Burn The Boats

​”If you want to take the island, burn the freaking boats!” ~ Tony Robbins

I heard this quote in a Tony Robbins’ video on YouTube, and I haven’t been able to shake it from my head since. It’s a single sentence that perfectly captures the reason for so many of our failed endeavors. We want to take the island, but we leave the boats in harbor just in case plan A doesn’t work out. The problem? We fight a much different battle on the island when we know the boats are waiting for us in harbor. A battle we’re much more likely to lose.

The obvious place this applies is in business. We start a project or company on the side that gains traction, but ultimately fails because we held onto our stable income job just in case. The difference in action in an entrepreneur that is receiving a paycheck and benefits each month and an entrepreneur that doesn’t know where the next rent check is coming from is stark. Very stark. Oftentimes in our journey to achieve a quest, it is the burning of the boats that spurs us into heights of action and creation that we would have otherwise never been able to achieve.

This doesn’t just apply to business however. We see this written all over our lives. I can’t tell you how many friends I have that will pursue a dating relationship with someone, yet keep in touch with their ex just in case. That’s a relationship destined for failure because it will never receive the nurturing necessary to succeed with only one foot in the water.

I see it in habit formation as well. Take quitting drinking, or taking a break from drinking, as an example. This becomes a goal for a lot of people at some point in their life. Yet they’ll leave certain clauses in their mental agreement that destine them for failure from day one. It could be something like “I’m allowed two drinks per weekend”, or “I’ll have a drink in social situations just to not make it awkward”. Clauses like these kill the goal before it has even gotten started. If you leave the boats in harbor, you will not take the island. If you really wanted to quit drinking you’d pour every ounce in your house down the drain and burn the damn boats.

This metaphor becomes an incredible tool for reviewing our own lives. We can reflect on our own goals, and ask ourselves if we’re really all in on them.

Have the boats been burned?

We can reflect on areas of our life that aren’t working out very well or need a lot of improvement.

Have the boats been burned?

We can reflect back on previous failures in an effort to learn from them.

Had the boats been burned?

Most importantly, the next time we come across that burning desire or nudge to create, the next time we meet that person that just might be the one, or the next time we set a goal to build or change a habit…

Burn the freaking boats. It’s the only way to take the island.

Habit Stacking

HABIT STACKING

With the new year a full week under our belts, there’s likely a lot of us already falling short of achieving resolutions we created. Maybe it was a health related resolution and we’ve already skipped a workout or binged during a meal. Or maybe it was a “no drinking” resolution and we’ve already had a few drinks to unwind from the workday. Or maybe it was a resolution of writing more and we’ve yet to pick up the digital pen. If we haven’t fallen short of our resolutions yet, statistics tell us that we likely will soon.

Why do we jump on the same hamster wheel every year knowing we will wind up in the same place?

I don’t believe it’s for a lack of effort, and I honestly don’t believe it’s for a lack of willpower. Simply put, most of us have never been taught how to achieve goals or build habits, so instead we take our best guess at achieving them and throw our hands up in the air when that guess is wrong. The solution to this problem has been hiding in plain sight all along, and it’s called habit stacking. In a nutshell, habit stacking is exactly what you’d guess it is – stacking, or attaching, a new habit to an existing habit. Put another way, it’s taking something you already do out of habit everyday and adding something else to it. Simple as that.

There are a couple ways I like to think about habit stacking, the first being horizontal habit stacking and the second being vertical habit stacking. Both operate the same way but achieve different things.

HORIZONTAL HABIT STACKING

Horizontal habit stacking is when you stack a new and entirely different habit on top of an old existing habit. For example, the vast majority of us have been in the habit of brushing our teeth in the morning for most of our lives. This habit is second nature to us, and thus is the perfect place to stack a new habit on top of, say for example, taking a daily multivitamin.

Traditional Approach

Historically you may have purchased a bottle of multivitamins with full intention of taking them, then placed them in your cupboard and completely forgotten about them until weeks later when you stumble upon them again. Habit failed.

New Approach

Now instead, with the process of habit stacking to operate from, you place the bottle of multivitamins next to your toothbrush. Each and every morning you see your new habit right in front of you, and it’s as simple as grabbing the bottle. Habit succeeded.

