This post originally appeared on my personal blog on February 5, 2008.
A week or so ago my daughter and I were watching The Biggest Loser on NBC.
If you havenâ€™t watched it before, it is a reality TV show where overweight contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight each week. A good portion of the show is devoted to all of the exercising the contestants do under the watchful eye of their personal trainers.
It was during one of those segments when my college-aged daughter, a former high school varsity athlete, decided she could use a little exercise herself and asked me where our big exercise ball was.
I was a little annoyed since I was in no mood to really move from the couch â€“ let alone exercise.
I told her â€œYouâ€™ve got to be kidding me! That thing was fully inflated and sitting in the back of the closet under the stairs for over a year â€“ and no one used it. All it was doing was taking up space. When I put the Christmas decorations away a few weeks ago I reorganized the closet and decided to let all of the air out of it, I then folded it up neatly and put it way in the back of the closet along with the Christmas decorations.â€
â€œSoâ€¦. what does that mean?â€ she asked.
â€œWell if you want to exercise youâ€™ll need to go downstairs, find the exercise ball and the pump and then blow it up so you can use itâ€.
â€œNevermindâ€ she said â€œIâ€™ll just have some Oreos insteadâ€.
Often, when I start working on a web site or blog â€“ I am faced with this same dilemma.
The amount of stuff I have to do â€“ before I can do the stuff I have to do â€“ is often too daunting. And I have the equivalent of Oreos instead.
Instead of working on stuff that is productive– I read other peopleâ€™s blogs and I troll MySpace, Facebook, Sphinn, or LinkedIn. I might answer an e-mail or two. I mightupload some files to a web site or two. But I rarely grind it out as often as I should.
And that is where I fail, because grinding is a fact of life.
Almost all success in life is a numberâ€™s game.
Michael Jordan made the most game winning shots â€“ but he also missed the most. Babe Ruth often led the league in home runs â€“ but he also often lead the league in strike-outs. And the same is true of sales, or RSS subscriptions, or even electoral votes.
You get 1 sale from X number of sales calls. X number of sales calls comes from Xnumber of prospects. X number of prospects comes from X number of direct mail pieces, or cold calling, or e-mails â€“ or whatever.
X number of quality blog posts on a consistent basis will lead to X number of RSS readers.
And even some campaign managers can tell you that at a local level â€“ one bumper sticker or one yard sign will equal X votes.
And we all want the sale, or subscription or vote. We like delivering the product or service that will lead us to be compensated (financially and/or emotionally).
But not very many of us like doing the direct mail, or cold calling or e-mails, or whatever. Not very many of us like doing the grind.
But grinding-it-out is a fact of life. Whether it was our ancestors plowing fields, or our grandfathers building dams, bridges and highways â€“ the fact of the matter is â€“ the big things we accomplish in life are always accomplished a little at a time.
Grinding takes self-discipline.
And self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done â€“ whether we want to do it or not.
And things get done by doing them.
While I love that you, my dear reader, are reading this post â€“ the fact of the matter is that reading this post is not making you any money. Hell, it isnâ€™t even making me any money. It is the equivalent of eating Oreos when you â€“ and I â€“ should be doing something more productive.
Weâ€™re now exactly 5 days into the second and shortest month of the year. Itâ€™s a good time for us to grab (mentally or physically) that list of goals we had for 2008.
Are you at the very least 1/12th of the way to accomplishing those goals?
If you are â€“ congrats!
If not, join the club.
So here is what weâ€™re going to do to get on track before 2008 slips away.
1) Commit to the grind.
It isnâ€™t going to be fun, but we need to tell ourselves that the grind is part of our job, and we need to learn to appreciate how we feel when weâ€™re done with it.
It is exactly like exercising â€“ we mostly tolerate it while weâ€™re doing it but we love the way we feel when its done.
Whatever your grind is â€“ blog posting, e-mailing, link building, posting comments on forums and blogs, even knocking on doors â€“ get out and do it.
