What value is there hard work? Why sacrifice and commit to something beyond yourself? Why do anything where the reward might not equal the effort?
Watch the video above.
Think of how much effort the rabbit puts into creating the girl rabbit only to have but a fleeting moment of satisfaction.
Was it all worth it?
Would you do it?
It’s easy to reflect back and say that you wouldn’t given that you know the result. All that work for a momentary reward.
Here’s the thing: you should do the work anyway.
We’re often head-faked by this idea that effort should always be rewarded. Children are taught from a very young age that if they help they will get a prize. Work should be done because putting the in the time and effort make it right, good and just. Even though each of the rabbits tasks didn’t lead to a reward, in the end, the entire effort resulted in the creation of something new. And, that tiny moment made it all worth it.
How do I feel?
Am I interested?
Can I do this?
The answers to these 3 questions determine our effort, motivation and commitment when facing new challenges. People often let their subconscious answer the questions which can lead to excuses avoidance and, in a worse case scenario, lies.
The next time you’re faced with a new challenge or experience, consciously make the effort to ask yourself these important questions. You may be shocked by how much your answer differs from your subconscious!
Discipline = Freedom
Says Jocko Wilnick a former Navy Seal commander. His photographs of a Timex watch reading 4:40 am have become legendary. He’s not waking up to take the picture, that’s the time he begins his daily workout.
“I like to get it done before the sun rises.” says Wilnick.
Why on God’s green Earth would someone get up that early to workout?
Discipline = Freedom is why.
Not only does waking early give you an opportunity to get the most difficult part of your day (well for most of us) out of the way early, it forces you to remained disciplined. It takes commitment to follow such a tough and well, early schedule.
By conditioning yourself to follow such a regime, it will inedibly spill over to other parts of your life. You may find the grit needed to finish that last email before the day’s done much easier once you’ve adapted to an early morning workout.
You’ll also find yourself reinvigorated knowing that you’ve seized the day. Invitations and opportunities will now be easier to accept knowing that you’re one step ahead of the rest of the working world.
For me, it’s been an emmesly positive experience. Don’t get me wrong, when my alarm goes at 5 am there is nothing but pain. Once I’m able to bury those emotions, stepping on the treadmill becomes a piece of cake. I find that simply ignoring my thoughts and getting to it makes it much easier to endure. Speed is important too. The faster I can get on the treadmill, the more likely I’ll have any second thoughts. I’m simply a robot doing what robots do best - follow instructions. After about 5 - 10 minutes of sweating, my body and mind can’t tell if it’s 5 am or 5 pm. The rest is a piece of cake.
The best part of the morning workout is the time it frees up in the afternoon and evenings. I get more Freedom to spend time with my kids. I’m open to more activities after work. I’m finding that I can get lots more done.
Yes discipline = freedom. Try it out for a month and see what happens.
The slide-cast version (with slides) of a chapel talk I did on November 20, 2017. Approximately 700 students from K-12 were in attendance to hear the importance of setting goals and making sacrifices to achieve them.
In a recent "Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, the internet asked teachers what the biggest change in education has been from 1997 to 2017. The overwhelming response was failure. 20 years ago students understood that failure was a part of education and without the proper effort (and luck) you could conceivably fail a test, essay or course. Today there is no failure. Students cannot be held back, failing a test results in the opportunity to re-test and re-test and re-test until the student achieves the mark they desire.
What is the ramification for this?
First the good: Having the opportunity to fail without actually failing should empower students to take greater risks in their academic careers. Instead of writing an essay to meet the standards of the rubric, maybe a student writes a manifesto on the current state of the politics of their school. They may fail, but at the same time they’ve made a gross statement and perhaps ruffled some feathers. If they have to redo the essay they’ll do so knowing that they’ve put themselves out there.
Now the bad: This generally isn’t what happens. Students who take risks will do so regardless of the culture of failure in their school. Instead, knowing that you can’t fail seems to breed a culture of indifference. Why put the extra work in if you’re not worried about failing?
Indifference is the greatest threat to education.
While the idea of failure has changed, the result is the massive inflation of indifference. This threat doesn’t effect the high-flying high achievers. They’ll continue to their best work no matter what. It’s the kids who aren’t particularly motivated in school who get effected the most. Fear of failure is real and will motivate anyone even if they know there’s no consequences.
Commitment is a fleeting trait among young people. A busy technology rich lifestyle can create an environment where you may feel committed to a goal, but in reality you are just contributing. All great dreams come at a cost. Commitment will help you get there quicker!
