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Today, we talk about the habits of successful people.
There’s nothing stopping you from getting what you want in life except yourself.
We kick the episode off with three things you should stop doing immediately (going to bed late, saying yes, and quitting), but then get into the habits that will enable success for you (hyper focus, massive action, writing, reading, ignoring negativity, future focus, and much more!).
Success means a lot of things to different people. We share definitions of success from over a dozen Community members in the first half of the show.
To me, success is freedom. It’s choice. Success is doing what you want to do when you want to do it. At least, that’s the selfish part. I also believe it’s defined by the amount of people who are able to live a better and more fulfilled life as a result of what you’ve done.
However you define it, this episode is sure to help just about anyone reach any definition of success for themselves.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- #1 STOP going to bed late.
- #2 STOP saying yes.
- #3 STOP quitting.
- You can be successful as a night owl, but you’ll be more successful as a morning person.
- Saying no frees up your capacity to say yes to the right thing.
- Failure is a hurdle, not a roadblock.
- You will know that you’re on the way to being successful when you have extreme clarity.
- A successful early morning routine starts the night before.
- Your ability to delay gratification is directly tied to your ability to achieve success.
- If you want to be successful, you need to start writing.
- You cannot be successful without getting your spouse on board 100%.
- You don’t end up where you want to go by saying yes to a lot of mediocre opportunities.
- Don’t dwell on the past—learn from it.
- 05:42 Sean: What I didn’t want for today’s episode was a big philosophical discussion on success, because obviously, it means different things to everyone. Instead, I decided to ask the Community members, who are listening live right now, what their definition of success is, and I’m going to share it with everyone. I have my own definition of success, which has two parts.
- 06:08 To me, success is freedom, choice, and doing what you want to do when you want to do it. That’s how I would define success on a personal level. A decent definition would also be that success is the amount of people who are able to lead a better, more fulfilled life as a result of what you’ve done. That’s a more external success definition for me.
- 06:42 Ben: I think I’ve got a lot of different ways that I define success. There is some part of it that is attached to accomplishments and number of lives touched. Some part of it is attached to where I am in life and the kinds of freedoms I have afforded myself. There’s another part of it that is more passive in nature, more self-focused. I’m successful when in my circumstances and whatever is going on around me, I take responsibility for my happiness and my contentment in that situation.
I’m successful when I’m not basing my happiness and contentment on external things.
- 07:51 Sean: Ayah says, “Success is when you realize you are doing what you are created to do.” Radrad said, “Never having to worry about where the money will come from, which affords you the freedom to do whatever, whenever.” That one was similar to what I was saying. Cory Miller says, “Fulfillment in anything you are working to accomplish. Even if you never complete the thing you are working toward, you can still be successful because of who you’ve become.”
- 08:22 Femke says, “Making a living with your passion and having a healthy work/life balance.” Eric says, “Have no regret and knowing that I did the best I could.” As an extension of one we touched on earlier, they added, “Having enough for yourself so you can in turn help others achieve their goals/dreams.” Zach says, “Sustainable independence that allows the freedom to choose what fulfills you.” Cynthia says, “Having enough to be able to provide for your family and for those around you (be that time, money, emotional support).”
- 08:56 Scotty says, “Success is knowing that I’m able to show up each day and do what I love. Success is the constant climb to become the best version of myself while I empower others to do the same. Success is fulfillment in what I do. I am successful.” Daniela says, “Leaving the world knowing you did everything you could to better the lives of those around you. ‘Everything you could’ is enough. No regrets.” Micah says, “Watching something that started as an idea become reality. There are many ‘end results’ tied to that, but that’s it in a nutshell for me.” Steve says, “The achievement of a goal, or fulfillment in the pursuit of a goal.”
- 09:37 Ben: I feel like I agree with all of those.
- 09:40 Sean: Those are really good. I like the ones that are personally about freedom and choice, but externally about helping others live a fulfilled life.
- 09:57 Ben: If you’re focusing on yourself in the right way, the natural overflow of that is that you make the lives of other people better. That’s a part of gaining true fulfillment.
There’s a piece of success missing if you’re not sharing what you have and making other peoples’ lives better.
- 10:20 Sean: The focus of today’s show is to help people achieve that definition of success for them. Whatever their definition is, we want to help them achieve that. It’s getting the life you want—getting a better life and defining the life you want to have. There’s nothing stopping you from getting what you want in life except yourself. I honestly believe that. I want people to come up with their own definitions of success, but in this episode, I want to be really practical about how to get there. We’re going to get to some habits of success later on, but I want to start with three things that you should stop doing.
#1 Stop Going to Bed Late
- 11:10 A lot of people know, because I’ve talked about it before, that I’m a night owl. I like staying up late. That’s my natural state. I like sleeping in. I don’t like getting up early. My mindset before was, “I do my best work at night,” because that’s when I felt good. Because I felt good then, that was when I did my work. It was this recursive thing, and I never tried anything else out. I heard more and more about people getting up early, so I decided to try it.
