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The leader your self needs

In the profession called life, you can either choose to be led or you can choose to lead. Are you leading your self, or is your self being led by someone else?

If you're being led, you risk your life being swept down a path that leads to someone else's definition of success. You risk finding yourself stuck in an endless loop wondering where all of your time went and why you're not getting to where you want to go.

But if you lead your self, if you choose to accept responsibility for your own life, then you get to choose your own adventure. You get to stop at every crossroads and make a conscious decision about where you want to go next, instead of just going wherever the current wants to take you.

You don't need permission.

There's nobody else out there who is responsible for your happiness and there's nobody coming to tell you what you should do next.

You're alone. That's the hard truth.

Life can be a short dull race that you play safe to a regrettable end, or it can be a long wild adventure full of risk, challenge, and discovery. It's entirely up to you.

Your actions, your choices, your decisions. They're all yours.

What are you doing with them? Are you leading your self?

Leading isn't easy. It's often lonely and full of uncertainty, and doubt, and fear and leaders rarely know if they're going in the right direction.

But that's okay. That's what makes them a leader. They choose a destination and head towards the unknown. They go against the current. They do what nobody else does by choosing to accept responsibility for whatever happens next. They don't ask somebody else to accept responsibility for their actions.

Every great adventure is filled with obstacles and seemingly unsolvable problems. That's what makes it an adventure! Leaders see those unknowns and then go on anyway because they know that's part of the deal.

If you want to get somewhere you've never been, you need to be willing and ready to do things you've never done—that's what makes it fun!

Lead yourself. Accept responsibility for your life.

Be the leader your self needs.

The gift of connection

When you're feeling lost, reach out.

You may find the missing pieces in those you're linked to, in those you've shared a bit of your life with, like a vibration echoing back to you through time but changed by the people it passed through on its way back to you.

When it returns, it may be exactly what you needed.

That missing piece may come from the most unexpected of places, but you won't find it unless you reach out, unless you turn your attention away from yourself, open up, and choose to be a little vulnerable.

Connect, with no ulterior motive.

Connect, with curiosity.

Connect, purely to seek connection, to chat, to have an informal conversation and openly exchange words without any expectation of where it will go.

Connect as if you were giving and receiving a gift.

Because that's what true connection is: a gift.

When you lose a bit of yourself, do what feels counterintuitive and give. Give the gift of connection. Connect to reconnect with yourself.

Observe the wind

In a strong storm, even the trees eventually give up and come crashing down.

But if they were more nimble—if they could uproot themselves and lay down or if they could flex like a blade of grass—they'd live forever.

When your patience is tested and you feel ready to break, stubbornly challenging your adversary is rarely the solution.

Instead of being a victim, embrace the winds of change as an observer, as a blade of grass dancing with the wind.

1% of your day

15 minutes = 1% of your day.

What could you do for 15 minutes every single day for the next year that would have an immense impact on your life?

One percent. Can you dedicate one percent to that activity?

How about two percent? Three? Four?

30 minutes = 2% of your day.
45 minutes = 3% of your day.
1 hour = 4% of your day.

You probably spend 24-32% of each day sleeping.

What are you doing with that other 70%?

Success has no excuses

But it has a friend who awaits more quietly: choice.

In each moment you can choose an excuse—they're readily available, cheap, and eager to be used. Excuses don't care. They'll let you sacrifice the potential of today for the regrets of tomorrow.

Or you can choose the work that you know needs to be done today, the work that will move you towards whatever you want to achieve. Choice is your friend because it asks for nothing in return, only that you're willing earn what you want.

"The truth about the process of earning—not winning, not arriving, but earning—success," Darren Hardy says, "that process is in itself very mundane."

When the process is mundane, it often doesn't feel perfect.

But it doesn't have to be perfect, it can simply be the next thing you do.

And when you're done you'll need to do it again and again and again.

It's not enough to choose once. That amazing thing that you define as success must be earned. The change you seek must be earned. "Do not stagnate too long in your victory because you can never own success: You can only rent it. And the rent is due every single day."

Ctrl Alt Del

In 1981, David Bradley was a computer programmer helping build some of the first personal computers. It was a slow and tedious process, often producing a glitch every few minutes that required a full reboot of the entire system. A full reboot meant wiping the computer memory and running a full set of memory tests, which took valuable time.

When you're creating something new and it's producing a glitch every few minutes, you're not going to get very far if trying again requires a long intermission. You need to fail fast and fail regularly so that you can learn quickly and continue improving.

David decided that he wasn't going to accept things the way they were. He was the programmer. He could create whatever he wanted. So he created a shortcut, a key combination that would reboot the system in such a way that the memory tests would be skipped: Ctrl + Alt + Del[ete].

Our life has a Ctrl Alt Del shortcut too. It's call choice.

