“I never think about the play or visualize anything. I do what comes to me at that moment. Instinct. It has always been that way.”
Lionel Messi (Soccer legend)
“I choose totally by instinct. And the only time I’ve ever gone against instincts, I’ve regretted it.”
Julia Roberts (Oscar-winning actress)
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
Charles-Guillaume Étienne (French dramatist)
He was the last male survivor of his family.
But he didn’t look like a survivor.
Instead, he walked with a limp.
He was also hard of hearing and could hardly make it through a sentence without stuttering.
Seriously, that was his job.
His nephew, the Roman Emperor, kept him around just to make fun of him and his stutter.
Claudius, the court jester.
That could have been the end of his story.
But then Roman officials staged their coup and killed everyone but Claudius.
Now Claudius was the only one left with noble ties who could run the Roman Empire.
He went from court jester to Emperor overnight.
How would he handle it?
Never before had Claudius been anything but a clown to others.
He was a running joke.
Scratch that—a limping joke.
No one ever thought Claudius would amount to anything.
Even his family, when they were alive, never took him seriously.
Claudius had almost no political experience.
Now, an entire empire awaited his command.
He’d have to do better than his nephew.
Success was a matter of life and death.
Literally, the Roman army threatened to kill him if he screwed up.
Emperor Claudius crushed it.
He used the pressure, fought through his speech impediment, and took full command of his life, the senate, and the Roman Empire.
He went on to conquer Britain and expanded the Empire in a way that hadn’t been seen since the reign of Augustus many years before.
There was a time when Claudius was considered weak because of his physical shortcomings.
Despite the doubts others tried to infect him with, the complete lack of support he suffered his entire life, and the embarrassment he faced every day, Claudius believed in himself.
Claudius turned inward and found something strong in himself.
Claudius knew in his gut that he was meant to rule.
To this day, he’s considered to be one of the greatest men to ever rule Rome.
Claudius ignored his detractors and forgot about his history of mockery.
Claudius relied on himself.
He trusted his own judgment.
He went with his gut.
Why You Should Trust Your Instincts
Leverage your instincts about yourself, don’t run from them.
Most people are afraid of their instincts.
These people think that going with your gut means blindly having faith or blindly following their feelings or intuition.
The truth is, your instincts are powerful.
Your gut can be all-knowing.
In fact, your gut has more neurons than the brain of a cat.
In an article in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology, researchers examined doctors’ ability to detect cancer in a patient simply by their gut feeling, enhanced by years of experience in the field.
Though it’s impossible to quantify a “gut feeling,” the researchers found that these doctors were right when they went with their instincts.
The key is that the doctors were using their instincts in a field they had extensive knowledge in.
Instincts rely on a framework of knowledge.
If you have a lot of knowledge in a certain area of your life, start trusting your instincts more.
On the other hand, if you have little or no knowledge in an area, don’t use having a “gut feeling” as a crutch or a cop-out to do whatever you think or feel is best.
The one area where you should always trust your instincts is yourself.
You know what’s best for you more than anyone else.
You know, in your gut, what action you should take.
So stop fighting it.
Stop fighting who you are and what you really want.
Instead, start developing your instincts.
Your instincts about yourself can be trained and honed.
The doctor who feels when a patient is in danger.
The hunter who can sense when the target is near.
The detective who knows when something should be investigated further.
These people trust their instincts in a particular area of their lives because they’ve built up a framework of knowledge in this area.
You’ve spent years building up a framework of knowledge of who you are, what you want, and how you want to live.
Leverage this knowledge by listening to your gut.
5 Strategies For Being More Self-Reliant
Other people’s opinions are cheap.
Asking someone else what you should do with your life won’t cost you much.
Everyone around you will happily tell you their opinions on how you should live.
“Don’t be so selfish.”
“Give more to others.”
“Put other people first.”
People are happy to spew this kind of generalized nonsense at you all day long.
But all the opinions in the world can’t override that persistent tug inside of you.
Your inner voice, your instincts, your gut—it knows what’s best for you.
You know what’s best for you.
The problem is that you’ve been taught to ask for other people’s advice your entire life.
You’ve been taught to value other people’s gut reactions over your own instincts.
It’s time to start listening to yourself again.
It’s time to start relying on yourself.
When you trust your instincts about yourself, you come out on top.
When you bet on yourself, you win.
Here are 5 strategies on how to be strong and more self-reliant…
1. Ignore compliments but seek criticism.
Growth is a prime human need.
If you’re healthy, you’ll always want to improve at something in your life.
Your instincts should always tell you that there’s more to learn.
That you could be doing an even better job.
This is why it’s important to surround yourself with the right kind of people.
Getting feedback from others is critical to growing quickly.
But it has to be the right kind of feedback.
Unsolicited opinions and compliments are useless.
Constructive criticism, on the other hand, is invaluable.
The more painful, the better.
The question is: can you handle the criticism?
Can you love the criticism so much that you ask for it?
Can you differentiate constructive criticism from useless compliments and ignore the latter?
Look—even your most successful idol can blow you off just by giving you worthless feedback like “good job.”
