The Most Fundamental Skill For Success in Life
I’ve used this line about 10,000 times
I’ve used it in my writing, videos, and any content I put out regarding self-improvement.
Fully understanding and embracing this sentence is the most fundamental skill for success in life because it’s the catalyst to every single route to success.
You’ve tried to do this many times in your life. Sometimes you’re able to do it, but not enough times to reach your long-term goals. Often, you find yourself unable to do it consistently at all.
So what’s the big secret?
The most fundamental skill for success is the ability to bridge the gap between thought and action.
Easier said than done, right?
I’ve been there before. And even though I have accomplished many major goals in my life, I still bump into this problem as I try to level up and reach even higher goals.
You have that thought in your head and you’re really convinced, “I’m going to do this.”
You’re all fired up and for a fleeting moment, you feel amazing because your thoughts seem real to you.
But then you fail to bridge the gap.
Maybe a monkey wrench gets thrown into your day right before you’re going to start working. Maybe you do start working and come to find all the tasks involved were more difficult than you thought.
Most of the time, your mind gets in the way.
That same engine of imagination that fuels the creativity to come up with aspirational thoughts has the capability of painting negative pictures — in fact, it’s much better at that.
Every time you don’t bridge the gap between thought and action, you add a little tally to the ‘loss’ column and your inner critic says, “See? Told ya. I don’t know why you of all people thought you could do this.”
Stack up enough losses and you enter the resignation phase. You’ve failed to bridge the gap between thought and action so many times that you just give up.
How do you avoid this fate? What can possibly be done to do what so few people ever seem to accomplish?
The type of content I write gives you angles.
I always tell people that I can’t bridge the gap for them, but I can bring them right to the edge and give them as much insight and inspiration as possible.
Angle #1 — ‘Unhealthy’ Levels of Frustration
I’m not the self-care guru. I’m not going to tell you to feel good about your life no matter what.
When I was dead broke, a convicted felon, and hooked on drugs and alcohol, it was impossible for me to feel good about myself for no reason because I had every reason to feel bad about myself.
I had every reason to feel bad about myself because I screwed up my life. I got frustrated with myself for mismanaging my own life.
If you want to change your life and finally bridge that gap, try beating yourself up more, not less.
People get stuck because they live in limbo. They are frustrated with their lives, but not frustrated enough.
You can rationalize and distract yourself just enough to function and cover up that underlying frustration, and that’s what most people do. Me? When I wanted to change, I let my frustrations bubble up to the surface to the point I literally yelled at myself for being a loser.
You don’t have to do what I did, but I’ll tell you why I did it. I felt like I was pissing away my life. I’d always been acutely aware of the idea of ‘quiet desperation’ and I saw my life heading in that direction and it scared me.
Again, I don’t know if this is healthy, but it’s effective.
Have a conversation with yourself. I don’t know the real answers. You do.
Are you throwing away your life? Are you going to wake up one day and say ‘What the hell did I do?’ Will you go to the grave with regrets?
Use the answers to those questions as fuel. One day, you can get fed up enough to bridge the gap.
Angle #2 — Just Decide
On the flip side, you don’t have to get angry at all. You can just change.
I saw an excellent tweet the other day, it said:
The cool thing about life is you can wake up any day and start changing anything you’d like. — Mike Medici
You can erase years of limiting beliefs and thought patterns in a single moment if you decided to. Is this likely? No. But I want you to understand this fundamental concept.
Your past doesn’t dictate your future at all. You can just decide to become someone else. Your personality is malleable.
That’s our big problem. We build this identity, this sense of who we are, and we cling to it no matter what because our identity at least helps us make sense of the world even if it’s ultimately harmful.
But you can just…let it go.
We have these pattern recognizing brains so we have this deep need to always make everything fit. Deep down, you want everything to fit into your ‘I’m mediocre’ pattern.
Every time you try to pivot your memory pulls up everything from your ‘I’m mediocre’ filing system.
How do you break the cycle? Just proclaim that you’re breaking it.
This won’t work most of the time, but you only need it to work enough times to build a path to habits, discipline, and automatic motivation.
5 years ago I made that pivot after trying and failing dozens of times. Haven’t looked back since. This is possible for you, too.
Angle # 3 — Understand the Power of Reaching Traction
Erase the remaining 80 percent of a long-term goal from your mind and focus on the first 20 percent.
If you achieve the first 20 percent of the goal, you’re 80 percent of the way there already.
I’ve hammered this point home so many times because people have a hard time understanding it.
It took me five years to go from broke to making a full-time living doing what I love, but most of the obstacles happened in the first 6–12 months — all the ruthless levels of tedium you have to fight through as a beginner.
After that, you’re not coasting per se, but you’re working at a consistent pace learning the nuances of your skill. Then? Success becomes a literal matter of time.
So remember this when you’re trying to bridge that gap.
When you’re trying to set up that blog, remember that it won’t always be that frustrating and tedious forever.
When you’re going to the gym, remember that you won’t be so damn sore after every workout.
When you’re attempting any new path of any kind, remember that buckling down through the initial period will account for most of the journey.
Again, I know that me telling you this isn’t enough.
Even after reading this entire post, you’re still going to have a hard time bridging the gap between thought and action.
What I can promise you, though, is that it will get easier over time. Momentum is real.
You need just enough of it to create that snowball effect and all of a sudden you’ll look up, years later, wondering how the hell you did everything you did.
But you’ll have done it.
I hope to see you on the other side.