Each moment is an opportunity to press Ctrl Alt Del, to reset our system. We don't need to go through all the trials and tribulations of the past. We can skip all of those and go straight to the current moment.

How do we press Ctrl Alt Del? By making a choice.

A choice to see something different.

A choice to act in a different way.

A choice to think differently.

A choice to make something better.

A choice to define our future.

A choice to be generous.

A choice to serve.

We are the programmer of our life. Instead of letting the existing programming run in a loop, day after day, year after year, until the system shuts down forever, we can choose to create something new, to change.

And whenever you come upon a glitch, just press Ctrl Alt Del, adjust the programming, and then keep going.

Flashpoint

When you die, the rest of the world won't go on merrily without you. It can't. It's too late. You existed and therefore it's going to go on changed in some way because of your presence, because you existed.

Who are you to have an opinion? Who are you to make yourself heard? Who are you to make bold claims or have big aspirations? Who are you decide what's right and what's wrong and what should be done about it? Who are you to decide?

Actually, who are you not to?

You exist, not did exist or will exist, but do exist, here, now, in this active moment of time, in this dynamic slice of spacetime, at this point where the pen makes contact with the paper of history, perched at the precipice of everything.

If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? This is your flashpoint.

Circles

What are kids really good at? Kids are really good at failing. Of course they're not trying to fail. That's not their intention. Their intention is to succeed. But they can't succeed. They can't succeed until they fail enough. And their brains know this, their brains feel it. So they fail anyway. They do their best even when their best won't be good enough, when it won't get them to where they're trying to go.

Ananda drew me a picture the other day. It's a picture of 75 small circles (I counted them). There isn't a single perfect circle. In fact, many of the circles don't even have ends that meet. They're failures. Each one an attempt to draw in one smooth motion a complete circle, and each one a failure. But she drew them anyway, without hesitation. I watched her. Circle after circle after circle. Failing, but repeating each attempt without hesitation, without frustration.

There is so much beauty in this lesson, so much wisdom. It feels hard to grasp the universality of it. Children fail regularly, so they learn and grow and get better, regularly. But as they grow older, they grow more afraid, more unsure, more critical of themselves. The hesitation sets in. They learn slower, and slower, and slower. Instead of growth being self-directed and self-motivated—instead of it being fun—it becomes occasionally motivated by the dread of an external event that might cause more discomfort than the potential failure.

For Ananda it wasn't 'failure'. For her, it was play. It was having fun. It wasn't painful, it was enjoyable. She didn't draw 75 failed circles, she drew 75 shapes that looked like circles so that she could give them to her daddy. Her goal wasn't perfection. Her goal was to try, to make an attempt, and to have fun doing it and then to be happy with the result. Her goal was simply to do something, to take the idea and add action to it, to start and then to finish. To start, and then finish.

Kind of like drawing a circle.

Rewrite Your (Failure) Story

When thousands of people began reading what I was writing, I got scared. Each day I looked for more ways to reassure myself that everything I did would lead to a little more success, that each step would be safe. Eventually, I got so scared of failure, so scared of 'losing it all', that I stopped risking failure altogether.

It took me a long time to figure this out, and it seems so obvious to me now, but you cannot have success without failure. Success is achieved by overcoming failure. You can't have one without the other. The more that you try to avoid the risk of failure, the more you avoid the potential for success.

Here's something else I realized: a 'success story' is just that, a story.

There's nothing special or magical or mysterious about success. It's a story. It's a recollection of a specific series of events that follows the hero's journey, a common template that stories have been following for thousands of years. It involves 1) facing a challenge, 2) choosing to accept the challenge despite the risk of failure, and 3) overcoming the challenge.

A failure is just an incomplete success story.

A failure is one of the steps on the way to success. It's a toddler falling down on her way to running, the scale not budging on the way to getting in shape, and the frustration of inadequate knowledge and experience on the way to achieving a dream.

There are so many success stories and so few stories of failure because failure is a story that we don't want to hear (and because it's only part of a bigger story—it's an incomplete success story). Failure is a painful thing that reminds us that success requires work, that it requires effort. A story about failure reminds us that our work and our effort might not get us to where we're trying to go, that getting to where we're trying to go might require more work, and more effort.

The narrative of your life's story is controlled by what you choose to focus on. Reframe your story by consistently focusing on the positive, not the negative. Focus on the potential for success, not the risk of failure. Tell yourself a different story. Is there a chance you'll fail anyway? Sure, but focus on the positive! What positive thing might come out of failing? Focus on that.

If you choose to focus on the negative, all you'll see is negative. If you choose to focus on the risk of failure, all you'll see is failure. That's how stories work. Whatever part of the story you choose to focus on becomes your reality. It becomes your story.

Remember, you don't need to have a perfect record. You only need to show up more times than you don't.

So show up. Rewrite your story.