“Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value.”
– Albert Einstein
“Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
– Thomas Alva Edison
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
– Proverbs 26:11
I Now Know What I Knew*
It was an early Saturday morning many years ago, and I was talking to my good friend Benjo after a short run, and he asked me, “So what have you learned from your latest adventure?” (I had just concluded a relationship at the time.)
“I now know what I knew.” I told him. We both laughed, understanding that many times life’s lessons are not new discoveries but a reminder of a lesson we had already been taught.
“It’s funny but sad” he said. “Sad but true.” I replied.
I’m reminded of that story as I share my thoughts on the proliferation of blogs, talks, and books offering advice. I guess you can say that I’m a contributor to this mass of information with my own talks, blog, and a book in the works so I’m probably shooting myself on the foot by saying this, and I hope you remember it:
You don’t need to read my blog (and most blogs). You don’t need to go to my talks (and most talks). And You don’t need to buy my book when it comes out (and most books).
What we need is to apply the best advice we’ve already heard faithfully. That process is not as exciting or inspiring as a talk or something well-written. It many times feels like the opposite, feeling more like a boring routine, or a tiring plod, or a frustrating effort – but it’s what gets results.
*Shared this story in an old post
The Best Advice We’ve Already Heard
A few years ago, a viral video of Ashton Kutcher telling young people that what is “sexy” is someone who is really really smart and works really hard. People started applauding, liking, and sharing. While I think it’s great that someone with so much influence with the young is encouraging them to do the necessary things, there’s really nothing original about what he was saying. Those were the same things my parents were telling me, what many (if not most) parents are telling their kids, and that’s what their parents were telling them when they were young. Studying and learning makes you smart. Working hard makes you successful. That’s not cool new insight. That’s ancient wisdom.
Here are some of the best advice we’ve already heard:
– But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 25:33
– Work extremely hard
– Be disciplined
– Be honest
– Continuously improve
– Work extremely hard
– Save as much as you can
– Spend less than you make
– Invest in people you trust
– Be generous
– Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 5:34
– Get the right nutrition with a good diet and supplements
– Drink a lot of water
– Exercise daily
– Get enough deep sleep
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 26:37-40
“You just told us we didn’t have to read your blog!”
I did. I said you didn’t have to. You’re free to read them if you enjoy them. Just don’t think they’ll help you get anywhere if you’re not applying the simple advice you’ve already heard.
Faithful with the Little Things
Life is tough. It really is. And anyone who has been an entrepreneur knows that things rarely go according to plan. While we plan based on what we know, we prepare, as best as we can, for unforeseen things. This is why it is important that we mature – which simply means growing into someone ripe for a purpose.
To be immature means to “no longer be ripe” or in other words “spoiled”. For me, one glaring proof of a spoiled person is someone who cannot sustain difficult or boring work.
In this information age, it’s easy to go from one great idea to the next, thinking that through our short interaction with the content we have somehow understood. But no one can claim understanding from superficial experiences. Understanding comes from deep experiences. Deep experiences come from sustained engagement. Staying faithful to something gives us deep experiences that lead to greater understanding. Again, we see the wisdom of the Bible:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
– Luke 16:10
The reason why we don’t have more is not because we missed a blog post or a talk or a seminar or a conference. The reason why we don’t have more is because we’ve been dishonest with what we already have and already know. Receiving more won’t make us have more in the end. As the verse says, if we can’t handle the little we won’t be able to handle much.
That is why this year, I’m limiting myself to less books, less podcasts, less investments, and less of everything. Instead, I’m starting where I am today with what I have today, and work on being faithful.