“The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder.”
Derek Jeter (Former MLB Player, 5X World Series Champion)
“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.”
James Cameron (Director, Terminator and Alien)
“The unseen enemy is always the most fearsome.”
George R.R. Martin (Author, Song of Fire and Ice)
I’ve blown a lot of big opportunities.
Big business deals. Big wrestling matches. Great personal relationships.
I’ve messed them all up.
My last year of college was supposed to be this amazing coming of age story.
I was going to qualify for the NCAA wrestling championships and get into the top medical school of my choice.
There was this critical two-month period during the year where I had to wrestle three people ranked in my division and take the MCATs (the qualifying exam for medical school).
I was stressed and didn’t know how to handle it.
I trained. I studied.
But sometimes I didn’t feel like doing either.
I figured this was my body’s way of telling me to take a break. So I listened.
Two of my friends were big partiers.
They convinced me to go out a few of the nights I was supposed to be studying. Maybe it was more than a few nights.
Eventually, my time to prepare disappeared.
Now, it was time to perform.
I remember lying in bed working everything out in my mind.
My first tough match was the next day. Then I had to travel to the biggest tournament of the year (Midlands) and wrestle at least two more tough matches. Then I’d take the MCATs the next weekend.
I had taken the last couple of days off to rest.
I got this. That’s what I told myself. All was good. Sleepy time.
I lost the first match. It was close but I lost.
I went to the tournament. I lost another match. Then I won one. (Finally.) Then at the very end of my third match, I blew out my knee.
My leg crumpled like paper.
In front of 10,000 people. I found out later that my ACL, MCL, medial meniscus and lateral meniscus were all torn.
My left leg looked like a long fat pink balloon the next day. Everything was swollen and rubbery.
My wrestling career was over.
I bombed the MCATs the following weekend. Icing on the cake.
It was a difficult time for sure. But I got over it. I just told myself that everything wasn’t my fault. It was my friends fault because they were bad influences.
I kept spreading the blame.
It was my teachers, parents, and coaches fault for not teaching me how to study and train better.
God, the referee, the test administrators—they caused this.
I got over it—for real—several months later.
I grudgingly took responsibility for everything. I rehabbed obsessively and eventually wrestled again.
I changed my study habits, retook the test, and nailed it.
What Are You Not Seeing?
In the book, Stumbling on Happiness, author Dan Gilbert tells a story originally told by Cicero about a visitor to a Roman temple.
To impress the visitor, the Roman showed him a portrait of several sailors who had vowed their allegiance to the temple and, presumably as a result, survived a series of shipwrecks.
The Roman encouraged the visitor to accept this as evidence of a miracle.
The visitor’s reply was outstanding.
He countered with a question that very few people would have asked.
Yet, the question he asks is at the heart of what makes some people successful and other people failures.
It’s what separates winners from losers.
The visitor asked…
“But where are the pictures of those who perished after taking their vows?”
It’s easy to focus on the things you can see.
Most people spend there lives asking themselves “What can I see?” They base all of their decisions on only the things in front of them.
This is why so many people live sheep-like lives, chasing carrots and running away from sticks.
If you want to have a breakthrough in your thinking and in your life–start asking yourself…
“What am I not seeing?”
Stop Ignoring Absences
Imagine you are about to go on vacation.
You have two choices.
You can either stay on the island of Moderacia, which has average beaches, average weather, average hotels, and average nightlight.
Or, you can stay on the island of Extremia, which has incredible weather and fantastic beaches but crap hotels and no nightlife.
Which do you choose?
A study by Eldar Shafir in Memory & Cognition shows that most people pick Extremia.
But now pretend that you already have tentative reservations for trips to both islands and you have to cancel one trip before you get charged for it.
Which would you cancel?
The same study shows that most people cancel their reservation to Extremia.
Why would the average person both select and reject Extremia?
Because when you are selecting, you consider the positive attributes and your choices, and when you are rejecting, you consider the negative attributes.
You only see the positive when you’re selecting. You only see the negative when you’re rejecting.
How To Quit Blowing It
It’s easy to give in to the things you see.
You see others having fun and feel left out because you’re not involved. You hear about a party or get-together and drop everything to join in and be a part of it.
You see it and want it.
It’s easy to give into your feelings too.
You feel tired or embarrassed by your lack of progress, so you stop trying. You feel guilty or obligated, so you put other people’s goals ahead of your own.
