There are two mantras that I read mid-way through 2019 that led to the second half of the year being unrecognizable from the first.
Everything flourished. I felt great. I had more energy for my work. My calendar only contained events I was looking forward to going to. Projects were finished promptly and opportunities presented themselves. Doors were opened and I felt like I was living the life I wanted and deserved. I’m sharing them with you so you can feel that way too.
They aren’t mantras I invented, they are ones I read and then couldn’t stop thinking about. The fact that they were there, in front of me, felt less of a discovery of something new and more like a confirmation of what I suspected to be true but hadn’t managed to put into words myself. They resonated so deeply that I wanted them to be at the forefront of my mind, always. I made them my desktop backgrounds and I wrote them at the top of journal entries.
Mantra one: I am the hero of my own life.
As asserted by Wiest, is that “how you act in the face of what you can’t control determines whether you are the hero or the victim of your own life.”
In any given day, a whole host of less-than-ideal occurrences can happen. Adverse news, adverse weather, bad feedback, a misconstrued exchange, anything! Choosing to be the victim, whether deliberately or subconsciously, means complaining, retaliating, whingeing, or doing anything other than making a plan and moving past the obstacle. Everyone has problems. You will always have them. Don’t wish for a future where you don’t. Instead, build the strength to thrive no matter what is thrown at you.
Choosing to be the hero of your own life means asking the question, “what am I going to do about this now?” instead of wallowing in self-pity or blaming someone else. The mantra reminds me that the decision is in my power and my happiness and success is down to me.
The world is indifferent to your existence, and that’s a good thing. It means you can do whatever you want. You can choose to plow on with your own dreams and if they are so big they scare others, well that’s even better. Because you are indifferent to the need to be accepted or recognized by anyone other than the person in the mirror who is looking back at you with high hopes and quiet confidence.
Choosing to be the hero of your own life empowers others to choose to be the hero of theirs. In the words of James Bay from the song Let It Go: “why don’t you be you, and I’ll be me?” Make it the default that every thought, word and action you have is deliberate and true to the best version of you that exists.
Mantra two: We are what we repeatedly do.
It’s obvious really, isn’t it? Yet this quote is so often overlooked.
Do you think you can coast and do the bare minimum and still be considered for an opportunity? You can’t be a writer without writing, or a salesperson without selling, or a dancer without dancing. You cannot be excellent unless you practice excellence in everything you do. What you let slide in rehearsal you’ll get wrong in the final show. Mistakes in training come out when you’re competing. You can’t put on an act for anyone because your true colors will show. We are what we repeatedly do.
Repeatedly being late, missing deadlines, practicing negativity and doing work you’re not proud of will define your existence.
I’m sure there were some jammy exceptions in high school; those kids who didn’t really bother yet still got straight As. But it doesn’t happen in the real world, so putting in sub-maximal effort and expecting maximum results is a pipe dream up there with winning the lottery without actually buying a ticket. It’s not going to happen.
Committing to showing up, getting your head down, learning, developing, growing and practicing excellence is the only way to make it happen consistently. Treat everyone with respect. Proofread all your emails. Turn up on time. Demand excellence from yourself.
Perfect practice makes perfect performance. Developing a reputation for excellence reaps rewards. Promotions and opportunities aren’t offered to those considered gambles. They’re offered to dead certs, and the best indicator of future performance is past performance; not words or promises or being “passionate”. This is about doing your ability justice rather than proving yourself to anyone else. Intrinsic motivation should be all you need.
Every interaction, conversation, decision or thought you have is a chance to practice being the person you want to be. Repeat. Every single day. From Jim Cathert, via Carrie Green, “how would the person I want to be do the things I’m about to do?”
“I am the hero of my own life” reminds me that my actions are a choice, and “we are what we repeatedly do” reminds me to consistently make good choices and form habits that yield the results I want.
Once you keep these mantras at the forefront of your every waking moment, you don’t waste a second’s thought or an eon of energy on anything or anyone that isn’t fulfilling the mission you have set for yourself.