Without question, the number one demon that you must slay on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute-by-minute basis, is doubt. It comes in all forms and has one mission—to distract and redirect your efforts. Doubt is powerful, because it ultimately comes from you. It may have been fertilized by others—people who want you to join their “misery”—folks that don’t want you to be different from them by going after something they don’t have the courage to do. Their words, and the logic that comes with them, can be a powerful incubator for sowing the seeds of doubt inside you. You have a choice—we always have a choice—and the choice is deciding what you want to hear.
There are multiple voices that you have to filter, as you embark on your goal-seeking journey. There are external voices that come from professionals, such as the doctor that told me to lead a less active lifestyle and learn the game of chess because I have asthma. There are your social friends, and then there are your true friends—the ones that truly want you succeed, while the social ones either don’t care or care just enough to be selfish, by reminding you of all the things you’re giving up, including them. There are industry voices from known experts in the news, school, Internet, etc., talking about what the limit is—a limit that themselves believe is the limit because it is actually their limit—NOT yours.
There are the family member voices—they can be strong, hurtful and very powerful in altering your course, because they are your most trusted voices. Not listening to those voices can be very difficult indeed, but there may be times when some family members’ voices are more discouraging than they are encouraging. All of these external voices can act as a cacophony of “cant’s”—as in, you can’t do it, therefore, why even try. But, there will be some external voices that will whisper “you can” and “keep trying” and “get up and try again.” It’s those voices you’re after—those are the ones that will power you past the number one demon.
When you continually embrace those voices that say, “You can,” a funny thing starts to happen—you start to believe you can. This is a critical milestone, for nothing truly great can happen until you start believing that you can. To achieve, you must first believe. Sometimes, you will not be able to find a single external voice that speaks to you in “can do” language. Then, you must look inward for the whisper inside you that wills you forward. Of course, this voice is hard to hear, because a louder, more obnoxious voice is ever present—the Whiner. You know this voice—the one that says, “how do you know you can do this?” “Do you know how much work this is going to take?” “Who do you know that’s done this goal?”
The Whiner will seek to distract you, at first, with the mission of convincing you to stay in the comfort zone. Going after goals—really big ones—ones that scare you and make you wonder if it’s possible—come with the Whiner front and center. You will have to combat this voice daily, hourly, and sometimes minute-by-minute, as I did climbing Denali, where I focused just on the next step—or during the darkest moments of SEAL training, where I found myself saying, “I can take another breath”—or when facing bankruptcy in my company, when I willed myself and others to focus on fighting one more day—just one more day. This is voice you must listen to—and block out any and all voices that are professing that your goal “can’t be done.”
You CAN do this, and that’s the voice I want you to listen to every moment of every day. Don’t, for a moment, let open the door when the demon of doubt comes knocking. Keep your focus on going All-in and Moving-forward each and every day. That’s how greatness is made—one step, one breath, one action at a time, where the whisperer is you and you have but one belief—I CAN DO IT.