- 11:45 When I did, I logged the results, and I couldn’t argue with them. I was twice as productive! Now, I’m three times as productive as I was when I worked primarily at night. I only did the extra hustle at night. Last Thursday, when we were recording the previous show, I got five out of the six primary tasks that I needed to get done that day done by 8am. That didn’t even include the podcast and some other things, and that feeling was incredible. It’s just so good!
- 12:23 I tweeted this earlier, “I don’t wake up earlier because I enjoy it. I do it because I like who I am when I do.” People shared it, and every single time, someone comes out of the woodwork. This guy said, “You probably do it because it’s in your nature.” No, it’s not my nature. I’m a night owl. I said, “I really don’t like getting up early. I just couldn’t argue with the results.” I linked to our episode on #6am Club, where we talked about the epic results you get when you wake up and start work early.
- 13:10 He responded faster than he could have clicked on the link and read anything, and he said, “Good luck. Overturning your nature will result in misery and a shorter lifespan.” I didn’t reply. People tell themselves these narratives. Obviously, he doesn’t like getting up early. I didn’t like it either. We say, “I’m a night owl. You’re an early bird. That’s just the type of person you are. You do it because it’s in your nature.”
I wake up early because most successful people wake up early.
- 13:50 It’s just a fact. Most very powerful CEOs are up at 4:30am, if not in the office. There are reasons why people do this. There are scientific studies that show that you are going to be more productive. You’ll be healthier, you’ll be happier, but people tell themselves these stories and go out of their way to be negative to other people about it.
- 14:16 Ben: There is the side that would argue that if your natural rhythms fall into this pattern where going to bed late makes more sense, you’ll be more productive that way. Don’t impose your ideas about what somebody else’s rhythms might be or what works for you onto them. Also, test it for yourself and give it an honest look. Don’t say, “I tried getting up early, and I couldn’t get myself out of bed.” Give it an honest attempt and try to be as productive as possible both ways. Measure the results, and let the results speak for themselves. Let the results be the thing that helps you make that decision for yourself.
- 15:12 The results that I see in other people’s lives tend to lean toward waking up early as the thing that helps one to be more productive. From my own experience, when I stay up late and work, I have an easier time getting distracted. I’m tired and I know that bed is coming, and I’m looking forward to putting my head on the pillow, as opposed to having the whole day ahead of me. I might still experience some of the same distractions and sleepiness early in the morning, but I have the day ahead of me. I’m not at the end of the day, thinking about the things I did or didn’t do. All of these possibilities are opened up.
- 15:59 Sean: It’s like a new jar of peanut butter. You dip the knife in and it’s so clean. The first fruits of your efforts are going to be the most productive, not the leftovers, what’s at the bottom of the jar. If you’re burning the midnight oil, you’re running on fumes. I like what Ben is saying about encouraging people to try it out for themselves. See what the results are. Instead of knocking it before you’ve tried it, give it a shot, a real effort, and be honest about your output. How many words did you write if you woke up at 6am and you started writing? Compare that to your night owl behavior.
- 17:17 I’m saying this as a night owl. I don’t like getting up early, but I can’t argue with the results. I like being successful more than I like being right. Okay, I’m going to do this. It makes more sense. You can’t go to bed at 2am like you always do, wake up at 6am, and expect to feel good and be productive. If you do that, you’re going to have a bad time. You’re going to think that I’m a bad guy. You’re not going to feel good, and you’re going to say, “See Sean, you’re wrong. I feel terrible.”
A successful early morning starts with a good nighttime routine the night before.
- 17:55 If you want to wake up at 6am or at 4:30 and you want to get six hours, you’re going to have to go to bed at 10:30pm. You’re not just going to bed, but you need to have fallen asleep by 10:30pm. You need to be in bed by 10:10pm or 10:15pm, and that’s not time to read. If you want to read, you better back it up to 9:45pm. That’s not time to shower or brush your teeth. Now, you’re back to 9pm, and you need to be wrapping up whatever you do in the evening—relaxing, working, or watching TV. Keep backing it up. A successful morning starts with planning the day before. It starts with right now, as you’re listening to this podcast in the afternoon. Right now determines how you’re going to feel tomorrow.
- 18:52 Ben: One of the things that really saves me is the fact that we have to keep our kids in a nighttime routine. I was telling Sean in the pre-show that we had the weekend without kids, and it was really nice. Without the kids and the routine to keep us tied down, we were staying up really late. Fortunately, we got to sleep in, which was nice. We have to have the kids in the bath by a certain time, we have to brush their teeth, and then we have time to read stories with them. There’s this gradual winding down that we do with them, so I find myself getting really sleepy during reading time.
- 19:33 My body has gotten used to that rhythm. It works out really well. It’s difficult when you don’t have the self discipline or some external force making you do that on a regular basis, but developing that routine is vital to being able to go to bed early consistently so that you can wake up early consistently.
