I’m sitting in one of those leather cigar chairs with the dimples in the back-rest, writing, working, brimming with the guilt that comes with time away from my mission. I spent the last two days in the Canadian Rocky Mountains on what was one of the best golf trips I’ve had the pleasure to go on. It will become an annual trip.
The golf was incredible. The courses, immaculate. The scenery leaves you speechless as peak after peak creep over the pines and firs and spruces that guard each fairway. It was a sight to behold. It’s experiences like this that I like to spend my money on. Rather than things, I choose travel or sport or business and anything else that aids in the development, evolution, and improvement of the Self. Yet, although this trip was well worth every cent, there’s still a feeling of guilt as I sit back down at the computer to work.
I’ve been away from what makes me a better man without fully grasping that experiences like those in the past couple of days should be held in that same regard. And so I work at a frantic pace, trying to catch up with time, make up for the previous 48 hours, and keep this train a rollin’.
I want to be better, better at being a man, a better man, and simply better than I was yesterday. Better than I thought I could be. This, however, you simply can’t “be”. You have to train to improve. You have to hustle to evolve.
Sitting back in the smoking chair where the work has been done during the past few weeks I’m hit with that question, Is what I’m doing right now making me better?
And so I start writing an article, not just for readers of the site but as a journal entry to clarify that how I spend my time, my energy, how I plan my day, my minutes, is in the name of reaching the potential that exists somewhere within each of us. This article will read like a life-planner, a day-planner, a map you can use to focus on what’s important and what’s best in the grand scheme of things.
Let’s make moves.
7 Ways to Become Better
1. Create an archetype.
Your archetype is you. He has your strengths and weaknesses, your vulnerabilities. But the strengths are compounded and the weaknesses diminished. He’s you but ten times more disciplined, and as a result of this enhanced focus, he’s better. He’s in better shape, he gets more done, he’s accomplished more and he takes greater risk.
He’s the guy you wish you could be. That guy is who you should be. He is you with all of your potential realized.
Take out a pen and a pad and start writing.
Let’s start with the physical as its easily measured. Identify your weight, body fat percentage, strength, athleticism (vertical leap). Then go to the more abstract aspects of who he is (who you are).
When he gets up in the morning he hits the ground running with an hour of silence time. His focus doesn’t waver. He does what makes him better. In planning he’s able to take the risks necessary to live a great life, and he does it without a whole lot of contemplation, he simply goes with his gut.
Socially he’s fun. He jokes around. He’s confident in every circumstance. He’s the lion in the room, but not in an overtly dominant sense, but simply a sense that he controls the room either through conversation or contemplative silence (who you are will determine this). He’s an adventurer in the truest sense, always moving toward his fears, never running from them.
His risks don’t always bare fruit. He’s lost. He’s been relegated to the depths, but his faith is too strong to break. He’s unbreakable, unrelenting, unwavering in his values and in who he is. He’s imperfect, but he knows where he’s going and he’s getting there. He’s the guy that others want by their side in a fight, both literally and metaphorically. He’s the guy people depend on and he’s glad to bare this burden.
He’s a warrior. Strong, athletic, proud, and confident. He’s self-aware, he knows his weaknesses and he’s making them his strengths. He does what others aren’t willing to do and he does what he must to be at his best.
2. Identify your values.
If you don’t know your values you can’t possibly determine your archetype and identify who you want to be in 10 years. Without values a man has no spine, nothing to lean on when the shit hits the fan.
What are your values?
I value discipline and courage. Both go hand-in-hand. Discipline is incredibly important to me. Without it nothing of value can be accomplished and that includes potential. Without discipline you can’t become better. Without courage you can’t be your best. Without the courage to risk it all there’s a ceiling to who you can be and what you can accomplish.
I value honor. No road to success is of value if it’s not accomplished with honor. It’s better to fail with honor than it is to make a billion dollars without it. Every one of your values will be enacted with honor or not enacted at all.
I value persistence and faith. Without these values a man is weak, he can be defeated. With them there’s no one that can beat him, no task too great, no mission too audacious.
Figure out your values and live by them unflinchingly.
Here’s a great quote from Lincoln. You need faith in who you are and where you’re going. You need a firm course set, with strides taken daily in that purposeful direction…
And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts. ~ Abraham Lincoln
3. Find measurable characteristics and goals.
Discipline is measurable as is every physical goal we’ve laid out. Find others that you can measure, tasks and goals that will make you better.
