I was recently at my daughters drama class and the teacher was talking us through how they put a play together in a the 1 hour lesson that she has every week, she (the teacher) was a very animated character and dare I say exactly what I would have pictured a drama teacher to be, very pronounced without shouting and very keen on the detail of instruction she was giving, her opening line when we all arrived was that she wanted to show the parents of the attendees what it was that they do there and how they form a lesson and the goals they are trying to achieve when they do, one of the things that she said during this speech got me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts in case anybody wished to share their view.
“It is not about being perfect or even getting the words right all the time it is about doing and learning as they go, there is so much talk about being the best version of yourself these days and always striving to be perfect that people especially children must be exhausted”
I have extolled the virtues of striving for perfection on many an occasion and it is only now that I started to think that pushing for perfection is not only futile in occasions where the result is forced to be a product of collaboration but sometimes so tiring that it becomes a very draining ethos, which could potentially be destructive, and ultimately subverting our goals as we struggle to achieve them through the brain fog of exhaustion.
Now, anybody who has read anything I have done will be familiar with the fact that I like to have proof of something before I will adopt or attempt to pass it on as information to others, and this is no exception, I watched in wonder as this teacher, without raising her voice to a shout moved 15 children aged between 6 and 12 through this play that they had seen for the first time that night, and after just 45 minutes, we had a 10 minute play where I would say 85% of timings were correct and dialogue was remembered, the children had started to add complimentary movement to their parts and had started to extend their lines all within context, it was astounding to see all these different personalities working together and learning through enjoyment.
I am not saying that there is not a place for perfection and striving to be the best, merely that we need to recognise that moment of fatigue in all of us and act on it, lighten up a bit and realise that forced progress is sometimes slower and always a lot harder than relaxed progress, Bruce Lee was famous for the 1 inch punch and always taught pupils to relax the muscles of the hand and arm while punching as a tight clenched fist cannot travel as fast as a relaxed one, he was right and this was proved in many demonstrations the same can be said for the mind, a stressed “tight” mind will never learn as quickly as a relaxed one that is open and has time to spare.
I guess what I saw was not really the play about the Russian Cave that was being performed but rather that changing from the intense method of corrective education i.e. “that was wrong” or “do it again you weren’t on time” to a more lead form where the word wrong was never used, not even once despite some initial lines being quoted wrong and a couple of missed cue’s, was that when we are all relaxed we learn quicker, we retain more information and with a greater accuracy, so I guess what I am saying is if you are struggling with a subject or a method, be it academic or entrepreneurial then instead of beating yourself up and getting stressed, essentially blocking your own progress you should stop, take a deep breath (or two depending on how stressed you are) and look at what you are doing for what it is, try and find the enjoyment in your activity, and do not berate yourself for making mistakes, every fortune and large company was built on a foundation of error, that is how we learn, approach new concepts or technical challenges as an opportunity to a burden and you will see that as cortisol levels drop your whole mental state will become less toxic and you will move along at a faster pace than you ever thought possible.
You have been shouted at by a stranger on YouTube and you have started a million and one get rich quick schemes and some get rich slow schemes, nothing is coming in and you are just spending more and more time online trying every different avenue you can to make something, anything work.
You are not alone, the online world from our prospective is split into two camps, the this is what you should do to make money and the this is how you should feel and act to make money, there is no this is how I do it camp, there is nobody who gives any prospective on how long these things should take or indeed how you actually start to make some, any cash at all, and before you start listing the hundreds of millionaires that have YouTube channels and that have catchy titles like “this is how I make $10000 a day from typing” or “watch me build a million dollar sales funnel” let me say this, I am talking about real substance on how you execute these promoted Frameworks, I put together a business idea in a post that can be found [here] where I outlined an online property business that could easily be global and you could do it from that fabled beach in the Bahamas that seems to be the very first trip these people make after making all their money, but here is the rub, the entire thing was useless, not worth a single penny because it has no Method of execution there is no information on how you complete the steps just simply the steps themselves and without that it is like having a Bentley with no tyres on the rims, it looks good but can’t go anywhere.
And it is at this point people fail, when you are sat there after you exhausted all your ideas and you have nothing left to give, it is 2 in the morning and you have to be up for work in 4 hours, but hang on isn’t this what you paid them for? isn’t this the advice that you are supposed to be receiving, well yes it is, so you have a cup of coffee and you remember Elon Musk saying that he worked 100 hours a week and all the influencers on Instagram with the positive little memes all the way up to the ones that simply stand there and tell you that you don’t work hard enough, and you trudge on just getting older, more skint and more and more disillusioned as you scroll through social media watching videos on how well everybody else is doing.
This is the point where motivation just isn’t enough, and this is also where you like others can start to fall into depression, and self -doubt, as somebody who has been there I can honestly say that this is difficult to get out of, almost impossible to live with and will ultimately effect everybody close enough to you to care.
Sounds Grim Right?
