Is It Too Late?

In researching warrior societies for my book, a commonality is they started training at preadolescence.  There weren't any real exceptions for good reason.  All of thesocietiesI focused on stemmed from hundreds to thousands of years ago where men had to protect or fight for what they had. Native Americans had to protect their villages.  Scots fought for their land and freedom during the English occupation.  Samurai fought for their warlords during Japan's monarchy.  Spartons threw their young into the agoge to become Greece's special forces.

Life was treacherous.  As a result, fighting became a necessity.

But do you have to start at a young age to be good at anything?  It seems that a lot of successful people of today started their endeavors when they were children.  Michael Jackson is a good example.  The turn out for his remembrance is a tribute to his passion and hard work.  But look at the other brothers.  What happened to them?

What about the colonel?  That's right.  The man who made fried chicken a staple in America?  Did he start frying poultry when he was young?  He had a variety of jobs that had little to do with flightless birds.  It wasn't until his late forties that he started a cafe, and his fried chickens had become popular.  Then at the ripe young age of sixty six did he start selling franchises, which of course spawned the empire all chickens fear today.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is about to have its 100th pay per view show this weekend.  The heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar, started to train how to fight just a few years ago.  It's fair to say that a lot of great fighters on the UFC roster started when they were young.  And Lesnar is highly talented as an athlete.  But the one thing the UFC has proven over and over again is talent and experience has little to do with winning.  More than hard work, it's a mindset forged under the heat of severe competition.

For Lesnar to become the heavyweight champion in four fights, which is amazing in its own right, he had to overcome some very experienced and gifted fighters.  In listening to his many interviews, he always knew his unproven ability to win, worked extremely hard, and approached both his fights and training with an intelligence that some heavyweights ignored.  A lot of them relied on their weight and size to prevail.

He scoffed at critics who said he was too green for the sport of mixed martial arts, that he needed experience before he could even challenge the prior champion, and, despite his explosiveness and size, knew he had to learn quickly with a furious pace.

Is it ever too late to start anything?

Yes.  When you're dead.

Throw Your Goals Out Again!

I got a lot of comments from different sources regarding my post Throw Out Your Goals.  There were a few misconceptions that I want to cover.  First let me list some of them:

  • Goals are important to accomplish what we want
  • Brad Pitt has good genes and is lucky
  • Success is defined differently for different people
  • Just because you love something doesn't mean you'll be good at it
  • Not every one can do what they love and get paid for it

 

There were plenty more.

Let's start with defining success.  My first post never defined success.  It defined certain people's level of success but never went as far as gave it a definition.  In this post, I will remain ambiguous on the definition of success.  Because who ever commented and said success is different for different people is correct.  I know a man who thinks he's successful because he's raised healthy, intelligent children.  I know fighters who've beaten great opponents who believe their own performances were below par.  Hell...Donald Trump hates being a multi-millionaire, and only considers himself a success when he has multi-billions.

Success is much like a goal.  Once you reach it, your work, the process to attain it, doesn't stop.  If a fighter won her first fight, she doesn't stop training.  She continues to train for the next fight.  If she's won the world belt in her weight class, then she still has to continue to sharpen her skills for her first title defense.  What happens when she defends it successfully?  Celebrates?  For sure!  Beware.  There are others who are hungry for her belt.  Back to the process.  What if she loses?  Back to the process.

I love this one.  Brad Pitt has good genes and is lucky.  I'm not denying his good genes and looks.  What I do deny is his luck.  To say he was lucky is to deny the hard work he'd committed, wearing a chicken suit, working odd jobs, before he got his first major role.  Look at Steve Carrell.  He was an unknown comic for twenty years until luck struck him.  Luck?  No.  Hard work and perseverance?  Most definitely.  

And good looks was never a prerequisite for success in Hollywood.  With over a million good looking people in Los Angeles, it doesn't explain Jack Black.  Now, some find him hot.  But he's doesn't fit the traditional leading man look.

This next one is good.  You can't make a living doing what you love is a lot of people's excuse to settle for mundane jobs.  I'm not saying quit your day job, lose your house, die of starvation.  Keep your day job, but work on what you love during your free time.  John Grisham is a great example.  He was a lawyer for ten years before he wrote his first novel.  He got to the office two hours before he started his real job, wrote, then started on his case list.  The awesome thing is he published his first book.

If you don't think you can make a living doing what you love, then you won't.  Simple as that.

Think you'd suck being a parent?   You will.

Believe you can run a marathon?  Follow up with action, and you will.

Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.  Henry Ford said that.  He wanted to create a V-8 engine.  He surrounded himself with brilliant engineers. You know what they said?  Can't be done.  Ford pushed them forward, told them it was possible.  Through several failures, it was done.  Look it up.  True story.

The last one I want to tackle is:  just because you love it doesn't mean you can be good at it.  Crap.  In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers:  The Story of Success, he talks about mastery of skill.  He'd found one commonality among all world class musicians, artists, athletes, etc.  What is it?  Ten thousand hours of practice.  You want to be a world class anything?  Here it is, ten thousand hours of work.  That's why you gotta love the process, not the goal.  Love the process, the goal will come many times over.

The Secret and The Action Thought

I've read a lot of books regarding success and personal growth.  There are three main things they focus on.  The way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. One of the biggest publishing successes for personal growth was The Secret.  I have a copy of it.  It's main focus is thought.  Think it, dream it, and voila, it appears.

One  main thing it skims over is action.  The book refers to Jack Canfield.  It's actually my favorite part of the book.  One of the things he did was write a check out for $100,000 dollars and every morning he looked at it.  Then he got an idea, an inspiration to write a book.  He sold the book for .25 cents each.  He followed the golden nuggets of inspiration, advertised in the National Inquirer, and sold close to 400,000 copies.  Not only did he basically reach his envisioned goal, he celebrated.  Then he got another idea to write something called Chicken Soup for the Soul.  It was a bit successful.  If you call a major hit a bit.

What's the moral of the story?  Know where you are.  Know where you want to be.  Act on it.  Do something about it.  Just do it.  Sound familiar?  A small shoe company uses that slogan.

Years ago, my best friend and I were debating about what was more important.  Positive thought or Action thought.  What do you think?

You can wish to win the lottery, but until you buy a ticket, it's unlikely you're going to win.

Personally, positive thought is overrated.  Progressive thought, on the other hand, is awesome.  You want something?  Go for it.  Take the first step toward it.  Too many people want the success without putting the work behind it.  Think what you need to do to get what it is you want.

My friend coined the term progressive thought.  Thought that moves you toward your goal.  You want to be a great sprinter?  Sprint.  Want to be a great snowboarder?  Snowboard.  Want to write the great American novel?  Write.

And a small word on positive thinking.  It's not about thinking positively, but ignoring the crap that doesn't help you.  If a friend came up to you and said, "I wanna be an actor."  Most people would be like, "Good luck, dude.  It's like totally hard, man, and it's so not practical."  DON'T LISTEN TO THAT CRAP!  Let it roll off your back, have a progressive thought like, "I'm going to take acting classes."  You are now one step closer toward your dream.  Isn't that what Tom Hanks did?  Read his story.  It's amazing.

Just do it.