VERTICAL HABIT STACKING

Vertical habit stacking is similar in practice to horizontal habit stacking except that it’s focused on going deeper into a habit as opposed to creating a new one. Take, for example, a common resolution – waking up early each morning.

Traditional Approach

The usual resolution goes something like this. You approach that first week of the new year with full intention of waking up at 6am each morning. You’re used to waking up at 7:30am but this year will be different. So that first morning your alarm goes off at 6am and you promptly hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. If that scenario doesn’t play out the first morning it likely will soon. It simply is too dramatic of a habit shift to make at once. Habit failed.

New Approach

Now instead, with the process of habit stacking to operate from, you set your alarm for 7:15am that first morning. And wouldn’t you know it, you successfully achieve it! After a week of this, you set your alarm for 7am, and wouldn’t you know it again, you are successful. This repeats each week until just a short six weeks later you are waking up at 6am each day. You’ve used the power of small changes applied consistently over time to your advantage, and because of it you’re successful in your resolution. Habit succeeded.


CONCLUSION

When it comes to resolutions and building new habits, first and foremost we need to allow ourselves some grace. We aren’t perfect, and we don’t need to hold ourselves to perfect standards. From there we need to realize that our previous failed resolutions have been from a lack of process not a lack of ability. When we implement the appropriate process, like habit stacking, we allow our ability the chance to succeed. Habits are not about reinventing the wheel. They’re about looking at the existing wheel, seeing what’s working, and improving upon that which is already working.

Rinse. And. Repeat.

 

2015: Rose Thorn Bud

2015: ROSE THORN BUD

It is officially that time of year again. The time to reflect on the previous year in anticipation of improving upon it. Not improving in the sense of being ungrateful for our last 12 months, but improving the way an athlete or an artist would improve each year – focusing on the good and getting better at the not so good.

I call it “watching the game film” and I love to use the game Rose Thorn Bud to do so; Rose being the good, Thorn being the not so good, and Bud being the anticipation and excitement for what’s next.

Without further ado, here’s my personal RTB for 2015.

ROSE

My without-a-doubt-not-even-close-cant-stop-smiling Rose from this year was the birth of my daughter, Berkley.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 9.00.27 PM

Being a dad has been something I’ve looked forward to for as long as I can remember, and raising this little girl has brought more joy into our world than I thought possible.

2014 was the year of Cade, our first born son that passed away a couple days after birth. The addition of Berkley into our life doesn’t replace that pain, but it without a doubt enhances the joy we feel on the other side. Now nearly nine months old, I can’t wait to see what the next nine hold.

I’ve had a couple other major life changes that have been Roses for the most part. In February I began building entrepreneur communities across the country with Galvanize, and in September we moved to Kansas City to be close to family. I’m grateful for both for what they’ve added to our lives in terms of people and experiences.

THORN

Just like my big Rose, my big Thorn is also an easy choice. After three years, a half million users, and countless millions of workouts, I’ve officially shut down Bodeefit. I will continue providing great health and fitness content on AdamGriff.in and use some of the Bodeefit content for that, but the mission, workout apps, and advancement of the company is without a doubt shut down. I had spread myself far too thin for far too long, and something had to give.

It wasn’t easy to do, but in hindsight the decision has also been a catalyst for what I hope to be a big year in my writing. Not running a side business allows me to go even deeper into writing content that resonates with people in an impactful way.

BUD

My Thorn for 2015 is a great transition into my Bud for 2016 – writing. This is the year of going deep, not wide, and that means writing more, writing better, and building a bigger community inspired to become Better Than Yesterday. That begins and ends with one article and one reader interaction at a time. Author Steven Pressfield says we turn pro in our lives when we remove the resistance and excuses that are in the way of becoming our ultimate selves. This is the year I turn pro in my writing, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

If you’re reading this, it means you’re a part of the community I’m building at Better Than Yesterday. And for that, thank you. Thank you for being a part of my world in 2015, and thank you for being my inspiration to go deep into my writing in 2016.

ARTICLES MENTIONED IN THIS POST

Watching The Game Film

How Do You Measure A Day?

