I’ve always been an over-achiever.
I’ve strived for perfection in everything I’ve done (and everything I do), and been relentless in my pursuit of achievement – of making a difference in the World in one meaningful way or another.
I’ve also always believed that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to – have I failed? Yes – many times. But I always believe I’ll win… I know the risks, and I have full knowledge of the odds often stacked against me, but I believe it anyway.
The thing is, as the late great Henry Ford is famous for saying, ‘whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right’.
So, given what I’ve just told you about myself, it probably doesn’t surprise you to be told that I’ve always tried extremely hard at everything I’ve endeavoured to accomplish in my life. But that’s a good thing, right?
Yes, and no.
You see, it’s important to put the effort in when you’re trying to achieve something, but what I see a lot of these days (and what I now see a lot of in my past actions and approach) is people trying really hard but focusing all their efforts in the wrong places.
Where focus goes, energy flows… and results show.
If you focus on working hard, and trying hard then that’s what you’re going to see more of in your life… hard things!
A great example of this in my history is my time as a musician playing in various bands. We would be rehearsing 3 times a week, playing 2-3 gigs a week when we were fully booked, and doing all the press promotion and social media stuff on top of that. We wanted it bad, and we were trying really hard to get to where we wanted to be; too hard.
Looking back now, I can see that I lost my focus on the things that were really important to me – the music, the creativity and the people we met along the way. Over time, I became more and more focused on success and ‘making it’ whilst my focus simultaneously shifted away from where it should have been; the music, the creative process, and the people. It was for this reason that we struggled, despite how hard we tried and how much work we put in – our focus became the work, and so that’s what we manifested more of rather than realising the success we so desperately wanted.
But that was precisely the problem – we wanted to make amazing music that touched the hearts and souls of millions, but our focus had slowly shifted to being successful rather than keeping our sights set on the components of success.
Don’t focus on being successful! Don’t try hard and work hard to be successful – focus, and direct your efforts towards the components – the individual constituents – that will deliver you there. The success element is unimportant, yet we place so much focus on it – our intent lies in achieving success, when our intend should be intensely focused on being the best we can be in our chosen field, in our social groups, and in our recreational activities.
The same can be extrapolated to our relationships – ever been in a relationship where you’ve had to try really hard to make it work but nothing seems to work? Well, the same principals can be applied; are you focused on making the relationship work or are you focused on being the best person you can be? If you’re currently single and looking for a relationship, maybe you’re trying really hard to find ‘the one’, yet you find yourself increasingly and constantly frustrated with your results, ask yourself; where’s my focus? Is it on finding the right partner, or is it on being the man/woman you need to be to deserve and be attractive to the type of person you think you want in your life? Can you see the difference here?
It almost seems selfish to focus on yourself I hear some of you cry! Bullshit.
When you’re flying and the flight attendants demonstrate the safety procedures before take off, you’re told that if you’re with children and there’s an emergency then you are to put your own oxygen mask on first, BEFORE you put one on your child. Why do you think this is? It’s because you can’t help anyone when you’re dead!
It’s the same argument for building wealth – those people who say and think that money is the root of all evil have a twisted view of the situation that’s coloured in a negative way by nothing more than their own filters and subsequent pre-conceptions. But ask yourself this; how many people can I help earning minimum wage? Write the number down. Then ask yourself, how many people can I help with a billion pounds? Write the number down. Is there a big difference between those two numbers? I bet there is.
The thing is, you have to help yourself before you can help others. This can be viewed in the mother/child sense in a different way too – if a mother is so busy running around trying to take care of everyone but herself, then her health will suffer fairly quickly and could even result in death if she doesn’t take due care of her health and wellbeing and pushed herself too far, too many times. Who’s going to look after the children then? Mother’s can really struggle with this concept, but it’s an important one to grasp. You need to take care of yourself and build yourself up to be the best you can be in order for you to be in a position to give the best of yourself in service to others.
Looking after yourself first is not selfish! It is a must if you want to serve others to the best of your ability, and service to others is a key human need that we all have an in-built desire to fulfil. So, apply it here. Look at changing yourself before you look changing others. Look at working hard on being better rather than working hard on the result. Forget the result – it’s the journey that’s important. How you travel is everything, because in the end life is like an orgasm – you have 5 minutes of build up, culminating in a split second of pleasure which is then extinguished almost in the same instant it appears. It’s the journey, the process, that we live in, and so our focus should be directed towards traveling through life in the best vehicle possible with the stark realisation that we can always be better. Travel well, enjoy the journey, and try not to worry too much about the destination – it’s how we get there that counts.
Ultimately, the only thing you truly have control over is yourself; your thoughts, your emotions, your decisions and your resulting actions. You cannot control external events, other people or the weather – so focus on what you do have power over, and that’s your own faculties, perceptions and decisions.
When you focus on your passion, you get more of what you are passionate about in life; and the great thing is that when you have more passion in your life, success is often a pleasant by-product of your passionate focus!
Stop trying so hard to succeed, and try harder to live a fulfilled life of passion expressed through every word, every action and every thought. Do this, and success will take care of itself. Love the process, and always aim to serve.