Obsession & Ruthlessness. Two Characteristics of the Successful.
“Study any person who is known to be a permanent success and you will find that he has a Definite Major Goal; he has a plan for the attainment of this goal; he devotes the major portion of his thoughts and his efforts to the attainment of this purpose.
My own major purpose is that of making and marketing steel. I conceived that purpose while working as a laborer. It became an obsession with me. I took it to bed with me at night, and I took it to work with me in the morning. My Definite Purpose became more than a mere wish; it became my Burning Desire! That is the only sort of definite purpose which seems to bring desired results.” Andrew Carnegie, from Think Your Way to Wealth by Napoleon Hill.
The Creation of an Obsession
I have a letter to myself that I wrote some time ago sitting next to me on my desk. It’s by me, and it’s written to yours truly. It was written at a time when my business was in its infancy, and I made the ballsy move of “burning my ships” – I cut out all other sources of income, which amounted to about 95% of all money I had coming in – in order to focus on my dream.
Yet, even though I had forced myself to sink or swim, at the time of this letter I was on the couch, eyes focused on the TV rather than on the myriad of tasks I had to complete by day’s end. All of a sudden, I had a thought, one that catapulted me to my desk to open my notebook and start writing…
“I’m sitting here on my couch, the bills piling up, the means to earn a living and create a dream within my reach and my control, yet I am lazy! I’d rather run errands, watch TV, or buy new clothes than work. What the fuck is that?! What kind of man is that?”
…I ran down a list of things I’d rather do than work, and ask a simple question: “Where does all of this get me?”
The answer is simple: nowhere.
As I read the letter that still sits next to me on my desk, I look at how I ended it; with a list of things that had to be done. A list that I would complete by 11 pm that night, then wake up at 5am the next day to get started once again on chopping down the tree that never seemed to fall, yet I promised to never stop chopping.
Before I wrote that letter to myself, I wanted success. Actually, I really wanted to be successful, but I’d have spells of laziness. They didn’t last, but they were of no benefit. I had desire, but at that period of my life, albeit a brief one, it wasn’t a burning desire that drove me to work the longer hours at a higher quality that I had to if I were to succeed.
That day and that letter sparked an obsession to build the best site, deliver the best content, and create something that provided incredible value. I still have bouts of laziness, as we all do, but what was a dream, became a desire. However, there was still more that needed to be done…
The Identifying of a Definite Purpose
Being honest with ourselves is rare. Somehow we allow that little voice of laziness to justify taking a break, watching TV, even going to the gym for a “work break” when our work has not yet been completed; or running errands under the guise of work, when our work is awaiting us in our office.
Honesty will help you stay the course, but if you have no course, you’re not going to end up anywhere of value.
“The world has the habit of making room for the man whose actions show that he knows where he is going.” Napoleon Hill
This purpose can’t be overvalued. It’s the most important thing we can have, and have in writing. It’s no coincidence that 97% of us don’t have our purpose in writing, or even have a clear idea what our purpose is, with that same percentage regarding themselves as failures – as not accomplishing anything of true worth or importance.
Where are you going in life? Where am I going in life? It’s such an important question but it’s rare to find someone who has the answer.
After I wrote that letter calling myself, I knew I needed to find focus and a definite purpose. That quote above by Napoleon Hill has loomed large in my mind for some time now. The man who knows where he’s going, and who’s actions show this, usually finds himself where he wants to be.
At that point, I knew what I was doing and I had an idea of where I wanted to be, but it wasn’t definite. It’s wasn’t a concrete end point. As I wrote notes to figure out exactly how to say what my purpose was, I was able to break it down to a single sentence. A simple idea that will one day become a reality.
That single moment was the beginning of me succeeding. Being honest with myself was important, but identifying a purpose was monumental. If there’s anything you take from this article, make it this: identify your definite purpose. Write down what you want most out of life. Take notes, work through your thoughts, desires, dreams, and goals, and come up with a concise statement.
From this point, we can become ruthless, obsessive in making it be.
Being Honest About Distractions
A few pages after my purpose, I have a list of all of the things that can distract me from my purpose; something I suggest you do as well. Now keep in mind, this is applicable to your training goal, a family purpose, or whatever you want to accomplish, don’t relegate it simply to a job or a career.
