“We should every night call ourselves to an account;
What infirmity have I mastered today?
What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.”
The difference between where we are now and where we dream to be depends on our efforts in practicing self-mastery.
Like you, I work hard everyday. I utilize my time efficiently as possible, and I know what needs to get done. Today, I will write 1,000 words for my next project. I don’t look back or obsess over what I have written.
I will control my thoughts so that they don’t influence me to self-defeat. I will come across assholes, charlatans, fugazis, people who feel entitled, and wanna-be’s, but I don’t let their actions bother me. Paying mind to such people would only take time out of my day — time that can be used to do work, to grow, to learn.
Right now, I am thinking about what my life was like 3 years ago. I was a failing college student. In the eyes of Sonny from A Bronx Tale, I was “wasted talent.” I set no goals or had any idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I was fearful, but also lazy. Then I see myself now.
How did I get here? (It all went by so fast)
Self-mastery. Striving everyday to become a better me. The definition of mastery states: “Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment.” More than ever, those who embark on the journey of mastering themselves will truly create the life they desire.
Becoming self-aware is the first step to any kind of change; ask any psychiatrist or anyone in the social science field and they will tell you the same. It is like being able to project all your issues and irrational fears onto a whiteboard so that you become aware. How needless 99% of my problems were — all created by my own misperceptions, sense of entitlement, frustration and need for immediate gratification.
Witness the power in awareness. Harness it in all areas of your life. Never dismiss it. Becoming aware — being able to see the dots — is a powerful first step. Take it and move forward. The next step is to connect the dots. Know that this takes constant practice. Once you learn how to connect the dots that you’re aware of, you will feel and see change. Don’t run away from it. Keep going.
I became aware of what needed to be fixed in my life — the distractions, roadblocks, and false realities that I created with my own thoughts. I unlearn these lessons day by day, because these behavioral transformations are never instant.
Awareness and action go hand-in-hand. One without the other is just as useless as a hammer with no nail.
But how else did I get here?
I failed forward. I failed relentlessly. I fail everyday. But I learn from these failures; I don’t let them devour me. There are people out there who fail at something and turn around, only to never come back and try again.
Immediate gratification. I’m slowly realizing how detrimental that want is. When I shipped Reignite, I felt postpartum depression the way a mother does. Why was I feeling this way?
Beside the fact that I worked on something for 7 months and now it’s finally out in this world, I was seeking immediate gratification. I wanted everyone to pat me on the back, say congratulations, and tweet my book.
Not many did.
So what? Does their praise mean that I succeeded? No. I felt like I succeeded because I shipped the book — because most people never ship anything in their lifetime.
But let’s not compare.
Let’s focus on ourselves. Let’s master ourselves first. Let’s learn to control our emotions, desires, wants, and start focusing on what really matters in our life — family, friends, our goals, humility, self-mastery, self-awareness, relentless learning and growing, being of service, contributing to the world.
Where we want to be determines how much effort we put into ourselves. We can’t stick to old habits of fruitless behaviors. That won’t get us anywhere. It is easy to be comfortable, but much more difficult to challenge yourself without a coach screaming in your ear.
We need to leave the comfort zone. Try new things. Experiment. Dare to be better than yesterday.
Do this everyday, and we are at an advantage. Look around you. People are slaves to their own ego, materialistic culture, pointing fingers to politics and government for their own shortcomings, and creating bullshit excuses to feel important.
Use this advantage. There are less people climbing to the top. Now is your chance.
Where does this all start?
Your mind, then your actions; sometimes you need to act in order to believe, so if necessary, follow that path. That thing between your two ears, that controls everything. You can master that and break through plateaus. Think of it as a computer. Once viruses and malware enter the computer software, it slows down and becomes dysfunctional.
Your mind cannot be polluted with negative thoughts that are simply created by the basis of anxiety or frustration. Most of our fears are completely bullshit. Fear of being laughed at, noticed, failing, succeeding — these are all perceived in the mind. Learn to monitor what you tell yourself. This is of paramount importance.
Your thoughts make up your perception. Your perception is how you perceive everything around you. Change what you tell yourself to change your own reality.
Common sense? Realize that common sense is not always common practice.
What does that mean for us?
It means we can change what we think, overtime, with relentless practice. Some people actually believe that they have no control over themselves. They believe it like any devoted religious person. But do you see the power of belief? A person believes they have no control, and voila!, they live like they have no control. They point fingers and blame others for the troubles in their lives.
Then we see a person who believes they are in control of their destiny. They have desire and determination. What happens? They live their life fully. They are not fearless, but instead know how to use that fear as a compass. They, too, fail forward.
Think about who you are now. Think about who you would like to be in the future — a best-selling author, a popular blogger, a business owner, a world-class saxophone player, the best parent in the world, an author of children’s books, a doctor, etc.
Whatever you wish to be, you can get there.
Self-mastery. Hard work.
Asking questions. Challenging what you don’t know.
Discard immediate gratification.
Don’t stress over where you arrived. Focus on where you are going.
One destination leads to the next. Keep moving forward.