Some stories bizarrely take years to get discovered.
One comes to mind. In 1976 an Armenian Olympic swimmer saw a bus crash into a reservoir after completing a run with his brother. The bus went 33 feet underwater.
The swimmer dived into the water with zero visibility and freestyled out to the bus. When he made it to the wreckage he kicked the back window in to let the passengers free.
The shattering of the glass injured him. The water was freezing too. For the next few hours he saved each passenger one by one. He saved more than twenty lives.
For the next 45 days he stayed in hospital because of his injuries from the water temperature and glass window. The injuries he sustained ended his Olympic career. No one knew the heroic act he pulled.
Then nine years later an article uncovered his identity.
Three years later he was walking past a burning building. Instinct kicked in again. He ran inside and began saving people one by one until the fire caused him to collapse from severe lung damage and burns.
Contrast that with a story I heard today of a young man who randomly gave flowers to a person he labeled “lonely.”
He filmed the whole thing on TikTok for likes. Because there was no audio on the video the true reaction was hidden. Turns out the nice woman wasn’t lonely at all and found the gift of flowers patronizing and presumptive.
The first bad habit to give up is making everything in your life public.
The golden buzzer lie that misleads humanity
Talent shows have dominated tv for years, since Simon Cowell popularized the format.
The trouble is it has distorted the idea of success. We see normal people like us walk into theatres and put on a performance for four judges. The biggest moments are called Golden Buzzers.
This is when an act strikes a chord with the audience and one of the four judges pushes the big gold button. Gold lights flash. Confetti falls from the sky. Slow motion face reactions take over the screen as if by magic.
Emotional music starts to play. A perfect sequence of camera angles captures every tiny detail. Then some nice words are said…
“This will probably change your life. Your time is now. This is success. You’re gonna change the world, pal.”
If you talk to any of the golden buzzer acts you’ll get a nasty surprise. 99% of them didn’t have their life changed at all. Some would even tell you that the golden buzzer was a cruel moment.
It made them believe they had achieved success when they hadn’t. Or for some they became pre-madonnas and their ego caused them to act like a diva.
Talent shows promote the fantasy of overnight success. Expecting it is one of the worst habits you can accidentally adopt.
Golden buzzer moments on tv are done for the camera. The success isn’t real.
Not putting in enough effort
“This doesn’t work.”
Wrong. The strategy may not work for you, but it could work for someone else. Many people give up on a goal before they pass the threshold of participation.
Whatever the effort level you think you need to succeed, it’s probably at least three times that. Nothing worth achieving comes easy. It’s consistently putting in the effort that makes it all worth it looking back.
If the effort needed is easy, the goal is mediocre. Hope for hard.
Keeping all their best ideas quiet (out of fear they’ll get stolen)
One writer is angry with me.
You will have seen his tantrums, I’m sure. He claims the idea to publish online courses is exclusive to him. He thinks he has the monopoly on every online course ever created.
Someone forgot to tell him that when he was in nappies back in 2004, I was already planning to start an online school. It took years before it happened.
The poor kid still shames himself. “Why did I tell Tim a few of my ideas?” He’s petrified of another fake idea being stolen.
Unsuccessful people think they’re Einstein. They believe their ideas are unique or that you have to be the first person in a field to be successful.
Real success is found when you give away your ideas for free and focus on the execution. We’ve all had the “I’m going to build the Uber of that” moment.
So what? Anyone can have a dream. Not too many can spend the next 5 years working on it with zero results to show for it.
Your idea isn’t special. Read that again.
And competition is good. A rising tide lifts all boats amigo (unless you act like a spoilt brat).
Letting a phone be the director of your life
Some people live and die by what the home screen of their phone says.
To reinforce the problem they strap a smartwatch to their wrist so they can never live in silence again. Whatever the flashy notification says, their attention races to it.
One notification after another their lives get wasted. Someone else’s priorities dictate the direction of their attention. Don’t let a phone tell you what to do. Turn off notifications and set your mind free. Better yet, chuck your phone in the lake.
Deep work creates success.
Shallow, distracted work creates a painful plateau.
Waiting for the right time (when rainbows, unicorns, and fairies appear)
A few writers who said they’d do it later declined. “I’m too busy. I can’t find 15 minutes a day.”
These people are desperate to write. They love the art of the written word more than their puppy dog. Yet they can’t find 15 minutes. If you don’t have time now, you probably won’t magically have time in the future.
That’s code for this isn’t a priority.
Expecting to have more time in the future is a unicorn fantasy. Parkinson’s law clearly states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
Force yourself to make time and it’s amazing what will happen. “I should do — ” will disappear. You’ll stop shouldn’t-ing all over yourself.
When meetings fill your day and your brain, it’s hard to do much else.
You’re in what I call “meeting mode.” After the second or third meeting in a row your brain turns to mush. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels more like watching tv.
The downside is that, if you say yes to days full of back-to-back meetings, you don’t get time to do the real work that you’re paid for. So you rush around, or have to stay back to finish it.
Before you know it, your spot at the dinner table with family is nothing more than an ass imprint on a dining chair tied to a distant memory of your existence. Sad.
Meetings waste a lot of time. Get out of them, or find a modern company that declares war on meetings.
Eating too much processed food
Don’t eat to keep your cravings happy, or to look good, or for taste. Eat for energy. Food is energy.
Eat sh*t, feel sh*t.
Taking up the job of a professional ($0) critic
Unsuccessful people make fun of successful people.
They spend all day telling us how celebrities or people who’ve achieved ten times more in life than them should live. Even though they don’t live by these standards and have a Mt Everest-high stack of pizza boxes in their lounge room that should have got thrown out in 2009.
It’s easy to be a critic.
It’s harder to live by the standards you place on other people.
Heck, if you want to be happier, lower your standards. Assume everyone is doing the best they can and a lot of the need to critique will vanish. We can call off the exorcist to rid you of all the evil then.
Critics don’t get paid. Builders do.
The obsession of mentors
A mentor is an unpaid employee.
No one wants to become one. The thinking that “if I could only find a mentor I’d reach success” is a lie.
People don’t want to mentor you. If you’ve been looking for a good mentor and can’t find one then it’s because that’s how it’s meant to be. Offer to pay people to teach you new skills and you’ll get ten times further ahead.
If you can’t afford paid coaches or consultants that’s fine. Read books and learn from the greats until you can. But for the love of god stop asking nice people to be your mentor. No one cares.
There’s a paradox attached to this one though…
If you ask a person to help you in the right (selfless) way and offer to pay them, many times they won’t take your money but will still help you.
One of my good friends offered his idol $10,000 to have lunch with him. It was his entire savings. The man said yes. From that day on he never had to pay again to spend time with his idol.
They became friends and that one decision completely changed his life.
Bad habits are often detached from the reality of how the world works.
Understand how the game is played. Learn to be unselfish. Understand incentives so you can get people on your team. Expect great things to take time. And stay as humble as you can.