Hard is the Point
How to find meaning whenever everything is going wrong.
Life is hard and messy and full of things disappoint and failures.
To believe that the Universe would allow for anything else is willful ignorance.
Jordan B. Peterson, in his book, “12 Rules for Life,” taught me this.
I wish it didn’t take me 41 years to learn it.
The irony is that learning the lesson is easy.
Putting the lesson into practice is the hard part.
Why do you think people show up at the same conferences every year to hear the same speakers or have a library of half-finished books or buy endless online courses they’ve never logged into?
We all want to improve, but so few of us have the balls to do the work.
Fewer still, the grit and perseverance to see that work through to its mastery.
It’s in this pursuit of mastery that we find meaning.
Woody Allen is famous for saying, “80 percent of success in life is showing up.”
It’s certainly some percentage of success.
But that’s let’s say for argument, it’s 80 percent. What about the last 20 percent?
The last 20 percent is the hard work.
The last 20 percent is learning from those who’ve come before you.
The last 20 percent is building habits and routine for focused attention and concentrated effort.
The last 20 percent is having the humility to ask for help.
The last 20 percent is showing up again after you realize you aren’t as good as you need to be.
See, showing up might be 80 percent of success, but it’s also the easy part.
We show up and somehow feel entitled to the same benefits, the same respect, and the same success as those who’re willing to finish that last 20 percent.
Life doesn’t work that way.
When asked how many sit-ups he does to prepare for a fight, Muhammed Ali replied, “I don’t start counting till it hurts.”
When do you start counting?
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How to Find Meaning
This last year forced me to take a long, hard look at who I am, my value to the world and what brings me meaning (inside and outside of business).
Not happiness, but meaning.
Meaning gets you out of bed. Meaning puts a smile on your face and love in your heart. Meaning is fuel for perseverance. Meaning provides purpose and purpose is power.
Happiness is a shallow goal.
You can smoke crack and be happy.
Find meaning and you’ll never want for happiness again.
Here’s a process that has worked for me.
Maybe it will work for you…
1) Do the work.
Woody Allen is right, you have to show up every day and do the work.
Even when it feels awful.
Even when you’re angry and vengeful and heartbroken.
Even when the work has lost meaning.
The only way out is through.
Do the damn work.
2) Follow the pain.
Ryan Holiday is right, the obstacle is the way.
If something hurts or is hard, let it become your target.
Pain is a clear indicator you’ve chosen a path worth pursuing.
This doesn’t mean it’s right path or the only path, but it’s certainly NOT a path that everyone else is on which makes it worthwhile.
Follow your pain.
Find your target.
3) Choose yourself.
James Altucher is right, you must choose yourself.
This doesn’t mean be selfish, it means choose yourself for success because no one else will. This is often the hardest part.
It would be so much easier if we were picked instead.
No one gets picked.
You choose yourself. You deem yourself worthy. You own your destiny (good, bad and ugly).
Everything falls apart if you do not choose yourself.
4) Be humble.
Crash Davis (fictional character from the movie Bull Durham) is right, “You don’t know shit, Rook!”
Surround yourself with mentors (real people and books).
Ask for help.
This doesn’t mean ask people to do shit for you. That is the easy path. You don’t learn anything on that path and there is certainly no pain.
Ask for guidance.
Then soak up everything you can, with humility and honesty.
5) Give a shit.
Seth Godin is right, (paraphrasing) you have to give a shit.
About your people.
About your customers.
Invest in yourself in every aspect of the thing.
Be a nerd.
Care, not about your own success, but the success of those you serve.
If you don’t give a shit about the thing, it will never hold meaning.
It’s cool to care.
This list is as much for me as it is for you.
Which is pretty much the case for everything I create. I still struggle with number three. I still don’t choose myself on a regular basis. I also don’t ask for help enough.
But then this is me following my pain.
I wouldn’t suggest you do it if I wasn’t fighting the same battle.
Yours in insurance,
p.s. this is a good podcast episode that expands on this concept:
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