8 paths to domination and 1 big way to fail

Here's a harsh reality:  We're just not tough enough...

On my wall framed hangs the famous inspiration quotation from Vince Lombardi about football and winning and what it takes to be number one.  It's been on the wall of my office for the past decade.  It's my own mezuzah to excellence and always pushing the limits of what I think is possible.

Last week as I was working - somewhat puzzled over some frustrating issues - my eye flickered over the glass encased picture.  At the top of the picture underneath the title, in font that was bigger than the rest of the speech by Limbardi, the following words jumped out at me:

You've got to pay the price...

Simple words.  A big challenge.

All of a sudden it hit me.  I needed to toughen up a little.  I needed a little more mental discipline.  I was letting my fears destroy my vision.  It reminded me a of story I had been told about a soldier in World War II.


A team of soldiers were fighting inch by inch for a painfully embattled strip of island.  Day after day they fought -- losing men and gaining little headway.  Each day their supplies ran lower  and several of the men started getting sick.  The classic symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting would be bad enough if enemy snipers and cleverly booby-trapped minefields weren't even more dangerous.

Each night, a few brave soldiers would swim back to the battleship anchored two miles off shore to get more supplies and ammunition.  Many never made it back.

In the middle of this sad, miserable jungle, George fought side by side with his band of brothers.  While others became feverishly sick with dysentery, he raised morale with his wit and charisma.  Things seemed to be getting better.  The enemy was being pushed back and the team was alive.  And then things got tough for George.

He became ill.  Very ill.  George got so sick that he could barely move.  As the rockets and mortars crashing overhead as he lay in his foxhole, it seemed like a matter of time until one landed too close.  And then it happened.

George said that you could always tell by the sound of a mortar overhead how close away the round might be.  Your senses perked up when the difference between death and inches is just a few seconds and quick movement.  And in a weakened state, lying pathetically at the edge of a foxhole, George and his partner had little time to move.  The round crashed into the back of the foxhole where George's partner sat huddled.  The shrapnel completely obliterated George's partner and gouged deep flesh out of George's back and buttocks and legs.

Blood soon mixed with diarrhea and infection set in.  George had to get back to the boat or die.  There was no other option.  No one was able to carry him back.  To live, he had to go it alone.

And so when darkness fell, he crawled from his foxhole to the beach and into the saltwater -- salt ripping deep into open and raw wounds.  And the unbelievable happened.

George swam the 2 miles back to the boat and lived.  In spite of the odds, in spite of his weakened state, George made it.

And I'm glad he did.  George Waldschmidt was my grandfather.

What kept George alive is the same thing that will help you dominate -- mental toughness.

There wasn't a cheering section waving flags and rooting my grandpa on the last 200 yards.  There wasn't a friend putting SuperPoke "You can do it" messages on his Facebook page.  And forget about any Tweets with the words "crush it", "good job" or "best of luck".

It was icy water, diarrhea and deep wounds, infectious fever, and a ravenous determination to live.

Mental toughness is a process of muscle growth like physical exercise.  There is NO magic potion.  You have to intensely focus on a few key repeatable exercises.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Avoid the need to blame others for anything. -- Mean, small-minded people know that they suck.  That's why they are so cranky and eager to point out your mistakes.  They hope that by causing you to feel inadequate, everyone will forget about how woefully off-the-mark their own performance is.  Stop the habit of blaming anyone for any reason ever.  It's a bad habit.
  2. Stop working on things that just don't matter. -- Not everything needs to be done in place of sleep.  If you work for a boss, then you owe them solid time.  You can't cut that out.  You can however cut out the television time, board meetings, and anything else that gets in the way of you staying focused on your destiny.  Replace entertainment with activity toward your goal.
  3. Find the positive side of any circumstance.  It's there. -- Find a negative person and you've found a mentally weak person.  It takes no mental courage to say that something "won't work."  Frankly, that's the easy route.  What does take mental effort (lots of it sometimes...) is to believe in something when you are the only one in your cheering section.  Make it a personal challenge to find the best in every situation.  And tell someone when you find it.
  4. Refuse to let yourself wallow in self-doubt.  You're alive to succeed. -- Stop comparing your problems to your last 18 failures.  They are not the same.  You are not the same.  Here's something to remember: Your entire life has been a training ground for you capturing your destiny right now.  Why would you doubt that?  Go conquer.  Stop whining.
  5. Ask yourself "what can I do better next time?" and then do it next time. -- Guess what?  Spend a decade or two earnestly trying to "be better", and that's exactly what will happen.  The next best thing to doing something amazing is not doing something that's stupid.  So learn from your mistakes and use the lessons to dominate.
  6. Actively take time to do things that fuel your passion. (e.g. exercise...) -- Living in the moment requires you to live at peak performance.  A huge part of mental fitness is physical fitness.  So go fight someone. Or go running.  Mental motivation gets accelerated by physical activity.
  7. Say thank-you for something that you have taken for granted in the past. -- The exercise of gratitude is a powerful ignitor of creativity.  Selfishness limits our ability to work at peak performance.  When you think only of yourself, you miss out on the real key to world domination -- help other people.
  8. Apologize to yourself and those around you for having a bad attitude. -- Do this once or twice and you'll snap out of your funk pretty fast.  When you start having to genuinely apologize for being a bad influence on those around you, you learn to stop whining and start winning.

The quickest way to fail is to let your fears and doubts get in the way of your passion.  It's what happens naturally.  If you want to dominate, control your thought, young Jedi.  You'll find yourself conquering more.