Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dear Readers, Take Risks

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

The Lessons I Learned From Training Accomplished People

One of the fortunate things about doing what I do is I've been able to surround myself with the clients I've always wanted to work with. Based on the content of my site and my message, only certain personality types seek me out in the first place. I call it a think tank, where so many smart and wonderful people have come through, and just as much as they may have learned from me, I picked each and every one of their brains for as long as they were willing to humor me.

And it's from them I've learned one valuable lesson over and over again: you have to take chances. Not just once, but continuously. It's the thing they kept repeating.

I've seen things go from idea to something very tangible. Whether it was a business, a startup, an app, a song, a TV show, a movie, graduate degrees, a book, to even selling a screenplay. I've been fortunate to see great ideas become great careers. Thoughts to deeds. Hobbyist to professional. Good to great.

Quality is a factor, but fortitude and an ability to take risks are what makes them unique. There are lots of good looking people, talented writers and actors, business ideas, smart people, but the ones with fortitude and resilience are rare. These people get more driven when they fail at a task, not disheartened. They push hard.

It wasn't always the best ideas that made it. It wasn't even the best people who made it, nor the ones from the most affluent backgrounds. It became obvious, the ones who were living the life they wanted to live were the ones willing to take the risk and everything that came along with it.

If you can't handle defeat, how will you handle success?

I have this client who started his business later in life, after getting married and having kids. And as soon as he started, he lost all of his money. Swindled. He was ready to give up. His wife told him, if you can't handle losing a few thousands dollars, how will you handle making millions of dollars? And he went out there and pushed, and now in his 50's, he's a millionaire several times over. Did it happen overnight? No, it was a process. Was he the most exceptional client I've had? No. He was exceptional in that he didn't know to give up.

In martial arts, that's the hardest person to defeat, the guy who won't give up. The guy who doesn't know he's outmatched, and he wins the majority of the time. Martial arts is 20% technique, 80% teaching fortitude. It's like the guy who beat up the bully because he didn't know he was supposed to be scared. My favorite saying is about how the size of the dog doesn't reflect the size of the fight in the dog.

A business client once told me, the difference between an analyst and a CEO is this: analysts are the smart guys who sit all day analyzing risk, CEOs are the guys who take risks.

I've had clients who've made me promise never to tell a soul the details of their ideas. Some ideas really were that good. And years pass, their idea is still an idea. Their dream is still just something they think about as a passing, "what if." "I have this great idea for a..."

The cliche isn't about you having this idea. The cliche is you not doing anything about it. This idea deserves someone who's willing to fight for it. If you won't do anything about it, give the idea away to someone who will.

It doesn't bother me because of lost opportunity for them. It bothers me because it still bothers them. That it's always just a whimsical thought, nothing actualized. That they always compare themselves to the person they think they ought to be. If they grow out of it, great. You're good where you are. But this certain personality never grows out of it, they want advice, help, a shoulder to cry on, but that doesn't mean they'll necessarily do something about it.

It's not that they attempted and failed. Usually they convince themselves it's not worth pursuing.

And if they did try, they gave up early. Staying power and endurance was lacking.

In Ivy League schools, there's a saying:

It's hard to get an A, and harder to keep an A.

Chasing happiness isn't a goal, it's a process and it doesn't end. Nor should it. Happiness shouldn't end.

It's not the financial risk, a lot of these things could be done while maintaining the same job.

TS Eliot, Phillip Glass, Toni Morrison, Bram Stoker, and Kurt Vonnegut all kept their day jobs. It can and has been done throughout history.

Yes there's time commitment involved, but is it really the lack of time that's stopping you? If you find meaning in what you do, you want to spend more time doing it. So it requiring time from you is not the same as something you hate requiring time from you.

Fail in something you actually care about

Usually it's fear. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of being cliche. Fear of ruining your reputation. Fear of what people may say. Fear of failure. And somehow you think you can't get over failure. Have you ever played a video game and died? You ever fall off a bike? Fell snowboarding? Missed a shot? Made a typo? Been rejected? You've failed and you've survived.

And many of the the times were in things you didn't even care about. Why not at least fail in something you do care about?

I've seen writers take an idea and sell it. Were they the best writer that stepped through my doors? No. I've seen fantastic storytellers who could not get themselves to finish one story. Fantastic designers with all the schooling who couldn't get the nerve to start their own thing. And I've seen designers with no formal education not know any better, and start their own successful brand. I've seen that twice. I've heard, "I'll finish my (fill in the blank) some day..." more than I can count. "Some days" only exists when time is unlimited. Part of being good is being able to accomplish things, not just your skill-set and talent.

I get it. You're all misunderstood souls, beautiful artists, and no one gets what you're going through... And that kind of thinking gets in the way of getting shit done.

