A Simple Truth About Success That Everyone Always Forgets
I'd do nothing without knowing this.
I don’t really “want” to write this article, but I have to.
There’s nothing wrong with this article, it’s just articles in general that I don’t want to write today. I don’t want to write anything right now if I’m being completely honest.
I’d rather sit on my phone and kill my brain cells with some TikToks. I’d rather watch one of those weird Swedish movies on Netflix. I’d rather read a book.
Wait… don’t I have dishes to do?
The point is that there are lots of things I could and should be doing. Instead, I’m here at this stupid keyboard, banging out my second essay of the night.
And that takes me to the most important and most painful lesson, I’ve ever learned about doing anything well:
“Inspiration” is crap.
Everyone says this, ironically, when they’re inspired to be disciplined. When people are actually uninspired, they usually just stop working and become complacent.
Today, let’s talk about why “inspiration is crap” because understanding this can teach us something very important about life, happiness, and success.
What I do on a normal day:
This morning (this article was written on a Monday), I woke up at 6:10 am to an obnoxiously-f*cking-loud alarm clock.
I got out of bed, got dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed a Gatorade, made myself an espresso, and within 15 minutes, I was out the door and off to Jiu-Jitsu practice.
We train at 7 am.
It wasn’t my idea to have training that early, but I have to go. I have to be there every single day. The FOMO of not going makes me feel worse than the slight sleep deprivation I experience on a normal day.
I was at the gym at 6:35, and I got right on the exercise bike. I pedaled for 5ish minutes, warmed up the rest of my body, got changed into my rashguard and shorts, and then I spent the next hour or so wrestling and fighting with my friends and teammates.
This is usually the hardest part of my day, but it’s also the most fun part of my day. The highlight of my day is over before most people even start their days.
I was home by 9 am making breakfast and of course, more coffee (you’ll notice a theme here).
Then, I went through some emails, edited a different article, and then I grabbed all my gear, and headed back to the gym. Then, I did an hour and a half of lower back work with my physical therapist. Then, I went and lifted weights.
I got home at 2 pm, warmed up my premade meal — steak and rice and broccoli — and made myself another coffee.
Then, I sat down to write. I worked for 90ish minutes on a ghostwriting article. I got it a little over halfway done.
At 4 pm, I went off to teach a 5 pm Jiu-Jitsu class. I was home and showered by 6:45. I warmed up another premade meal (steak, rice, and mushrooms this time), and sat down to write next to a giant bottle of sparkling water.
That was about an hour and one article ago. We’re still here because my quota for the night was 2500 words and 2 articles.
My hands hurt. I’m tired. I want a pizza.
Success in anything you do is unpleasant.
Thanks for reading my sob story about how I have to work super hard at all my favorite things.
I have no magic lessons for you today.
There is absolutely no inspiration to be found in this piece — but that’s the point.
See, when I write, I used to think that there always had to be some deep, hidden meaning behind everything that I wrote. I thought that I always had to write something as if I had some secret that I was trying to convince a reader of.
The problem is, in this article, we’re talking about success, and there aren’t really any “secrets” to success.
Success is fairly simple.
Success = Opportunity + Talent + Ridiculous Hard Work + Luck
That’s pretty much it. The less talent and opportunity you have (privilege), the more you have to make up for it with hard work and luck. Even then, you still might come up short.
A lot of writers are notorious for wrapping success up in a pretty bow, telling you there’s a secret, and trying to convince you that if you do what they say, you’ll have what they are trying to give to you.
That ain’t me today.
See, if I only wrote when I felt like it, I’d write maybe twice a week. If I only did Jiu-Jitsu when it sounded fun, I’d train maybe, well, 3 times per week. If my feelings dictated the flow of my life, I promise you I’d almost never squat or deadlift heavy. Those things are hard.
If I ate cookies when I felt like it, my diet would be mostly cookies.
Dopamine, dopamine, dopamine.
If my feelings (my inspiration) were in charge of my life, I’d be a chunky man working a job he hated for probably the same amount of money he’s getting now.
Instead, I get have the privilege of being exhausted and fulfilled.
What I find is that, no matter how tired I get, I’ll take my end of the trade every single day.
Out of place in my niche.
A lot of the things I write on the internet fall into that “inspiration” or “self-help” category.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
It’s ironic because, what a lot of people miss is that in the pursuit of trying to tell inspiring stories or write helpful essays, there are a lot of drudgeries. The life of any craftsman, athlete, or artist is, for the most part, quite monotonous and boring.
I’m writing an article today. I wrote one earlier. I wrote one yesterday. I’ll do this again tomorrow. No matter where I am in the world, I still have a daily writing quota.
But here’s the kicker:
I kind of like that boring, and not just because I’m romanticizing.
I like it because the more I write, the better I find I get. The better I get, the more fun writing is. With enough practice and effort, I experience periods of and joy bliss at the keyboard.
This is called a “flow state”, and it’s a lot of fun.
But it doesn’t last forever.
Eventually, I get tired again.
Then, the pursuit of being a writer sucks again. The pursuit of balancing being a writer and a ghostwriter and a professional athlete sucks again.
The cycle repeats and continues, and while I might be able to make the process less miserable by just “taking more breaks” and “resting more”, the craft doesn’t allow this of me. If I want the craft, I must pay rent, every single day — inspired or not.
This is true in writing. This is true in Jiu-Jitsu.
This is true in everything you do in life. If you don’t practice, you’re kind of going to suck.
Sorry for being blunt, but that’s just how stuff works.
I am not a natural writer. This doesn’t come easy for me.
The only reason I do anything well is that I do it, regardless of how I’m feeling.
I’ll be here until the wheels fall off this broken ass bus.
In addition to getting tired, getting bored, and preferring cookies to vegetables, there are some other things that I struggle with in this pursuit.
You can’t have normal relationships with people when you work 10–12 hours per day. Most people don’t love it when you’re married to work and not even that successful to begin with.
Jiu-Jitsu kind of destroys my body. Writing does a number too. I strain my wrists every few months from overuse of the keyboard. I strain my eyes from staring at the screen.
Between writing and grappling together, I probably have the lower back of a 45-year-old man.
But I really don’t want you to think this is me whining, because the pain is only part of the story. The story is work and play — it’s a balance between order and chaos, and right now, we’re in the “extreme order” part.
It’s hard, painful, and tough for now, but I want the scars. I want the fatigue and the monotony and the unpredictability. I chose this.
I want the story. I want to see where it goes.
I don’t care about the inspiration, I want freedom. I do all this work now with the blind hope that one day in several years, I’ll be free. That’s it.
And that leaves me with 2 questions for you:
What do you want, and how much are willing to do to get there?
You can’t go anywhere until you figure that out.
Other stuff from this week:
This week was challenging and chaotic but fairly productive.
Here’s my Twitter thread from the other day about why you’re not reaching your goals in Jiu-Jitsu:
Here’s my premium article from last week, there will be another out this weekend.
Thanks for reading another issue of The Grappler’s Diary. If you enjoyed this post, share it with friends!