December 22, 2020
One of the main problems that I think most humans share is a lack of willpower. People are easily deterred from any goal they set for themselves. One negative comment or experience will cause people to quit whatever they were doing. To achieve something in life necessitates persisting through repeated failures, but most people aren't up to that task. So they settle for mediocrity in life.
I think that's why one of David Goggins' key pieces of advice is to ignore what other people think or say about you. It's one of those sayings that everyone has heard many times, so it can easily go in one ear and out the other. But if you stop to think about it, it's a great insight into the mentality you need to win in life.
When you're on the path and getting after it, you don't become some hero to people who sing your praises and cheer you along as you press toward the mark. In fact, quite the opposite will happen. Most people can't understand having such a grand ambition in life, going to extreme lengths to push yourself, and they will judge you for it. You'll be seen as doing too much, having too much ego, "trusting in yourself and not in God", obnoxiously overdoing it, and all sorts of similar phrases people will use to put you down for daring to pursue exceptionalism. They said the same about Goggins and Jocko and Cameron Hanes and Ben, and they'll say the same about you, too, if you choose to go for the gold in life.
I think most people get discouraged by such negative talk and end up falling back to a more moderate pace in life, ultimately settling for mediocrity like everyone else. To be fair, I think most people are content to be normal and live a chill life, and they are welcome to do so if they have peace with that. But if you end up living with resentment or self-hared because you actually wanted to be and do more in life, you only have yourself to blame for being a quitter.
I've found that reversing the narrative and the logic in the negative talk has been very helpful in changing the framing in my mind. Instead of letting it get to you when people put you down or doubt you, it can actually fuel you. Instead of being discouraged that one of your closest friends thinks you're lazy and undisciplined and could never have 10% body fat, you double your resolve to do exactly that to prove him wrong.
I take the negative talk from friends and family and people at church, and turn them into "cookies" to push myself harder. If I'm not feeling it halfway through a workout, I remember something a friend said to mock me, and I "eat that cookie" to get a second wind and keep pushing myself harder. I make it my personal mission to prove that person wrong.
Some will say that's not nice. Well, you can be nice all your life and end up a bum who wasted your life with nothing to show for it but depression, regret, and a deep self-loathing. Besides, it is inherently obvious that cookies are ultimately whimsical in nature, and there's no real animosity to it. It's just a way to draw more out of yourself, to hack your primitive mind and ride it to achieve your goals. You're playing a game with yourself in order to maximize your output and win the real game of life.
It's that kind of mental jiu-jitsu that separates people who actually succeed in life from the everyday talkers who never amount to anything. You're hacking the normal order of events — becoming discouraged from negative feedback — and twisting it into a positive to actually gain from the experience that puts most people down. It's like taking advantage of a shortcut in Mario Kart that everyone else is avoiding for some reason. That's their loss and your gain.
People are welcome to keep doubting me. I have a list, and I continue to add new people to it. I could always use more cookies.
The point of life is to keep persisting. You persist until you succeed. If you don't quit, and you keep getting after it, you will eventually make something out of yourself. And at some point along the way, everyone who doubted you will eat their words (and buy you ramen if you coaxed them into betting against you).