But what are you not seeing?
The key to crushing it in life is to expand your awareness.
Start looking for gaps in your knowledge. Start looking for absences.
You might feel unsure of yourself and your goals right now in this moment, but you’ve felt these feelings before and know they’re only temporary.
There’s something you’re not seeing.
You see pictures of people having fun and relaxing somewhere tropical online and you think that you should be doing what they’re doing.
But you know that you’re just reacting to what you see.
You’re just experiencing a useless reflex.
What you’re not seeing is how hard those people worked to get to where they are. You’re not seeing the escape plan they created and successfully executed.
Or you’re not seeing how much money their mommies and daddies are giving them, or how many bills they’re going to have piled up afterwards.
Either way, you should stop focusing just on what you see and get back to work.
5 Keys To Crushing It
1. Pour it on at the end, don’t pull back.
When you get close to a victory in life, your first instinct is to pull back.
This is normal. You’ve worked hard and your mind is ready for a break. You see the finish line and every fiber in your body is telling you to let up.
Don’t go by what you see.
Yes, you are going to finish. But how are you going to finish?
Most of life’s biggest disappointments come right before a big victory. Someone pulls back. An opening is uncovered. Someone or something else fills the void.
The opportunity is lost.
Stop relaxing near the finish line. Instead, pour it on. Increase your intensity. Control everything.
You might feel like the victory is yours whether you let up or not, but there are an uncountable number of things you’re not seeing.
Competitors hiding in the weeds.
Obstacles waiting to strike. Lady luck looking for a reason to change her mind.
Don’t give them an inch. Follow through with 100% effort to the very end.
2. Reinforce success, not doubts.
The mind forgets success very easily. But it loves to remember losses.
According to Dr. Rick Hanson, who is a neuropsychologist and Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley, positive information has to be held in your awareness for a dozen or more seconds before being transferred to your longterm memory banks.
Negative information is transferred instantly
Your mind is very good at replaying your losses. It will fill your head with pictures of failures over and over again if you allow it.
Don’t let these doubts creep in. Keep your negativity bias and impostor syndrome in check.
Watch over your thoughts.
When past failures or potential future failures start playing in your head, change the channel.
Stop asking yourself, “What if I fail?” Instead, ask yourself, “When have I succeeded at something similar in the past?”
3. Drop negative people, don’t drag them along.
Negative people have a way of sneaking into your life. They’re like leeches.
If you’re not careful, you’ll wake up one day surrounded by gossips, haters, and drama queens. All of them sucking the life out of you.
Identifying these people is easy.
Getting rid of them, on the other hand, can be very difficult.
Most people drag a net of negative friends around with them everywhere they go for years.
Cut them loose.
Don’t keep negative friends in your life just because they’re the closest people to you.
Stop looking at the handful of people whose approval you will never have and start looking at the 7 billion other people on the planet who might like you just the way you are.
4. Blame yourself, not others.
You can’t see yourself. Not really.
You can pass by a mirror every now and then or ask for someone else’s viewpoint, but you can never really see yourself from the outside.
You can see other people though.
Lots of other people. You can see all the people and things that come against you.
Which makes it really easy to blame them for your problems. All of your problems. But…
They’re not to blame. You are.
You’re responsible for all of your successes and failures. You’re responsible for the good and bad in your life.
Of course, you’re not responsible for every event in your past. But you are responsible for how you handle it.
You are accountable for the aftermath.
Who you are right now is your fault. Start seeing yourself as the responsible party.
This is the most empowering way to live.
5. Change your approach, don’t repeat it.
The reason people get stuck in a rut is because they repeat themselves blindly.
They blow it in life because they keep trying the same stale strategies over and over again.
What if you did the opposite?
The only way to get unstuck in life is to do something different.
You have to break your current pattern.
But this is hard.
People get comfortable. They get lazy.
If you really want to change, do something big, not small.
Small changes can’t build momentum.
The gravity of the status quo is too intense.
Big changes on the other hand, obliterate patterns.
They eliminate the pull of normal. Stop looking to the strategies you’ve always used—the ones that are easy to see—to change your life.
You need new strategies.
Opposite and completely-unlike-you strategies.
Stop looking at the seen.
Start looking for the unseen.
Start creating a positive change in your life right now.
If you want to learn more strategies for getting focused and achieving your goals, get my book: Black Hole Focus