I manage a publishing business called Mind Cafe, where I edit and upload articles about mental health and self-improvement. One of my favorite authors, John Weiss, recently submitted an article that really got me thinking.
In his article, John writes about author and entrepreneur James Clear. James used to run a site called PassivePanda, which had built up an audience of over 25,000 subscribers and was earning enough money for him to cover all of his expenses comfortably.
In a heartbeat, he shut the site down. He scrapped the whole thing.
Why? Because it wasn’t him.
Three Words That Make All the Difference
With a steady income and a follower base of tens of thousands, it isn’t easy to close up shop quite so suddenly. James had a passion for self-improvement and longed to center his career around that interest - but that would mean starting all over again.
And he did. And he’s now on the New York Times’s bestselling list for his book, ‘Atomic Habits.’
Now you probably haven’t heard of James, and you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this. There’s a lesson here that we can all learn and all use as a catalyst for changing our lives entirely.
It took James a lot of bravery and difficulty to shut down his successful blog, just as entrepreneurs have to battle against the odds to come out on top, writers have to spend all day honing their craft if ever they’re to make it, and public speakers have to look their fear dead in the eye and say ‘I’m going to do it anyway!’
The point, is that if ever we want to achieve something worthwhile, we have to learn to do hard things.
Whether it’s personal growth, learning to speak well in front of crowds, getting in shape, growing our business - it all comes down to those three words. We have to take the difficult path in life, or settle for average. Average is fine. But if you don’t want average, you’d better get to work.
Changing Your Relationship With Your Mind
I understand, doing difficult things isn’t, of course, an easy feat. It takes grit and perseverance; unimaginable courage and vigor. It isn’t for the faint hearted.
But a lot of it comes down to how we think. In the words of Frank Outlaw,
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.’
— Frank Outlaw
I’ve had to do many difficult things throughout my life to get to where I am today. I used to have zero confidence as a kid, and at the end of high school was nominated to represent my house team and speak in front of thousands.
I resorted to all kinds of crazy tasks to try and boost my self-esteem in preparation. I’d lay down on the floor in public, go out in public with messy hair, glasses and baggy clothes - anything that scared me socially, I just started doing it.
Not only did that give me the confidence to talk in front of my school, but I’ve since set up my own business, enabling me to share my voice with thousands on a daily basis.
But it isn’t always as simple as saying ‘I’ll just do it.’ We have our minds to contend with - the most formidable challenge of all.
Our thoughts can control our every move, but only if we let them. We have to remind ourselves every single day, every single moment, that we are not our thoughts. They exist within us, but they don’t define us.
If a worrisome thought comes up about failure or social rejection, we can ignore it. We can treat is as a suggestion, not a command.
When we adopt that mindset permanently, our thoughts become powerless. Like unattractive proposals or unsolicited advice, we can simply say, ‘Thanks, mind. But no thanks.’ And continue about our business.