- 19:56 Sean: People may be wondering at this point, “Sean, are you really telling me that I can’t be succesful as a night owl?” I’m not saying that at all. You absolutely can be successful as a night owl, but you’ll be more successful as a morning person. You’ll be more successful as someone who wakes up early—the same person, if they discipline themselves. It’s not about what feels good, it’s about the results. People in the chat liked the, “I like being successful more than I like being right.” Do you want to be right or do you want to be successful? There’s a proven path here.
#2 Stop Saying Yes
- 20:51 Yes is expensive. Yes is extremely expensive, the most expensive word in the world. Every yes is 1,000 nos that you’re making, implicit or explicit. People are throwing it around like it’s nothing to them. They’re giving it away like it’s nothing, but it’s the most precious thing to you, your yes. You cannot say yes without saying no, so what are you saying no to? What opportunities are you missing out on because you’re saying yes to too many things? You’re missing out on the right yeses because you have no more yeses to give. You only have yeses to give when you say no. Everyone is thinking, “If I say no to everything, then I miss out on opportunities.”
If you say no to everything, it frees up your capacity to say yes to the right thing.
- 21:59 It’s that capacity, that freedom, that choice, that selectivity, that availability for the opportunities that come your way. How many opportunities have come your way that you don’t even know about? You don’t know what you don’t know. Opportunity cost is a hard thing to explain, but let’s say that you commit to something every Tuesday. It’s just a given. You think, “I have six other days in the week that I can say yes,” and you’re fine with that. You think, “All I’m giving up here is one yes.” You’re saying no to everything else that you could possibly do with that one yes, and you don’t know what all of those things are. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to say yes, but you want to be aware of it.
- 22:59 Ben: Don’t take this the wrong way. This isn’t, “Say no to everything.” There has to be a shift away from this tendency that we have to be yes people. It’s a cultural thing. Back when I was in a band and we were trying to get busier, Sean and I were in the band together, and this guy called me up and asked me at the last minute if we could come out. I had the mindset of, “I have to say yes to all these opportunities! If I don’t, I’m going to miss it. That person may not call me again.” When I told him yes, he said, “That’s great. The fact that you’re able to say yes and come out is going to serve you really well.” This is a cultural idea, the reason we tend to say yes more. Shifting away from that a little bit, you’ll start to see how powerful saying no is.
- 24:16 Sean: This is a big theme with the course Justin and I are doing at ValueBasedPricing.com. We did this entire focus on saying no. The shift you want to make is getting to a place where saying no is your default. For almost everyone in the world, saying yes is their default, and they have to convince themselves to say no. You want the opposite to be true. You want to have to convince yourself to say yes. Saying yes shouldn’t be a default, because saying yes fills time. It fills your capacity. The only word you have for creating time is the word no. The word no is your friend, and it should be your default.
- 25:00 Ben: If I think about these two phrases, “I wish I would have said yes to that,” or, “I wish I would have said no to that,” I have better feelings toward, “I wish I would have said yes to that.” “I wish I would have said no to that” is really yucky, because now I’m doing something I really don’t want to do. It comes with, “I wish I could have said yes to that.” Because I said yes to this, now I can’t say yes to that.
- 25:31 Sean: They’re super tied together. When you say, “I wish I said yes to that,” you probably didn’t because you didn’t have the capacity. Or, if you did have the capacity, you thought about the other things that you said yes to. You don’t have the capacity because you’re not saying no.
Because you’re not saying no and you’re giving away your yeses, the value of your yes goes down.
- 26:01 You commoditize your yes. As a result, everything you say yes to is something mediocre. All of the things you didn’t say no to, that you wish you had said no to but you instead said yes to, you now regret.
- 26:17 Ben: There’s another cost for having yes be your default, potentially. You overextend yourself, you overbook yourself, and you’re not able to fulfill all of your yeses. That costs you a lot in terms of your reputation and whether or not someone will ask you to do something again, because you weren’t able to deliver in the way they expected or at all. People who default to no are able to charge more, because they’re more dependable. Because they’ve said no to other things, they’ve made it possible for them to fully deliver on their yes. Their yes is worth a whole lot more. It’s not just the commoditization, but it’s the potential that your reputation is taking a hit because you’re not able to fulfill all of those yeses.
- 27:19 Sean: This reminds me of the word capacity, having the capacity to say yes. People think that successful people say yes all the time. “You must have took on every opportunity that you could get, and eventually you broke through.” That’s not how it works! Take on a bunch of bad opportunities, and you’re going to be in a bad place. I know of a lot of people who want you to take their business opportunity, and it’s not good. If you take it, you’re not going to end up in a good place. You’re going to end up in a worse place.
- 27:51 You don’t end up where you want to go by saying yes to a lot of mediocre things or bad opportunities. You get there by saying yes to the right ones at the right time, and you can only do that if you have capacity. Yes, you can always choose the right thing, but you can’t choose the right time. Timing is something that happens. It’s an opportunity that’s here and then it’s gone, and the only way you can capitalize on it is if you have capacity. The only way you have capacity is if you say no. You have to be hyper-selective.
