I’m going to share some tough love today. Since I can’t tailor this message to each of you, it will address some common patterns of behavior that I’ve observed over my long life.
If you’ve been following my newsletter and articles for the past few years, you know that this is a departure from my usual polite writing. So, I’ll apologize in advance to my more gentle readers who may not want to see this. Perhaps you should skip this edition, read something from the archives, and catch up again next week?
Ok, for the rest of you who have stayed, I’m not going to be my usual nice Midwestern self today. It seems like being kind all of the time doesn’t work with everyone. Sometimes you have to be a little raw, honest, and brutal.
I guess this was sparked by hearing a whole lot of whining and complaining lately. I’ve also been seeing tons of excuses on social media.
“I can’t find time to do what I know I should be doing.”
“I don’t have the extra money to invest in myself.”
“My boss, coworker, friend, lover, or whoever else I want to use as an excuse is the real problem.”
If you get offended easily, you probably shouldn’t read the rest of this article. Move on and go scream at someone on Twitter instead.
If you like to make excuses, whine, complain about how hard life is, and refuse to accept personal responsibility, what I have to say may upset you.
You may not even see this if you tend to ignore my newsletters, as some of you do. By the way, do me a favor and unsubscribe. Ok?
I would rather have 100 loyal readers who really want to listen, invest in themselves, and engage with me to get my advice and feedback than thousands of people who don’t care and won’t bother to try something new.
Ok, rant over. Let’s begin the tough love.
You have enough time
We all have the same time in the day. You have the same 24 hours a day and 7 days a week that every one of your heroes has.
So, why are they getting ahead and succeeding in their personal and professional life while you are lagging behind?
You can go ahead and eliminate the few that were born with money and opportunity. Ignore those lucky freaks.
Focus on the ones who were born with nothing. Think about the ones who had a normal life but turned it into something extraordinary.
What did they do differently? They focused. They made the most of every day.
They know that time is the most precious asset they have, and they invest it wisely. They don’t waste it on stupid crap or stupid people.
You have enough time. You’re choosing to piss it away. Or, you're not focused and prioritizing your time on the right things.
Knock it off! Stop wasting time.
Or, go ahead and keep wasting it, but stop complaining. Just stop.
You have enough money
If you’re reading this, you probably have enough money to invest in yourself if you really cared and made it a priority. But, if you really, really are living on a financial razor’s edge, then go back to the previous point and maximize your time to fix that financial situation. I’m not a huge fan of hustle culture, but sometimes you do need to hustle more.
For the rest of you, I know you’re blowing money on stupid crap. I know because I have before and still sometimes do — before I slap my face and remind myself to cut it out.
I know because I just read a local news article that folks pay a lady $2M/year to see her in her underwear. Do you think that her patrons are all millionaires with disposable income? Bullshit. They are regular folks who should probably be spending their money on smarter things.
I know, because I have been really friggin poor. I have been hungry and wishing I could afford to buy food.
In the past, I have cut out all unnecessary crap to get by. No internet, no cable, no phone service. Hitting thrift stores vs. buying new.
Even now, I’m wearing the same damn simple clothing almost every day — jeans, a black t-shirt, and old boots that I’ve owned for years.
I drive an old pickup truck. I don’t waste my money on stupid BS trying to impress people. I invest my money in my family, health, retirement, and business. I manage my expenses so I can have my freedom.
Stop wasting your damn money on the latest fashionable clothing, a fancy car, eating out frequently, Netflix, and other unnecessary crap if you think you can’t afford to invest in yourself.
PAY YOURSELF FIRST!!!
Sometimes you are the problem
“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole.” ― Raylan Givens, Justified
If every one of your relationships goes south and you always blame the partner, maybe you are the bad partner. I can look back now and admit there were times that I was a crappy boyfriend.
Take some responsibility and be more accountable.
Research has found that we have blind spots when it comes to evaluating our own personalities. Our perception is even more distorted when it involves traits that are very desirable or undesirable.
If you hear yourself often saying the following, you might be the problem:
I can never get a fair shake.
Everything is always stacked against me.
All of my bosses have been jerks.
All of my coworkers are idiots.
It’s their fault that it didn’t work out.
No one ever understands me.
No one can see how great I really am!
The fastest way to push away friends and acquaintances is to be that person who is always whining, grumbling, complaining, blaming others and the world, and generally being a downer. If everyone else is terrible and the whole world is always against you, you need to take a hard look in the mirror and be honest about the role you are playing.
Grow up and accept responsibility for your actions. Step up and realize that accepting that responsibility and accountability makes you more powerful!
You’re a little bit lazy
Ok, statistics tell me that some of you are very lazy. Everything falls into a normal distribution when the population size is large enough.
Some people bust their asses all the time. They work 2-3 jobs, study for another degree at night, get up early to work out, and raise a family.
Sound mythical? Bullshit. I personally know real people who are doing this.
