As you may already know, I read Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors last month and I have been sharing different quotes I highlighted throughout the book. These come from former football player and actor Terry Crews.
When asked about book recommendations, he answered (emphasis mine):
The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I have read hundreds of personal development books, but this is the one that clearly showed me how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted. It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project. That in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be”—and this process is immediate.
Focus is such a beautiful and evasive concept. I love it. And I hate it.
More below the jump
Sometimes I’m laser focused. Sometimes, I’m surfing B&H photo for camera and gear porn. Sometimes I’m producing lots of art and work, and other times, I’m reading through comments on a blog or news aggregate as if it’s going to contribute to my overall life satisfaction.
Good news, though. I’m working on ways to gain more focus through exercise, meditation, and good old disciplinary practice. I’ve been working on it for eons.
Call it a midlife crisis. But at 42, I feel like I am playing catch up with goals I never set.
I realize that I didn’t get where I am in my career without focus. But there are times when I look back and think, “I could have gone further had I practiced more focus. Had I have stayed away from alcohol or not spent time doing something that didn’t contribute to my end goals.
Another highlight from Terry Crews’ section of Tribe of Mentors was his answer to this question: What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“Work hard to beat the competition.” The truth is that competition is the opposite of creativity. If I am working hard to beat the competition, it actually prevents me from thinking creatively to make all concepts of competition obsolete. As a football player I was told to work hard to compete against the other team, some perceived future threat, and even my current teammates. As an actor, you are told to look a certain way or do things you don’t agree with in order to “compete.” This competitive mindset destroys people. It’s the scorched earth way of thinking, and everyone is burned.The truth is that you need the success of everyone in your field in order to achieve your own success. Creativity operates differently. You work hard because you’re inspired to, not because you have to. Work becomes fun, and you have energy for days because this life is not a “young man’s game.” It is an “inspired person’s game.” The keys belong to whoever is inspired, and no specific age, sex, gender, or cultural background has a monopoly on inspiration. When you’re creative, you render competition obsolete, because there is only one you, and no one can do things exactly the way you do. Never worry about the competition. When you’re creative, you can, in fact, cheer others on with the full knowledge that their success will undoubtedly be your own.
Certainly there’s a base evolutionary function for competition. And it’s engrained in many of us, if not all to some degree. Aren’t jealousy, insecurity and anger forms of competition?
For me, competition is deep seated. And I have found that obstacles that interfere with my equilibrium, well being, and over-all attitude stem from competition.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve fought with forms of competition to the point that I will not stay “friends” long with photographers or filmmakers who constantly show they are better than me, they post more than me, they have more creative ideas.
It’s something I’ve purposely set out to change, many times, and inevitably I succumb to the weakness of inferiority complexes and I repeat behavior that destroys the relationship, all because I’m jealous or insecure.
One weakness of today’s social media driven marketplace is, there’s sooooo much negativity one can either find or imagine in it. People’s so-called opinions — in the form of bumper sticker memes — are expressed a zillion times a day. World news is rife with a yellow hue that used to be much more avoidable should you decide not to look at it.
If you’re addicted to drugs, alcohol, sugar, competition, narcism and then add an addiction to social media, thumb sliding screens, double tap syndrome, et al, there’s just no rehab in the world that can remedy you.
Equilibrium is becoming more and more challenging. Once you overcome one weakness, there are six more to work on. It’s nuts.
I haven’t fleshed out exactly how I’m proposing to find balance, but I know it takes work, and focus, and a healthy dose of competition-less-ness.
And while I would like to succeed all the time, the truth is I’m failing at it as much as I’m succeeding. It’s a game. It’s a battle.
I’ll leave you on this quote from Kyle Maynard, who, if you didn’t know is a quadruple paraplegic who has done more in his lifetime — without so much as a prosthetic limb — than you and a hundred of your friends, maybe even a thousand.
Finnish word, “sisu”—the mental strength to continue to try even after you feel you’ve reached the limits of your abilities. I don’t think failure is sometimes part of the process—it always is.
– Kyle Maynard