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CH A P T E R 4

Don’t do That

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

~ Gandhi

An old saying suggests that people stop living long before they are dead. As the saying goes, “People die at 25. They just wait until

85 to get buried.”

What does it mean to die? Of course, our bodies continue to move around. But something inside us—the parts of us that truly give us life—has shut down. Dreams never truly die. When we are children, we dream big and loud. Ask a little kid what he wants to be when he grows up. Perhaps he wants to be a firefighter. He will shout it out proudly with a grin that lights up the darkest night. He will pretend to be wearing the firefighter uniform, complete with the big red hat on his head in the form of his parent’s cooking pot. He will struggle to hold the imaginary hose in his hand as he sprays the imaginary water on the burning building. He will climb the furniture as if climbing a building to rescue the child or the puppy. That moment is as real to the child that day as it would be if it were happening right then.

Ask the same boy 30 years later about that childhood dream when he is stuck in a corporate job, pushing pencils and paper around, having abandoned his heart’s desire, and you will get a far different response. It will start with a lowering of the head and a narrowing of the eyes. But there will be no imaginary hose or fire hat. There will just be sadness and regret.

The lesson here is that you must stop doing things you don’t want to do. Why you would spend another year doing something that doesn’t bring you joy, fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind is baffling. You are free to pursue whatever path in life you wish. You are only stuck if you say (and believe) you are.

Most people who feel stuck in a job, an industry, a relationship, a neighborhood, etc. try to think of ways to get out. But they are thinking from a place of bondage rather than a place of freedom. Their ability to navigate out is hindered by their sadness when thinking of the situation. There is a foolproof way to combat this.

First, imagine the place you want to be. For example, imagine that you are already living in the new home you desire in the neighborhood you love. Imagine it in technicolor with intense detail. What color are the walls? What color is the carpet or tile? Is the floor plan open or closed? Walk through your kitchen. Did you choose granite or marble? Are your appliances made of stainless steel or some other material? Cook your favorite meal in that kitchen. Walk around the grounds. How is it landscaped and hardscaped? Is the garage in the front, in the back, or on the side? How much land surrounds your compound?

Now imagine that the doorbell rings. You answer and welcome in a friend (who looks exactly like you today). Invite your friend to sit down on the couch. (Be sure to imagine exactly what the furniture looks like: color, layout, material, etc.)

Now imagine that your friend asks you how you managed to come from where you were to where you are today. Now answer her. Let your mind create the success story. Repeat this exercise every day. Your brain will be unable to distinguish between reality and your dream. It will work non-stop, night and day, to create that reality. Your future self has the ability to bound ahead in time and space, standing firmly in your successful future and pulling you toward the image you saw in your mind.

Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, once said:

I very frequently get the question: “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.… In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection…

When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.

In a world that is constantly changing and constantly asking you to upgrade, revise, level up, and advance, it can feel like the hamster wheel is on overdrive. The only thing, it seems, that never changes is the call for change. We want the economy to change. We want our political climate to change. We want our work environment to change. We want our height, weight, belt size, and bank account balance to change. We want our children to change. We want our spouses to change (not me, though. My spouse is perfection.)

In a sea of constant shifting, some things must never change. From a military perspective, I cannot imagine a world where the love of the country and the love of the unit are not paramount to the job. At Amazon, low prices and fast shipping have been the keystone of the company’s success. Changing it would be corporate suicide. The military is based on patriotism. Without it, it would be little more than heavily armed men and women in boots. Personally, I have built my life on key principles, values, and philosophies. Those will likely never change unless they are revised into higher values, principles, and philosophies. Without those principles and values, I would be half the man I am.

Your core values are a critical part of your makeup. Can you state right now what they are? Most people cannot, not because they are unprincipled, but more because they haven’t taken the time to identify the values that drive them. Try it now. Write in the spaces below what you believe to be the ten most important principles, philosophies, and values that drive you:

1. ______________________________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________________________

4. ______________________________________________________________

5. ______________________________________________________________

6. ______________________________________________________________

7. ______________________________________________________________

8. ______________________________________________________________

9. ______________________________________________________________

10. ______________________________________________________________

Now take a look at the first one and think carefully about it. Is it really a value that runs deep into your core? Do you live your life based on that value? Is it natural for you to default to that way of being? Or, on the other hand, is it a value you think you should have and wish you could have? If so, it should move to your goal list.

It was because of the core values and definite goals I set that I was able to achieve my goal of scaling at Amazon.


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