Other people sit on the couch watching Netflix all night, eating chips, and complaining that they aren’t getting ahead in life. You know the type. Are you the type?
Before you complain and whine about the state of your career and life, ask yourself:
Am I really working that hard to change things?
Am I focused on the right things?
Am I working as hard as other people who are getting ahead?
Hey, I’m just as guilty. I watch a Netflix show at night with my wife instead of working on my book.
But, at least I’m honest about it. I don’t whine on social media that I just can’t seem to get ahead. It’s my own damn fault if my progress is slow.
If you want a better job, if you want to get into shape, if you want a great relationship, if you want to improve your life, etc., ruthlessly prioritize your time and put in the effort.
Work will always be work
Most of the time, a job is a job, and work is work. If you love what you do and it doesn’t seem like work, be grateful for your good fortune. But, even a dream job is a lot of hard work.
I hear people complaining about how work is hard, boring, and monotonous. Their employer doesn’t appreciate them or see their real potential. They aren’t getting paid enough.
Yep, it sounds like most jobs. Most bosses suck. Most jobs won’t fulfill you.
You can either suck it up and accept the situation or do something about it. Stop expecting that the average job is going to be a living dream.
Are you going to complain, or are you going to take action? If you want to do something:
Be so good at what you do and so well known that you’re in demand and attract amazing opportunities.
Take control and plan your career path instead of randomly floating from job to job.
Intentionally choose your next company, boss, and role.
Or, if you are so damn good at what you do and fiercely independent, start your own business! I work really hard, but working for myself is very different than working for someone else. I don’t mind putting in the extra effort and hours to build my business.
You are replaceable
When you quit a job or get fired, people stop talking about you within about a week or two. They stop thinking about you in less than a month.
I’ve watched it happen over and over again. People think they’re special and irreplaceable. 99% of the time, they are not.
People take over your projects. Someone new gets hired. The world moves on.
Don’t forget this. Don’t expect an employer to be loyal to you.
It is a transactional relationship, not a “family,” despite the bullshit they say. Do your job well, but always keep your eyes open for better opportunities.
You should never feel guilty about looking out for yourself. If you don’t take care of your career, who will? Your current boss isn’t going to go out of their way to help you find a better-paying job in a new company.
You are replaceable. Your team will be ok. The company will be just fine.
No one is going to save you
Too many people wait and hope and put their faith in someone else. They are waiting for that perfect partner who will help them get their act together. They’re hoping for that perfect job and the perfect boss who will see their brilliance, hire them, and make them rich.
They have no clue how to take responsibility for their future. So, they are waiting for someone to come along and save them.
Well, you might be waiting forever. No one cares about your future more than you do. No one.
Ok, maybe your mother does. But, no one else.
Stop being so damn passive and step up! You know what you want in life, so take action and chase it.
No one else can do it for you. You are the one who will save yourself. Be your own hero.
“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” — John Barth
You had better love yourself
Some people just aren’t going to like you. No matter what you do, you will rub them the wrong way, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Even when people do like you, friendships have limits. People can be great friends, but things can occur that will end it. It happens.
If you want unconditional love that will never fade, there are only two kinds:
No, your cat doesn’t count. Your cat pretends to love you because you feed it. Sorry.
Every other kind of love has limits. You could do something to alienate a person who loves you, and they will be gone baby gone.
Accept this going into relationships and earn their love every day (and vice versa). If the relationship dies and that love vanishes, move on. Get over it. Someone else will love you again.
But, you’d better learn how to love yourself and be complete within yourself. Be ok on your own. Don’t expect someone else to complete you. Got it?
You are going to die
Finally, in the end, you are going to die. We will all die someday.
It might happen in 50 years. Maybe 20. It could be next year. Hell, it could be tomorrow.
Stop acting like you’re going to live forever!
Being more aware of your mortality makes you more conscious of how you live your days. Putting everything off for the future is a terrible idea for so many reasons.
There are no guarantees in life. You have no idea what the future holds. That mythical future date when you are finally going to lead the life you want to live may come at a time when you can no longer enjoy it the way you thought you would.
Tim Urban captured the reality of this truth so well with his life calendar. Each tiny block in the calendar grid is a week in your life. He asked the critical question, “Are you making the most of the few remaining weeks in your life?”
That’s all the tough love I can come up with for now. Today, I ran a few personalized “tough love sessions” in my community and on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ll try to do more on Tuesdays each week.
Hey, I know that life isn’t easy right now, the economy is unpredictable, and work is a pain in the ass. But complaining won’t fix it. The only solution is to claim your personal power, be proactive, and take steps to make it better.
This week’s professional development challenge
⭐ Define Your Personal Website Requirements
When it comes to owning my professional destiny, I no longer have a single point of failure or a risky dependency on another company. I will never again make my primary “internet home” on a service that leaves me vulnerable, and neither should you.
Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who runs a supportive online community. He lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice that can help others take full control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.