Tag Archives: Chopper Reid

Failure Is Not an Option

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Willpower: the final frontier. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

That’s the tagline for something, isn’t it? Well, even if it isn’t, Benjamin P. Hardy (@BenjaminPHardy) has something to say about it in his article titled Willpower Doesn’t Work. Here’s How to Change Your Life. (The article is an excerpt from his upcoming book, The Proximity Effect.)

Titles like the above link usually make me yawn and pick at my nails. However, I’ve read some of Mr. Hardy’s stuff in the past and although he’s a little too optimistic and sunshiny for me in the early morning, days I feel like garbage, or nights I want to bang my head into a brick wall while listening to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” every once in a while I manage to stumble across his online posts when I’m a touch more grounded. This is one of those moments – and this is one of those pieces that’s worth reading, if only because it’s a bold statement he makes, a final frontier if you will, and one where most men and women don’t usually go.

One of the first quotes he references is the following:

“Willpower is for people who are still uncertain about what they want to do.”

See, this is the kind of philosophical filet mignon I enjoy sinking my teeth into with a fork and chainsaw because it’s true. And while it’s true, it still screws with your head because you’ve been taught the exact opposite thing your whole life.

As the author goes on to say:

The very fact that willpower is required comes from two more fundamental sources — the causes:

1. You don’t know what you want, and are thus internally conflicted.

2. You haven’t committed to something and created conditions that facilitate your commitment.

Put another (much more crass) way, do as Chopper Reid says and harden the f*** up.

Seriously, though, lots of people like to quote Michael Jordan when it comes down to this, but Sir Air Jordan did indeed have a point when he said that once he makes a decision he doesn’t think about it anymore. What’s done is done and you’ve reached a conclusion, now focus on making it happen.

On a personal note, I’ve failed many more times than I’ve succeeded with respect to accomplishing goals; if my life win/loss ratio were a batting average, I’d be relegated to the T-ball league somewhere in Laos. Perhaps the underhand mushball league in Burkina Faso if I got lucky.

However, that’s not to say I haven’t achieved some of the things I’ve set my mind to. And just as Benjamin Hardy writes, it wasn’t some kind of mysterious willpower (which he and other psychologists define as something akin to a muscle: the more you have to use it, the more you wear it out, and consequently the less ability it has to help you in your time of need) that allowed me to make these significant advancements in my life. It was something closer to resoluteness, determination, conviction, resolve, or – as they like to say in the military – failure is not an option.

Set the goal. Lay down a plan. Own it. Do it.

And don’t look back in the rearview mirror until you’ve summited the mountain.

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Keys to Increasing Creativity

Larry Kim wrote a very direct and useful guide for ways in which to increase your creativity. Essentially, he reminds us that the brain is a muscle. Ergo, treat it like your bis, tris, delts, quads, etc. Work it out on a daily basis and aim to make it stronger by constantly pushing it to its limits.

His piece is directed as much at artists as it is at scientists and business people. You can read the full article here, but I’ll summarize his nine points below.

1. Learn through Collaboration

Talk to and learn from others, especially when you get stuck being innovative and creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also leads to creativity.

2. Do Something You Love

As Einstein once wrote to his son about playing the piano, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

Love and creativity are one and the same.

3. Find Inspiration from Other Industries

Don’t imitate, innovate. Finding that elusive je ne sais quoi can sometimes be found in a completely different field or area of industry.

4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)

Bestselling author Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks) once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

5. Walk

Research shows that walking heightens creativity. Stephen King has long known that (which is also how he got hit by a car and nearly died), but today major business leaders will hold “walking meetings” because they realize the value of this simple yet healthy way to flex that muscle between your ears.

6. Set the Right Mood

Listen to music. Personally, I listen to music when I write, edit, translate, send emails or do anything connected to work.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique

As Larry Kim put it, “Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored ‘thinking hats’.

Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.”

8. Ask For Advice or Feedback

Ditch the insecurity. If you’re insulted or scared to ask for advice or suggestions from peers/friends/colleagues/family members, follow Australian comedian Chopper Reid’s advice and harden the **** up.

9. Pick a Terrible Idea

Larry Kim explains: “Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes. What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.

Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: What are the best features of these terrible ideas?”

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