“Desire, burning desire, is basic to achieving anything beyond the ordinary.” Joseph B. Wirthlin
In my mid-twenties, I was always in a rush.
People would ask me to slow down.
Take note of where I was going and not to rush into things.
However, that made no sense to me.
I had these big goals to achieve.
Things that I wanted to accomplish.
Most importantly, the need to prove to the world and myself of all that I could accomplish.
By the time I hit 30, I had achieved some of those goals and missed a lot of them.
The strange thing was that even though I had achieved some semblance of success, it wasn’t lasting.
Deep down, I still felt inadequate—the feeling of being an imposter.
It is a feeling that comes up even to this day sometimes.
Looking back, it makes a lot more sense in hindsight why I felt that way.
When your life revolves around outcome-based goals, you never really spend the time and energy to become great at what you do.
We are always distracted by a magical number, accolades and public acceptance.
We forget that using shortcuts to get there is like building a house of shaky foundations.
In 2013-2014 those foundations came crashing down.
That was a major reset in my life where I had to examine all the underlying assumptions.
There were several things that I didn’t fully comprehend.
Firstly, the way to become great at something is fundamentally different from the road to become good at something.
I used to believe that it is a linear path that if I kept doing what I was doing, greatness was inevitable.
I would later on read about the Stockdale Paradox.
Which states that you must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
All of us have images of grandeur and success in our head.
We live a life focused on outcome-based goals, that create this distortion field around current reality.
The second path of the Stockdale paradox is what a lot of us miss in our quests of instant gratification and rush for achievement.
If I were to go back in time and give advice to my 25-year-old self here are a couple of things I would tell him:
Focus on process-based goals first
- The path to becoming great is different from that of becoming good. To become great at something you need to have process goals that help you build the muscle through consistency and the grind.
- Outcome goals at this point are a distraction. They cause an unnatural acceleration that will lead to burn out early on in life.
- This memo is a good example of a process-based goal. After writing 120+ of these posts over the 2+ years, they are becoming better. An outcome-based goal would be to write a book. I would have probably hit that goal; however, it would most likely have been a crappy book.
- Figure out what is working and not working in your life.
- Chasing outcome goals too early forces you to build a reality distortion field where we treat unhealthy habits as battle scars, rather than the scars they are.
- If you have to wait for a reset to confront reality, you are living in a precarious bubble, that may pop at any time.
- Pay attention to your health, your relationships and get constant reality checks from friends, family and coaches.
Switch to outcome-based goals when ready
- Once you have the processes down, regularly confront reality, you are now ready to aim for outcome-based goals. These goals push you outside the comfort zone you have built.
- This is your path to greatness. Something I believe every high achiever aspires to. Given that this phase will come later in your life, you will have the ability to dictate what you want those outcomes to be.
- This path is starkly different from what I believed at 25, where the outcomes were dictated by what society deemed important.
Everyone has the capability of achieving greatness in their life.
However, it is up to each of us to define what we consider to be greatness.Where the timelines are governed by us and not a societal construct that states what you need to achieve by an arbitrary age. Wishing you all the very best of success on your path to greatness.