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6,362 posts
msg #36803
Ignore TheRumpledOne
7/9/2005 12:26:33 PM

July 9th, 2005

Winning Through Relentlessness
by Robert Ringer

For many years, I've been taking notes for a book on organization and time management. I don't know if I'll ever get around to writing the book, but I do plan to do a series of teleseminars on the subject, hopefully this Fall. Following that, I may broaden it into a three-day, live seminar.

This is a huge subject - in reality, an infinite subject, because there is no limit to the number of ways in which you can organize your life and business, and no limit to the number of ways in which you can save time.

"Time is money" has become something of an axiom. And though I believe virtually everyone agrees that it's a truism, I'm also convinced that most people merely pay lip service to it. If you're really serious about the proposition that time is money, you need to come to grips with the reality that the key ingredient for converting time into money is self-discipline.

When I became an author, I evolved into such a self-discipline addict that for years I've actually been working on trying to ease up a bit and move more toward the center. I took self-discipline to such an extreme that I believe I actually reached a point of diminishing returns.

If you feel that you have problems with your self-discipline, I'll share something with you that will give you hope: Throughout my teen years and most of my twenties, I was instant-gratification oriented to an extreme.

I was disciplined in some areas - in sports, for example, and, as a real estate broker, relentlessly following through on deals until they were closed. But in most other areas of my life, I displayed a shameful lack of self-discipline. Cliched as it may be, if I could become self-disciplined, anyone can.

I believe that the greatest catalyst for an undisciplined person is pain - and pain comes in a wide variety of packages. For example, physical pain, which is the most obvious form of pain, can be the catalyst for becoming self-disciplined when it comes to exercise and healthy eating.

Financial pain can be the catalyst for having the self-discipline to work when you're tired or sick, or when you'd rather be out having fun with everyone else. And then there's the pain that comes from a lost love, which can be the catalyst that gives you the self-discipline to put forth the effort to be a better partner when love comes your way again.

If pain does not motivate a person to become more self-disciplined, the outlook for his future is grim ... at best. In the most extreme cases, a lack of self-discipline can lead to homelessness and/or premature death.

Years ago, when I was still single, I became good friends with a professional football player ("Bill") who had gained a great deal of national prominence for his stellar play in the NFL. He not only was a phenomenal athlete, he was handsome, had great verbal skills, and had extraordinary talents in many other areas outside of sports. Above all, he was extremely intelligent.

Our relationship began when Bill approached me at the health club I belonged to and introduced himself. He told me that Winning through Intimidation (my first book) had become his "bible," and expressed how much he admired me. Obviously, I was flattered.

Early on in our friendship, I found that Bill had been working on a novel for a couple of years, but was having trouble completing it. As I got to know him over the next three years, it became pretty easy to see why.

Notwithstanding everything he had going for him, he was totally lacking in one important area of success: self-discipline. While I admit that this was a stage in my life when I was attracted to the proposition of having a good time, I never allowed that attraction to get in the way of my work.

I normally went to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., got up around 4:30 a.m., jogged a few miles (sometimes starting out in the dark), and was at my Selectric typewriter by 8:00 a.m. or so. As a result, over the three-year period that I was friends with Bill, I managed to write two more books, Looking Out for #1 and Restoring the American Dream.

Under tremendous time pressure, I did about 25 drafts of each book, and always succeeded in meeting my deadlines. In addition, I undertook a number of speaking engagements and traveled from coast to coast doing radio and television interviews.

Through it all, Bill was constantly urging me to go to one party or another or "go out on the town and live it up" with him. And I was constantly telling him that I had to work. He often chided me with such statements as, "C'mon, don't be a party pooper. Lighten up. You've got to let it all hang sometimes."

The result was that during this three-year period, while I was finishing two more books that became No. 1 best-sellers, Bill spent his non-partying time moaning and groaning about changing the plot of his novel, endlessly reorganizing his material, and tinkering with - of all things - the title. To me, these appeared to be nothing more than self-delusive stalling tactics to avoid the gut-wrenching work of following through and actually bringing his book to completion.

