Last week’s newsletter was a tale of two heads.
One reader, who I’ll call Angry Amy, sent us a scathing email branding me Captain Obvious and giving me a mouthful for “endlessly repeating wise sounding phrases without actually saying anything useful.”
As she put it, “Everyone over the age of 15 already knows all of the mushy smart sounding ‘insight’ you just unloaded.”
She might be right.
It might be obvious to her how she transforms what she thinks into what she wants, but it wasn’t obvious to me when I found myself stuck in my work. It’s not obvious to my clients. I know from the other emails we receive it’s not obvious to many in our community. And, the same day I saw it wasn’t obvious to one of our long-term readers either.
Around the same time that Angry Amy was writing to compliment me on my wise and smart-sounding phrases, I was at lunch with a senior Wall Streeter who was showing me the other side of the coin.
Mrs. I Know I Should
Mrs. I Know I Should has been reading my newsletters for years, but she hasn’t been “doing them.”
Like many people who talk a good game on these topics, she’s got extensive knowledge of what it takes to succeed and decades of achievement behind her, yet when it comes to the things that are hard in her career, as I wrote about here, she’s much better at avoiding, than doing.
It’s not because she’s stupid; she’s highly intelligent. Or lazy; even those who’ve spent decades on Wall Street still work around the clock. Or has a lack of focus; she knows what matters.
But she’s been struggling on these hard topics in her career because, quite frankly, she hasn’t been doing the work.
About halfway through our lunch, after having said a lot of thoughtful things, she looked over at me and asked, “So, do you think it’s important to be writing this stuff down?”
Mouth hanging open I looked at her like wtf?
Right then and there I realized that although she’s been reading and thinking about these topics for years, she hadn’t even committed her thoughts to paper, let alone actions.
Nobody builds a house from a plan in their head. A football team writes out their plays. Heck, most of us write up a shopping list so we remember the milk, yet we still “try” (mostly unsuccessfully) to solve the hardest challenges of our lives, in our heads.
That’s just one reason many of us get stuck “shoulding” all over ourselves.
“Shoulding” All Over Herself
Throughout the lunch Mrs. I Know I Should kept telling me what she “should” be doing, and affirming, “I completely agree” with the approach that I laid out.
Yet when I asked her, “OK, so why aren’t you doing it?” she looked at me deer in the headlights.
I wasn’t trying to be a jerk or to shame her. I was doing my “job” (for free, as I do every time I write), trying to help her get beyond where she’s been stuck, literally, for years.
When we’re stuck in life it’s easy to beat up on ourselves, and tell ourselves what we “should” be doing, but all that matters is whether we can actually get ourselves doing those things!
I hate when my work offends people, but as I wrote about here, hate mail means nothing to me.
This isn’t a popularity contest; I’m not looking for “likes.” I’m not an Internet marketer selling junk advertising to junk subscribers. I merely share the ideas that I wish someone had shared with me when I felt lost and stuck in my career and life.
I don’t write to make friends, I’m looking for the people who “get it,” who are seeking the ideas that would have radically helped me in my life.
While to Angry Amy and others who I hope have unsubscribed by now all this might be obvious, despite having created enormous success and earned seven-figures for years, it wasn’t obvious to Mrs. I Know I Should.
And over lunch we talked about how she gets herself out of the “shoulds,” to actually doing those things that will make the most difference in her career and life.
Five Things to Actually Do
At the risk of offending others like Angry Amy, I’m going to repeat, again, what I’ve repeated time and time again…
It’s completely irrelevant what you think you know. It’s completely irrelevant what you think you “should” do. All that matters to getting what you want is how effective you are at translating what you think into what you do.
Over lunch it became obvious to Mrs. I Know I Should that if she wants to get unstuck and actually create the career and life that she truly wants, these are the handful of things that she must get beyond “shoulding” and actually do.
1. The Mind
I don’t need to know Angry Amy to know that she’s in pain. Nobody who is feeling good about herself and her life lashes out at people, and the fact is that until we get our mind right, we can never unlock our lives.
The same is true with Mrs. I Know I Should. Despite years of being a “success,” her mind is polluted by anxiety (end it this way), insecurities, fears, worries, and worst of all, victim thinking:
“Well, if only I had joined that firm.”
“It’s just hard.”
“You think you have all of these options, and then you find yourself stuck.”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Right. Right. Right.
As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you’re right.”
Again, all this may be obvious to people, but anyone who is serious about training their mind can do so by putting to work long-form articles like this, this, this, and this free book for Building Your Limitless Mind.
