“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
Most people know Thomas Edison.
He was one of the most prominent American inventors in the early 20th century. His most well-known inventions include:
- Motion picture camera
- Alkaline storage battery
- Carbon telephone transmitter
- and, of course, The light bulb
But what is less known about Edison was his incredible work ethic.
He was one of the most productive inventors of all time – he was able to claim 1,093 patents in his lifetime.
He achieved this feat by aiming for ONE minor invention every ten days and a major invention every six months.
Throughout his life, Edison also journaled like a madman, capturing his thoughts throughout his entire career. He wrote over 3,500 journal entries containing more than 5 MILLION PAGES OF NOTES!
He understood the power of journaling!
The point is – his “genius” didn’t spring up from a single moment of inspiration. He spent his entire life deliberately trying, testing, and failing. Otherwise known as “working.”
Sure, Edison had genius potential, but that alone doesn’t explain his enormous success. Some estimates believe he performed nearly 10,000 experiments alone just to invent and perfect the light bulb.
When was the last time you tried something over and over again 10,000 times?
Edison sums up his success in this quote,
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
I couldn’t agree more.
Thomas Edison was a failure machine. But he didn’t see them as “failures.”
“Failures” are only failures if you allow them to stop you. If you don’t – you can call any failure a “lesson” instead.
And it’s your attitude (your perspective) that changes failures into lessons.
We’re All Addicted to Excuses
The only thing standing between you and success (whatever success is for you) is excuses.
Most modern-day humans are excuse machines. Most of us make excuses all day long for just about everything we fail to accomplish.
And precisely what is an excuse when you stop to think about it? It’s a self-preservation mechanism to protect our fragile Egos.
Instead of battling through “the resistance” and getting stuff done – we’re terrified of failure. So, we conjure up elaborate excuses for nearly every failure – and even for the shortcomings of not even showing up or trying.
We make excuses on top of excuses, such as:
- why we’re late
- why we’re in debt
- why we’re tired
- why we didn’t meet the critical deadline
- why the house is a mess
- why the lawn didn’t get mowed
- why our pants no longer fit
- why we skipped a workout
- why we just HAD to have that sugary treat
- why we missed our kid’s soccer game
- why we never learned to play a musical instrument
It’s a never-ending cycle of mostly b.S. excuses – and personally – I’m sick of it.
Sure, we’re not perfect – we can’t be everything to all people and must make choices about what we focus on and accomplish. But own it – don’t hide behind excuses.
If something is important enough to you – you’ll do it. If it’s not, you won’t. But do yourself – and the rest of us a favor – and ditch the excuses.
I Can’t Stand It
My father hated the word “can’t.” Anytime he heard the phrase “I can’t” come out of my mouth, he would fly off the handle. I learned early on to avoid using that word at all costs.
He was way more upset by the word “can’t” than the word “shit.”
Now that I’m a father, I get it.
Hearing my child repeat “I can’t” is an instant no-go for me as well. I don’t fly off the handle like my father; instead, I stop to have a heart-to-heart chat. We discuss why “can’t” is not true, and we agree to always add the word “yet” to the end of it.
“I can’t…YET” – ok, that’s better. That’s a statement I can get behind and support.
I think society would be better off if we just removed the word “can’t” altogether. It might be the most dangerous word in the English language.
Why? Because it helps to create a society of entitled, lazy, couch-potato complainers, who work harder to avoid anything challenging instead of leaning into difficult work.
Most humans tend to avoid hardship at all costs, and we’d prefer distractions (such as TV or social media) rather than create something worthwhile or learn a new useful skill.
How Consumer Debt Is Related To “Can’t”
Instead of earning and saving – we get into extreme consumer debt and massive loans, not realizing these are traps for suckers. Consumer debt undermines your security, resilience, and happiness. It makes you fragile and stressed out.
I don’t know anyone who’s fulfilled, happy, AND up to their eyeballs in senseless consumer debt. Yet many of us hold large credit card balances each month – pissing away hard-earned dollars on interest payments.