- 28:20 When it comes to clients, people think, “I’ll take on all the work I can get, and eventually, I’ll have great clients.” No, you won’t. You have to be selective. Those great clients are clients that you attract to you. You have to be selective, not chase them all down and say yes to everyone.
#3 Stop Quitting
- 28:50 I was on a baseball team, and I played short stop. I was usually batter number three. I was alright. I was pretty decent. I played in third grade, a few grades in middle school, and I also played high school baseball. Our third grade motto was, “Never, never quit.” Does that mean what you think it means? When you’re eight years old, it’s just like you’re really trying to convince yourself. It was just for emphasis. Stop giving up. In high school, those coaches were military guys, so they were brutal and ruthless.
- 30:07 We ran and we ran and we ran and we ran. When you thought you didn’t have anything else in you, they pushed you even more. It was crazy. Keep going, keep going. My dad was in the military, but I never went through any kind of boot camp or anything. That was the closest I ever got. They were certainly channeling a lot of their boot camp experience. High knees, wall sits, and all of these things. I found out that I had something in me that I didn’t even know. There was more in me than I thought I had.
- 30:48 I went to my limit, and they pushed me even further, and I found out that my limit was further than I ever knew that it was. I remember that, and that’s the picture I have when I think of “stop quitting.” You think you’re at your limit and you can’t go anymore until someone pushes you. You think you can’t bench press more until you have your newborn son on your chest. You find it. You keep going. You have to dig deeper and find that why. You can’t quit. Not everything is happening as fast as you want it to, but if you stick with it, it will.
Get past the instant gratification desire, because that’s not how success works.
- 31:41 Ben: There are people listening to this who have heard the Show Up Every Day For Two Years episode, and they’ve been showing up every day for two years, or maybe for three years, and it hasn’t happened for them yet. To those people, I say, “Keep going.” What you’re pushing toward is just around the corner, right over that next hill. If you get there and it’s not quite there yet, keep pushing. It’s really difficult and it can get very discouraging. That’s why you need people around you to encourage you. You can look at where you are and think, “If something hasn’t happened yet, something’s wrong.”
- 32:31 Maybe there are some things you can adjust, but most of the time, you just have to keep working. Keep going. Showing up every day for two years is a nice way to think about it, and universally, it’s been people’s experience across many different industries, but that doesn’t mean that it will always play out that way. Don’t hear something like that, some other saying in your industry, some other metric, number of likes or followers, and feel like, “Okay, something’s wrong. Something isn’t working, so I guess I should stop. If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s not going to.”
- 33:18 Sean: There is no magic bullet. There are no short cuts or secrets. Sometimes people talk about “secrets to success,” but there are principles and things that work. It’s simpler than you probably think it is. It’s the basic, simple stuff that we’re talking about today, the habits of success that we’ll talk about in a moment. It’s not that complicated. Pick the right direction and head in that direction until you get where you want to go. It’s not some shortcut or magic bullet, but stop fearing failure. “Quit quitting,” as Steve said in the chat. Avoid failure, sure. Learn from it when you can, but expect it. It’s just a part of it.
Don’t see failure as a roadblock— see it as a hurdle.
- 34:22 Ben: There’s a wall, a huge wall, between you and the thing you’re trying to reach. Somewhere in this wall, there’s a weak point, and you can actually break through, but you’ve got to hit against the wall. Going in the same direction would be silly. You could hit the wall where it’s not the weak point, and you could keep doing at it over and over. Not quitting looks like, “Okay, I didn’t find it this time. I’m going to go at this other point, and I’m going to charge that. I didn’t find it that time, so I’m going to charge this point over here.” It’s this scrappy attitude where you say, “I’m not going to stop until I find this weak spot and I bust through.”
- 35:11 Sean: They’ve got a goal, and they’re going to do whatever it takes. Ben said, “Stay scrappy,” and I think of someone who escaped a prison. They were scrappy! They never mentally resigned. I can’t imagine anyone who mentally resigned to staying there for years being the person who escaped. They just weren’t. I want to talk about habits of success—show up every day. Don’t let fear of failure be an inhibitor.
- 35:44 Focus on what you want and focus on what you’re about. Successful people know what they want, what they’re going after, and they go after it every single day. They have goals. They’re chasing them relentlessly. They have extreme clarity. Do you have extreme clarity in your life? Are you clouded? Do you not know where you’re going, where you want to go? Do you not know where to head next? There’s nothing wrong with being in that situation. Everyone experiences that.
You will know that you’re on the way to being successful when you have extreme clarity.
- 36:31 That extreme clarity comes from hyper focus. Figure out what you want to do, where you’re heading, and where you want to go, because successful people have that vision. They see the next year, the next five years, the next ten years, and it’s a matter of doing the work and getting there.
- 36:49 Ben: When you don’t know what your direction is, doing the work is difficult, because there’s always this question in your head. “Is what I’m doing going to get me to where I don’t know if I want to be yet? Once I figure that out, is this work going to get me there? Or is it going to be wasted?”