 

How We Do Anything Is How We Do Everything

HOW WE DO ANYTHING IS HOW WE DO EVERYTHING

I was on a flight not that long ago and witnessed something that got me thinking. We had landed and started to deplane from front to back. Row by row each aisle began to move to the center, grab their bag, and exit the plane. Par for the course. We were near the back of the plane and I was in the window seat, so I naturally just observed for several minutes until the line had made its way back to me. Anyone that’s ever flown knows that it’s not a free for all when you exit a plane. There’s a natural order to when you exit, and everyone follows it. Row by row, front to back. This process provides order in what could easily be a chaotic situation. As I sat there watching I noticed a guy a few rows behind me grab his bag and start cutting his way past all of us that were still waiting for our aisles to exit. Instead of keeping to the order of things, he maneuvered his way past any and everyone and made his way off the plane. This naturally bothered me, but what followed was more frustrating. Because this one guy had done it, multiple people on the plane followed suit, and proceeded to barge their way ahead skipping past the aisles of people sitting there. What was order one moment, was now chaos. All it took was one guy to make it acceptable for 10 others to do the same.

I don’t know the guy on the plane who started that mess. I couldn’t point him out in a crowd if I had to. But this minor thing that he did that day got me thinking about how that extrapolates out into the rest of his life. No, cutting the deplaning line is not a very big deal in the grand scheme of life. But oftentimes the little things we do and decisions we make shed light into how we operate as human beings. See, the things we do, whether big or small, don’t operate in isolation. They are a part of one mind, one person, and are more often than not a reflection of our lives as a whole. When we treat others poorly in one area of our life, what’s to stop us from treating people poorly in another area?

There’s a famous commencement speech that was given at the University of Texas by a Navy SEAL admiral. The entire speech is gold, but one thing in particular stood out to me. He tells the new graduates

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” 

He goes on to talk about how completing that one small task makes it easier to complete the next task and the next task and the next task. But his larger message was this – if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. This message is simple yet profound because it affects all of us. How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever hit the snooze button one too many times and it negatively affects almost the entire rest of your day? How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever said one line of gossip just to find yourself casually having entire conversations about others? How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever found yourself skipping one workout that turns into skipping an entire week? How we do anything is how we do everything.

That guy on the plane could have been, and likely is, a decent human being. I don’t have any insight beyond the minute or so that I watched him create his own exit plan. But I know if it were me in his shoes, if I were the guy cutting people off just to exit a minute or two sooner, that small thing would be a larger reflection into the rest of my world. I’d find it much easier to flip someone off on the highway. I’d find it much easier to leave a 10% tip because my fries were too crispy. I’d find it much easier to have one or two too many drinks. We get to choose the person we are every single day, and it starts with the little things – how we choose to treat others in seemingly meaningless interactions, the foods we put in our mouth with each forkful, the words we choose to say with each breath, and whether or not we decide to make our bed each morning. Because how we do anything is how we do everything.

On Defining Ourselves

ON DEFINING OURSELVES

There is a subtle bad habit in life that can be the difference in happiness and sadness, contentedness and discontent, joy and sorrow. This subtle habit, like most habits, is so small that it largely goes unnoticed in our day to day lives. Yet the awareness and action to change the habit can dramatically improve the way we view ourselves, our lives, and our futures. What is it?

It’s the bad habit of defining ourselves by what we aren’t, instead of what we are.

This habit can be so built into our language that we may not realize we’re doing it.

The best sales rep in the company has another great month.
“I’m just not as good on calls as they are.”

A good looking guy or girl walks by.
“What I would give for their body / hair / legs / insert any attribute.”

A friend posts pics of their beautiful family, epic vacation, or idyllic house (or likely all 3).
“They’re just so perfect, while I sit here single in my apartment dreaming of a beach vacation.”

I could go on and on but you get the point. In a world where our favorite means of communication is a bright screen that happily filters all of the bad stuff from people’s lives, never has a society struggled more to feel like they can’t keep up.

We are not defined by what others have that we don’t. 

We are insanely, utterly, and beautifully awesome because of what we do have.

We are funny.
We are witty.
We are clever.
We are beautiful.
We are giving.
We are caring.
We are secure.
We are free.
We are a friend.
We are a brother.
We are a sister.
We are a mom.
We are a dad.
We are alive for another day.
We are…ourselves.

It doesn’t matter what other people have that we don’t. There will always be someone smarter, stronger, faster, wealthier, prettier, happier, and better. But just like a lion is not defined by its lack of stripes, nor are we defined by our lack of anything.

We are defined by what we have, not what we don’t.