Why? Because we just CAN’T wait.
See, there’s that word “can’t” again. Yes, you CAN wait.
And how do we “justify” not waiting? Because we “deserve it.”
Another word I detest is “deserve.”
Deserve – Another “Bad Word”
We don’t deserve shit.
And honestly, if you focus on having extreme gratitude in your life, you should consider EVERYTHING good in your life as a gift or a blessing.
Seeing “everything” as a blessing is a much more mentally resilient and enjoyable way to live.
Again, it’s all about attitude and perspective.
You don’t deserve that 2-week tropical vacation – at least not until you CAN afford it.
You don’t “deserve” that new luxury vehicle until you’ve EARNED it. Which means not until you can afford it without a loan. For example:
Back in 2006, I attended a small after-work gathering. Just a few co-workers enjoying some drinks and conversation. I started chatting with one of my co-worker’s girlfriends, and she was nice and seemed smart and thoughtful.
I asked what she did for a living, and she said she had just lost her job and was on the search for a new one. But she was finding it difficult to land a new job and was bummed out about it.
Then she says, “but that’s ok, I just bought a brand-new Honda Accord yesterday!!”
I was FLOORED.
That statement didn’t compute with me. She must have wealthy parents or something…
So, I cautiously asked, “Cool – How much did that cost you?”
She replied – “A little over 23,000 dollars. Yeah, it’s a lot, but I deserve it, and they approved me for a 60-month loan. Plus, it will make me feel more confident in my next job interview.”
She said all of this in a happy, sing-song voice, while I was trying to hide the fact that I was having mild heart palpitations.
What was making her temporarily happy – was making me want to throw up!
She had no clue about the poor financial impulse decision she’d just made. If she kept making such unwise financial decisions – I knew she’d end up having to work a job she probably hated until she was at least 70.
Talk about being the opposite of living a resilient life!
If you use debt to buy things you can’t afford, to alleviate mild emotional pain – well…you’re in for a lifetime of bad decisions and poor choices and the modern-day cycle of work slavery.
She was using the word “deserve” to justify a completely irrational, irresponsible, senseless choice.
You “deserve” when you’ve earned it and can afford it – not a moment sooner – period!
Attitude Is Everything
All the best philosophies in life – such as gratitude, delayed gratification, dedication, work ethic, patience, faithfulness, etc. start and end with your attitude.
With the right attitude, anything is possible.
With the right attitude, success and happiness are not only guaranteed, but yours to enjoy along the way.
A bad attitude sees a mistake and calls it a failure. A good attitude sees a mistake as a valuable lesson.
A bad attitude experiences pain and finds superficial ways to “fix” it or bury it (usually by buying stuff you don’t need and can’t afford). A good attitude experiences pain and knows it’s temporary and knows to focus on gratitude and expectations to snap out of it.
Your future self is dependent on having the right (or wrong) set of attitudes.
If you’re unhappy or overwhelmed or tend to feel sorry for yourself – I suggest you focus on your attitudes first, and your feelings and outcomes will follow.
But changing your attitude is not something you can pick up on your way home from work. You can’t add it to a shopping cart and mark it off your list.
You must work on it every day – little by little and over time, and you’ll begin to see the world differently.
For example – focusing on things such as daily gratitude and resilience, challenges, and joining a community of positive, inspirational, motivated people are a few ways to begin the shift.
Take time every day to focus on:
- Appreciating the blessings in your life
- Overcoming obstacles
- Learning new skills
- Surrounding yourself with other positive people
If you do these 4 things every single day – you’re going to improve. You’re going to change.
And these four things are the focus of something we like to call The Resilient Life.
It’s a system and community to help you change your attitude, get off your butt, and discover how to find happiness and purpose in your life. To change the way you think, act, and see the world.
Oh, and while you’re at it, you’ll make yourself and your family more prepared and resilient against the crazy, messed up, uncertain world we live in…
“Just In Case” Jack