Never Look to Your Left or Your Right
A few times a week I work at an office with a pal of mine and his employee.
I’ll work from the house in the morning and then after traffic has died down I’ll head downtown to the office in the heart of hustle and bustle of any downtown.
I love it.
The atmosphere is great. It’s a loft with a big workspace, great food around every corner – coffee as well.
It’s the people, the pal and his employee, however, that make the workspace come alive, that make me come alive.
Sometimes solitude is best, which I have. Sometimes who you’re around can be motivating, even inspiring if they’re playing at a higher level than you are, and they are.
There’s a dichotomy to this, however, as there’s a dichotomy to most things…
Discipline equals freedom, for one.
This fact that by being more disciplined – ie. saying no to more things and yes to only a few – you end up having more freedom in an innumerable amount of ways (financial, time, physical, mental etc…).
The dichotomy to being surrounded by people who are playing at a higher level than you currently are (in the world of business) is that on one side you’re motivated. You see what’s possible, even what’s likely if the right moves are made and so on.
It puts wind in your sails.
To counter that, I can get a little – a wee little – down about the level I’m playing at being that it’s far from the level I want to be playing at.
It’s silly. It’s a stupid outlook, but it’s clear why it happens.
You see their game and you want to play that game now, without the years and risk involved in getting to a certain level.
You wish you were already where you are not yet, and when you’re starting a new venture (like Man Nutraceuticals) your eye can momentarily remove itself from the task at hand, the current mission, and get onto the possibilities, the dreams, the goals, where you damn well want to be.
It’s a perspective that has to stop.
You can’t shit on where you are because someone’s beating you because they’re not even beating you, there is no competition, there is the fact that they’re killing it and you have this company to build, period.
Rejoice in what others do, it’s awesome and inspiring to see people work well, build things, maneuver through business and businesses and create, but don’t compare where you are to where they are, or where you are to where you wish you were, or what you’re working on to what someone else is working on.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell
That’s the challenge, always.
Most days it may be easy to focus only on the work at hand. You’re thrilled by the challenge of what you’re doing that you have no time to think about anything else.
Those days are frequent and fun.
Of course you’ll stumble, your thoughts will waiver into a dumb way of thinking and you have to recognize the flaw in your thinking and keep a quote like that at hand.
It’s not even that what you’re working on depends on your constant focus, but your sanity and happiness and success demands that you root out incorrect ways of thinking and get back on track.
One of my many problems is focusing on where I want to be rather than what I have to do even if I’m working on what I have to work on.
The work gets done, but the work’s far better if all of your focus is on the task at hand rather than in the future or the past or just as bad being pulled sideways through comparison, which is the worst way of thinking.
One aspect is understanding that everything, the biggest dreams, companies, ventures, all start somewhere. You may not think what you’re is worth every waking hour but as you go and the wins start piling up the work you’ve done, the focus you’ve put in will pay off if you stay focused.
Even Buffett and Gates, when asked by Gates’ old man what the one thing responsible for their success is, they both said focus.
Focus is everything.
Focus isn’t comparing.
It’s not wishing and dreaming.
It’s not questioning constantly and getting down when growth isn’t what you want it to be or when inevitable failures smack you in the face.
In short, if you get off track, get back on track.
If you feel something pulling you from what has to be done, recalibrate how you’re thinking, and get back after it.
As Theodore Roosevelt said,
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
I’m just finishing a book about Andrew Carnegie.
The guy started with nothing, maybe a bit less than nothing. He had to take care of his family when his old man couldn’t.
He maneuvered – not even through brute force or effort, but through intelligence – to become one of the world’s richest men.
He focused constantly on how to get an edge in every situation without even thinking about where he wanted to be but rather what he had to do, or at least it seems like that through his journals and letters.
The best among us just do – without the sideways thinking that claims far too many of those who had potential and even effort, but the wrong line of thinking.
Stay in your lane.
Understand that what you’re doing is important.
Know that everything starts somewhere and the speed of success isn’t something that you should even aim to control.