I don’t give up, I’m a plodder… I stay the course – Kevin Costner.
The Importance of Sustainability
Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion and considered the greatest of all time, enters his 23rd season in the NFL. While most athletes go for developing dense and hard muscles through vigorous weight lifting, Tom uses pliability to develop muscle through lengthening and softening. This process keeps the muscles flexible, lean, and strong., In Tom’s view, pliability has been the main ingredient to keeping his playing career going long after the sun should have set on his playing career. The average career length for an NFL player is three to five years. He still shows no signs of slowing down! He surprised a journalist by saying he is in better shape at 40 than he was at 16! Pliability also carries a direct reference to being adaptable or adjustable. In a world that is moving and changing fast, pliability, not only of muscle but also of the mind, is of high importance. Rigidity is one of the biggest hindrances to lengthening our reach, which is key to sustainability in business and life. How do we become pliable and therefore sustain what we start?
“The first step—perhaps the most enormous step—is to find what you are genuinely interested in. If you are genuinely interested, you will discover endless opportunities for improvement. But if you are disinterested, even obvious improvements will feel like a chore. And, if you can maintain your genuine interest and curiosity as the years accumulate, you will become hard to compete with because you will have the skills to go with your passion. If you’re interested, you’re dangerous.”
These wise words from author James Clear mirror a letter Jeff Bezos penned to shareholders a few years ago. He introduced the “Day 1” philosophy. According to Bezos, Day 2 is what he is trying to fend off every day at Amazon. Day 2 is stagnancy, irrelevance, and eventually death. How does Amazon fend off Day 2? By being customer-obsession instead of competitor-driven. Customers keep businesses on their toes, pushing them to get better and innovate. It’s what keeps the best at the top. In life, we should carry the same Day 1 mentality. This mentality keeps us interested and sidesteps the quiet quitting landmine.
Don’t Quiet Quit
Quiet quitting is the new career buzzword. Whereas the great resignation involves walking away from a job, quiet quitting is giving the bare minimum required at work to collect a paycheck. Statistics show that over 50% of workers in America have quiet quit.
Quiet quitting is possible in life. We do the bare minimum to survive and not apply ourselves at the maximum level, thereby living life below our potential and capacity. This approach to life stagnates our progress and relegates us to a “less than” prescribed way of living. This creates a lifestyle that carries a hefty bill. Initially, it looks harmless, but it erodes our innate ability to be and do better when allowed to fester. Like an athlete, we plateau in productivity and progress when we quiet quit. The quiet quitting mindset erects a ceiling preventing us from further pursuing exposure to the “next mile” where most people don’t go. While we may think that the bare minimum approach requires less energy, consider days when you decide to do nothing or as little as possible only to end up tired. We indeed expend more energy when we work harder but the energy expended leads to replenishment by the fruits we produce. When excess calories are consumed and not burned, they convert into fat. If we live by the rule of the bare minimum, we will notice severe blockages in our quality of life.
On a deeper level, simply meeting expectations robs us of the chance to stretch ourselves and plant seeds for future opportunities. Present actions prepare us for future opportunities. While quiet quitting seems like the easy road, in the end, we waste each day instead of making it count towards greater success and significance in life.
Make Each Day Count
Pablo Casals, thought to be the greatest cellist who ever lived, played for a who-is-who audience. From Queen Victoria to President John F. Kennedy, Casals, who was born in Spain, became famous for excellence in an instrument that is not as common as the piano or guitar. As great as Casals was, he maintained a strict daily practice regimen. Well into his nineties, he was known to still practice for three to four hours per day. Why would someone who had achieved so much still commit to daily practice as though he was just starting out? In his own words, Casals answered the question of this commitment, “Because, I think I’m making progress.”
Our daily routines or habits play a major role in the quality of life we experience. Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” This second statement gives you a proactive instead of reactive posture in your day. Don’t drift through your today, all the while hoping that tomorrow will be better. Develop a plan on how you will capitalize and maximize today by setting your priorities in place while making room for opportunities when they come.
I start my day by praying, reading, and exercising. This daily morning ritual is the rudder of my day. I am convinced that a daily ritual will keep you centered or even-keeled throughout the myriad of unknown distractions, disappointments, or discouragements on any given day. My daily ritual also allows me to set the temperature for my day instead of letting what happens to me determine it. Basically, my daily ritual is my thermostat. On days when I don’t follow through on my daily ritual, I find myself more of a thermometer, reacting to the conditions of the day. On those days, I am left wondering, “Where did the day go?” Create a daily ritual that will set you up to make today count and develop consistency that sustains what you start.
Final Thought: Take a quick inventory of your life. What have you started doing lately? Is there value in it? Value is the first step to sustaining what we start. Then check your level of interest. Is it descending or ascending? What are you doing daily that positively contributes to what you’ve started? Without daily action, anything we start eventually dies off. Taking inventory combined with times of reflection will help you fire on all cylinders.
Keep on keeping on!