My son can find any reason not to sleep. I don’t mean things like “I’m not tired” or “There’s a monster under my bed” which I could understand and get behind. I mean batshit crazy reasons not to sleep. The following are examples of the reasons he has gotten out of bed over the last few weeks. These range from immediately getting out of bed to 3:34am wakeup calls.
I had to put on some new socks. I can’t find Elmo. My pillow isn’t cold enough. I can’t touch the ceiling.
No one could make these things up. No one. But what does that have to do with anything and in particular, business. Easy. It’s the yin and yang of tenacity vs. laziness.
We find every reason not to do what we absolutely KNOW we have to do. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the time or the energy or the money or the resources and we let things pass that should never be let pass. There are two sides to this coin. Let’s get the bad part out of the way first.
People are lazy. Like, at their CORE, people are lazy. This doesn’t mean that people ACT lazy. Not at all. Lazy is a core competency for most people. But that doesn’t mean that people act on this core competency. It simply means that there’s every reason for people to be lazy. A lot of people do just that. Tired is the one that kills me. Tired? Really? You’re tired? What did you do today? Ok. You got up at 7:45, worked 8 hours, sitting down at a desk and then got takeout on the way home. You watched several episodes of Daredevil on Netflix and surfed Twitter. Yeah. You’re right. That must be exhausting.
People are lazy. They use every excuse in the world to explain WHY they act lazy when the very simple and honest truth is just that they’re lazy. That’s fine. It’s ok. You can be lazy. Everyone’s lazy. I’m lazy. You’re lazy. It’s fine. The important part is to recognize that when you don’t do something it’s because you didn’t want to. Almost every time. If you didn’t sign up for that online course, it’s because you didn’t want to. If you didn’t go to that talk or conference, it’s because you didn’t want to. Much like my son is able to come up with every reason not to sleep, you’re able to come up with every reason to avoid doing things you don’t want to do. The key is to be honest about it.
When you don’t want to do something, simply say “I don’t want to do this” and then honestly consider the consequences. When you don’t sign up for that course and you’re stuck in that job that you don’t want and you don’t have the skills to pay the bills, just remember that you decided that it was more important to spend Sunday mornings and afternoons tweaking your fantasy football lineup. And that’s fine. But don’t blame it on anything else.
Now that all that nonsense is out of the way, let’s talk about tenacity. Truly successful people get what they want because they came up with reasons to succeed. Whether this involved convincing an investor to support you or persuading a potential partner to connect or encouraging a staff member to go above and beyond, successful people find every reason to succeed. And I say find purposely. They don’t stumble upon success and it doesn’t find them. Ok, maybe that pet rock guy might have just happened upon the idea. But in general, the people that get things done are not significantly different than people that don’t. At their core, they’re both relatively lazy. The difference is what they do, not what they think. There’s a great quote by Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson’s trainer that says “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” People are not as different as we might think. They all have the same feelings and the same fears. But what people do is what separates them from each other.
The real point to all this is that honesty, specifically to yourself, really is the best policy. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. But don’t say “can’t” when it’s really “don’t wanna”. Don’t say “can’t” when it’s really “I don’t feel like it”. And in the words of the Gallagher brothers, “don’t look back in anger.” When the decisions you’ve made are in the rear view mirror and you don’t like the view, recognize that you made a choice and use that knowledge to inform the next choice you make.