When I got my 10th board results, I had gotten ahead of everyone, momentarily.
When I got my 12th board results, everyone else had gotten ahead of me, momentarily.
In the first three years of college, everyone else that started on the same line seemed to be getting ahead of me, momentarily.
In my fourth year, I made a decision to get ahead of everyone, worked hard and ended up with a dream job at PayPal in my fifth year.
I joined PayPal as an intern for the final project. Most people stop with the accomplishment of a job in a pretty good company. They settle for climbing the designation ladder in their workplace. Well, that’s nice. That’s good, comfy, cozy and very safe.
Not for me.
That’s a normal life.
You go to college, get a great job, party hard and have fun until 25. Then, you start settling down, marry someone, have kids. Then, you educate your kids, send them to school, and then they go to college, they get a job, they get married, they have kids. You have some fun time with grandkids and then wait for death.
That’s normal life.
Most people don’t read anything after they graduate. My sister hasn’t read a single book after she graduated. That is normal. Most people are normal.
Normal isn’t something you strive to be. Normal is something to run away from.
There was a poem that I read once.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
Most people settle for a normal life, coz that’s a social norm. You gotta go to college, get a job, get settled and get married. You gotta own a house, take mortgage, have a car. You gotta have a baby within a year or two of marriage, otherwise relatives start questioning. You gotta send your kids to the best possible school, just so you can brag to your other friends about the school your kids study in.
This is all normal. Nothing different in the way the society runs.
And this is exactly what humans do. Live a normal life.
But, just one moment, question yourself. All this evolution, all the advancements, all the technical, social, sociological, psychological, physiological, environmental advancements that are known to man – do you think NORMAL PEOPLE were responsible for all that? Do you think people who stagnated all through their life, living the same day over and over again calling it life did all that?
Take the history and put the pieces together. You will find that every major advancement known to man had been done only by those who never stopped learning, never stopped growing.
So, if you want to be extraordinary and if you want to put a dent in this universe, read further. Otherwise, please don’t waste your time on this post and go play some foosball.
Anyone who ever succeeded had some sort of self-discipline. Discipline in the time they sleep. Discipline in the time they wake up. Discipline in the things they do. Discipline in the order in which they do things.
They have discipline in saying yes. They have discipline in saying NO. They say yes to the absolutely important things and people. They say NO to the absolutely unimportant things and people.
You can end up accomplishing something without self-discipline. But you can NEVER retain that success or accomplishment without self-discipline.
So, self-discipline is the first thing you should be looking at.
How do you discipline yourself?
This is one way – Habit Formation – The Only Way That Works
You form one habit after the other to discipline yourself, in a series of improvements. Change doesn’t happen over night. So, don’t expect yourself to change everything and control everything all within a weekend.
Anyone who succeeds in life, consciously or unconsciously make use of the law of attraction. Most of them are conscious about it. Some of them are not. They know that the first person that they have to respect the most is themselves.
When you start respecting yourself highly, that’s when you say NO to all the things and all the people that are wrong for you. Self-respect is an integral part of accomplishing some great things.
Coz, no matter where you go, if you have self-respect and do things without compromising your integrity, that’s when people start respecting you more than they respect the normal people.
Take it from a guy who had a very little self-respect to begin with. I have observed that the more I respected myself, the more people respected me. The more I didn’t heed to myself, didn’t respect my inner voice, the more I went low on the self-respect area, the lesser the respect that people showed to me or my words. It’s as simple as that.
So, even if you have no reason to, respect yourself so highly that by seeing that, other people won’t have any other option but to respect you the same way you respect yourself.
To be extraordinary, you have to be obsessed. Anything less than that, you get nowhere near being extraordinary. Take Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Phelps, Dwayne Johnson, Arnold, Oprah, Whitney Houston, Jim Carrey, Sachin Tendulkar, Rafael Nadal, Vishwanathan Anand, etc. Take any legend. Take the life of any of these legends or any other legends in the human history, and you will see OBSESSION as an important trait.
Over the years, normal people have made obsession into something that’s perceived negatively.
These legends, they have dedicated themselves to one cause, one motive, one ideal and they have slogged for years towards achieving that one thing. They have given their everything for whatever they took up with passion. They were obsessed. They wanted it so badly. And they did it only because they were obsessed. Anything less and we won’t have these legends today. If they settled for anything less, they won’t be legends. They wanted the absolute best for themselves. They were obsessed enough to chase their dreams. And that is why obsession is the only thing that counts.
Obsessed is a word that lazy people use to describe the dedicated.
4. Growth Oriented Mindset:
Did Sachin Tendulkar stop or retire after he broke all the previously existing records? Did he stop after he broke Sunil Gavaskar’s records?
Did Vishwanathan Anand quit after he achieved the top position in the chess rankings?
Did Zuckerberg stop improving Facebook once it hit the billion mark in valuation?
Did Steve Jobs stop when iPhone was a success?
When you’ve gotten good at something, that is a pivotal moment.
If you’ve lost 50lbs, your friends will say, “You should be happy! Stop losing weight! You’ll get too skinny!”