- 37:10 Sean: Imagine you’re in the middle of a desert, you were dropped off blindfolded from a pickup truck, everything looks the same brown in every direction, and you know that in one direction there’s an oasis. In every other direction, there’s desert for 300 miles. Are you going to start heading in a direction with confidence, purpose, and drive without knowing where you’re going? You may be heading in the wrong direction. Where you’re going may not be where you want to go. Compare that to another truck coming by, and it’s got this big water tank on the back. It’s dripping and bouncing over the rocks and bumps, and water is coming out, making mud behind it. You’re yelling at them to stop, because you haven’t had any water in a day.
- 38:08 Think about the kind of purpose and drive you’ll have chasing after that truck. You know what you want, and that’s the kind of clarity I’m talking about. The nice thing is, in your life, it’s not going to be like this desert scenario where heading in the wrong direction is going to literally kill you. In life, you won’t experience that. More than likely, life isn’t like you’re standing in a circle with 360 degrees of options around—life is more like a starting line, with all of those arrows pointing forward. Everything is forward progress. You can pivot and learn things, and the next thing you do probably isn’t going to be the thing you do for the rest of your life.
- 38:53 The goal is not, “I need extreme clarity, like Sean said, to know what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” No! You need to know what you’re going to do for now. If you find out that you don’t want to do it or you learn something, you pivot. For now, it’s about hyper focus.
- 39:10 Ben: The scale doesn’t matter so much in that case. Do you know what you want to do with the next five years? No? That’s fine. Do you know what you want to do with the next year? I don’t. That’s okay. Do you know what you want to do during the next month, the next week? Do you know what you want to do today? Wherever you can define that, wherever your focal point lands, whether it’s a day or five or ten years, find that. Let that be what motivates you. You may find out, tomorrow, that you don’t want to focus on that anymore, but find the focal point.
- 39:52 Sean: You don’t want to focus on that, so you focus on something else. Focus on something.Cory knows. It’s like a camera lens. You can focus on something far or you can focus on something close, but when you focus on something, everything else is out of focus. That’s what makes for that nice, cinematic picture, rather than everything being in focus from the apple in the foreground to the mountain in the background. That’s not super interesting.
- 40:20 Cory: Or, nothing being in focus.
- 40:25 Sean: There are two parts to this focus. There’s focus on what you’re going after, the clarity in the goal, and waking up every day knowing. Also, it’s the focus on a daily level, not just on what you’re pursuing, but how you go about your work. It’s this focus that is free of distractions and interruptions, where you’re carving out focused amounts of time to do meaningful work that you want to do.
Successful people often work more than everyone else only because they see massive results from focused work time.
- 41:40 Because they’re focused, because they’re working on the right things, they get addicted to seeing the massive results from that. Most people are working eight hours in a day. They clock in, they clock out, and they really only get two hours of work done. Meanwhile, all these successful people are working 14 hours a day, 16 hours a day. What’s going on? Is that just what it takes? They could work less and still be more successful than you, but they work more because they’re so focused that all of their efforts are on the right things, on things that are producing results, and they’re addicted to that. They’ve seen the power of eliminating distractions and preventing all interruptions. Them working more is directly correlated to their addiction to the results they’re seeing.
- 42:32 Ben: That’s a muscle that has to be developed. You have to continue working it. Once you get to the place where it’s no longer, “This is something that I’m working toward,” but it has become your default, it’s like when you work out. As a runner who has gone through phases where I’ll be going really solid for several months and then I take the summer off or something, getting back into it, I can tell that my body takes longer to get back into the rhythm of running, the breathing, and stuff like that. When I’ve been doing it for a while, as soon as I start thinking about running, my body is already getting ready.
- 43:23 It’s already prepared and it’s ready to dive into that. If you’re a working-two-out-of-eight-hours kind of person, it’s okay to admit that you are. Don’t expect yourself to be able to sit down for a full hour and a half and just focus and get a bunch of stuff done when you’re not used to doing that. Work toward it. Give yourself a smaller amount of time for small wins. Say, “For the next 25 minutes, I’m going to go completely distraction-free and see what I can accomplish.” At the end of the 25 minutes, if you were successful in staying focused and you get to see the results of that, then you’re rewarding yourself and setting yourself up for future successes. I feel like I just said the opposite. I said, “Don’t just dive into it. Take little steps if you need to,” in the context of developing the focus muscle.
- 44:47 Sean: I think that what Ben’s saying is good for developing the focus muscle and figuring out what you want to pursue. The listener may still be at the step of finding out what they want to focus on, and I think that’s good advice.
Taking Massive Action
- 44:55 Zooming back out to habits of successful people, taking massive action is one of those. There’s a book I’ve been reading that’s really good called The 10X Rule. In it, the author, Grant Cardone, talks about setting massive goals and taking massive action.
- 45:30 He says, “There are a lot of people who discourage you from setting big goals. They say you’re unrealistic and you should set realistic goals you can actually achieve.” His approach is to set massive goals and never lower the target. He says, “The thing that most people don’t get, because they don’t set big goals or they never achieve the goals or they don’t set goals at all, the thing they don’t get is the worst part about goals, which is achieving them and realizing that you went too short. You thought too small. This is the biggest regret of massively successful people.”
