Stick-to-itiveness can be learned.
Aka, “Stick to it.”
Aka, “Stick with it.”
Aka, “Stick in there.”
All you have to do is shift your attitude completely – work hard, smart and long while nobody notices – and design a daily practice of self-determination and commitment.
Hey. I said it could be learned – not that it would be easy.
Up to the challenge?
Cool. Fortunately, I’ve already published nine ways to do so.
Today we’re going to explore the remaining strategies for sticking with it – whatever “it” is:
1. Refuse to be watered down. Starting one thing after another doesn’t make you committed – it makes you a comma. Strangled by indecisiveness, you score (yet another) “incomplete” on the report card of life. My suggestion: Focus like hell. Don’t permit your time to be ruled by other people’s priorities.
And beware of falling in love with everybody’s plans but your own. Instead, pick a lane – then stay in that lane – no matter how closely the truck behind you is riding your ass. Like my friend Robert Bradford reminds me, “Every time you add a comma to the description of what you do, you suck a little bit more.” Is this an opportunity or an obligation?
2. Reject the good to invite the best. Winston Churchill was a putz. He’s well known for saying, “Never, never, never give up!” This is a dangerous suggestion. In reality, sometimes quitting is the smartest move in your playbook. Especially if you’ve been persisting down the wrong path for too long. Which happens all the time.
People get all self-congratulatory for exemplifying stick-to-itiveness – only to discover that their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. Your challenge is to answer two questions before popping your bottle of Dom: (1) Does sticking with this mean inviting the best?” and (2) “If I chose to quit, what will the reason be?” What are you willing to say no to?
3. Risk today’s time for tomorrow’s treasure. Stop looking for the easy win and start running the developmental gauntlet. Science fiction novelist Tobias Buckell made a poignant observation on this issue: “Mastery is found not in the easy initial spurt of learning, but in the journey along the flat plane before the next major leap.”
It’s about being patient with yourself, having confidence in yourself and adding value to yourself. Remember: No incremental progress, no incidental profit. Are you willing to invest time on endeavors that you won’t benefit from until next year?
4. Beware of oncoming excuse barrages. It’s easy to tell people, “No more excuses!” Especially if you’re my high school football coach. He loved that line. To bad our team went 2-13. Unfortunately, that mantra – even thought it looked cool on a t-shirt – wasn’t the most practical suggestion for reinforcing commitment.
The (real) first step is to administer a shot of self-awareness when you make an excuse – which, by the way, is a self-legitimized story you tell yourself about yourself. A helpful question to ask yourself is, “What lie is this excuse guarding?”
I know. It stings. And calling bullshit on yourself requires tons of courage. But when you let action eclipse excuse, commitment becomes a non-issue. Is there anyone else who has the same excuse as you, but is moving ahead successfully nonetheless?
5. Surround yourself with persisters. Their enthusiasm will infect you. Their action will motivate you. And their velocity will inspire you. Here, try this experiment. Think about the five people you spend the most time with. On a scale of 1-10, estimate how well each person personifies stick-to-itiveness.
Then, grab a calculator and take the average of those five scores. Ultimately, you’ll develop a realistic reflection of your own level of commitment; since you’re nothing but the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And if you’re not thrilled with the score, maybe it’s time to rearrange your relationship priorities.
Remember: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. Who inspires your persistence and determination?
6. It’s easy to persist when you know who you are. And, perhaps more importantly, who you aren’t. Otherwise you wind up selling your soul for a couple thousand bucks and a shiny new iPad. My suggestion is to physically write out your Personal Constitution. Here’s how: The word “constitution” derives from the Latin constitutio, or, “ordinance.” Therefore:
Your constitution is the composition and condition of your character.
Your constitution is the established arrangement of your non-negotiables.
Your constitution is the description of your decision-making mechanisms.
Your constitution is the system of fundamental values governing your behavior.
Your constitution is the aggregate of personal characteristics comprising your foundation.
And the best part is: It’s a living document. It’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your Personal Constitution reserve the right to modify. Hell, I’ve updated mine six times in the past year. But in so doing, I’ve also upgraded into the best, highest version of myself. Ever. And it’s been like rocket fuel for my ability to persist. What are you a living document of?
7. Chaperone the dance between belly and brain. One you take seriously; one you take literally. One you humor; one you heed. One is run by your ego; one is run but your ethos. One is full of crap; one is full of truth. And this distinction is helpful to understand, especially when you’re thinking about quitting.
Don’t feel guilty. Quitting is underrated. That’s a thought everyone entertains at some point. The secret is whether or not you’re asking the right organ for advice. My suggestion is simple. First, use your brain to ask the following questions: Is growing still going to happen? Do I still have time to do what’s important? Why did I pursue this project in the first place? Will increasing my energy be enough to make a difference?
Second, use your body to answer those questions. Whether or not to persist will become abundantly clear in no time. Is the angry voice of your ego making it difficult to hear the subtle voice of your intuition?
8. Stop parading your poverty. Bitching to people about how hard it is, how much you despise something or how much farther you have to go isn’t a merit badge. I don’t care what your frat buddies say – it’s not cool to hate your job. Don’t get swept into the seductive undertow of using misery to get attention.
Look. I know persistence is painful process. And I encourage (insist on!) using healthy methods for expressing your frustration. But throwing a pity party won’t make the process any easier. No matter how many guests show up, no matter how cold the beer is.
If you’re going to vent, see if you can’t do it without excessive ornamentation. What pollution does your attitude introduce into the air?
REMEMBER: No matter what Staples says, easy buttons are lies.
It takes guts to stick yourself out there – but it takes gusto to keep yourself out there.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you quitting because it’s easy, or because it’s hard?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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