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We all have excellence in us. From the leaders of countries, to the man in the unemployment line. Excellence is there. So what sets these two apart? Why is it that some seem to have Fortune smile down upon them regularly, while others cannot catch a break?
Excellence is not a gift, not a predestination. You develop excellence over time. And the people on center stage, the ones at the head of the board room, and the ones who are boot strapping 7 figure businesses have all put in the time energy and determination to cultivate this habit in themselves.
Just like an iceberg, that vast majority of excellence hides from view, far below the surface of what others can see. Excellence is developed in the weight room, not on the field. You develop excellence late at night while you are hustling on your side business months before you ever earn your first dollar online.
So much of what you see today is a false representation of excellence. People put their greatest photoshopped images of themselves on social media to show off their excellence, when in reality it is all smoke an mirrors.
Here’s the thing, no one requires you to be excellent. Most middle class people never even consider the “excellence decision.” We happily continue our stable jobs, with their stable paychecks, while stably inflating our lifestyle through consumer debt and the frivolities of life.
Becoming a top achiever is incredibly difficult. You will sweat, curse, and want to give up. Whether you seek excellence in the gym, in your bank account, or in your relationships, you will suffer on the way to achieving it.
To achieve your goal of excellence, you must learn 3 fundamental principles that are commonplace among the already-successful:
Let’s walk through each one briefly.
No one can force excellence on you. Excellence comes from the inside – it must come from you. Others can order you to do things, but that is simply compliance – a far cry away from excellence.
Without inspiration, you will never be excellent. So what is inspiration?
Inspiration is the inner fire that is telling you that you can be more, and that you must be more. Inspiration comes both internally, and externally.
Externally is the easy one to understand. You may be inspired to excellence so that you can drive the fancy cars and be given recognition at banquets and board rooms.
But internal inspiration is more nuanced. What inspires you to excel in your life that is truly coming from inside of you? I argue that it is my yoke as a christian man to give 100% into everything I do, because that is how I can best utilize my God-given talents.
Internal inspiration takes two forms. One form is altruistic – like above, the inspiration comes from a positive, higher power. But there can also be negative inspiration. For example, I like having a roof over my head and never having to worry where my next meal is coming from. That is negative inspiration, or the fear of pain.
The strongest and most consistent inspiration has components of each of these. The pursuit of pleasure/honor, combined with the avoidance of the pain of failure. What is your inspiration?
Inspiration without action is just wishful thinking. But when you combine it with an indomitable spirit of discipline, you become a force of nature.
I like to think of discipline as the intersection of consistency and persistence.
Now what do I mean by that? Well, consistency is being able to show up every day, and put the work in. It’s being able to schedule it on the calendar, check the box, and get it done.
But what happens when things start to go wrong?
It’s easy to be consistent when you are awarded for your efforts. It’s easy when you get the pat on the back, the deposit into your account. But it doesn’t always go that way, especially not in the beginning.
That’s where persistence comes in. Persistence is the ability to keep trudging through when things get tough. You must have strong inspiration to fuel your persistence. If you are not sure you’re on the right path, then there is nothing to fortify your action plan. If you hit road block after road block, and you aren’t sure if you’re working on the right thing in the first place… it’s only natural to let it die and move on.
But when you have both internal and external inspiration, you have the tools needed to push through the hard times. To persist when all seems lost. And every excellent individual in the world had to persist through the pain to get to where they knew they could be.
Remember that time vividly, and distill the feeling you had when you finally resolved to see it through.
Bottle that emotion up. Remember the sweat on your brow, the stress on your shoulders. But more importantly, remember the fire you had in your belly, and the determination on your face. There was a single moment when you decided to overcome the obstacle in front of you, and that moment is powerful.
When you learn to harness the habits of consistency and persistence, you will become a more disciplined person. And you will begin to break down your obstacles and tackle them daily until you reach your goal. There is only one final ingredient you need for lasting success and excellence, and that is…
Abundance and Scarcity. Opposite in nature, but equally powerful to shape your mindset and future direction. Humans are naturally evolved with a scarcity mindset. We had to hunt and gather for our food, it wasn’t abundantly available on supermarket shelves. We competed for the one open position at our company, employment was never a guarantee. We only have so much money to invest in the stock market, so every down tick hurts.
So if this is the natural tendency, it’s easy to understand why there are so many average people, and so few truly excellent ones.
The excellent individuals are the ones who are able to deny their base-human inclinations and submit to a higher level of thinking.
Abundance thinking says that “there is always more where that comes from.” For example, Edison didn’t “fail,” 1,000 times to invent the light bulb, he simply discovered 1,000 ways NOT to produce light.
When you think abundantly, you look to find the positive in everything. This allows you to learn at a much more rapid pace than those with scarcity mindsets. When you fail at tasks, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, objectively review what happened, what action or decision led to the poor result, and think through how to do it differently next time.
Because there is always a next time when you think abundantly.
Thinking this way makes it easier to be persistent because you know that there is light in every darkness, so long as you have the creativity to expose it.
When you combine inspiration, discipline, and abundance thinking, you can unleash a new level of achievement in your life. Think deeply for a minute on WHY you want to be excellent. HOW will you maintain your discipline when times get tough. And WHAT will you do to prevent scarcity from creeping into your mind when the darkness starts to creep in.
Let me know in the comments below!
Hey there, I'm Jack - husband, father, and financial independence seeker. I started Nine to FI with the goal of helping a million professionals build a life of purpose and freedom. I'd love to hear from you and where you are at on your own journey!
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