Which means he missed his window of opportunity, because, as everyone knows, fame is fleeting. While he was playing in the NFL, it would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to find a major publisher for his book. When you get your shot in life, you have to take it. The door closes very rapidly once you're out of the limelight.

When I look back on my relationship with Bill, there were two defining moments for me. The first occurred during my stretch drive on Restoring the American Dream , when I was putting in 14-to-16-hour workdays, seven days a week.

I vividly recall Bill looking very frustrated after one of my refusals to party with him, and saying to me, in a discouraged tone, "You're so damned self-disciplined that I could never compete with someone like you. You would just wear me down through attrition, because you're so relentless." It was almost as though he were saying, "It's not fair."

It struck me how bizarre it was that this famous, glamorous, brilliant, multitalented person was telling me that he couldn't compete with me. Ridiculous, of course. The truth of the matter is that he could have written two or three best-selling novels in the time that I knew him. With 100 percent effort, he could have beaten me at just about anything.

In addition, with the slightest bit of initiative and persistence, he would have had a good shot at an acting career or perhaps broadcasting. Doors were open to him that certainly were not open to me.

But the fact is that Bill made a choice. Specifically, he chose instant, daily, and (worse) nightly pleasure over greater benefits down the road. (Interestingly, before, during, and after this three-year period, I found the time to take my family on vacation to Hawaii for periods ranging from 10 days to five weeks. But I never went until I had crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's on my "money" projects.)

Maybe Bill was just lazy, right? Sorry, not a valid excuse, because the truth of the matter is that most of us are lazy at heart. In this respect, I totally agree with Dan Kennedy when he says, in his excellent book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs: The Ultimate No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Time Productivity & Sanity , that he believes most successful people are lazy and become exceptionally self-disciplined out of necessity (as in pain avoidance).

Kennedy writes, "Every morning I have a little fight with myself, and I have to force myself to haul it out of bed and into the office." I know the feeling. Everyone who has heard me speak knows how strongly I believe in the necessity to force yourself to take action. If you wait for something or somebody to motivate you to take action, you're in for a very sedentary life.

The second defining moment for me in my relationship with Bill was when he told me that he had developed a great ability for bluffing his way though practice after a hard night out on the town. He said he had mastered the art of going through the motions in such a way that it appeared to the coaches he was practicing at full throttle.

Unfortunately, Bill carried that same attitude into his aborted writing career and life beyond football. In my view, it's the reason he's not ensconced in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where others with less talent but far more self-discipline will be forever on display.

Self-discipline is about restraining, or regulating, one's actions - repressing the instinct to act impulsively in favor of taking rational actions that are long-term oriented. My short-lived friendship with Bill was immensely beneficial to me, because it made me realize that self-discipline - a single trait that every human being has the capacity to develop - gave me the power to outperform people who are far more intelligent and talented than I am.


Worth Thinking About

In talking about Microsoft’s early days in an interview some years ago, Bill Gates said, “When we got up to 30 (employees), it was still just me, a secretary, and 28 programmers. I wrote all the checks, answered the mail, took the phone calls….Then I brought in Steve Ballmer, who knew a lot about business and not much about computers.”

What Gates knew instinctively, but many of us have to learn the hard way, is that you should hire employees only when success increases your work load to the point where you simply can’t handle it anymore. Or, put another way, you bring new personnel on board when it’s an absolute necessity for your business to continue to grow.

Follow Gates’ lead and recognize that you can probably handle a much bigger work load than you think you can. There’s no such thing as “overworked.” It’s all a matter of not pampering yourself, jealously guarding your time, eliminating tasks that aren’t essential, and becoming ever more efficient at handling the tasks you need to do.

2,025 posts
msg #36805
Ignore alf44
7/9/2005 3:03:52 PM

Good article...thanks for posting it !


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