- 46:17 Ben: It’s like when you quote a client and you think the number is high, and they come back and say, “That sounds great!” There was no hesitation? You almost want that hesitation, the potential to not reach it. Like driving toward something huge, it’s going to get you a lot farther than driving toward something that you feel is attainable.
- 46:49 Sean: He says, “Set a big goal.” The other part that people don’t do, and he talks about this with The 10X Rule, is to take massive action. He says, “Set big goals, but 10X the amount of action you think it’s going to take to reach that goal.” This is what people don’t do. They don’t 10X the action. They just say, “Sounds like a really big goal. It’s good to set big goals. I’m going to have that goal on my wall.” You have to take massive action—action, action, action, action. Check out the book, it’s phenomenal. It’s very counter the status quo and the getting-by mentality that a lot of people live with. This shakes it all up. It’s a great book.
- 47:44 Ben: Now, if somebody can’t find it in their local library, is it worth the investment to purchase a copy outright?
- 47:59 Sean: Books are a steal. They’re grossly underpriced.
- 48:07 Ben: Think about the average book that you get that has it’s focus on business, productivity, or whatever. That’s well over a course’s worth of material, and you’re getting it for almost nothing.
- 48:28 Sean: It’s just such a good deal. Books condense someone’s knowledge from their entire life, what they’ve learned, what they considered worth writing down. For goodness sake, how many think, “I should write a book”? There’s a fraction of the population that think that, and there are a lot of people who don’t even want to do it. Of the people who say, “I think I want to write a book,” maybe one percent do it. That’s the easiest thought to think, and most authors say that writing a book was the hardest thing they ever did. It’s very, very difficult if you have not done it before.
- 49:10 Then you have people like Brian Tracy, who has authored over 60 books, including a book on how to write books. He obviously gets the power of it. He figured it out, he saw the results, and he kept going. Most people don’t write books. If you think of how selective that is, the people who press through and write an entire book to completion because they believe in their message so strongly, don’t you think that’s a message worth hearing? There are a lot of books, but in the big picture, there aren’t a lot of people writing books.
- 49:49 Ben: Sean, you’ve convinced me that it’s worth the investment to buy a book that could potentially change my life for $25. What if I’m going to be moving internationally, and buying that book means that I either have to sell it before I leave or give it away? I might have to give it away. I won’t be able to take it with me. Is it still worth the investment then? Think about the gift you’re giving to somebody. I’m asking this question because Cory Miller in the chat is making excuses.
- 50:27 Sean: I don’t like excuses. I go into everything with an open mind to learn. I’m looking for the one gold nugget out of the 100 things they say, where 99 are garbage, that I can learn from. So many people are like the guy on Twitter from the beginning of this show talking about how overturning your nature will shorten your life, but I don’t spend an ounce of energy on negativity. I don’t go after anyone, speaking negativity to them and trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Just focus on what you need to be doing.
- 51:08 Don’t spend any energy on negativity. It’s the same with any piece of media. If I’m reading a book, I’m not saying, “There was this thing I really disagree with, so it was a bad investment.” I’m looking for the one page that I can glean something out of, an “aha” moment for me, that changes the rest of my life.
- 51:34 Ben: It’s energy you’re spending to put a message out there that takes from the world instead of gives to it. If you’re going to spend that same amount of energy, spend it on a message that’s positive, that creates good things.
- 51:58 Sean: Not every successful person is a writer, but it’s such a good habit, especially in the age we live in. The barrier to entry is so low for being a media company. You can create your own position, job, and business, and you can so easily put your message out into the world, whether it’s through video, podcasting, blogging, courses, or whatever. It’s never been easier. When you boil all of those things down, it all starts with writing. To me, it’s a no-brainer that you want to be learning how to write and how to grow your business with writing. If you want to be successful, you need to start writing. If you want to grow a business that you want people to care about and you want people to hear about you, you need to start writing.
- 52:56 Ben: We come back to this often, but what if, as you’re developing your ability to write and block out the editor, if you’re a person like me who thinks out loud more easily, is it better to start there? Work up to a regular writing habit?
- 53:19 Sean: If you want to move your fingers to create words on the screen or move your mouth to create words on the screen, whatever works for you. Get the words out, however you want to do that. Go back a few episodes, where I talked about tripling your business by building a writing habit (Related: e246 How to Develop a Writing Habit and 3X Your Business).
- 54:11 Haters come with the package. It’s part of the deal. There are going to be people spouting negativity, and it’s not a matter of if, but when. This was the part I didn’t believe. I thought, “Yeah, if you’re running your mouth and saying offensive things, of course you’re going to get haters.” It doesn’t matter how pure your vision is, how selfless you are, or how much you want to help people. You will get people spouting negativity. It’s going to happen. It’s a pure matter of scale, and you have to expect it. It’s going to come, and you need to ignore it.
Successful people expect negativity to happen and they ignore it.
