Being ready before the storm strikes is sometimes the difference between life and death. — Jeff Last

1) Have smart friends

All of my friends are smarter than me. Even (especially) the ones who don’t have college degrees.

Being intelligent isn’t really about knowing everything. It’s about knowing one person who knows the most about SEO, one person who knows the most about building a house, one person who knows about taxes, and one person who knows the rules of international negotiation.

Etc., etc.


2) Be Healthy


While health of a nation is complicated, health for you is not. Take a walk every hour. Eat whatever you want, so long as you are cooking it. Be in the physical presence of other people often. Make sure you are pooping once per day.

The positive impact you can make while you are sick in bed is exactly zero.


3) Know how to make a crap ton of money

This has absolutely nothing to do with your intellectual readiness and everything to do with your emotional readiness.

Here’s why.

Dan Ariely (of this TED talk and this book), wanted to unpack extrinsic motivation. He and his team ran an experiment where they offered three groups of participants three different amounts of money to complete a series of random memory and concentration tasks.

The first group was offered a day’s salary for good performance. They did pretty well.

The second group was offered two week’s salary for good performance. They did fine as well.

The third group was offered a jaw dropping five month’s salary for good performance. Time to shine, right? Wrong.

This group performed dramatically worse. The extreme amounts of money triggered the fight-or-flight response in their bodies.

A large reason many people with a medium income do not rise above that level is because they lack the confidence to pursue OR receive big checks.

Do you want to know when the results in Ariely’s study flipped? When the people in the big bonus group perceived the task as easy. At that point, they confidently flew through the challenges and walked away with big money.

People who earn the most make hard work look and feel easy.


4) Be Naive

One of the great ironies of human nature is this:

We want to know every step of the process before we start. Yet, if we were truly aware of all it takes, there is probably no way we would ever move.

Initial ignorance protects you from becoming overwhelmed. Do what you can do today. Start now. Figure out the rest later.


5) Remember Flik

Flik is an ant from the movie A Bug’s Life.

While all the other ants were standing in line, doing what was expected of them, and enjoying their comfortable living, Flik knew there must be more.

One day, he understood he would never fully be ready. So he strapped on a backpack and dove headfirst into the unknown.


6) Invent projects for yourself

Eric Thomas (a fairly successful speaker) recently admitted that he completely botched his first voiceover job.

Although he knew he had a great voice, talking to a microphone in a studio was another monster entirely.

So what did he do?

He invented scripts and read them into his own microphone.

“Here’s what I learned. If I stay ready, I never have to get ready.”

— Eric Thomas

Did the coffee shop down the street commission you to rebrand them? No. Do it anyway.

Did HGTV call you to edit their new show about (get this) a spunky couple who is flipping houses? No. But one day they might.

Will anybody ever hold you to a standard worthy of the best work? Probably not. But that’s why you should.


7) Have a safety net

At least, financially.

It is a lot easier to take the risks necessary for success when you aren’t wondering how each decision will affect your ability to pay Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Capital One and the IRS. (Trust me. This is not a hypothetical list.)

The freedom to act without fear is probably the best thing you can buy.


8) Don’t have a safety net

At least, not emotionally.

Let’s pretend you are working a traditional 9–5er right now. But you are ambitious. You have goals of your own. You have a side hustle. You won’t spend your whole life selling your soul.

The temptation, of course, is to take it easy during the key hours of the day in order to conserve your best thinking.

This is the exact wrong instinct.

Everything is momentum, a virtuous cycle. Do you think you will suddenly rise to excellence after a long day of half-heartedness?

No. Greatness at a 9–5 rolls into greatness from 5–9 which leads to a good night’s sleep and that gives us a better chance.

If anything is going to be attached to your name, please don’t do it halfway. You deserve better.


9) Know what action to take at any given time

The peak of discipline is the ability to work for only five minutes on a project which will take several months.

Know how to beat The Three I’s of Inaction:

  • Indifference,
  • Indecision,
  • and Ignorance.

When you know exactly what to do and can start doing it at the slightest break in the schedule, doors open.


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