, or the respect of your friends. The premise is already screwed from the get-go.
People don’t abuse or treat badly the ones they consider equal. They do it to the ones they deem inferior or want to use.
You’re wasting your time. Get out as soon as you can.
3. The biggest part of success is failure.
If you imagine your road to success as this smooth upward path where you smile all the way, you are sadly mistaken, just like I was.
Success is ridden with more failure than you’ll be able to count. It’s like an iceberg: the bright and happy small tip that surfaces above the water rests on a mountain of hard work and failed endeavors.
In my case, I always start off awesome. The first 6 months to a year worked out great. Like an arrow shooting upwards, with a beautiful increasing trajectory. And then, out of nowhere, the arrow falls right off from the sky onto the ground.
And it happens to everybody. Usually, you don’t even get the first few months of beautiful growth. And sometimes it’s better that way. Because when you are successful right off the bat and then fail, it’s devastating and much more difficult to keep at it. That’s where I lost hope and gave up.
And that’s exactly what you shouldn’t give up. When you fail at something it’s not a sign from the universe that you’re going in the wrong direction and should quit. The universe is not your personal trainer.
Just keep doing the work. If it was successful for a while it means you were doing something right. Don’t just give up because you had one off-month. Or 3 or 6. It takes time, hard work, and a lot of commitment to reach your goals, no matter what they are.
In fact, when you’re working on something, failure is your best ally. It shows you what you’re doing wrong and where you can adapt to reach even higher levels in the future.
Stop fooling yourself that you can get anything you want by just smiling and saying 5 affirmations a day. Those don’t help you more than a cup of coffee.
There are universal rules that you can’t ignore. The vast majority of people who achieved their goals used them because they work. No frills, no guessing games. Only results.
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