This is a slide-cast of a talk I did at my school on February 13th, 2017. Enjoy!
In a world filled with instant gratification and abundance of choice, commitment to a long-term goal becomes much more difficult to achieve. This is especially true for young people who are trying to find their way amongst all this noise.
Yet, there are plenty of people in this world who are quietly committing themselves to dreams, goals and aspirations with a humbleness that is inspiring. It’s important that educators highlight these individuals whether they’re from the past or present. Students often get confused with the subtle difference between contribution and commitment. They may feel like they’re committed to school, a sports team or a club but in reality they’re only contributing to it.
Here’s the difference: When you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, you’re reaping the rewards of animals who have provided a source of nutrition through contribution and commitment. The eggs? Well a chicken contributed to your breakfast. And the pig? Well he committed to it. There are those who approach a goal with full effort, but carefully walk the line. When the going gets tough or motivation isn’t there, they put their efforts elsewhere. Commitment on the other hand is when you leave no exit. Achieving your goals is the only option. Burn the boats as the saying goes.
We should approach our goals like pigs on a breakfast plate. If you start down the path and it doesn’t feel right, then clearly you’re not committed. Terry Fox was pulled of the road near Thunder Bay, Ontario. While he was being wheeled away from the hospital, journalists stuck a mic in his face and asked him how he was doing. His voice cracked as he whimpered “I have a tumour in both my lungs, but if there’s anyway I can get back out there, I will.” Terry set a goal greater than himself. When it was ripped away from him, it wasn’t the tumour in the lungs that bothered him so much. It was the inability to achieve his mission - to run across Canada for cancer research. Terry ran like a pig.
Throughout history there are plenty of people who committed to a cause no matter the cost. Churchill standing up to Hitler alone, Jesus spending his 30s spreading the word of God and Nelson Mandela’s struggle to end Apartheid are just a few examples of a commitment to something grand, noble and more important than the individual.
As educators we need to take notes from history to inspire our students to commit to an idea greater than themselves. When you are doing something for someone else and leave no exit, magical things can happen. It no longer becomes about the goal, but instead about the journey. Terry fox only finished 50% of his goal yet there isn’t a Canadian who would give him a ‘D’ for his effort.
Today’s education system supports failure. Why don’t we use that to our advantage and inspire students to leave no exits and take a leap of faith towards their goals.
Steven Pressfield named resistance as that powerful force that prevents us from making art. It manifests itself in many forms including friends, alcohol and fear. I contend that fear is the biggest contributor to lack solid artistic production in your life.
You haven't written that book because you're afraid of the effort required, the ridicule of your peers and costs of failure.
Here's the thing: Somewhere along the way we've been told that art has to be a published book or a youtube video with a million hits. Sure it's nice when those things happen, but the reality is not doing art is far more detrimental to your health than making art that society deems unworthy. It's art because it pushes the boundaries and limits of you and your vision of the world.
When you overcome the resistance of fear, you'll soon see that banging away on your craft can fill a massive void in your self actualization.
Who cares if it's bad?
Here's the video version of my presentation slides from my grit talk on Monday. Slide notes are attached!
Here in this the beginning of the 3rd week of January is where once optimistically forged resolutions begin to fade. People who undoubtably stone-faced promised at the start of the year to give up sugar, exercise more, be less selfish, or try something scary likely find themselves back in their old habits. I sure hope not, but according to statistics you're likely doomed.
Why do we then put ourselves through such misery if we know it will probably end in failure?
Us humans are a resourceful bunch. We have the ability - for better or worse - to frequently re-evaluate our behaviours. This is an important adaptation because it provides a way to benchmark our performance against the norm. This gives us feedback to help adjust our patterns to improve our ourselves in relation to the collective. In short, we learn to fit in better.
Fitting in is important because it keeps us from being an unwanted outlier. We really want to be liked by others. When we're obese, angry or selfish we stand out and are susceptible to being judged. For most of us, we just want to be the best person we can be so we take a stand to make changes.
However, our dreams fade into darkness when we realize that the changes we want require much more effort than we can muster. Besides, we were not that bad before, right?
Making change is hard, sometimes excruciatingly hard. It requires commitment and most importantly, grit. In all things worth doing the pain and darkness of the effort almost always give way to the better. We just need to recognize that our brains are powerful deceptive. Our imagination can powerfully propel us to a glorious vision where our dreams are realized. The reality part of our brain doesn't often kick in until the real pain begins.