If you’re running a business and you got $500,000 profit this year, people around you will say exactly the same thing. “Why are you killing yourself? That’s more than enough. You should just take a vacation!”
If you want to be extraordinary, your fricking goal in life should not be to take a vacation. It should be to make an impact.
Most people will be happy and settle for their growth that hits the roof. Not the legends. Not the great people who put the dent on this universe. They don’t settle for the roof.
They break through the roof, grow above and beyond, reach the skies, grow further and keep growing. They don’t place limits on how much they have to grow. They don’t settle and be satisfied. There’s a constant hunger to keep growing, keep achieving, keep making a difference.
5. Settling only for the best:
If you take a look at the lives of all the influential people out there, they settle for nothing less than the best. From themselves, or from the others, they set a very high standard for achieving and expect it to be fulfilled. That is how they have built themselves into the legends they are today.
Steve Jobs’ aquarium story is very well known. Meticulous perfectionism, and demanding the absolute best from everyone starting with themselves – these traits brought them to where they are today.
6. They Are Not Busy:
If you take a look at the lives of any of these influential people, you will see that they go golfing, camping, spend time with their children, hit the gym and work out, go for a run, etc., on a daily basis.
They have mastered the art of time management in such a way that they don’t bullshit themselves anymore saying that they haven’t got time.
They know that IT’S THE BUSIEST MAN THAT CAN ALWAYS SPARE SOME TIME.
They focus on being productive. Their focus is not on being busy. They focus on the return on investment for their time. They manage their time properly, productively.
They always make time for what’s IMPORTANT. Anything less, they won’t make time for that.
That absolutely brutal time management is what has got them here. They know that when a person says that he or she is too busy to do something important, he/she is just bullshitting their way through their life.
In short, they are not busy. They are productive.
As I had written in this post – Winners Are Quitters! Successful People Quit Everyday, successful people, extraordinary people, they are all quitters.
They quit on a day to day basis. They quit everything that’s unimportant. They say no to everything that’s irrelevant. They do only what’s absolutely important, relevant and necessary for them to reach their goals and fulfil their dreams.
Quitting isn’t wrong and they know that. They know that they don’t have to hold on to something/someone that isn’t serving them anymore. They quit toxic relationships, they give away useless things, they keep their life simple (Mark Zuckerberg wears the same shirt to work everyday), they don’t say yes to everything and everyone. They know that their time is limited, so they quit pursuing everyone else’s dreams for them, and they start pursuing only their dreams for themselves.
8. Reading Books:
Successful people, legendary people – all of them recognise one fact very clearly. They recognise that this life is very short. They recognised the fact that life is too short to learn only from your mistakes. That’s why they read books. To them, reading books is a way of getting a glimpse into the minds and the lives of the legends that lived before them. To them, reading is a way of learning about themselves and about the world around them.
Reading is the way you develop so much knowledge. A person of knowledge is respected anywhere he/she goes and they recognised that fact.
What you know is more important than who you know, because only what you know will determine who you will know.
Read something new every single day. Feed your mind. A mind that is not cultivated will give rise to what’s in an uncultivated land – weed. Most people go their entire life without recognising this fact. They let those weeds get the best of them without being aware of the fact that they let them grow in the first place. Don’t be one of those people if you wanna achieve greatness.
9. The people they choose to have around:
The following is an excerpt from a Ramit Sethi article.
…after a lot of thinking, I narrowed my choices down:
- Stay where I was, satisfied with the level I’d hit
- Make the decision to grow
I made the decision to keep growing. That single decision has been one of the best, most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.
And that decision lead to a whole slew of more difficult situations. Just like the mom whose weight-loss group kicked her out, it was time for me to stop and think about who I was surrounding myself with. It didn’t mean I was better or worse than my past mentors that I looked up to — it just meant values change (like going to the beach), and that’s OK.
I came to realize how important it was to surround myself with the right people. You’ve all heard that great Jim Rohn quote: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Here’s another one: “Tell Me Who You Spend Time With, And I Will Tell You Who You Are.”
This turns out to be really important.
For example, I went to a conference where literally everyone introduced themselves by talking about (1) how much money they made, and (2) how little they worked (“My business is ___ and it generates $XXX,XXX in about 2 days/week”)
Those are not the kind of people I want to be around. (Kind of like how that mom probably doesn’t really want to be around moms who don’t support her hard work.)
Who are the people around you? Do they support you when you read self-development books, or do they think it’s “weird”? Are they ahead of you, and happy to teach you what they know? Or are they protective of their small piece of this world, because they don’t want to see you succeed?
The people around you matter because they can change the way you think about success.
When I surrounded myself with the best, I rewrote all these Invisible Scripts I’d held about business and success.
For example, I thought my ~$500K business was big. In the grand scheme, it was tiny! I learned to dream bigger.
With my fitness, I learned that what I used to think was a “hard” workout wasn’t…and I got to see what a real workout looked like. Awesome.
Even with style, I used to have certain thoughts like, “I better save that blazer for a special occasion.” Then I met a friend who dresses impeccably even when he grabs coffee on Sunday morning. BOOM — he showed me another level of what excellence really meant.
