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Lucky or Guilty?

By: Michael Blankenship |

If you’re nervous about doing something, plan to do it badly, giving yourself credit for just doing it. That takes a weight off your shoulders because anyone can do something badly.

– Anna Olson

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’re talking about why finishing is better than perfect, why you should stop seeing yourself as only lucky or guilty, and we’re sharing Ryan Holiday’s note-taking system (it’s awesome). 


And Happy New Year!!!

Fitness For The New Year

Sponsored by Limitless Coaching

Want to get in better shape in 2022? 

Look better? Feel better? Have more energy?

I (Mike) do.

So I recently hired Clint Riggin (the buff guy in the picture above) to help me get my butt into shape. And I’ve been absolutely blown away by his Limitless Coaching Program. 

They provide a custom training plan based on your goals, fitness level, available equipment, and lifestyle. They also provide a nutrition plan (calories & macros) based on your height, weight, body type, and dietary restrictions. 

Clint (who, by the way, is very responsive via text) checks in with you every week to see how things are going and if any adjustments need to be made (as well as keeps you accountable). 

My favorite part about all of this, though, is that they’ve built a custom app to make your food and your workouts super easy to track (I’ve always struggled with the tracking part of fitness/nutrition).

If you want to try it out for yourself, they are currently running a Christmas special with a $1,000 discount and $1,344 worth of bonuses (meal pack, supplements, & hormone replacement therapy). 

Check it out – but keep in mind they’ve only got 10 spots open as of right now!

I highly recommend working with Clint if one of your New Year’s goals is to build a healthier lifestyle — for me, it was money well spent. 

Do It, but Badly

We recently read a post on Facebook that said, “80% and done is better than perfect and never completed.” 

And we couldn’t help but think of the Anna Olson quote (at the top of this email) as well — done is always better than not finished…

… even if it’s done imperfectly. 

When we’re trying to create something, it’s easy to get caught up in this idea that it’s got to be perfect. And if we find any flaws whatsoever along the way, those flaws must be corrected. 

Obviously, that’s overwhelming. And it often causes us to quit before we finish a first draft of whatever it is we’re creating. 

So why not give yourself permission to do it badly? Everything has to be edited before it’s published and everything has to be drafted before it’s edited. 

Your first draft doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Just do what you want to get done, create what you want to create, and allow yourself to not be perfect along the way. Once you’ve actually got something to look at… then you can play the perfectionist and edit to make it as perfect as possible. 

Here’s how Jerry Seinfeld put it when he talked to Tim Ferriss about writing standup comedy routines…

“The key to writing, to being a good writer, is to treat yourself like a baby, very extremely nurturing and loving, and then switch over to Lou Gossett in Officer and a Gentleman and just be a harsh prick, a ball-busting son of a bitch, about, ‘That is just not good enough. That’s got to come out,’ or ‘It’s got to be redone or thrown away.’

So flipping back and forth between those two brain quadrants is the key to writing. When you’re writing, you want to treat your brain like a toddler. It’s just all nurturing and loving and supportiveness. And then when you look at it the next day, you want to be just a hard-ass. And you switch back and forth.”

Lucky or Guilty 

I (Mike) recently wrote the following statements on Twitter after a good long muse… 

“Success is weird. When you don’t have it, it seems impossible. When you have it, it feels too easy.”

Have you ever noticed that? 

If you’ve experienced a bit of success in your life — it could be anything — then you’ve probably also noticed that you have a tendency to discredit your own role in that success. 

It felt too easy to achieve… and so it must have only been due to luck. 

We do the opposite when we fail. In our minds-eye, it’s all our fault. We messed up. There was no bad luck involved… it was just due to our own ineptitude. 

Clearly, that’s not a fair way to look at things. 

Luck certainly plays a role in our lives (who knows how big of a role), but we do ourselves a disservice when we take all the responsibility for our mistakes and none of the credit for our wins. 

We must find the balance — and when in doubt, err on the side of giving yourself more credit for the positives and less credit for the negatives. 

Once when we read a book about writing, the author said something to the effect of: you’ll be blamed for mistakes that you didn’t intend to make, so always take credit for great writing that was merely incidental. 

Use the same rule in your daily life — give yourself more credit for wins and don’t feel so guilty about your failures. 

You deserve it. 

New Note Taking System

Read a lot? 

Wondering how you can take more useful notes? 

Ryan Holiday has an awesome system. Here’s how it works. 

  1. Read your book and underline/highlight as you normally would, keeping track of anything that might be particularly useful later on — “Read a book or an article and diligently mark the passages and portions that stand out at you. If you have a thought, write it down on the page (this is called marginalia). Fold the bottom corner of the page where you’ve made a note or marked something (alternatively, use post-it flags).”
  2. Once you’ve finished the book, set it aside for a couple weeks. Then come back to it and transfer your more helpful highlighted/underlined sections to notecards — one notecard per idea. Here’s why you should wait a few weeks: “Why wait? Waiting helps you separate the wheat from the chaff. I promise that many of the pages you marked will not seem important or noteworthy when you return to them. This is a good thing–it’s a form of editing.”
  3. Next, organize those notecards based on topics — “In the top right hand corner of each card, put a theme or category that this card belongs to. If a card can fit in multiple categories, just make a duplicate card.” These topics/categories can be whatever you want. Here are some of Ryan Holidays’:
    1. Stoicism
    2. Life (General advice about life)
    3. The Narrative Fallacy (Something I’d like to write a book about one day)
    4. Strategy (Examples of strategic genius or wisdom)
    5. Post Ideas (Many cards here have been turned into articles you’ve read)
    6. Animals (Weird stories about animals. For instance, according to the book One Summer by Bill Bryson, the hotel that Babe Ruth lived in for most of his career had a live seal living in the lobby fountain)
    7. Trust Me, I’m Lying (Media manipulation)
    8. Writing (Wisdom about the craft)
    9. Education (Wisdom and ideas about learning)
    10. Misc (Naturally)

What’s great about this system is that it allows you to access information based on topic, from many different sources… which is super useful if you’re writing a book, article, or hosting a podcast that requires deep information. 

Try it out!

The notecard system doesn’t take a ton of extra time but it makes the things you’re learning easier to access and more useful for future projects. 

This Week’s Photo

Chesnot / Getty

“A luminous lantern is displayed during the exhibition ‘L’Evolution en voie d’illumination’ at Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France, on November 26, 2021. The National Museum of Natural History is offering a nocturnal walk in the light of monumental light structures, ranging from mammoths, cave bears, and saber-toothed tigers to early humans.” via The Atlantic

This Week’s Riddle

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

It belongs to you, but your friends use it more. What is it?

This Week’s Question

Answer this question — either privately or by replying to this email. If your answer inspires us, then we’ll ask for permission to include it in a future email!

Why is it important for each of us to believe that we’re resilient and gritty (vs. weak and fragile)?

This Week’s Challenge

We’re only four days away from the New Year. So take a few moments to think about the habits that you want to build in 2022. Do you want to go for daily walks? Take vitamins? Drink less coffee? Track your nutrition? Exercise? Make a plan for building the habits you want to build! Don’t forget what Benjamin Franklin said: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: Your name.

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