It’s your life

I want to tell you about something that has changed my life dramatically. It happened in college when I was reading about enterprising entrepreneurs and innovative designers. I did most of my learning by reading books like REWORK and The Millionaire Next Door. So what did I learn?

I learned that I control absolutely everything that goes on in my life, and when I truly don’t control something, I still control my reaction to it.


One common theme in the entrepreneurs I read about was that they internalize. If they didn’t make a sale, they looked inward to determine what they could’ve done better. Could she have tweaked one slide in her deck to make the pitch better? Should she have pushed harder?

By internalizing the mistake, she can make a meaningful improvement during her next sales meeting, and most importantly, has her mind in a place where she realizes she can improve her own life. If she had written off the lost business as an externality: bad luck, bad product fit, bad economy.

If something negative happens to me, I make sure to find something that I can do better next time. In my mind, I make it completely my fault and I own up to my mistake. If I don’t handle a customer interaction with a level head, I’ll say “I’m sorry” and mean it. Then I’ll tell them about the steps I’m going to take to be more polite next time. It doesn’t matter that they cursed me out first. It was my fault.

One thing successful people do not is make excuses. The economy is bad, so I can’t find a new job. I’d become the best chef in the world, but I don’t know where to start. I’m just waiting for my big break. I’d lose those pesky 10 pounds, but I’m just so tired when I get home from work. It’s all bullshit and that mindset prevents you from taking action to improve yourself.

Now onto the biggest excuse of all.

I’m busy

No you’re not. Think about what you do in the evenings. What do you do between the hours of 7pm and 11pm? If you wanted something bad enough, you wouldn’t be watching reality TV or the news.

And guess what? Everyone is busy. Every single person has a full schedule. My grandfather has been retired for 35 years and he’s still busy. He has coffee club at 5am, then he has to go to the dry cleaner, and today is Saturday so that means farmer’s market day. After that, he’ll read for an hour then watch his afternoon news and the shows he recorded the night before. Oh and it’s fall so it’s hunting season. He’d better make sure his gun is clean and sighted in.

Everyone has a full schedule, and yet some people rise above others and become more successful. I can guarantee that the only thing standing in your way is you. No one is holding you back, and no one is going to give you a “big break.” You need to be persistent enough to earn that break, and improve yourself a little bit each day until you get there.

Think I’m wrong? Try me