When it comes to successful people, there is usually a noticeable "it" factor radiating off of them. A swagger, a presence that makes them stand out in a group of people. Something that draws your eye to them.
They're usually the ones out-hustling their competition, making aggressive plays - think business or athletics - encouraging others around them to elevate their game, or relentlessly attacking a problem or task.
There is an intensity behind their eyes that many don't understand. But, what is it about these individuals that makes them great? Can the average individual harness this same fiery spirit to elevate their own life?
My first question: how do you define greatness, or success?
Talk About It Or Be About It
We all want certain things, so the definition of success is more individual than many of us realize. One of the most common, arguably opposite extremes I can think of, is the stay at home mom versus the career-driven woman.
The mom sees her success in raising outstanding kids in a "perfect" home, with no notion of wanting to work in our social system, as it would take away time from nurturing her family.
On the other hand, the career-driven woman sees her success as climbing the corporate ladder, advancing her career, making money, saving for life after retirement, and has relatively little interest in starting a family as it could hinder her climb.
Different definitions of success, but the values needed to cultivate greatness in both situations, and many others, are the same.
So what are these values? How can we obtain them? And who has them?
Surround Yourself with the Right People
Perhaps you have heard of Erik Weihenmayer, perhaps you have not. If you find yourself in the later category, I would like to introduce you to Weihemayer, a man who is one of my personal heroes. He is the first blind man to climb all 7 Summits (the tallest peak on each continent) and is co-author of the book Adversity Advantage.
He embodies Dr. Carol S. Dweck's principle of a growth mindset, which she explains as having a mindset that does not bind us to the traits and qualities we are born with. That in fact, with the right mindset, we can learn, improve, and thrive in whatever capacity we are willing to put our effort into, including difficult circumstances and emotions.
Who better to represent that than a blind man who has summited the 7 tallest peaks in the world!?
His accomplishments alone are enough to inspire, but the way he talks about overcoming things that seem at first impossible, is unparalleled.
One thing Weihenmayer and many other successful people talk about, is surrounding yourself with people who will elevate your growth. You need people who are going to push and challenge you in positive directions. People who won't let you slack off or settle for an average, comfortable life. People who see the greatness inside of you, and will work with you to bring it out.
Weihenmayer could not have done the 7 Summits without a support system. Finding your support system is just one of many ways we can learn to suffer well, because without constant and relentless pursuit of difficult things, we cannot become great.
"Regardless of how many strengths you possess, it's almost impossible to achieve greatness alone. Linking with the right people can elevate the breadth and scope of your impact. Others will have strengths you do not, and skills that compliment yours." - Weihenmayer
Finding circles of people who are driven, intelligent, and welcoming can be challenging, but not impossible. A few good places to start may be:
If you have people in specific circles that you would like to learn from, be courageous and write a cold email asking them questions or if they'd like to meet for a coffee. If you live in an isolated area or are not in the same area as someone you'd like to learn from, set up a phone or Zoom call.
If you are like the vast majority of the population and all of these options are intimidating, find a book, Podcast, or Audiobook on the subject you strive to learn about or a biography on someone you admire. Suggestions below:
Suffer Well, Get Out of Your Own Way
Part of self-actualization is recognizing that even a "good life" is full of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, and obstacles. The secret to living a good life, is knowing how to navigate these adversities without allowing them to get the best of us.
Any and every successful person you know or will read about, has had to fight tooth and nail to get where they are (not including the anomalies of course). They have had to overcome countless moments of doubt, insecurity, heartbreak, pain, and ultimately... growth. You know what made them great?
They found a way.
They found a way through when countless others would have quit.
They got out of their own way, told their ego to hit the road, and humbly found a way to suffer well and embrace the challenges and obstacles in front of them and conquer them, no matter how big and impossible they felt at the time.
Reprogram Your Mindset
Overpowering your excuses is much easier said than done, it goes back to the picture at the top about taking action instead of simply talking about it. What are your excuses? When does the voice that tells you "you can't" pop up? How can you reprogram your mindset to silence that voice and instead take action?
Convey Confidence to Build Confidence
The final piece I will leave you with, is building confidence. The most successful people on this planet have incredible self-confidence, or at least pretend to! In Norman Vincent Peale's classic The Power of Positive Thinking, he says:
"Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise, you will be able to overcome them."
Personally, I have crippled my confidence in the past by comparing myself to others or trying to copy them. That's a horrible way to go about things, as comparison is truly the thief of joy.
In fact, most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are oftentimes insecure. That being said, if you don't feel confident, fake it till you make it!
You become what you repeatedly do, so if you decide to put on your confident pants everyday, despite how you're feeling, it may just change your world!
Make Yourself Great
In summary, in order to make ourselves great, we must actively work on things that cultivate our greatness, rather than just thinking, reading, and learning about them.
Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com
Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, yet two-thirds remain obese. One of the reasons behind this epidemic is the fact that people get lured into trying a fad diet — sometimes more than once — that promises to torch calories and melt fat without changing your diet or hitting the gym. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race, and that means losing weight the safe way with a combination of diet, exercise, and wellness-focused discipline.
Address Mental Health
Mental illnesses such as binge eating disorder, night eating syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression should be treated in conjunction with a diet and exercise program. Studies indicate that there’s a link between mental health and obesity — depression can prompt obesity, and obesity can prompt depression. Along with focusing on losing weight and learning that food is for survival and not comfort, it’s crucial that underlying mental health issues are addressed in order to break the vicious cycle.
Manage Your Stress
Stress-related, mindless eating involves consuming food — sometimes in a large amount — even when you’re not hungry. Approximately 27 percent of adults in the US admit that eating is a form of stress management, while 34 percent say eating unhealthy foods due to stress is a habit. Not only do these actions create feelings of guilt and shame, but they also make it impossible to lose weight and keep it off. While seeing a therapist can help you manage your feelings, there are several wellness-based approaches you can take to manage your stress levels.
Make it Convenient to Work Out
Not having time is one of the biggest excuses people use to avoid working out. Make that excuse next to impossible by setting up a home gym equipped with cost-effective equipment, like adjustable resistance bands, a Swiss ball, and kettlebells. Check out local resale shops or online websites that sell previously-used goods to see if you can find these items at a lower cost. Instead of paying for an expensive gym membership, bring the instructor into your living room by downloading a workout app to help you with form, safety, and motivation.
Make Healthy Eating Fun
The words “balanced” and “diet” need not feel like a punishment. In fact, you can create endless combinations of tasty dishes and snacks utilizing healthy ingredients that don’t taste like rabbit food. Take up a cooking course, or scour YouTube for ideas. The more variety you have in your diet, the less apt you’ll be to slip.
To ensure safety, be sure to consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan. This is particularly important if you have any underlying medical conditions where overexertion or food restriction may have a counter effect on your wellness. Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you have a slip up. Not only is it normal, but it can help you become stronger for the long term.
What better time to read (or listen) to a book than when you are isolating yourself from a pandemic? Tune into this week's episode of Positive Quarantine Vibes for some of Lili and Alysa's favorite suggestions.
Link to more books!: https://www.makeyourselfunstoppable.com/inspirational-quotes-books.html
Authors/Titles mentioned in video:
Camille Ravikant ("Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It!"
Ekhart Tolle ("The Power of Now" and "A New Earth")
James Doty ("Into the Magic Shop")
It is true that there are many ailments and diseases out there that cannot be helped because of genetic or environmental reasons.
However, the United States Center of Disease Control (CDC) states that up to 80% of chronic diseases can be eliminated with three simple lifestyle changes:
1) improved diet
2) increase in activity
3) quitting smoking
Chronic diseases, according to the CDC, are those that are ongoing and generally incurable, but are often preventable illnesses or conditions. Think heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in America afflicting 133 million Americans (45% of the population) and are responsible for seven out of every ten deaths in the US.
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that people with chronic illnesses are the most frequent users of health care in America. Chronically ill patients account for 81% of hospital admissions, 91% of prescriptions filled, and 76% of physician visits.
Out of the approximately $2 trillion spent on public and private health care in 2005, 75% went toward treatment of chronic conditions. So, if prevention is often the best treatment plan for these illnesses, why aren’t insurance companies investing in prevention plans?
Well, turns out they do. But only if you are medically referred by a doctor. Conditions that require treatment that insurance will cover personal training costs for include:
If you didn’t notice, half of those are chronic conditions and all of them are conditions that one already has to be afflicted with prior to insurance paying for personal training services. According to exercise.com, “[f]or a client’s health insurance company to pay for training sessions, the fitness plan must be medically necessary for their condition”.
Interesting… it seems to me that there needs to be more emphasis on what we can do to prevent these things instead of reactively treating them once a person finds themselves in pain.
Just some food for thought.
"A reminder is only a reminder if it's given before it's needed."
Adversity and struggle is not something we actively seek out, but we will inevitably encounter hardship in our lives, a pandemic included. There are so many horrible things that have resulted from the pandemic, but the question is do we focus on those things?
Do we focus on the horrible things that are out of our control, thereby sacrificing our own happiness in the present, or do we find ways to grow through these discomforts? To help those in need if possible (and it always is possible in some way, shape, or form).
Your Brain Avoids Pain
Our brain has very primitive tendencies, including the desire to keep us from experiencing anything painful. Unless your hand is on a hot stove, or you're out in the freezing cold and starting to get hypothermic, most of the things in our lives that cause us pain or discomfort are actually growing experiences. It is simply a result of how we look at the experience, circumstance, or person that is causing us pain.
What You Resist Persists
There is a Buddhist teaching that tells us what we resist, persists. This goes for many things in life, but relevant to this conversation is that when you are sore and don't want to move, that soreness will persist. The best remedy to soreness is active recovery and getting out there and moving at a low intensity!