You don’t get mentally strong by reading smart-sounding words, but by committing yourself to do the work in your Daily Exercises, and every day train yourself to think and feel how you choose.
2. Getting Moving
Most ironically, while Angry Amy was frustrated with January’s articles pounding away on the same idea—set real goals and get yourself taking action—Mrs. I Know I Should wanted to go deeper into the same topics.
It was obvious to her what she “should” be doing, but in her beta mindset, she wasn’t doing it.
“What’s the point?” was the most obvious whining she must get beyond. If your mind is stuck in crappy thinking and you can’t imagine that your actions will lead to what you want, then of course you find it hard to get yourself moving.
The solution to getting yourself doing those things that you “want” or “could” or “should” is to become expert at how you align your mind and actions.
This may be obvious to everyone on this planet except for me, but anyone who is looking to get themselves beyond where they’ve been stuck wants to do more than “know” what I wrote about here, here, and here and actually put these ideas to work, every day training to take powerful actions.
Mrs. I Know I Should still doesn’t have any real goals. Being stuck in a less than positive mindset her goal is to no longer be stuck feeling like she’s stuck…
Impotent goals lead to impotent actions, and without stepping back and defining goals that she wants to move towards—e.g. creating the career and life she truly wants—she’ll never escape the quagmire that keeps far too many of us humans stuck.
Again, Mrs. I Know I Should knows this.
She’s very thoughtful on these topics. She’s worked with coaches in the past, obviously beta ones. She’s been reading my stuff for years. She’s read my detailed articles on goals like this, this, and this. She’s even read my books, where I lay out 30 pages on goals, including a solution to the hardest problem that haunts many of us—not knowing what we want.
She gets that goals are absolutely critical. She knows the brain is a rifle that is best directed toward a target. She knows that real goals are ones which you are uncertain you can even achieve, and require ”risk.”
Yet, she still hadn’t: 1. Clearly defined her vision. 2. Written down actionable goals she’s executing now. 3. Been reviewing and conditioning her goals daily, let alone even weekly or monthly or annually…
Again, this may be Captain Obvious right here, but this wasn’t obvious to me, and given that few people you meet have real goals, it’s clearly not obvious to enough of us.
4. Getting It
The core of my System for Doing What You Want that is in my books and I outlined in this other 2,000 word free article is Getting It.
The absolute essence of getting what you want is figuring out how you do it. That’s obvious, right? Yet, how many of us are obviously clear on this?
How many of us know exactly how we win? How many of us are every day showing up and playing our best game, because, like Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, we know exactly what it takes to succeed?
In my books, in more than 50 pages I break down Getting It into three parts, including the topic of using Role Models, as I wrote about in some detail here.
Now, of course, I don’t replicate in every article the 50 pages of content that breaks this down in my books because I don’t write for 15 year-olds who need to be told what to do.
I serve people who are serious about getting what they want, and who are committed to stepping back and figuring out how they do it.
Let’s call a spade a spade.
Since the last time I saw Mrs. I Know I Should about a year ago, she’s no better.
She’s obviously losing the mental game because she’s not conditioning her mind. She’s wasting far too much time because she hasn’t honed her time management. She’s far less effective than she should be with clients because she’s not mastering the skills of selling and influence. And so on…
Of course she’s stuck. She hasn’t been drilling and mastering her skills. She hasn’t been learning new ones. She’s been “reading and thinking” a lot, but she’s not doing the work to get better, even though she knows this will lead her to better results.
Again, I don’t write this to be a jerk. Or to shame her. But to support her.
She’s a highly intelligent, hard-working, good person, but she’s letting herself down because she’s been stuck in crappy thinking which gets in her way of doing those things that matter most to getting what she wants.
People will spend hours consuming jayvee podcasts, pretending they’re more than low-budget entertainment.
They’ll pour through self-help books and other self-help porn, yet few people are willing to invest their time in actually developing the skills that they use to get what they want.
And as I wrote about here and cover in more than 50 pages in my books, Getting Skills can be easy—with just a little effort, we can all easily learn skills that dramatically change our lives.
Filtering The World
I apologize to people like Angry Amy who are offended by what I write or say.
It’s never my intent to offend people, and I do what I do because my mission is to serve people in ways that I wish others had served me.
But, the fact is, my work isn’t for everyone.
I’m not looking for people like Angry Amy, or even wealthy and successful people like Mrs. I Know I Should.
I’m filtering the world for my people, who are serious about going for what they truly want and who are looking for the absolute best ideas that I wish someone had shared with me.