Set aside the necessary hours a day to make it happen. And GRIND IT OUT.
If you have a 9-to-5 job â€“ or youâ€™re in school â€“ but your real goal and passion is a little something on the side. Grinding applies to you as well:
â€œIt takes strategy, tactics, balls, elbow grease, money, and smart planning. Mostly, though, itâ€™s a matter of putting in a lot of time every day to â€œblock and tackleâ€ (a.k.a. â€œthe boring detailsâ€ or â€œcontent and linksâ€ or â€œthe grindâ€).
Most people do not have the proper attitude, personality, or personal situation (kids to feed?) to grind it out for 3 or 4 years. You have to wake up, work the 8-to-5 job, come home, lift a few weights, eat dinner, then work 7 to midnight on the side project (which, if it yields any profits, are most likely reinvested).â€ ~ Tropical SEO
2) Get in the habit of asking yourself the following question:
How is what I am doing right now going to make me money or help me accomplish my goals?
If you canâ€™t answer that question â€“ then you canâ€™t consider it as productive time â€“ and you need to start over.
Be goal oriented. Focus on your targets. Know all of the numbers of your particular â€œnumbers gameâ€. How many prospects do you need for one sale? Go out and collect the numbers!
If only 1 out of 100 people will say â€œYesâ€ to your sales proposal. Then go out and donâ€™t come back until you have the 99 â€œNoâ€s you need to get that 1 Yes.
Become almost single-minded about getting them.
â€œNothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, â€˜press onâ€™ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.â€ Calvin Coolidgeâ€œ
And if a quote from a guy who I think may or may not have been a U.S. President isnâ€™t enough â€“ then go here for hundreds more.
3) Find ways to stay motivated â€“ no matter what!
Surround yourself with things (sights and sounds) that motivate you.
Play the theme to Rocky when you wake up in the morning or listen to Eminemâ€™s â€œLose Yourselfâ€ right before you start to work and ask yourself along with him: â€œLook, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip away?â€
Put up images of that car you want to buy. Or that yacht you want. Or that private island. Look at them and ask yourself â€œhow badly do I want this, and how hard am I willing to work for itâ€.
If the answers arenâ€™t â€œvery badlyâ€ and â€œwhat ever it takesâ€ respectively â€“ then rip them down and find other more compelling reasons to get motivated.
Years ago I had a vice-president of sales working for me and he told me this little ditty:
â€œA lot of employers would be a little leery of their sales people going out and buying expensive cars. Theyâ€™d rather them save and invest the money, because that would be the responsible thing to do, and everyone wants responsible employees.
â€œBut not me.
â€œI want the guy who just bought a new Corvette or Porsche. The guy who just bought the 32â€² speed boat. The guy that just bought the fancy downtown condominium that his hot little trophy girlfriend wanted so she could look cool to all of her friends.
â€œI want the guy that just went out and put himself neck deep in debt and has to make thousands of dollars of interest payments every month.
â€œBring me THAT guy â€“ because THAT guy will come to me almost begging for me to give him a sales lead so he can go out and make a sale and collect some commission.
â€œBring me the guy that HAS to work.â€
Iâ€™m not advocating that you go out and put yourself deep in debt.
But if youâ€™re one of these people (like me) that tend to get â€œcomfortableâ€ and â€œcomplacentâ€ when you know youâ€™ve got all of your bills covered for the next few weeks or month â€“ then yeah, maybe you need to start looking for more things that will make you a person that HAS to work.
The point is â€“ we all get lazy. We all procrastinate. We all make excuses.
But whenever we look back on our life â€“ weâ€™re not happy with the excuses we made, or the procrastinations we got away with â€“ weâ€™re only happy with the things weâ€™ve done.
Or at the very least â€“ weâ€™re happiest with those times when weâ€™ve given it our absolute best shot.
Still not convinced? Then read this for another kick in the pants.