A big success isn’t the ceiling. It’s the foundation for your next leap.
Whether it’s this woman losing 100lbs and changing her life, or me growing my business 10x, then even more…you can choose growth in your life. It’s not an accident. It’s not the world or your genetics (if you ever use genetics as your excuse, I’m going to kill you). It’s your choice.
It’s self explanatory. The people you choose to have around and the people you choose to be around make a huge difference in who you are and who you become. To be honest, the people you hang out with, they decide who you become for the most part. It’s better to be alone than to be in the midst of the wrong people.
Most people will ask you to settle. They will ask you to not work hard.
My co-interns used to tell me, “Dude, stop working hard. It’s alright to take some time off and play foosball. All work and no play makes anyone dull.”
You know how much they played foosball? Minimum of 1 hour everyday. Every single day. That’s 5 hours per week, 20 hours per month, nearly 250 hours per year. Which is equal to the time you spend for 1 semester worth courses.
And people who give that reason also have got something wrong. They consider play as in games. But the real meaning of play goes like this:
If you enjoy what you do, then it becomes play, not work.
Even when I told them that I had to go to the gym, they used to tell me that I can skip the gym for one day and that it won’t make much of a difference.
I did end up going and playing sometimes. And then, after a while, I realised it wasn’t for me. I went and played because I wanted to be a part of their life. I realised only later that they just wanted an extra player with the foosball ball, and not really me. So, I quit. As I realised what I could have done and accomplished in those few hours I spent everyday on such things, I stopped playing and I started actually PLAYING – Working on my dreams.
So, you are the sum of 5 people you closely associate with.
If you associate with the winners, with the go-getters, with the people who have thirst to grow, with those who are open minded, you too become one of them.
If you associate with the losers, with the naysayers, with the people who are negative, with those who bullshit their way through life, with those who settle for whatever they have, you too become one of them.
You have a choice to make. You can either choose to be a sheep or a wolf. You gotta choose either of the two with utmost care. The price of choosing to be a sheep is boredom. The price of choosing to be a wolf is being alone.
But then, when you become a wolf, you can find other wolves and become a wolf-pack. Not the “hangover” wolf pack. But the real deal.
So, choose the people you hang out with and choose to spend time with, wisely. It’s better to be alone if you can’t find people better than you or at least like you, with a growth oriented mindset and open mindedness.
If you settle, it will become a habit. If you think you can inspire and change the people around you, please stop and hit yourself hard with a brick.
You can’t change the people around you. You can only change who you choose to be around.
10. They know what they want:
Legendary people of today had to start somewhere. If you go and ask them if they knew they’d get to the place they are in, most of them would say YES.
They either knew exactly what they wanted and went behind it, or they had an abstract goal of becoming a great cricketer, chess master, tennis player, etc. They either had a very specific goal or they had an abstract goal that they knew how to make specific.
Arnold wanted to be the best bodybuilder in this world. He visualised his end goal every single day.
And then, he wanted to become the most bankable box office star in Hollywood. He visualised that too.
And then, he wanted to become the Governor of California. He visualised. He became that too.
Take any legend in history, they knew exactly what they wanted, how they wanted, and when they wanted it.
Clarity in purpose is exactly the one thing that made everything else possible for them. They knew what it would take for them to reach where they wanted to go. They had their destination fixed in their mind. They chased their dream. The rest is history.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road you take will get you there.
And, last but not the least,
11. They were present in the present:
As much as they visualised their future, worked hard for a better future, did great things, imagined how their future would be,
they also didn’t let that blind them to the gifts they had in their present. They were all grateful for what they had, what they received and whatever they got. THEY WERE ALL GRATEFUL. BUT THEY NEVER GOT CONTENTED WITH THAT. They never settled.
They also didn’t let their vision for their future blind them to their present. They were very well present in the present moment, being grateful for whatever they had, appreciating and cherishing whatever they were blessed with.
May it be relationships, things, people around, coworkers, wife, children, family – anything for that matter. They didn’t take what they had for granted. Coz, they knew that their time was limited and that their only life was in the now and in the present.
Being mindful of what they had and being aware of where they wanted to go made them the way they are today.
All these things put together made them the way they are now. The way they led their life immortalised them in the human history. From Shakespeare to Sidney Sheldon, from Beethoven to John Williams, from Charles Babbage to Steve Jobs, people who left behind a legacy for generations to come – they didn’t leave that kind of legacy easily.
They left that legacy coz they didn’t settle. They got off their arse and they worked hard for what they wanted. They were also smart in working hard. They kept learning. They kept growing. They didn’t take no for an answer. They said YES to the right things. Their perspective towards the world was broad. They wanted to help the world become a better place. And, they did.
If you want something, go get it. People can’t do something themselves and they will tell you that you can’t do it either. That’s just their insecurity speaking. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. If you have a dream, you gotta do your best to protect it. Keep away from such people, and keep going on the path towards greatness.
Coz, that’s how you get ahead of everyone else, PERMANENTLY.
Coz, legends aren’t born. Legends are MADE.