Well that’s because it is, I am not going to trawl through the internet to find statistics to dazzle you with the amount of research I did to back up my opinion because I don’t need to, the evidence of the state of society is all around us, it is in our schools, our workplaces and out in the streets, it follows us home and usually sits by the bed all night waiting to grab our attention even if we dare to wake up for a few minutes, I am talking, of course about the age of information technology, a lot of commentators blame Social Media solely for societies ill’s but this simply is not the case, it is the scale of information and demand for attention that is causing the confusion, and yes this encompasses social media, but it also extends to TV, Radio, Cinema, and even the lowly conversation, this is an On-Demand world and anything less just isn’t good enough, and anything other than instant results are also simply not good enough, so when we don’t realise all our dreams of financial success overnight, rather than go looking for the reasons or anecdotal evidence of how long it took the most successful to achieve their goals we look inwards and blame ourselves, we start to scroll looking for the inspiration that will drag us out of our unproductive trench and somehow propel us to the top the way it did so many others.
But this is because when you sit and stare at the screen for hours on end, or watch the latest “make money online video” you are only getting half the conversation, with no context at all, all the people we are taught to look up to have struggled to make their money, Richard Branson had several failed businesses and nearly lost Virgin a couple of times, Mark Zuckerburg wrote several unsuccessful applications including a music program he later gave to Microsoft for nothing, Grant Cardone came from very humble beginnings and if you watch enough videos you will soon realise that Gary Vaynerchuk had a far from ideal childhood, problem is they weren’t famous then, so there is cataloguing of Gary Vee drinking urine from a can because he was being bullied and the Christmas tree business Richard Branson had never made it to the front pages of any newspaper but they happened and created the inspirational characters you see and follow today.
One thing that unites them all now is calm, and I know that sounds odd but bear with me, I know they are not all calm in their approach to life, they scream and shout, book huge auditoriums and have lights, music and pyrotechnics but look at them closely, they are calm, their eyes are calm and no matter the volume of their words they are delivered with a calm certainty that resonates through every syllable, I guarantee they will not have sounded like that when they began, they sound like that now because they know it is a numbers game, it is clear thought and good decisions that make the millionaires of the future a vision and an unerring drive to get there, but it also a marathon and not a sprint, and marathons require planning and they require pacing or you will just be left behind, a sweating crying mass alone by the side of the road, defeated.
Your Recipe for Success
So right back to the beginning at 2am with work at 6am, the best thing you can do is stop what you are doing and protect your job, ask yourself this, when you are changing jobs, do you announce it to your boss that you are looking for alternative employment ? no, or at least I do not because we would fear that it would prejudice our position within the company we currently work for, so why let your venture destroy your security now? get some sleep and come back to it the next day, I guarantee that if you want to succeed it is going to be easier if you are as calm as possible, calm people make rational decisions, they consider the options and often times react very quickly as they have already formulated the course of action and do not need to adjust it once it is in play, “Think Slow, Act Fast”, there are two sides to every goal, the planning and the execution and this is where most of us fall down because we are still planning while we are executing, negating, in some circumstances any progress we might have made to the point of deviation.
As crude as it is (and I promise I will work on my graphic skills) what I am trying represent is that if we start with an exponential amount of planning at the start, we can draw a straight reducing line toward the goal as over time we can decrease effort required as experience and skill increases, whereas if we are constantly in the planning stage the line is a lot more bumpy, there will be times where reaction to events is required to keep pushing a project forward and these are best represented by a triangle along the line, as the effort sharply increases in line with the goal but then once the solution is reached it quickly decreases, my point is to succeed you need to react to problems not lack of planning.
One thing to do and an opinion that is shared by some of the most successful people on the planet is meditation, now you may think that mediation is sitting cross legged and humming to yourself in the Lotus Position, but I would rather you think of Meditation as something more personal, we all have different interests and likes/dislikes, we all have things that calm us and things that annoy us, for instance a very successful APP that helps people study is one that simply feeds the background sounds of a coffee shop the listener, thousands of people benefit everyday from the calming effect this app has on them, I however fell agitated by the background noise of a coffee shop, or any public establishment so for me that app would be a one way ticket to failure!, so pick something that Absorbs your thoughts something that takes you away from reality for a time to allow your mind to completely forget anything other than pleasure, it is easy to pick an activity to achieve this state, simply do something that makes you forget time, by which I mean anything that you do that usually you are so occupied by that time seems to slip away without you noticing, if that is sitting in the lotus position then great, if it is riding a dirt bike then also great, you looking to achieve a disconnect from effort, allowing your mind time to slow down and bathe in a huge release of endorphins, always remember though to set some kind of reminder about re-focusing on your goal and work because without that you could spend all day chilling out and that won’t get anything done!
So in summary, anything worth having takes work and a lot of it, but all the motivational speeches, inspirational stories and success shaming in the world is not going to help if that is not the problem, if the problem is overload and mental fatigue then that is what needs to be addressed, learn to recognise this and switch off YouTube or Instagram or wherever else you go to get your daily dose of persecution from virtual peers that likely are doing no better than you and relax, think slow and act fast, a ten minute rest will lead to a much more productive 30 minutes effort, till next time……..