Many of us who pursue goals were inspired by those who went before us and accomplished similar goals. What they attained, created, or became… to us seemed cool, exciting, and worth the effort that even we decided to go down a similar path.
But it is worth noting that not all of us are inspired by the same aspects or qualities of those achievers. In today’s post, I want to look at just two of those aspects and describe why I believe that being inspired by one of them is way more important than being inspired by the other.
There is no doubt that when something grand has been accomplished by an achiever, a defining moment is set. This is often when the rest of the world (meaning everyone other than that achiever) realizes just how huge, exciting, or impactful that accomplishment was.
The release of an important product or service. The premiere of a good movie, song, or album. The publishing of a great book, animated short, video game, or app. The winning of a sports tournament, battle, or any other competition. These are moments that are celebrated to acknowledge the accomplishment of a goal.
These are moments that often alert, excite, and inspire others to consider going down the same path. Or at least consider it.
In today’s world, marketing campaigns for most large consumer-facing businesses put a lot of effort into creating stories about moments when achievers accomplished their goals. Those accomplishments (whether legitimate or not) are used to sell consumers into buying a product, service, or lifestyle that those marketers claim will allow you to attain the same kind of accomplishments.
Let me put it in a simpler way by giving you a simple example.
You see that guy on the TV who is now a rich and accomplished executive for a big company. All he did was buy as a SPECIFIC suite, invest in a SPECIFIC product/company/service and now he is living a SPECIFIC life. So if you want to get that SPECIFIC life as well, you need to purchase this SPECIFIC product, service, or adopt this SPECIFIC lifestyle.
Now, let me first admit that technically, that could be true. Making those choices might have actually led to that particular individual accomplishing their goal.
However, there is more to accomplishing a goal than just simply going down a path similar to that of an achiever you admire.
What we don’t often think about first… is the life they lived leading up to that celebrated accomplishment. As in, when did the pursuit begin… how did it begin… what challenges did that person face… how did they persevere… and so on.
A lot is not known about that journey.
It is here, as first-time pursuers, where we make the most common of all mistakes. We begin to create uninformed assumptions about how those achievers accomplished their goals.
We dissect the actual accomplishment itself. Thinking that we can understand it by breaking it down or reverse-engineering it.
Suppose we hear of a local merchant that created a massively successful business selling iPhone accessories.
In his interview with the local news, they talk about how they made so much in revenue over the last 3 months. They talk about how many units they sold.
Now, typically people interested or inspired to get into that line of business will immediately begin to try to figure out how to get started.
They are most likely going to begin by realizing that there is a potentially huge market for phone accessories. Because clearly, the person on the TV has suddenly become a success.
The first thing to do? Should we go iPhone or android? How much of the iPhone accessories market does that person dominate? Who would be able to supply me at reasonable costs? Where should my store be located? How much would I need to pay for rent and utilities to keep things running? Where would I get the financing for this? Do I need a website or an e-commerce store?
These are just examples of questions one would ask themselves.
One who has never had the experience of going down that path before.
There is often a very simplistic approach to how first-timers go down this path of pursuing goals. And it tends to be driven by the thought of the moment of accomplishment.
What is initially ignored or not thought of, is the lifestyle one has to adopt now that they have chosen to pursue. The requirements that come with choosing to pursue that goal.
So remember those example questions above? Here are questions that are more important to the success of the pursuit.
Am I willing to go into debt? Am I willing to downgrade my lifestyle for a few years if the business does not pick up fast? Am I willing to invest in learning or hiring permanent graphic designers, website maintainers, or accountants? What if my first 2 suppliers sell me fake products causing huge losses… will still want to push on with this business? What if others around me create similar businesses and get better business traffic, will I be willing to temporarily switch goals so that I figure out my next moves or will I shut the business down? What if my partner, spouse, or family make me choose between closing my business because it’s been 2 years and I haven’t gotten results… or cutting ties with them?
We have a popular saying here in the self-development movement… no one said pursuing goals was going to be easy.
Anyway, the point I am making is that there is so much more to pursuing a goal than just trying to reverse engineer an achiever’s accomplishments.
And if you truly want to understand it, you must focus on trying to understand the lives of the achievers themselves. Not just at the moment of accomplishment but way before that. Understand the pursuit through their experiences. Because if you are going down that path… it is inevitable that you will face them as well.
This is what led me to truly appreciate what I generally label as ‘work ethic’ from the people I would like to emulate. How do they ‘work’ towards their goals? How do they ‘work’ on making steady progress?
The answers about how one comes to find success can be found here.
Understanding their choices, sacrifices, and habits… as they steadily move towards the outcomes they want… will prepare you for the same scenarios.
I sit down with people who pursue goals. Some of them inevitably quit. I am sometimes curious as to why they gave up. A lot of the time, the response I get is similar to this, “I didn’t think it would be this hard.” … or “It’s unrealistic. There is just no money in this. Things are just out of my control”… or “This dream is asking way too much of me. I am just a simple person with a simple goal… now you are telling me that I have to learn how to balance financial books and what not?… NOPE!”.
This says two things. One is that they had no idea what the lifestyle of a pursuer looked like. And as they proceed to quit, some even believe, that what they experienced wasn’t the ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ experience for someone pursuing that type of goal. That something was wrong with THEIR particular pursuit.
This leads me to the second thing. They were never ready to change… based on what THEIR pursuit demanded of them.
Sure, no two pursuits are the same. But the same can be said about how different pursuers tackle the same type of challenges differently.
To one, learning to do accounting mid-pursuit is okay… to another… it’s a nightmare. To one, learning to shoot and edit your own cooking tutorial videos that you publish on YouTube is a nightmare… to another… it’s an opportunity to develop a new skill.
We sometimes focus too much on the gratification… the end result. Completely forgetting/ignoring the important work required to get to that end.
During championship tournaments, people crowd stadiums to see who will win. But only a few will be very eager to see those same teams during practice sessions.
As they say, not a lot are interested in seeing how the sausage is made.
But it is from these moments leading up to the eventual success, that a lot needs to be studied and admired. This is where the inspiration must be drawn from.
Because it is in these sessions that you realize such an obvious truth. That you and the achiever you admire… are both humans. And you both get to make the same set of choices. Choices that will determine the outcome of your pursuit.
No one told Michael Jordan that he had to practice making shots AFTER TEAM PRACTICE… he chose to.
That ended up developing a skill that worked in his and his team’s favor.
Isn’t that worth admiring?
Game developers know just how long it can take to put a game together, but they ensure that they at least put in work on a regular basis on the project they are working on.
That is inspiring to me.
Business owners who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and who are tempted to shut down but refuse to do so. Instead, they look at alternative ways of meeting financial goals.
That is inspiring to me.
The work ethic required to accomplish the goal you seek… is way more important than the event that comes when you eventually accomplish it.
You have to be willing to change and adopt the lifestyle of one serious about accomplishing a goal. Finding inspiration in how people deal with the day-to-day of pursuing goals… is an important strategy.
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