Desire is the single most important factor in achieving your goals and changing yourself. If you are not absolutely clear on what you want for your life, your number one priority should be to discover it. Just wanting something badly enough is 85% of the journey to achieving it. The remaining 15% are details that you will not remember anyway.
A young man approaches a success guru and tells him “sir, I want what you have. I want to be as successful as you.” The Guru looks him over, and asks “How bad do you want it, son?” The young man replies, “Sir, I want it; I want it bad.” The Guru looks at him thoughtfully. “I see. Well then meet me tomorrow at the beach. Be there at 5 am.” The young man agrees. The next day, he arrives in a suit and tie at 4:55 am. The Guru is already there and waiting in board shorts. The Guru greats the young man and says “follow me into the water.” They walk out into the cold Pacific Ocean up to their chests. The young man hesitates, but the Guru says “keep going.” They continue until the water is at the young man’s chin. Suddenly the Guru grabs the young man and drives his head under the water. The young man does not fight at first, but after 30 seconds pass, he begins to struggle. As his mind screams desperately for air, he scratches, claws, and kicks with all that he has to break free and breath. Just before the young man goes unconscious, the Guru pulls him up out of the water. He says, “Son, when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you will be successful.” – Paraphrased from Eric Thomas (listen to Eric tell the story here).
If you do not know how it feels to need to breath but be temporarily unable, then fill your bathtub and put your face in the water. Stay in even after you become uncomfortable. Wait. Wait. Wait. How long can you go without air?
You will reach a moment when there is absolutely nothing in the universe that’s more important to you than getting air. You will not be thinking about ball games, celebrities, your personal limitations, or excuses. Distractions will cease to exist. You will reach a moment of clarity where the only thing that matters, the only thing that even exists, is your desire for air and the actions you can take to get it.
I read stories about the US Navy SEALS when I need an inspirational boost. In phase 2 of BUD/s training, the SEALS are trained for survival in and under the water. In one test, the seals must tread water for 5 minutes with their arms up and out of the water while wearing full gear. If you drop your arms in the water you fail the test. In this Youtube video, you can watch the men struggling to keep their nose or mouth out of the water and breath. Some of them will lose consciousness and have to be resuscitated because they refuse to cheat and use their arms. They must pass the test to be SEALS. These men want to be SEALS MORE than they want to breath. It is difficult to imagine what could successfully stand in the way of a man that wants something more than he wants to breath.
When you become clear and focused on what you want, you will find yourself taking massive action to get there. It will not feel like work any more than fighting for air felt like work to the young man in Eric Thomas’ story. You will not get discouraged when things you try do not work; you will try something else until you find something that does work. You will not make excuses or feel sorry for yourself because you will be too busy doing stuff that actually matters. You will not have any issues asking for help. A drowning man will cry out for help and frantically grasp anything that might save his life.
Most of us are not clear on what we want for our lives. We started a road trip with no map and no destination. Somewhere along the way we got lost and became comfortable living a life with no direction or meaning in places we do not belong, doing things that do not matter.
If this sounds painfully familiar to you, I strongly recommend the following:
1. Discover yourself. What makes you happy? What makes you furious? There are countless books on personality types, and I have read plenty, but the only one that I really connected with is StrengthsFinder 2.0. You will answer hundreds of questions, and it gives you a strength profile that applies specifically to you, with an emphasis on your top 5 strengths (You WILL NOT be assigned to one of a dozen boxes and then given advice that sounds like it was copied out of a cheap horoscope). When I reflected back on my life, I realized that all the things I loved enabled me to exercise most or all of my strengths. Likewise the things that always felt like chores did not allow me to use my strengths. We are naturally motivated and excel when we are acting in our strengths.
2. Discover your purpose. The purpose of life is to use your unique strengths to help and create value for others. Once you find your strengths, begin looking for ways you can use them to make the biggest possible difference for others. Success, happiness, and wealth are all side effects of using your highest and best abilities to help others.
Discovering yourself and your purpose is a life long journey and the answers evolve as we learn and mature, but the more you know about yourself and your purpose the happier and more successful you will be.
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