Founder and Principal Coach at Truth & Spears. Executive Leadership & Organizational Performance.
“I want to live a better life.”
We’ve all heard this phrase — most of us have said it ourselves. But what does it mean? More often than not, it means that we’d like to experience greater levels of fulfillment and self-actualization. We’d like to maximize our potential and achieve greater levels of individual excellence. So, how do we go about doing this?
While this may look and feel different for each of us, I’d like to share eight fundamental rules (and personal quotes) that, when upheld in your daily life, can lead to greater levels of personal excellence, regardless of where you are in your life’s story.
1. Name your victories.
“The path to victory begins with declaring its name.” We are linguistically programmed beings. The words we speak originate from and feed into our internal narrative, defining how we interpret the world. When we imagine our nameless goals, they exist only as concepts we can describe. However, when we name them, we speak them into existence, making them real, making them personal and making them ours as we infer our ownership of them and their outcome.
2. Live your values.
“Our true values are those our actions reveal, not those we claim.” Any of us can claim to hold spoken values. However, at the end of the day, the evidence of our true values is reflected by our consistent behaviors. Objectively observing the values that our behaviors reflect and aligning them with the values of the character model we respect will allow us to intentionally build ourselves in the light we choose.
3. Build strong alliances.
“Champions build alliances with other champions while slackers build dependencies with lesser slackers.” As a natural feature of human psychology, we constantly project ourselves onto others. In fact, both love and hate are extreme forms of projection by which we imprint self onto others, molding self through our interactions with others and vice versa.
When we project onto those we do not respect, we risk lowering our standards through a shared co-dependent reinforcement of less admirable behavior. When we engage with those we respect, we are likely to elevate our standards through a shared reciprocation of admirable behavior.
4. Lean into pain.
“Glory does not exist without pain.” Life itself is a painful experience — it’s designed to be. This is an inescapable truth. This is why the story of the hero is so meaningful: Every hero must confront pain, kill fear and overcome suffering in order to evolve and achieve the glory of conquering trials others dare not to pursue.
When we choose to hide from our pain, we numb ourselves to its meaning: to survive. But when we choose to confront our pain, we embrace the meaning of overcoming it: to thrive.
5. Ignore the hecklers.
“Those who have the power to anger us, have the power to play us as puppets.” When we are bold in what we believe (and what we stand for), we will encounter hecklers who condemn us as villains and lunatics. This is inevitable; however, the ridicule we receive from others often reflects more about them than it does about us.
When we address the slander of others, we validate it. When we seek to reason with the unreasonable, we become unreasonable. When we engage absurdity, we become absurd. However, when we ignore these fumes, we are freed from their control.
6. Practice forgiveness.
“We are all just children.” We will always encounter acts of wrongdoing from others. This is part of life and the lack of “fairness” it entails. When we hold on to anger from such wrongdoings, we carry the burden of resentment, only to risk adjusting our internal narrative to one of “vengeance against others” over a “triumph for self.” Not only does this distract us from focusing on matters that serve us well, but it also cannibalizes our energy.
When we are able to see others and ourselves as the children we are, we are able to forgive others and ourselves, freeing us from carrying unnecessary weight and allowing us to enhance our own potential more efficiently.
7. Face yourself.
“It’s not until we truly face our shadow that we truly see self.” We can only reconcile that which we can see. When we refrain from recognizing and confronting our inadequacies, we carry the self-imposed responsibility of perfection (consciously and subconsciously), even if not explicitly expressed. This is the way of the narcissist.
Not only is perfection impossible, but it creates an internal conflict between who we are and who we wish we were, preventing us from actually being either. However, when we can accept our faults, we can recognize their nature and reconcile them appropriately.
8. Eliminate justifications.
“Justification is the first page turned in a story of self-destruction.” Justification infers that an exception must be made to a rule. If the rules and boundaries we set for ourselves are absolute, even the savviest of justifications are not warranted. Succumbing to the temptation of justification only diminishes the value of our own rules, deviating us further from our respect for self. In short, justifications become excuses and only lead to further excuses.
There are many other rules (and disciplines) beyond these eight that we can apply to our daily life in order to experience greater levels of personal excellence. However, before pursuing them, I encourage you to reflect on your practice of these eight fundamental rules, trusting that their mastery will lead to living a better life.
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