In Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden writes about the psychology of overcoming procrastination, taking action and developing the self-discipline it takes to become a person of character and a person of success.
“Self-discipline is a habit, a practice, a philosophy, and a way of living. Taking the stairs is a mind-set; but it’s not even about the stairs. You might not physically be able to take the silly stairs—but anyone can start making more disciplined choices.”
Take the Stairs is about self-discipline—the ability to take action regardless of your emotional state, financial state, or physical state. It isn’t about doing things the hardest way possible, but it is about doing the hardest things as soon as possible so that you can get whatever you want in life—as soon as possible.
“Take the Stairs is all about—making better decisions in order to improve your self-discipline and your life.”
Self-Discipline is the Key
In many key areas of life we are simply missing the mark. Central to all of these challenges is a lack of one value that is diminishing in modern culture: self-discipline. We live in a “get rich quick” society where we can “lose weight fast or cure our ailments by “asking our doctor about the next magic pill.” But there is a huge invisible cost to living in our shortcut society.
Self-discipline is a habit, a practice, a philosophy, and a way of living. Taking the stairs is a mind-set; but it’s not even about the stairs. You might not physically be able to take the silly stairs—but anyone can start making more disciplined choices.
We are conditioned to believe that it is moral to pursue immediate satisfaction and that difficulties can always be circumvented. We don’t want to make any sacrifices, and for many of us we have never had to. Instead, the vast majority of Western societies have adopted an “escalator mentality”—one that says getting what we want shouldn’t require much work, and that there are always shortcuts in business and in life.
The problem is that the escalator mind-set is crushing our confidence and paralyzing the very actions it takes to truly become successful.
Every one of us is searching for shortcuts. In most everything we do. We’re basically programmed that way because the idea of shortcuts is being sold to us through almost every major medium in the world. We see magazine ads that tell us “how to lose weight in 4 minutes a day,” and we buy books that promise us the chance to think and attract success to come to us without us having to do a darn thing.
There are game shows that test our own greed through our willingness to backstab other human beings for the chance to make millions or become a reality TV star. There are pills, books, magazines, speakers, contraptions, and jigamaroos sold to us to make our lives easier in all areas, because—let’s face it—it’s easy to be just one more guy out there who is looking for “the secret.” We’re looking for the easy way—the way where things will come to us so we don’t have to go out and work.
“Despite many well-crafted marketing messages, the formula for success is no secret. It has just been long forgotten in our world of excess, and it’s so obvious that it’s elusive. The only guaranteed formula to succeed in anything is the same as it has always been.”
It seems like many of us have fallen asleep to problems that are directly within our control. Often we don’t even pay attention to them because we’re too consumed with our iPod, our email, or our text messages. These distractions soothe us in the moment, but in the bigger picture they only compound the problem. As it turns out, distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of our goals.
Distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of our goals.
Until we acknowledge this damaging trend, we won’t stop looking for shortcuts. There are seldom any true shortcuts. Usually there are just deluding self-serving short-term facades. And many of us are buying into them.
Small Choices Yield Big Results
If we take an escalator, then there is literally no physical change in our bodies once we’re at the top because all we do is stand there while a machine does all the work. However, when we Take the Stairs, a number of things happen, if only to a minor extent. We burn calories, we use (tear) our muscles and our heart rate increases as we climb. So, there are physiological changes that take place when we Take the Stairs as opposed to taking the escalator. The same is true in your life!
Success comes down to choosing the hard right over the easy wrong. Consistently.
The Rent Axiom: Success is never owned; it is only rented—and the rent is due every day.
Surprisingly, success in life rarely comes from making big, grandiose decisions. Rather, success is the aggregate sum total of small, seemingly insignificant choices that when compounded over time create the trajectory of our lives. As it turns out, success really is as simple as choosing between taking the escalator and taking the stairs.
Seven Strategies for Self-Discipline
The seven principles for simplifying self-discipline to liberate your potential are:
1. Sacrifice: The Paradox Principle
The short-term easy leads to the long-term difficult, while the short-term difficult leads to the long-term easy.
It’s the person who makes the sacrifice that gets the gift—sometimes in ways we wouldn’t have expected.
Create a clear picture of what you want in the long run and you will find that your endurance for pain and strife, discipline and hard work will naturally increase to levels you never thought you had. A new world will open up for you—a world where you can have anything you want…as long as you commit.
A sacrifice isn’t really a sacrifice at all; it’s just a short-term down payment on a rich future blessing.
2. Commitment: The Buy-In Principle
The more we have invested in something, the less likely we are to let it fail.
Success isn’t a matter of circumstance; it’s a matter of choice. Finding new circumstances won’t make you successful, but making new choices will.
3. Focus: The Magnification Principle
Sunlight-focused enough creates enough energy to set a piece of paper on fire. Water focused enough, or streamlined enough, can cut through steel. The Magnification Principle of Focus simply states one of life’s most important truths, that Focus Is Power.
Types of Procrastination
- This is consciously delaying what we know we should be doing. You may or may not be willing to admit that you struggle with this problem, but most of us do in at least one area of our life.
- Creative avoidance is unconsciously filling the day with menial work to where we end up getting busy just being busy!
“In the absence of disciplined focus, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.”
Priority dilution is most commonly found in high-performing people—the ones who are the most busy, competent, and overwhelmed. They know what their goals are—but they nonetheless allow their attention to shift to less important tasks. They have so many emails, meetings, objectives, family matters, and other responsibilities on their plate that they can start to lose control of their effectiveness.
While someone with “creative avoidance” takes things that aren’t important and makes them urgent, a person struggling with priority dilution takes things that are urgent and inappropriately makes them important.
Ignore the noise. Conquer the critical. Manage the minutiae.
- To achieve the focus we so vitally need, we need to manage three essential aspects of ourselves: our thoughts, our words, and our behaviour.
4. Integrity: The Creation Principle
The Creation Principle of Integrity states that all of creation follows a simple and powerful pattern: You think it, you speak it, you act it, it happens. From the chair that you are sitting in, to the tallest building on the planet, to the company that you work for, to all of the media you digest, this simple pattern is replicated over and over.
Guidelines for preserving and harnessing the power of your word.
1. Think before you speak.
2. Choose your words carefully.
3. Do what you say you will.
4. Be where you promise you will.
5. Resist the urge to use emotionally charged, untamed language.
6. Assume the “mic is always on” and that everyone will hear everything you say.
7. Use empowering language when speaking about yourself and others.
5. Schedule: The Harvest Principle
The law of the harvest says: Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine. A big part of a Take the Stairs mind-set is staying “on schedule.” This means more than just being where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, when you’re supposed to be doing it. “On schedule” is a mind-set. It’s a condition of mental toughness.
Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine.
6. Faith: The Perspective Principle
When we lose faith in the future and we lose focus of where today fits into the greater timeline of the history of our lives, then we have no basis for perspective. The size of today’s challenges is measured only against the shortness of today.
Perspective Principle of Faith: Our ability to have peace is directly proportionate to the term of our perspective.
7. Action: The Pendulum Principle
“The challenges we face today are not a matter of skill, but a matter of will. Our problem isn’t time management; it is self-management. And we’re not losing to poor circumstances as much as we’re losing to a lack of self-discipline.”
If you want to know what a person believes in, just look at their calendar and their checkbook, because what they spend their time and their money on is what they believe in the most.
All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.