Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, said, “My two rules of investing: Rule one – never lose money. Rule two – never forget rule one.”
Time is the currency of life, and when you think about time in that way with the mindset of an investor, every second matters. We shouldn’t be surprised to find that the most successful people in life are those adamant about never losing time. Right now, do you think about your time like an investor, or do you allow yourself to lose time for special circumstances?
Success Means Saying “No” to Exceptions
Today is not special, and it’s no different from a “typical day.” This is true regardless of how extraordinary your circumstances may seem. We must see life this way, because otherwise, we are at the mercy of our circumstances, which are always changing and unpredictable. Since life is unpredictable and circumstances are never perfect for what we hope to accomplish, then it makes sense to view obstacles as normal, expected parts of your journey.
Those who look for a reason to make today an exception will find one. Easily. If I don’t want to work out, I can use my sore neck as an excuse. I can use low energy as an excuse. I can argue that tomorrow is a better fit. There are numerous excuses to talk yourself out of doing anything. The one perspective that cuts through all excuses is that today is not special. It’s your standard day. Here’s a concrete example of how I’ve failed and succeeded with this concept.
I’ve been struggling with an upper back and neck injury for about 3-4 months now. I believe it started from some overly enthusiastic kettle bell swings. Prior to this injury, I was exercising almost every day and had been for about two years thanks to the evolution of my one push-up a day mini habit. After the injury, exercise became a “special” situation because I had an injury. I decided to rest until the injury healed. This wasn’t a mistake initially, as time and rest heal many injuries, but this “special” treatment became a problem later.
After resting and seeing little improvement, I realized that this injury needed a more proactive approach of physical therapy, massage, and stretching, and yet I still maintained the “special” status. I had gotten used to thinking that “injury=relax all day.” I used the injury as an excuse to stay inactive, even after it was no longer valid to do so. This is the result of seeing any day as “special” or “different.” Are exercise plans affected by injuries? Absolutely! Exercise in some form, however, is rarely made impossible by injury. I could still walk. I could use an exercise bike. My standing commitment to exercise frequently was still possible, but I said, “Oh, now I’m injured, so I’m off the frequent exercise program because of this special situation.”
Since realizing this, I have stopped allowing myself to see today as special. If you take a zoomed out view of the days of your life, you’ll see a lot of different circumstances. Joy and sorrow. Elation and depression. Hope and discouragement. Strength and weakness. Health and sickness or injury. Success and failure. These variables are always shifting and mixing with each other in different ways. In order to be successful, we must see every day as the same, despite these differences.
How Derek Redmond Inspired Millions Despite Finishing Last
Derek Redmond was in the 400 meter race at the 1992 Olympic Games. He didn’t win. He didn’t finish second. Derek got last place, but he did so in a way that inspired millions of people.
During the race, Derek pulled his hamstring and collapsed to the ground in pain, both physical and emotional. He had lost his chance to win in the Olympics. But Derek got up again and began hopping down the track. His injury didn’t change his goal to finish the race. Derek was slowed considerably by his injury, but he didn’t treat it as a reason to stop racing. It was considerably more difficult to finish the race with an injured hamstring, but he took it in stride as well as anyone could. He limped down the track with his father’s help, and finished what he came to do, even though it was different than he had imagined it would be. Derek’s performance was spectacular because everything went wrong and he still finished. Here’s the video.
Why do you think this story is so inspiring to us? I think it’s because it communicates a deep, human concept of overcoming whatever obstacles get between where we are and where we want to be. It’s about never giving up, even if circumstances become challenging. But let’s not isolate the idea of giving up into some dramatic, movie-like situation. Let’s notice the little ways we give up, like when we concede that “today is slightly different than I expected, so I can’t work on what matters to me.”
When Every Day Is the Same
When every day is the same and your objectives don’t change according to your situation, what happens? You find a way.
If you put a mouse in a maze with cheese at the end of it, the mouse goes through the maze (an obstacle) in order to get the cheese. The mouse’s objective doesn’t change because there’s a tricky maze. It wants cheese. Always. We should set our eyes on our goals with the same type of commitment. When an obstacle comes up, we will find a way around it, because circumstances don’t change our objective. Every day is the same.
Today is not special. It is like every other day, even if it seems very different. Like all other days, today is an opportunity to move forward. While every day is a different set of circumstances, you can be the constant. When your actions become the constant in your life, success becomes the constant in your life.
I hope this encourages you to stop focusing on the hurdles in front of you and instead fixate on the finish line. Your goal is to finish the race. Don’t accept any other outcome. When life gets tough, ask yourself if there really is no possible way to move forward. When you realize that the answer is always “I can still move forward,” you’ll see that not only are your typical excuses invalid, but that you’re more capable than you thought.
Today is not special. It is an opportunity for progress regardless of circumstances.