“You will become whoever you want to be.” You can find that quote in innumerable places, but it recently jumped out at me from the book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden.¹
We were all told by our second grade teacher that we can do whatever we set our minds to. But comedian Chris D’Elia proves her wrong by pointing out that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to poop out of your eyes.
But this is different.
Turns out the seemingly trite axiom “you will be whoever you want to be” has two emphases that most people miss. The main emphasis is WANT. Only slightly less emphatic is WILL.
First off, you’ve got to WANT it. Not want it. You’ve got to WANT it. “Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great.”² It’s hard to know if sacrifice is the chicken or the egg. Do we sacrifice after we refine what it is we really want? Or do we figure out what it is we really want by noticing all the things we are sacrificing to achieve it?
Regardless, the most important sacrifice you have to make in order to become great, to become successful, is the sacrifice of your secondary and tertiary goals. The biggest thing that stands in the way of what you really want is all the other stuff you want.
Let’s say you want to clear $1 million in profit from your firm. You can do it. No question. The problem is you also want to be in good shape physically, and you want to be a good parent, and you want a fulfilling marriage, and you want to maintain the highest levels of professional ethics, and you want to live comfortably while ramping up to $1 million in profit, and you want to rewatch Season 7 of Game of Thrones before Season 8 comes out.
Every goal inhibits the achievement of every other goal. Conversely, every goal you eliminate facilitates the achievement of the goals you keep. Don’t dilute your goals with more goals.
Fear is a powerful motivator, and FOMO is real. You don’t want to sacrifice your secondary goals because you’re afraid that life will suck if you don’t achieve everything. But without focus, you won’t achieve most of them anyway.
So the crazy thing is we should’ve been putting all our eggs in one basket the whole time.
“You will become whoever you want to be.” The second emphasis is the word WILL. You WILL become whoever you want to be. It’s not a possibility; it’s an eventuality. Take stock of who you are right now. Here’s some hard truth: who you are right now is the best, most honest reflection of what you really want. You may think you really want a six-pack, but the truth is you also want Klondike Bars and you want to sleep in and you want to put in an extra hour at work or on the Xbox instead of at the gym.
Who you are right now reflects the truth of what you really want.
PLEASE NOTE: I’m 100% NOT recommending that you sacrifice your relationship with your kids or your spouse in order to build a more profitable firm. I’m definitely not advocating that you abandon your ethics to become successful. What I’m saying is that each goal you add — whether it’s a formal goal or an informal goal — inhibits your achievement of your other goals. You must prune your goals down to the fewest possible reasonable goals.
It’s a trade off. Either accept what you have and where you’re at, or prune down your goals. Especially if one of your goals is to poop out of your eyes.³
¹I will be reviewing this book on the Jason & Greg’s Summertime Book Club episode of the Thrivecast in August 2018.
²Also from Paul Arden’s book. Seriously, you’ve got to listen to the August 2018 Thrivecast.
³Watch Chris D’Elia’s stand up special Man of Fire. It’s hilarious. Kinda raunchy, but hilarious.
Greg was born in Akron, Ohio, in the shadow of the Firestone tire factory. He began to swim competitively when he was eight, swimming for the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Washington with a math degree. He chose math for the ladies. After serving ten-years as an 8th grade math teacher, he decided it was time for a career change, mainly because he “couldn’t stand those little bastards.” He began his accounting career with a local CPA firm in Orem, Utah, where he consistently failed the QuickBooks ProAdvisor advanced certification exam. Greg currently works as the Controller for the Utah Valley Physicians Plaza. He lives in Utah, but manages to make it to Greenville, SC once a year to emcee Deeper Weekend. He enjoys eating maple bars, drinking Diet Pepsi, and swearing.