Back in March, we took a look at the damaging mistakes that we make when pursuing our goals, at that time in the context of fitness.
In a nutshell, these mistakes involve focusing on results instead of process, performance over mastery, and relying on willpower to avoid bad habits instead of focusing on creating new, more positive habits that naturally supplant the bad ones.
For example, it’s no surprise that the level of fitness I achieved a couple of years ago didn’t last. I was totally focused on the benefits of health (being thin and strong) instead of seeking a process that I loved regardless of outcomes.
These days, I’ve embraced my true love of hiking. I do it just to do it, not to burn calories, improve my cardiovascular fitness, or lose weight.
All those benefits are happening, of course. But it’s not why I hike. This is crucial.
These days, I eat well, get better sleep, and avoid other unhealthy habits so that I can get in a vigorous hike in the morning. The sport itself has become the driving force behind my change in habits, not because changing these things is what I “should” do.
I’ve noticed that I’m taking the same approach toward work. Instead of obsessing about the growth of our company, I’m committing to simply focusing on the work that can lead to growth. Whether the benefit comes or not, doing good work has merit on its own.
So it was nice to see a vivid affirmation of this mindset early on in Ego is the Enemy, the new book from my friend Ryan Holiday. In chapter two (appropriately titled To Be or To Do?), Ryan tells the story of John Boyd.
Despite an Air Force career of nearly 30 years, Boyd never made it above Colonel. No military bases are named for him. Mostly, he’s completely forgotten.
And yet he made critical contributions with his work for the Pentagon related to the F-15 and F-16 fighter jet programs. More importantly, he was an indispensable mentor to the ranks of young military officers who passed his way.
Boyd’s message to these men and women was also the way he lived his life. He taught that you can be somebody (largely in the eyes of others, and whether true or not), or you do something.
“If you decide you want to do something,” Boyd said, “you may not get promoted and you may not get good assignments and you will not be the favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. And your work will make a difference.”
The ego strives to be something (thin, accomplished, perceived as successful). This often leads to results that don’t last, and worse, hollowness instead of happiness.
The more meaningful approach is by doing something that matters, with a focus on process and mastery. Add in a healthy dose of humility, and you’re on the right path.
That’s what true success looks like. And it depends on no one else but you.
Ego is the Enemy is a brief read, and well worth your time.
Do you feel like you just can’t stop eating chocolate, potato chips or ice cream? If so, you’re not alone. Here’s a list of the most addictive foods, according to researchers.
Apparently, there are concerns that have been raised that sparkling water may be bad for your health, which is news to me. This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water.
Bodyweight workouts alone can be effective and challenging. But if you want to take your core workout to the next level, add a set of dumbbells. This routine is short (just 11 minutes to be exact) but delivers big benefits.
Fight the Power
There are ways to disagree successfully with a senior person without having your head handed to you. Here are some ideas.
Fire Your Boss
There’s a reason bullying bosses are such a potent cultural trope: Bosses who are domineering jerks are real, they’re everywhere, and they make a lot of people’s lives miserable.
While we hold up humility as an admirable trait, the problem is that we’re not sure it can get us to the goals above. We are petrified as the Reverend Dr. Sam Wells put it, that if we are humble, we will end up “subjugated, trodden on, embarrassed, and irrelevant.”
Enjoy the Silence
In recent years researchers have highlighted the peculiar power of silence to calm our bodies, turn up the volume on our inner thoughts, and attune our connection to the world. Their findings begin where we might expect: with noise.
This article covers a familiar topic here at Further. The premise: We are the stories we tell — and we are compelled to create stories to understand ourselves. You can call it narrative identity theory if you want to sound smart at cocktail parties.
The 10,000-hour rule of mastery is irresistibly appealing. It’s easy to remember, for one thing. Unfortunately, this rule — which is the only thing that many people today know about the effects of practice — is wrong in several ways.
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