Rule number eight in the art of achieving greatness is understanding and applying the understanding of knowing that you are your greatest enemy. To win at anything, even in a competition against other runners, you have to defeat yourself first.
Every time you get up and out of the house to accomplish something, the most powerful thing that could ever hold you back is the voice in your own head. Even if strangers are looking at you and saying “you are going to fail” but you ignore them and tell yourself “you are going to succeed” then you can surely succeed. Even simply listening to people who have no faith in you is a choice that YOU must make. You are the one who decides to listen or ignore people.
So whatever it is you’re setting out to be great at, please understand that the most powerful force in the universe that can stop you is YOU! Defeat yourself, smack yourself across the face and tell that negative voice inside your head to shut up, and you can do anything!
Woodcut images from 16th- and 17th-century books depict women in their three stages of life. The young, fertile girl is the first one. Still a virgin, she does not show the signs of bearing children and she is petite, with flowing golden hair. The second one is the voluptuous woman of child-bearing years. She shows the signs of having children on her body, and she is full and healthy. Then, thirdly and definitely last, we have the old hag or crone. She is no longer fertile, and her body is frail. The moral of the story is that the first girl will eventually become like the crone, and this is the cycle of life.
The same rule, of course, applies to men, no matter how often you work out at the gym. A young man dreaming of becoming one of the greatest piano players in the world should structure his plan for life with the three stages in mind. First he is young with a nimble will for learning, then he is wizened with a strong hand for performing. His twenties should be devoted to learning; his 30s, learning and practicing; his 40s, practicing and performing; his 50s, performing and teaching; his 60s, teaching and preparing the next generation.
Keep in mind that you will reach the third and last productive stage one day, and the fourth one is death, although this fourth stage may be more productive than all the others combined if your life plan is set up rightly. An old man who has reached greatness will soon reach decay, no matter how great he was, and in decay one should prepare for eternal prosperity.
If our goal is to become one of the greats who lives on throughout future history, we must first understand what greatness is. Great people do not boast of being great. They earn it. Most of what I know about greatness comes from Wallace Wattles’ and his book The Science of Being Great. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants an in depth overview of all that must take place to become great at a scientific level. But before you read that book I’ll give you a brief summary of what I took away from it:
Summary of the Becoming Great and what that Means
A great person does not do great things in a small way.
A great person does small things in a great way.
Great people do not do things to make people think they’re great.
Great people do great things and then people think they’re great.
There is a lot more in the book of course but to me this is the essence and the theme. When you go about doing small things in a great way, the great things you do will be greater. The reason why you do things is important, too. You cannot become great if when you should be harnessing your skills and becoming great you are actually doing great things in a small way. Doing great things in a small way is not taking them seriously, perhaps rushing or putting no love into your results. Doing something quickly for money will not make you great. Doing something greatly through mastership will create great results.
Think and understand what greatness really is, so you can strive to achieve it.
The other day I made a bold statement with rule # 3. Now, today, I got a new rule for you folks. Before I begin I should warn you that these rules for achieving greatness may never end and as far as us humans know there may be an infinite amount of them, so expect many, many more!
Sometimes we have to be dependent on others for certain things, like our employers for work (when we’re not working for ourselves quite yet) or the mechanic for fixing our car, but when it comes to achieving greatness at your passion the only person to blame for success or failure is you, no excuses!
For instance, if you blame your lack of motivation on your neighbor for playing loud music all night then that’s still your fault because there are hundreds of things you can do to solve that problem. I know this problem well (heard my neighbors having sex last night) and all I did was turn my alarm clock radio on to a setting that was static so it made white noise that overpowered their moaning and I was able to fall asleep again within a few minutes.
So if you’re on a path to achieve greatness, remember this rule. No one is to blame for your failure but you, but that also means that when you reach success you deserve to feel satisfied because it was all up to you and you did it! Jordan Peterson talks about climbing a mountain with responsibility on your back as the meaning of life, and I couldn’t agree more because it relates to this all-important rule. For your success of reaching greatness, you must understand that no one else is going to do it for you. You must be dependent on no one but you, no matter what!
When it’s your turn to shine you’ll know you deserve it because you struggled up that mountain with all the responsibility of reaching your dream and all your success is yours. Now I know what some of you might say. Some people owe a lot of their success to others like politicians who get ill and see their wife go on campaign in their lieu but at the end of the day you should still be able to reach that height of glory and fame on your own, and that little bit of help wasn’t what you were depending on.
Study this great rule for greatness because it’s mentioned in many sources and you’ll hear people say it often. Best of luck out there!
Here at Stephen’s Resources we share tips on how to reach greatness and become one of the greats. Normally I like to give examples, and today we have a great example for rule number three. I was originally just going to call this rule “work hard” but I have a friend in the city of Vancouver, BC, who has become one of the greatest appliance repair mechanics in all of Canada and I would like to use him as our paragon for teaching this valuable lesson.
The reasons appliance repair is a great example of working hard is because for most people it’s a job they don’t want to do. Doing the job you don’t feel like doing is one of the things the greats have mastered, as often they choose a profession they love but every profession has aspects that we’d all rather delegate to someone else. For an appliance repair mechanic like my friend in Vancouver, BC, to work hard means to bend your body over into uncomfortable positions and get your hands greasy in tight spaces. To do a fridge repair service or an oven repair service requires experience, too, and that in itself requires a lot of hard work to obtain.
We can learn a lot by studying the appliance repair service industry and glean valuable insights into greatness from this humble discipline. My friend is the utmost paragon for this lesson because he wakes up at 5 AM every single day in Vancouver, BC, and always does so with excitement to work hard. If we did that in our own fields then we’d surely be working closer toward greatness as we put one foot in front of the other with consistency every day.
