Life is hard.
Ok, I get it, keep whining, right? I can see your eyes rolling right though your computer screen.
But life is hard, in that nothing ever happens exactly how you expect. Timelines take shorter or longer, money decreases and increases, relationships end and begin and stale, and egos are bruised and boosted.
Well, life can be easy too, in that it’s easy to take the path of least resistance over the narrow road of success. What’s the path of least resistance? Well, it can be any of the following:
When a timeline takes longer than expected, give up the goal! When money decreases, better to lament about it rather than working toward increasing it. If a relationship ends, it’s easier to blame the person rather than looking inward, being honest as to whose fault it was, and growing from the experience. Have a bruised ego? much easier to remain proud than to work with the person who bruised it.
See what I mean? Life is hard in that it’s hard to remain introspective, confident, positive, and driven. “Life," as we’ve come to understand it, throws us so many curveballs that it’s almost impossible to remain consistently even keel. It’s much easier to let life happen to you, rather than taking firm control of life.
But life doesn’t happen to us. We, as humans, both physically and mentally act on our surroundings, and by definition, directly affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
Even our inaction is action in that our inaction causes some sort of reaction in life. With this line of thinking, by taking a passive approach to life, you’re unconsciously making your narrow road of success and the path of least resistance synonymous. You acted through inaction, and the result is a life of mediocrity.
Action and inaction aside, the road to success is narrow. It has innate resistance, and is a path that’s easy to lose track of in the weeds of life. When the going gets tough, you get knocked off your narrow road to success, left to flounder off the trail.
In order to be successful, we need the ability to course correct back to the narrow road, no matter the size of life’s curveball. It’s not that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” but more that “when the going gets tough, the tough are able to maintain their course."
But how? People are proud, whether they admit it or not. It’s human nature to take the victim mentality when faced with an obstacle on the narrow road to success. Why admit blame when you can blame life itself, no? Again, by definition, however, taking the victim mentality is an action that you’ve chosen to take, that directly affects both your narrow road and the roadblocks life throws at you.
So how? Well, remember that one time?
Seriously, remember it? The narrow road isn’t so much a flat surface as it is a winding path with peaks and valleys: triumphs and setbacks. No matter what obstacle you face, there will have always been a high point in your life that directly relates to that obstacle. So, do you remember how you felt when you were at that high point?
By identifying and remembering the high points or high moments in your life, you’re able to call on them in times of need - when the path of least resistance seems more enticing than the narrow road of success.
This, to me, is the key to a successful life. It’s the ability to stay on your path, no matter the environment. It’s the ability to remain even keel by paradoxically living in the moment, and at the same time looking toward the vision of your future, and looking backward at the times of elation.
The high point is important for two reasons:
One, it gives you an emotional high that can be recalled when you lack emotional motivation. Your emotions, stabilized through the memory of these moments, give you the opportunity to push through the clutter and remain on the narrow road.
Two, it’s at these moments in life that you’re able to see the vision of your future with crystal clarity. When you are at a high point, you see the narrow road of your life from an arial view, and understand with conviction both where it’s going, and why you want to get there. So when the going gets tough, you can remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
In this way it’s immensely important to remember the high points of your life. Use them as bumpers in the proverbial bowling lane of life to keep you from hitting the gutter. Pushing through those moments of apathy, hopelessness, or negativity, through small motivational reminders, will catapult you to the other side, where clarity and emotional positivity are regained.
It may suck in the moment, but by focusing on "that one time" - i.e. the high point that keeps you going - you’ll be rewarded with the maximization of your time and the ability to stay on your narrow road of success.
For me, "remembering that one time" has proven a valuable life-hack, in both my personal and professional endeavors.
Building a company is hard. It’s as emotionally taxing as it is monetarily taxing. The people you partner with, although amazing, have their own unique personality traits and life philosophies. When it comes to building a business, one of the most toxic things that can happen is a bruised ego among partners.
I’ve had the chance to partner with some truly phenomenal people, who are as driven as they are intelligent. Which, as I’ve come to find, is both a blessing and a curse.
While the benefits of partnering with high-achievers is very apparent, the downside is sometimes not so apparent. When you’re a high-achiever yourself, especially if you have a type-A personality, it’s easy to butt heads with even the most agreeable of business partners.
One of my partners in particular happens to also be one of my friends. We also happen to be confident people who have strong convictions in their philosophies. In this way, it’s not uncommon for us to disagree, even over the smallest of issues.
We once had a 30 minute “discussion” over how we should email a potential business-changing partner. I thought the email should be informal and friendly, he thought it should be short and business-like, and we both believed that a stalemate was the right course of action, until the other could see the benefit of their thinking, of course.
While it seems trivial, I personally know of business relationships that have crashed and burned over small, compounding incidents like this one.
What’s more, we were both worn thin and tired from the energy needed to push our business forward. Not a good starting point when having a disagreement. I’ll tell you right now that a few more incidents like this one and our business partnership would have dissolved, 100%.
So, instead of getting caught up in the moment, and taking the path of least resistance by taking my bruised ego and going home, I remembered that one time. Two times actually.
I thought back to the time when we closed our very first deal, and truly legitimized our business model. What a feeling that was! I also thought back to a more recent time, back to the actual meeting with the partner in which this email debacle surrounded. How good we felt leaving that meeting!
With that recalibration, everything came back into focus. Rather than getting caught up in the disagreement, which was compounding on past disagreements, I was able to remember why we were here. I remembered what we were trying to accomplish together. I remembered the benefits we both have gained from partnering with each other.
Argument squashed, literally within minutes. I agreed with his thinking, knowing that our partnership was more important than an email. And low and behold, by being more agreeable, he was more agreeable. Who would've thought?
We took elements from both our ideas and crafted an email that single-handedly prompted our potential partner to ink a deal with us. And none of this would have been possible if I didn’t remember that one time.
It may seem small, but even an email can cause ego’s to be bruised beyond repair. By remembering that one time, a business partnership was strengthened in a way that directly led to the further success of our company.