Today I would like to share with you a short article I read by Earl Nightingale that I found very insightful.
I think that sometimes in my own life I have found that I have filled my plate so full of things that I want to get accomplished each day that I can’t possibly get them all done. I think this sometimes makes me focus on what I did not get done that day instead of what I did accomplish. In a sense it is good to have an overachiever mindset, but at the same time, you can’t let your inability to get everything done bring you down and affect your mindset.
I really like what Earl says about focusing on the most important tasks you need to accomplish each day and working to get those done first. If you have time to get the other smaller things done, that is an added bonus, but if you don’t get to the smaller things today, you can just revisit them tomorrow.
Earl’s point about how people tend to live in mediocrity seems very valid to me. We live in a society that wants instant success and are sometimes unwilling to do the little things each day that really make a difference over the long haul. I think as a society, that we have forgotten that anything work having takes a lot of work. Maybe we need to look back to the work ethic of our ancestors for inspiration. Things like reaching goals, having a successful relationship or making a difference in the work can be ultimately very fulfilling, but you can’t have them without putting in the work.
This makes me think back to my playing days at Iowa State. Record-wise we were not very good. Fortunately, we had a great leader in Dan McCarney who had a vision for what he wanted our team to become. He laid out the plan and showed us the things we had to do every single day to improve. It was very hard. We didn’t get better overnight. In fact, at times, we wondered if we were really improving at all. We kept at it though and slowly over time, we did get better. During my time there we did not go to a bowl game, but because of the foundation of hard work and small improvements everyday, the players who came after us were able to achieve success and go to several bowl games. There were plenty of ups and downs along the way, good days and bad days, but we never lost our vision and never stopped working.
That is the formula for success and guess what? There are no shortcuts. The question becomes are you willing to do what it takes to be successful? If not, you will either learn to be satisfied with mediocrity or you will live a depressed life. If you are, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible if you believe and you are willing to put in the time and effort.
Do each day all that can be done that day. You don’t need to overwork or to rush blindly into your work trying to do the greatest possible number of things in the shortest possible time. Don’t try to do tomorrow’s or next week’s work today. It’s not the number of things you do, but the quality, the efficiency of each separate action that count.
To achieve this “habit of success,” you need only to focus on the most important tasks and succeed in each small task of each day. Enough of these and you have a successful week, month, year, and lifetime. Success is not a matter of luck. It can be predicted and guaranteed, and anyone can achieve it by following this plan.
But most people live a life of quiet mediocrity and never achieve the success they truly desire because they get impatient. They want easy success or none at all. They see the path to success as a frustration, an impediment. Each day spent short of the ultimate goal is viewed as a time of failure and as an annoyance. As such, they get distracted by hundreds of little things that each day try to get us off our course. Yet the successful among us know the truth: If the end goal is all we desire, we simply cannot put in the time and effort it takes to be a success when it counts—each day—and therefore cannot lay the foundation for tomorrow’s success.
Pay no attention to petty distractions. Enjoy the easy days and shake off the bad days. Stay steadily on your track. Concentrate on each task of the day from morning to night and do each as successfully as you can. Know full well that if each of your tasks is performed successfully, or at least the greater majority of them, your life must be successful.
Article from The Habit of Success by Earl Nightingale.