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Greek lyric poet Archilochus once said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” We don’t rise to the level of our wishes and dreams; we fall to the level of our commitment to achieving our dreams and goals. Sports is a great analogy for the power of preparation and training. Running a full (42.2 KM) marathon is somewhat tough have done a couple of them. I ran nine in 2023 and six in 2022. It is tough, but the level of follow-through is somewhat directly connected to your level of training. One’s eventual finish time is determined, among other factors, by the pace at which you run and the pace you run is based on your level of training before the race. As the marathon pace chart below shows, running a 3-hour marathon requires running at a pace of 6:52 for a mile. Hence, your finish time in any marathon can be pre-determined; you have to maintain that pace for the duration of the run.

Magic is believing in yourselfif you can do that, you can make anything happen.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Believing in oneself, especially when one’s back seems to be against the wall and things are going the way you plan, is one of the most important skills for getting things done. It is easy to be upbeat when everything seems to go your way. The real test comes when the chips are down, the tides seem to be against you, and whatever can go wrong is going wrong simultaneously. Believing in yourself in these critical times is a testament to one’s true character. It is tough to keep pushing during this trying time, but you must keep believing. Never say never; keep showing up daily, putting your best foot forward, and you will crack the code eventually. “Good better best never let it rest until good is better and better is best.”

In the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, the lead character, played by Tom Hank, said, “Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.” Life is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, twists and turns, peaks and valleys. You are either leaving, entering, or going through a storm. Life is a daily exercise in trying to figure it out. It is easy to stay calm during great moments in life; the real test is where one stands during the turbulent vicissitudes of life.

No one will doubt you more than you doubt yourself. People and your environment will try to make you forget your greatness and magnificence; don’t fall for it. Self-doubt is an emotion we all have to deal with at some point, especially when we are stretching beyond our reach, moving out of our comfort zone, or attempting to do the extraordinary. As American industrialist and automobile pioneer Henry Ford once quipped, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can‘t–you’re right.’ Self-doubt cripples a lot of dreams as one needs the self-confidence and assurance to push through the inevitable tough times and winter period on your path to achieving greatness. It will get extremely tough, but that is what the path less travelled entails. There is a reason most people opt for the path of least resistance, especially when self-doubt pops up when you are in debt, relational crisis right, left and center, anxiety, worry, and the vicissitudes of life don’t cease.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.  – Proverbs 22:29 

The Fast Company March/April 2024 edition listed the 100 Most Innovative Companies of 2024, and the American fast food restaurant chain was listed number one. At the helm of Taco Bell’s ascendance is 53-year-old Sean Tresvant, who joined the company in 2021 as its chief brand officer after 16 years at Nike, most recently as CMO of the Jordan Brand.  He was formerly Taco Bell’s Global Chief Brand and Strategy Officer until he was promoted to Taco Bell Division CEO in June 2023. In his fast company interview, he shared a great insight on the power of having a great work ethic and always showing up because you never know who is watching.

Contrary to what your present situation might be portraying, you are not powerless or hopeless. You have the agency to change the course of your life and the direction you are presently headed. If you want to get a new result, you’ve got to change your approach. What got you here will get you to where you need to be. Albert Einstein once said, “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity”. It will be tough, but you must look in the mirror more often (personal responsibility) and look less out the window (blaming outside forces). The outside forces/your environment plays a vital role, but the most crucial job starts from the inside. Success is an inside out job, if you cannot go within, then manifesting outwardly is going to be more challenging.

The hardest part of most hard endeavours is showing up consistently, especially when the going gets tough, as they often will. There is a reason why we admire people who play or operate at the highest level of their craft or profession. For instance, young college basketball players hope to get drafted by an NBA team every year, but only a few would make it. Approximately 500,000+ high students will play basketball in any given period, and only around 16,000 will appear in any of the three college basketball divisions. Eventually, just 110 will make at least one NBA appearance.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) stats, only about 1.2% of all college players get drafted by an NBA team. Getting into an NBA team is extremely tough, as the perks of getting drafted are enormous. Many factors determine who gets drafted by an NBA team, such as height, athletic ability, training, focus, determination and a bit of luck. The average annual salary for an NBA player is over 10 million U.S. dollars for the 2023/24 season, with the league’s minimum salary set at 1.12 million U.S. dollars that year. 

In his international bestselling book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, author Stephen R. Covey observed that proactive people focus their effort on their circle of influence instead of paying attention to their circle of concern. He further distinguishes between the circle of influence and the circle of concern:

“Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns — our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a “Circle of Concern.