Compliments like “good job” come from two different types of people.
Those who feel threatened by what you’re doing and want to hold you down, and those who haven’t got a clue of what you’re doing and wouldn’t recognize if you did a good job or not.
Either way, these kinds of compliments are meant to placate you.
At no point is your work done so well that you can’t do better.
There is always room for improvement.
You always need to improve.
You need real criticism.
When someone provides you with constructive criticism, even if it’s scathing, they’re providing you with an opportunity to grow.
The right kind of criticism will snap you to attention and help you grow.
The wrong kind will drag you down and demotivate you.
It’s up to you to be able to tell the difference.
It’s up to you to know who is really for you and who is against you.
If you want to improve rapidly in life, start seeking constructive criticism and shying away from empty compliments.
2. Fight against popular opinions.
Your instinct is an incredible ability.
It’s inherent to you.
It’s a big reason why you’ve made it this far in life.
It’s one of your best resources for thriving as a human being.
But you’ve been trained to ignore it.
You’ve been trained to obey society’s herd mentality and go along with what everyone else says is best for you.
Popular opinions are usually wrong.
You’ll never be successful in life by following a consensus blueprint for what you should do.
Go to college, graduate, get married, have 2.5 kids, work a mediocre job with a mediocre wage.
Tiptoe to the grave.
If you listen to popular opinions like these, you deserve to be a nobody in life.
You deserve to be dependent on other people for happiness and success.
You don’t need popular opinion to tell you what to do with your life, how to live it, or how to solve your problems.
You know what you were meant to do with your life better than anyone else.
Bet on yourself.
It’s not a popular opinion to take bold, risky steps towards improving your life.
It’s not a popular opinion to eliminate the manipulative and toxic people from your life.
Do it anyway.
If you want to meet your goals, follow your gut and your rational mind, not society’s half-baked ideas about what’s best for you.
3. Use unfamiliar situations as challenges.
Training your instinct is like training your body.
Your mind is a muscle and it gets weak without use.
If you want to become more mentally tough and independent in life, you need to start deliberately putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.
You need to start putting yourself in adventurous situations.
Stop being afraid of conflict.
Stop shying away from failure.
Instead, look for opportunities to fail and fail big.
The bigger the opportunity to fail, the bigger the opportunity to succeed.
The bigger the opportunity to win big and shock the world.
When was the last time you shocked anyone?
When was the last time you made a decision that made both you and others uncomfortable?
Was it months ago?
It’s time to start shaking things up again.
You only have one life—one chance—to rattle the cage and make something big happen for yourself.
Quit wasting it.
Get comfortable with uncertainty.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Don’t settle for unhappiness for another 10 years, 20 months, or even another 10 days.
Choose uncertainty over unhappiness.
Uncertainty leads to growth, but unhappiness leads to nothing but misery.
4. Never act as a crutch for someone else.
Your instinct is very valuable.
This is especially true when it comes to determining who is for you and who is against you.
Too many people let negative friends and negative family members stay in their lives for years even though their guts tell them to cut the cord.
These people reject their instincts.
They reject their rational reasons.
Instead, they give in to guilt.
They feel bad for someone and instead of truly helping them by walking away, they give them handouts and act as a crutch.
They empower their negative behavior.
They support their malfunction.
When you allow someone to be dependent on you, you weaken them.
You also weaken yourself.
Dependency breeds dependence.
When you allow dependence in your life, one way or another, you become more dependent.
Quit giving other people a free pass to be negative or to play the victim.
Quit giving other people handouts just because it’s easier than saying “no.”
Show some fortitude.
Show some tough love.
Start encouraging others to stand on their own, not rely on you for help.
This will make both you and them more self-reliant and successful in life.
5. Celebrate your victories but don’t dwell on them.
Your life is meant to be challenging.
When you challenge yourself, even if you fall short of your goals, you don’t really fail.
You don’t really fail because you’ve forced your brain to adapt to something new.
But what happens when you win?
What happens when you overcome the obstacles in front of you and do what you set out to do, conquering a goal others told you was unrealistic?
Do you just move on to the next goal?
Do you absorb yourself in the praise others give you?
No, you internalize your own victory.
You validate yourself.
You celebrate within.
Appreciate what you’ve been able to do on your own.
Accept those who celebrate you too.
But don’t dwell on external praise.
When you allow others to validate you, you become complacent.
You forget what you really want out of life.
You forget the importance of depending on your own validation.
You dull your instincts and lose sight of the big picture.
Instead of letting your victory define you, leverage it to your advantage.
Use it as an example of how you can achieve even bigger goals.
Let your victories compound and they’ll push you forward.
Let victory become instinctual.
Keep honing and training your instincts by submerging yourself in the unknown. Look at the world from different perspectives and get out of your comfort zone. The more your instinct improves, the more you’ll be able to trust it. The more you develop and trust your instincts, the more you’ll be able to accomplish in life. The world will become less intimidating because you’ll know how to cope with the challenges you face and work things out on your own. Do this and you’ll live a more confident and focused life. Until next time, live like a lion.
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