Track your time spent on the stuff you should be focusing on vs time spent on waste and distraction. Track this time daily and have a weekly report. The point of the report isn’t to make you feel like crap but to give you something to measure against and improve upon.
That’s tracking your discipline. Track your risk as well.
Whenever you’re faced with a decision, write out the biggest, grandest play, as well as the safest play, see which you choose most often. Keep a journal and log every time you’re faced with a fear. Have a point for a fear faced with action and a negative point for a fear flee’d. It brings your battle between weakness and courage to a measurable medium, something you can build upon and face more consciously.
4. Create a timeline, a plan.
Now it’s time to put this archetype, this better you, into plan form and all plans are determined by action. What audacious actions will this guy take – in other words, what are your most daring goals and when will you accomplish them by?
Bring it into a 5 year plan, then break it down from there. Do something like this:
- 5 year audacious goal
- 1 year increment (1/5 of your 5 year goal, this isn’t what you will do to make the 5 year goal real, but a measurement of it)
- a. Quarterly measurement of the 1 year increment.
- b. Quarterly task that must be accomplished to reach the one year measurement (a mini, goal).
- Things that must be accomplished by the end of the month.
- A weekly list of things that have to be accomplished in the name of your greater goal.
- Most important: what you do on a daily basis to be at your best and accomplish what you want to accomplish. This is your routine, and it’s the most important thing in your life.
5. Map out a schedule.
About that you routine. Structure your day in blocks. You can fill them out with the necessary focuses later, keep in mind that you want to give your best time to the most important tasks, those things that will yield the greatest return.
Take mine as an example…
5am-530am – quiet time, reading time
530am-10am – writing time
10am-12pm – lifting, training, eating
12pm-430pm – writing part two
430pm-6pm – active break plus eating
6pm-9pm – implementation, emails, plan for the next day
6. Budget your money.
Money is important, don’t think that it is. For one, it’s a measurement of how well you do your job (one of many measuring sticks). Second, it can be freedom if you choose to use it wisely instead of making it your god. Third, you can help a lot of people if you have a lot of money – best example is Bill Gates’ charity, it’s doing more than any other charity and it’s largely funded by a single human.
Use your money to help you become better, don’t allow it to be a point of worry, fear, or envy.
First focus: Self-improvement and business.
Spend money on books and business and anything else that falls into this category first. Determine how much you want to allot. Spend on this first. The better you are, the better off the rest of us are. This includes travel, for me. A part of my self-improvement is contingent on going to new places that ignite a curiosity and fear that I have to face. Don’t rationalize this point, but understand what makes you better and include it in this. For me, business and books come first.
Tithe: Give money back.
Budget a certain amount of money each month to aiding others, be it through a good charity or some other organization. 10% is always a good mark to aim for.
Everything else: Budget your goodies.
Spend as little as possible on things, even booze and cigars, nights out, movies, eating out. Determine how little you can spend to still have a good time, then stick to that budget.
Within this is food and health. Determine how much you need to be at your best from a health standpoint as well. I spend relatively freely in this area of my life but limit the goodies, the things, and the stuff that acts like a momentary boost, always losing its luster with time.
The goal: Make more money because it’s a measurement for success, but don’t aim purely for money, aim to be better at what you do and the money will come, and when it comes, don’t allow it to make you unhappy like it does for most as they begin to tie their worth to the dollar bills and the things they buy with the dollar bills. There’s no value in money. There’s value in who you are. Money can be used for good or corruption or fear or however you choose to use it. It is, however, always your choice, so don’t ever think that money has control over you. Use it to further aid you in this quest to reach your potential.
7. Ask yourself, does this make me better?
Go over everything in your life, how you spend your time, how spend your money, who you hang out with, and determine if it makes you better or worse.
You are the 5 people you hang out with most, so choose them wisely. You are what you eat, so eat healthily. What you want is what you give your time to, so make sure you’re giving your time to those things that make you better. What you give your time to is a reflection of your priorities.
Is your priority to watch TV or read? Is your priority to be healthier or fatter? Is your priority self-improvement or ease (they don’t go hand in hand)?
Being better is something we should all aim to be. Our potential is what we’re put here to accomplish. Our capacity is what we need to find. Our capacity to work, our capacity to give, to live, to experience the thrills that this life has to offer.
The recipe is simple: Do more things that make you a better person, that make you a better man, that make you better at being a man, and that bring you closer to that archetype, that legend that you want to become down the road. No go forward, create your plan, and hustle!