Another thing we can take from this is working later into the evening, as often my appliance repair friend will have to work a twelve hour day most days of the week, even some weekends, in order to get certain washers and dryers working again. He does this, however, without a drop of complaint because he knows he’s doing a great service and the rewards will surely pay. Working hard like a Vancouver appliance repairman is something we must visualize ourselves doing. If you want to be the next big great actor of your century but you can’t even work as hard a lowly appliance mechanic fixing domestic dishwashers then how do you suppose you’re going to become great? By pure luck?
With that mentioned, now consider these other areas in an appliance mechanic’s life that we can steal inspiration from:
Willing to get your hands dirty.
Willing to work with people you may not like.
Willing to work the extra mile in order to get a certain service done on time.
Willing to make sacrifices in other areas of your life in order to become great at something.
Willing to learn all the ins and outs of your trade over multiple decades.
Willing to keep up with new innovations in your industry.
All these things come in lockstep with working hard, and we must remember that working hard doesn’t mean working fast and haphazardly. Working hard more so means working effectively and efficiently so that you get more out of each hour. Working slow is more similar to working hard than working fast. And my appliance repair mechanic can prove that. All you got to do is watch him for five minutes while he’s repairing a gas stove. He needs to work slow so that he makes sure no mistakes are made and he needs to work safely because his reputation and job is on the line with every customer he serves.
So keep this in mind next time you realize you haven’t been working hard enough lately. I’ll say it one more time just to drive the importance of this third rule for greatness a little deeper:
If you want to be the next big star in your field of interest but you can’t even work as hard as a meek appliance repair mechanic in Vancouver, BC, then how well do you suppose this is going to go for you? Seriously consider that and then look at how hard your competition is working because there’s a good chance there’s people out there with the same dream as you who have less talent but they’re working nearly twice as hard as an appliance repairman.
Indeed, we have a lot of work to do! So get to it!
For the first rule of achieving greatness we talked about avoiding people who are content with plateauing in life. It’s true that even the most bravest of heroes must accept death, but this doesn’t mean we need to be content with plateauing or dragging behind the greatest of the greats, too.
Today, for the second rule, I want to talk about envisaging the end results of your life long goal, not just once but everyday and as much as possible. It’s true that envisaging our end results can lead to dissatisfaction if we don’t reach them, but dissatisfaction is harmless and is actually a creative state. It’s also true that we may overshoot the mark by setting unrealistic goals and also limit ourselves and our potential by setting easy goals, but the important thing is that we know what we want.
What is the whole reason we’re putting ourselves through the stress of becoming great? It’s not just about becoming great. People who become great do great things, and that’s the point. We want to transcend our life by being remembered for who we were and what we have done. So what is it that you want to do? What are the end results that will last after you are gone from Planet Earth?
A great example of seeing the end results of a life-long goal is a hockey player who wants to set new records that no one can beat. Even after he is dead, people will be reading his name on a list of hockey players and his will be at the top for the record of the most goals scored in a single NHL game. Not only does he see the completion of his goal to set the new record, he also sees the results of this goal as people will always remember him for being one of the greats who defined new limits for what a hockey player can do.
It’s important to see the end results that you want because there’s no other way you can get them. If you don’t decide what you want, the universe will decide for you and it may be similar to what you might have wanted or it might be something completely different. So make the decision… What will your end results look like? Don’t give up until they exist in the real world. This is the only way.
I respect the farmers in China who are content with so little, but I could never be like them. With my Western ways, I am obsessed with achieving greatness. I believe it is much better to sacrifice your life to the world by giving it something great only you can give it than to live out a menial existence of being content with little.
So here we begin with the first rule of achieving greatness. At all costs you must avoid the people, including your own family and friends, who do the following:
They tell you it’s pointless to become great.
They tell you to stop following your dream because you should spend more time with them.
They tell you you could never become great.
They tell you there are more important things in life than becoming great.
They say they themselves could never become great.
They believe they and the people around them will always stay mediocre.
They are content with doing nothing great for humankind with their lives.
The people that do these things, if they are frequently in your life, will not only slow you down but may also stop you from becoming great. Listening to these kinds of people and accepting their foolish advice is very, very dangerous. You must ignore them at all costs, no matter how hard it is. This is the first sacrifice you must make in achieving greatness.
Here is a story to capture the meaning of this first rule in a nutshell:
Although my disclaimer will tell you I have yet to become great, I still have much experience in pursuing greatness. In my quest to become great I have made many sacrifices falling in line with this first rule.
My example for you is my relationship with my roommates. I am a university student and having roommates means I have extra money to live comfortably while also paying hefty tuition fees every four months. This is a temporary sacrifice because comfort is important for the work I do. But at any rate, my roommates do many of the seven things listed above. They are content with little, and listening to the idle conversations they have almost makes me sick. They waste time drinking and chatting about trivial matters and never come to any new ideas or conclusions about things. They even sometimes repeat the same conversations they already had, as if all they want out of life is to know that they are normal.
I can’t spend time with these people for more than an hour. On the weekend I’ll sometimes partake in their idleness, but all the while I’m realizing how much time and thought-power I’m wasting talking about stupid things I really don’t care about like the weather. To some of you who have yet to learn many of the other rules for the Art of Becoming Great, these statements of mine might seem cruel. But the truth is these statements and the actions I am taking are necessary for achieving greatness. I will not risk my chances of becoming great by wasting several hours every day chatting about how good my roommate’s day at work was, especially when they work in a coffee shop. And I will never apologize for saying this!