Life is going to happen to us all at some point; it is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. The key to navigating life’s rollercoaster is managing the transitions effectively. Whether it is a job loss, losing a loved one, relationship heartbreak, divorce, financial issues or a host of other challenges that we all face at some point in life. It sucks to be at the receiving end of the vicissitudes of life, but one has got to go through the pain, learn from the situation, recalibrate and keep bouncing back. One of the major lessons of meditation is impermanence, the state of things lasting for a while. Everything is always in transition, the seasons and your issues, and they have not come to stay but to teach you the lesson that you need to learn at that time. Don’t let success get to your head, and do not let failure get into your heart.

Bad vibe is like porn; we know it when we see it. To paraphrase author Will Bowen, Bad vibration is like bad breath. We notice it when it comes from others but not when we give it out. We all have an element of vibration that might not be in sync with whoever we interact with based on context, environment, place and time. The key is not to be that person about the low-frequency vibration. Some people get into these lower vibrations due to the vicissitudes of life, such as losing a loved one, losing a job, getting a divorce, having a heartbreak or dealing with an incurable health situation. Life can be tricky sometimes, as we all face these challenges. Everyone is going through something that you know nothing about.

 Allowing people to dump their emotional garbage on you continuously is not great for your mental health. One of the beauties of life is that we all have the agency to choose how we will handle any situation. When people bring bad vibrations around you, raise your vibration. Have empathy and be kind, but keep your peace at all costs. Life is too short to be baby-sitting adults, trying to convince or project your worldviews onto others. My life changed the day I realized one of the fundamental truths of life: “You can’t really change anyone but yourself”. Everyone is doing the best they can based on their upbringing, indoctrination, early childhood programming, life experiences and worldview.

Greek philosopher Aristotle once quipped:  “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

In Million Dollar Habits: 10 Simple Steps to Getting Everything You Want, Author and speaker Robert Ringer observed:

  • Remember, life is nothing more than the sum total of many successful years;a successful year is nothing more than the sum total of many successful months;a successful month is nothing more than the sum total of many successful weeks;a successful week is nothing more than the sum total of many successful days.That’s why practicing successful habits day in and day out is the most certain way to win over the long term

“A champion doesn’t become a champion in the ring, he’s merely recognized in the ring. His “becoming” happens during his daily routine.” – Joe Louis

If you knew how powerful and awesome you are by default and design, you would embrace your awesomeness and magnificence. I don’t blame you for forgetting who you are once in a while; we all forget sometimes. What you are going through right now is a moment in time and will pass like everything before it. You are specially made to withstand anything that comes your way; don’t lose yourself in dealing with life’s challenges and vicissitudes. You are not hopeless even though it might feel like that right now, you have agency to change the course of your life.

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Good habits are hard to form but easy to maintain, while Bad Habits are easy to form but hard to break. “As the saying goes, Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Routines, habits, regimens, drills, reps, and consistency are some of the tools champions use to elevate and become great. One unintended positive consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it allowed most people to form new habits. One of the habits I have stuck with since the beginning of the lockdown is meditation. It has changed my life as it is one of the first things I do in the first three hours of waking up.

One of the surefire ways to fix a bad habit is to add friction to the habit. Changing a bad habit requires steadily replacing it with a healthier and good one. Bad habits are easier to form but hard to live with, while good habits are tough to form but easier to live with. Habit formation is an easy but hard activity that requires self-discipline, commitment, patience, trusting the process and following through despite the challenges and obstacles that appear.

I recently tackled one of the not-so-good habits I have formed in my years of internet use. A typical work session used to involve opening at least 20+ browser tabs at once and, in the process, deluding myself that I was multitasking. After struggling with this situation for years, I decided to experiment and finally deal with it, as it was reducing my productivity.

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”― Samuel Johnson

Tab Limiter to the Rescue.

After doing some research on how to become more focused on my internet activities, I stumbled on the Tab Limiter Chrome extension, which has totally transformed my productivity. The Tab Limiter helps users limit the number of open tabs – in total and per window. Adding friction to my multi-tasking tendencies, I have become more focused and gained valuable time to do more deep work. The Tab Limiter hack is such an easy solution that I began to wonder why I was not using the extension all this while. Like most of the solutions to our issues in life, they are simple, but we overcomplicate them because of overthinking.

Tab limiter helps you get back control over your browsing – by limiting the number of tabs you can open at once. You can specify the number of tabs in total and per window. Moreover, you can show a customizable message when the tab limit is hit.

Saying no to others is tough, but saying no to oneself is even more challenging. To become more self-disciplined, you have to consistently say no to immediate gratification, doom scrolling social media all day, and say yes to all invitations or anything that catches your fancy. As  Lin Yutang, observed in The Importance of Living, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” Knowing life’s non-essentials is tricky, as one can categorize everything as essential. You could doom-scroll the internet all day while telling yourself, “I am building my brand,” or focus on vanity metrics instead of focusing on actionable metrics.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” – Lin Yutang,