- 54:59 They’re not focusing on the negative voices. They’re focusing on the people they’re trying to help and the goals they’re trying to achieve. There is always going to be negativity. It’s not worth engaging. Just say, “Have a nice day,” and move on. I read an article today, Make Your Life Better by Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations. James Clear is a great writer and a great guy. This showed up in my inbox because I’m subscribed to his newsletter. It was just so good.
- 56:01 He’s got seven things here. The fifth one was “When You’re Receiving Unfair Criticism.” He said, “Sometimes, criticism isn’t helpful at all. It’s just vindictive and mean. One of the best approaches is just to say thank you and move on.” It totally diffuses the situation. You move on. “When you thank someone for criticizing you, it immediately neutralizes the power of their statements. If it’s not a big deal to you, then it can’t grow into a larger argument. Let’s say someone gives you this unfair criticism, and they say, ‘This might be good advice for beginners, but anyone who knows what they’re doing is going to find this useless.’ You’ll be inclined to say, ‘Clearly, I was writing this for beginners. That might be a surprise, but not everything was written with you in mind.’ This is what we want to say.”
- 57:03 Instead of that, try saying, ‘Thank you for sharing your opinion. I’ll try to improve next time.” Totally diffused. You can’t say anything. Here’s another example, “Your statement is the dumbest thing I’ve read all week.” We want to say, “You’re an idiot. Let me tell you why.” He says, “Instead, try saying, ‘Thank you for the feedback. I still have a lot to learn.'” It fizzles out. It’s done, diffused.
- 57:54 Cory: Successful people look for things to learn. They’re always learning, and they know that there’s a world of things to learn, so I love stating that. “Thanks, I know I have a lot to learn.”
Ignore negativity and diffuse the situation by thanking your critics.
- 58:12 Ben: Pam said, “What if it’s your spouse?” I’ll expand that to be, what if the negativity is coming from people you can’t necessarily ignore, cut off, or politely deal with? What if they’re that intertwined with you? Somebody linked to the seanwest tv episode about how to get your spouse on board (Related: e179 How to Get Your Spouse On Board 100%). That’s great. Beyond that, if there’s still that negative presence in your life that you can’t cut out, you have to offset that with positivity by many factors. As much as you can, limit your exposure to the negativity in that relationship.
- 59:12 If it’s a spouse, you’re around that person a lot, and maybe that means avoiding certain conversations for now. I don’t mean to set it aside forever. Some people can only be shown that what you’re doing is right—they can’t be told. If you went through all of the steps of trying to get them on board and it’s still not working, they’re still a negative voice, continuing to expose yourself to that negativity at the expense of your ability to pursue what you’ve set out to accomplish is, I think, unproductive.
Get Your Spouse on Board
- 1:00:08 Sean: That is a true statement at the end, but I disagree with the sentiment, because the spouse is the exception. If there is a source of negativity in your life and you don’t want to cut off the person, like a family member, you have to offset that negativity with five times the amount of positivity. With a spouse, you are one person. You are a team unit. You cannot be successful without your spouse on board 100%. If your spouse isn’t on board, forget everything else you’re doing, every goal, and everything you want to accomplish because your full time job is to invest in them, communicate with them, and get them on board.
- 1:00:51 You cannot afford the negativity. It will not work. Your job, for the rest of your life, until you die and go into the grave, is to get them on your side, love them, spend time with them, invest in them, and do everything they want to do in life to support them until that reciprocity comes back and they support you. Negativity from a spouse will prevent success. You can’t have it. There’s no, “If you tried to get them on board and it doesn’t work,” none of that. You go until you’re successful with them. You won’t be successful in life until you have them on board. That is your full time job.
- 1:01:37 Ben: I haven’t gone through a situation where I’ve had someone negative and not on board with me. My wife has always been on board with me, so I can’t speak from experience there. I can see how not having them on board, for that specific relationship, makes it nearly impossible to accomplish your goals. Even if you do, you won’t enjoy it the way you would if they were on board. Now, you feel like you’re leaving them behind, and they can’t enjoy it with you. Maybe you can’t define it as a success unless the person you’re attached to is going there with you.
If someone isn’t helping you get closer to your goal, they’re taking you away from it.
- 1:02:34 Sean: What Ben said is assuming you make it to where you want to go. It’s the same reason you have to have extreme clarity, because if you’re uncertain, you’re just going to be wandering around. If you want to be successful, you have to go after it at full speed. Every ounce of your energy, from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep—it’s the reason you sleep and the reason you wake up, that is the kind of clarity, drive, and energy you need for this thing. Full speed ahead.
- 1:03:09 That’s the focus part of it. If you have someone who is not on board and they’re pulling you in the other direction, I can’t imagine that you’re going to make it.
- 1:03:23 Ben: Where with a friend or a distant relative you might need to offset that negativity with five positive voices in your life, the spouse cannot be offset.
- 1:03:38 Sean: Right—because you are one. If anyone is struggling with that, definitely check out seanwes tv 76.