Find the real distractions. The one’s that take your thoughts and energy away from your purpose. For me, I have to be very careful with women, especially when it comes to identifying whether or not they’re worth the energy and time, or not. I might sound like a dick, but ladies can create a lot of stress – especially the good one’s and those you really care about. You have to be very sure if it’s worth it, and aware of it if the situation begins to take you away from your definite purpose – or at least I know that I have to.
I also have to be aware of my thoughts and knee-jerk reactions. I’m the kind of guy who just “does” without putting a lot of thought behind it. I’ll be in the middle of writing an article, and I’ll walk out and head to the gym without thinking about the timing. I’ll book a trip on a whim, stop everything to go buy something I’ve seen online, or get an unstoppable urge to light a cigar on the golf course – all of which I have to fight, and prioritize.
The word “no” had to be a staple in my vocabulary. This doesn’t mean I had to have no fun, actually the opposite, but I couldn’t be doing things that would hinder me moving closer to my purpose. Fun, traveling, socializing, all have to provide a release. What’s life if it’s not lived? We need fun, that’s what life’s all about, but a lack of discipline is good for no one.
Things like TV and surfing the web were obvious distractions that I wrote down, but it’s the one’s that many of us don’t count as distractions that can bite us in the ass and stand in our way. Get rid of them. Or at least be aware of them.
If you don’t want to eat candy, don’t step foot in a candy shop. If you want to cut costs, don’t say yes to a night of drinking with your buddies. If there’s a girl you really like, spend time with her, but – and this might sound a bit harsh – don’t let her take away from where you’re going in life. If she’s “one of the great one’s” – as they say in A Bronx Tale – she’ll understand that you saying no to a date because you have to work will be better for the both of you in the long term. If she doesn’t understand, explain it to her. Neither one of you will be happy if you’re struggling to pay the bills year after year because you were both lazy today. Just saying.
Ruthless is a word given to war mongers and people with no empathy. Don’t think of the word in that context. Think of it in a productive sense. Being ruthless on your trek to success is a great thing. Having the self-control to say no for the greater good, to work hard when others sleep, to write when others watch TV, and to do when others dream is a beautiful thing.
What about balance?
Yes, balance is important. But if something is to be accomplished, the scales have to be tipped severely in their favor – especially with regards to hours and energy. Balance in life doesn’t mean dedicating as much time to play as to work. In no way is that living a balanced life.
Each one of us has his or her priorities. This site, however, is reserved exclusively for those who want to accomplish something big. Those who want to be a Legendary parent, man, businessperson, son, father, mother, sister, brother, writer, trainer, actor, and so forth. Mediocrity is easy. You don’t need to work at it. Success isn’t, and you do need to work at it.
Being obsessive and ruthless are great qualities. They mean that we’re able to identify that which distracts us, and not let it do so. Being obsessive means we have our eyes on a definite purpose, and we’re doing what’s necessary to make that purpose our reality. We’re not wandering through life aimlessly waiting for inspiration. We’re making our own way. Creating our own path. Being ruthless means no matter how bad things get, how harsh our lives around us are, we’re moving forward and carrying others with us as we trudge through whatever obstacle that has the audacity to stand in our way.
“Fun” is all around us. But fun in the sense of drinks or cigars with pals, or dates with a cutie, should exist to further our ability to focus on our goal. They should be releases. The balance exists in having enough “fun” in the traditional sense, without going overboard. It’s different for all of us, only you know how to find that balance.
Obsessive. Ruthless. Two Characteristics of the Successful.
I am your guinea pig. This blog is composed of things I’ve tried – in training, nutrition, building a business, writing, reading etc… – that have worked, and warnings about those things that haven’t.
The topic of motivation is one I hear about most in the emails I get from readers. The “what to do” is here, as is how to do it, but doing it seems to be a whole other matter. And I understand. Even as I write this I’m distracted by the possibility of new movie trailers being launched online, or clips of Jimmy Kimmel from last night’s show. There are days when I really don’t want to go to the gym, but I know that if I skip out once, it will give me reason to skip out again.
If we’re motivated, we can accomplish anything. Hopefully the steps I’ve given in this article will give you the tools to stay focused, and one day accomplish your Definite Purpose.