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Bargaining With Life For a Penny

By: Michael Blankenship |

“The greatest achievement was, at first, and for a time, but a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of reality.”

– Napoleon Hill

Did you know that rewarding yourself for doing important things actually hurts your ability to build a long-term habit? Here are the details. But basically, it boils down to this: when you do something hard, the doing needs to be a reward in and of itself. That’s the only way the habit becomes sustainable, is when the doing is its own reward.

This email is made possible by Storyworth, the best way (and most fun) way to discover and document your family’s memories. 

– Mike & Alec

Bargaining With Life For a Penny

What are you asking of life? 

If you have a dream — and you’re willing to see it through to fruition — then life stands willing and ready to give you what you desire. 

Here’s a wonderful poem I found in Napoleon Hill’s bestseller, Think & Grow Rich.

I bargained with life for a penny,

And life would pay no more.

However I begged at evening

When I counted my scanty store.

Fir life is just a employer,

He gives you what you ask,

But once you set the wages,

Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,

Only to learn, dismayed,

That any wage I had asked of life,

Life would have willingly paid.

The problem, of course, is that most of us ask for far too little from life, assuming that it won’t give us what we really desire. 

But the recipe for success is simple. 

We must decide what we want. And then we must work hard — enduring and embracing both fear and failure — to do what the path forward demands.

As Ryan Holiday reminds us, The Obstacle is The Way

Getting it Wrong… to Get it Right

We recently stumbled across this graphic from The Strive and it wonderfully illustrates a point that self-help gurus talk about far too little…

The point is that finding your purpose (or your Ikigai) is not like flipping a switch, but blazing a trail. You have to experiment, run different paths, and explore

It’s a process of discovery where every effort takes you a little bit closer to understanding the core of who you really are. 

This is important. 

Because it’s not about finding your purpose so much as it is about setting out on a journey of self-discovering and adventure

The path is waiting. 

Here are some tips for setting off on your own purpose-finding journey. 

So What? Now What?

When Linda Cliatt-Wayman became the principal at a failing and “persistently dangerous” high school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to make a difference. But she quickly realized that doing so would be complicated and difficult.

In her 2015 TED Talk titled, “How to Fix a Broken School? Lead Fearlessly, Love Hard”, she shares three principles that helped her turn things around at three low-performing schools. 

One of the principles she shares acts as a response to objections and excuses from other school leadership about the likelihood of being able to make a difference. It’s called, “So What? Now What?” 

She explains, “When we looked at the data and we met with the staff, there were many excuses for why Strawberry Mansion was low-performing and persistently dangerous. They said only 68% of the kids come to school on a regular basis, 100% of them live in poverty, only 1% of the parents participate, many of the children come from incarceration and single-parent homes, 39% of the students have special needs, and the state data revealed that 6% of the students were proficient in algebra and 10% were proficient in literature… I looked at them and said, ‘So what? Now what? What are we gonna do about it?’”

Making excuses for why something can’t be done is easy — heck, it’s normal. But for those of us who are trying to do something difficult, it’s also detrimental. Life goes on. And the progress we achieve can in part be measured by how few excuses we make, even when there are many excuses to be made. 

*This is a lesson from 101 Lessons on Growth, Success, & Progress*

5-Minute Video of The Week

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

What English word retains the same pronunciation, even after you take away four of its five letters?

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

What are you asking of life? Is that enough? Why not ask for more? 

This Week’s Challenge

Ask more of life this week! Maybe that means going out to a nice dinner, spending time with loved ones, or starting to work on something you’ve wanted for a long time. The journey always starts with a single step. And today is a good day for adventure. 

Riddle Answer: Queue

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