After last week’s email, my dad sent me this note . . .
“I’m impressed with your orientation to setting and accomplishing goals . I don’t find that my personality meshes real well with that, so my hat is off to people who take that approach. When you’re in business for yourself, it’s a really good trait to have.”
My response to him was . . .
“I’ve actually never been a big goal setting person either — in the traditional sense. I relate better to putting together a system for achieving results. [In fact, I wrote about this earlier in the year] But at the end of the day, you constantly have to improve and oftentimes scrap & recreate your systems, if you want to take things to a next level. Then of course, with growth, you have to be able to communicate those concepts to others, which makes things twice as important and challenging. It’s a daily struggle.”
It’s a thought that ties into a book I’m reading right now called Principles by Ray Dalio. Like most of the books I tackle, it’s dense and packed with wisdom.
For those who haven’t heard of him, Dalio is the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates. A firm that he started in 1975 in his two-bedroom apartment and today employs 1,500 people, managing $160 billion in assets.
In the first section of the book Dalio talks, at length, about the importance of systematizing your decision making, on the back of strong values and core principles. A process he calls “a great evolution.” Through trial an error. Through making mistakes. Dissecting the outcome. Coming up with new principles and pushing ahead. [That evolution is diagrammed above.]
It’s the evolution and not the outcome or the reward that matters most. Success comes from learning to maximize the evolution process.
He writes, “In my early years, I looked up to extraordinarily successful people, thinking that they were successful because they were extraordinary. After I got to know such people personally, I realized that all of them — like me, like everyone — make mistakes, struggle with their weaknesses, and don’t feel that they are particularly special or great. They are no happier than the rest of us, and they struggle just as much … Even after they surpass their wildest dreams, they still experience more struggle than glory … In time, I realized that the satisfaction of success doesn’t come from achieving your goals but from struggling well.”
The Art of Struggling Well . . .
It’s a concept similar to the one voiced by Mark Manson, in another book I’ve read recently.
He says, “If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not how do I stop suffering but instead why am I suffering — for what purpose?”
It’s the quality of the problems we have to tackle and the way we go about solving them that gives our lives the most purpose and meaning. According to Manson, that is “self improvement in a nutshell.”
Find bigger and better problems to solve.
He writes, “Our values determine the nature of our problems and the nature of our problems determines the quality of our lives.”
When I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago, meeting with my tribe, one of the concepts we discussed was the motivating power of a Massive Transformative Purpose or MTP. It’s the underpinning of everything we do and everything we stand for.
And since I’ve been back, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.
What is my MTP?
Do I have one?
Where do I even start?
I’ve come to recognize that the first question I need to be asking myself is not what do I want to accomplish or what results do I want to achieve? But rather:
“What is it, above all else, that I am willing to suffer for?”
What is it that I believe in so much that I am willing to burn the ships, to endure the challenges, the setbacks, the stress and frustration? What problems do I actually want?
It’s helped me to catalyze my thinking in the short and long term. I look forward to sharing some of those insights and conclusions with you in the near future.
But suffice it to say, it’s become clear to me that it’s in our willingness to embrace the struggle, that we find endurance. And in that endurance, we find purpose. And in that purpose we find meaning and happiness.
As Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
So value the struggle and … Fight On!
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