Make Cash Purchases & Have Future Focus
- 1:04:00 If you want to be successful, you want to own your life. You want to have freedom and choice, so make cash purchases. We did an entire episode on this recently (Related: e244 Save, Build, Buy the Life You Want in Cash).
- 1:04:19 Don’t dwell on the past—learn from it. Learning from the past is a good thing. Dwelling in the past is not a good thing. Learning from the past is a one time act. You look at it, you assess it, you learn from it, and you don’t look back. You go forward. Don’t dwell on mistakes and beat yourself up. It’s forward motion, forward movement. Successful people have that future focus.
- 1:04:48 Ben: Thinking about the past is in service of the future, so that you can make better decisions, so you have better clarity, and so you recognize where you may have made a mistake going forward.
Your ability to delay gratification is directly tied to your ability to achieve success.
- 1:05:15 Ben: That’s a really hard one for my nine year old. He has a Minecraft Lego set that he wants to get that’s $109. He doesn’t play Minecraft, but he likes the Legos. He looked it up online and everything, so I’ve been taking him along with me from time to time to do some video shoots, and I’ve been paying him a little bit for that. He wants to save that money, but then he has that money in his hand, and he’s looking over at the Pokemon cards. He knows he can get a pack of Pokemon cards for $4. In fact, with the $10 he has in his hand and a quarter he found in the couch, he can buy two packs of Pokemon cards. It’s really difficult. I try to remind him, “Hey, you wanted that Minecraft set, right?” He says, “Yeah. I’ll save up for that eventually, but I’m going to get the Pokemon cards now.”
- 1:06:27 Sean: It’s especially hard for kids, but it’s hard for adults, too. When you break down the reasons why you want to accomplish your big goal, you will always find a lesser version that satisfies all the criteria. The question is, will you settle? It can’t be about the criteria. It has to be about the goal.
Showing Up is Success
- 1:06:59 I define each day as a success if I showed up. That doesn’t mean, “You just show up and you’re a success!” I still want to accomplish my big goals and get where I want to go, but it’s the stringing together of those days that results in something that others might consider a success. I define it on a daily level, and I go toward a goal I want to achieve. It’s about treating each day as a success if you show up and then stringing them together that results in something that other people end up calling a success.
- 1:07:39 Ben: It’s really satisfying to get to the end of a day and know that you showed up. You look back and you can say that you showed up and did the work you set out to do. That feeling is really nice, and it makes me want to take my focus off of the big goal and make it about those single days. It’s good to look up and know where you’re going, but if I zoom in and focus on one day, I can handle a day! Five years seems like a long time. A year still feels like a long time, but a day I can handle.
- 1:08:26 Sean: I’ve got one more thing that James Clear shared in one of his articles called How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy”. “Brad Isaac was a young comedian starting out on the comedy circuit. One fateful night he found himself at a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. In an interview on Lifehacker, Isaac shared what happened when he caught Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had any tips for a young comic.” What I’m about to read was how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld.
- 1:08:58 “He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. ‘After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.'”
- 1:09:36 Ben: That’s one of my favorite pieces of advice that I’ve heard about showing up every day. It takes the focus off of the task, even. It’s not even about the thing you’re doing, but it’s about the chain, the consistency you’ve created. Just don’t break that, and that’s all you have to do.
- 1:10:01 Sean: Everything else has a way of falling into place. I say that I’m waiting for reality to align with my mindset. To me, when I set a goal, I’ve already achieved it. That’s the way I think of it. This thing is done. I know what I’m going after, and I’ve already done it. Micah said, “It’s the waiting for reality to align, that’s sometimes tough to chew on every day.” For me, it’s a small mental shift of not waiting for it. It’s already happened. It’s done. I’m just putting in the acts that will take me there. I’m just rewinding the video to negative x years before it happens and playing the video.
- 1:11:08 It’s already going to happen. I’m just here watching the video, and all I have to do is play my part in the video. I just have to act out the steps. It’s done for me. That’s the way I think about it. It’s already done, and I’m in the past acting out the steps.
- 1:11:30 Ben: I really like that way of thinking about it. If you can envision what that frame of the video looks like where you have accomplished your goal, there’s all that space in between where you’re going to end up and where you are today, what if you don’t know what happens in this space? You say, “I’m playing my part between here and there,” but people get hung up, not because they can’t imagine that they’re playing a part, but they feel like there’s so much unknown that pressing play feels scary. They’re afraid that if they press play, they won’t be able to keep up with what should be happening in order to get there.
- 1:12:43 Sean: For me, it’s a foregone conclusion. That very unknown is the reason people go to the movies. More people go to the movies to see ones they haven’t seen before. Sometimes, people re-watch movies, but the big box office movies are new. You’ve seen the trailer, and you imagine that everything is okay in the end, but you don’t know what happens in the middle. Sometimes, movies are scary, exciting, or suspenseful, but that’s why we go to the movies. That’s the fun part of it. I don’t know what happens in the grey bar. All I know is that the last frame is a foregone conclusion, and my job is to ride the playhead.