Something no one has ever said, "despite being mentally weak, this person has accomplished a lot." Mental strength and accomplishments are not correlated, they're directly related. I've never seen someone who's mentally weak in the gym, be a performer outside of the gym. I'm sorry but that's the truth. I'm not talking athleticism, I'm talking about the ability to deal with doubt and possible failure.

A martial arts proverb I truly believe:

Your nature is your nature. How you are in one instance is how you are in all instances.

And mental strength is like a muscle, you can make it stronger or you can make it weaker. People who have meltdowns at my studio tend to have meltdowns period. Our behavior has patterns.

I've seen a person with no tech background start a software company. I've seen two people sell their first company for millions. It wasn't about quitting their job and pursuing their passion. I've seen people slowly ease out of one job while transitioning and flourishing in their meaningful career. Their situation was just as difficult as anyone else's.

Sometimes sensitivity gets in the way of productivity

Maybe it's something about yourself you dream of changing. Being that person you think you should be. Maybe some day right? Sometimes people ask me what's stopping them from making that change and when I answer them, they don't like my answer. Then why did you ask me? You know you won't like any answer that anyone will give you unless it's telling you how much of a beautiful butterfly you are. Don't pass the buck to me and make me the bearer of your misery. Yes it's me or your mom or your dad or your spouse or your kids or your boss or whoever that's really stopping you...

In martial arts, you often hear, if that's bothering you, fix it. This Eastern idea sounds too simple and almost harsh to Western ears. You're used to something more Western philosophical, more existential, psychological, something that makes the problem seem like you're not responsible for it. And somehow when it's not your fault, you'll do something about it. Somehow when it's out of your control, you'll then through catharsis be able to take control over it...

You can think about thinking about it, or you can go do it. One's actionable and observable and the other is not. We outline outlines. We plan plans. We need to recover after a vacation. We try to get in shape before signing up for a fitness class. We detox before starting a new diet lifestyle. "This symbolizes the new bla bla bla of the new bla bla bla." Come on. How symbolic do you need to be?

In whatever I do, I ask myself "how did that work out for me?" If the answer is, it worked well, I keep doing it and improve it. If the answer is, it didn't work out that well, then I'll change it.

A part of me wants to take some of my clients and shake them by the shoulders, tell them to wake the hell up, that you have one shot at this life, and when it's all said and done, you only have one chance at being the person you could have been. Maybe the popularity of re-incarnation is really about the convenient idea of getting more than one crack at this happiness thing.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

Everyone is so nice and validating and they don't want to hurt your feelings, make you upset, walk on eggshells around you, and be so understanding. And if that actually worked, why are you so unhappy? People don't want to say anything to you because they know it's a sore subject...

Well I'm saying something.

If you can let it go, let it go. If you can't, then stop thinking about the what ifs and create deeds. "But you don't understand Sam..." Where you came from, your story is not actionable. It's already done. We can only write the future at this point. I don't care where you came from, in a way neither should you. Where are you now? Where are you going? In a boxing match, the last round is over, what are you going to do this round? The judges don't score thoughts, they only score what you do.

You can care about the past or you can believe in your future.

Sensitivity is a luxury for people with lots of time

I care because I know that look. I've had so many family members and family friends pass away and I've seen plenty of regret in the end from both sides, the sick and the living. Time is finite. It's so common to talk about second chances. Second chances are important but the first chance is more important. You don't get an unlimited amount of turns. You don't get to live forever and put things off until conditions are perfect. Nor will others always be around to finally watch you do the things you've always been talking about. Maybe those others only knew you when you were being unhappy. How long were they supposed to wait around?

You can't time everything, sometimes you have to make it the right time. Adjust on the fly and figure it out as you go. You're talented, you'll figure it out. That's the fun part. If you know everything that'll happen, where's the fun? And if it's not fun, you know you won't do it.

Productivity and efficiency isn't about being less human and more robotic. It's a chase towards being more human. We all can agree time is our most valuable asset. Then shouldn't we chase productivity and efficiency so we can have more time to spend it with the ones we love? So we don't act rushed, impatient, frustrated, when we do spend time with them? To me, not doing, living in your head, wasting time is a selfish act. Having time for others and the things that matter is the most generous act of all.

When I see someone go after it, I think why not this other person?

So why not you? I need more education. Take that chance. I need more experience. Take that chance. I need more money. Take that chance. I'm too old. Take that chance. I would but... Take that chance. I've already taken all my chances, I'm done. Then be happy. If not, you're not done.

If you're ambitious, it's your job to take risks. That's what you signed up for. It's easy to guarantee a mediocre life: do the things you find no meaning in.

This is my open letter to clients. Just fucking go for it. The world will not end. And see how great you are.

Source: Must Triumph

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletterYou can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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