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The Precedent

By: Michael Blankenship |

“There’s no such thing as an overnight opera sensation. Great law firms or design companies don’t spring up overnight…every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way: bit by bit, step by step, little by little.”

– Seth Godin

Did you know your kids thinking you’re stupid during their teenage years is evolution’s fault? “All teenagers think their parents are stupid,” Emma Beddington explains, “It’s an evolutionary imperative: a cruel, but near universal one, motivating them to leave the nest and us to eject them.” Tough luck. But birdy gotta fly. 

The Precedent

Precedent is defined as “an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.”

In the court of law, a precedent is a previous ruling that guides future rulings — when a precedent is overturned, it’s a result of a mindset shift among the culture on a given topic. 

But a similar system applies to our own lives. 

Think about it. 

What precedents (I suppose we could also call these “habits”) have you set for yourself this week? 

Did you do the things you said you were going to do (even though you maybe didn’t want to do them)? 

Did you ignore your responsibilities? 

The things we do now rewire our brains and impact the things we do later. In a manner of speaking, we set a “precedent” for ourselves when we do what we say we’re going to do. We also set a precedent when we don’t do what we say we’re going to do. 

That precedent can automate our future actions if we let it, for better or worse. 

This is why it’s important to think about the things we do and the person we want to be — those two things cannot be separated.

That’s what this week’s challenge is all about. 

Keeping Momentum

If you jump out of a plane, it’d take you about 10 seconds to reach terminal velocity.

This is the point where friction from the air matches the pull of gravity and you can’t accelerate any further — you’re going top speed. And for inexperienced skydivers (like myself), it’s during those first 10 seconds that you’ll experience the most discomfort, the stomach-in-your-throat feeling, because that’s when you’re accelerating. Once your speed is stable, you’re free to enjoy the experience without really feeling as though you’re falling at all — it’s easy.

When the parachute is pulled, fast deceleration causes more discomfort.

Perhaps if you were new to skydiving and you were able to pull the parachute and cut the parachute as often as you wanted throughout your descent, you’d look a bit like a slingshot, periodically getting nervous — pulling, cutting, pulling, cutting, feeling sick all the way. 

That’s what we often do with real-life progress and momentum. 

oo often, we set a goal and “jump out of the plane”, but for fear and anxiety, pull the parachute far too early and far too often. We feel as though we’re always working but never making real progress. That’s probably because we’re never allowing ourselves to reach terminal velocity — the point where the process becomes easy and enjoyable. 

We’re quitting too early and too often, bouncing between acceleration and deceleration, never putting our full faith in the process. 

But to be successful, we’ve got to have faith — faith that the initial discomfort will settle and that keeping momentum is the only reasonable way to get where we’re going. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and we’ve got to believe in the process. 

There is no other option. 

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


Do you love learning? 

Well, you’re very lucky to live in the 21st century where learning new high-value skills is easier than ever before. 

Here are a few amazing resources for learning new skills online…

  • Soloelearn — For learning to code. 
  • Brilliant — For learning about pretty much anything you want to learn: math, physics, astronomy, etc.
  • MasterClass — Learn acting, cooking, writing, leadership, and tons more from curated courses by celebrity experts. 
  • Khan Academy — Continue your academic journey online… for free. 
  • Duolingo — Learn a new language in a fun and interactive manner. 

Image of The Week

Again from Liz & Mollie because they’re amazing. 

This Week’s Riddle

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

“You’re standing on the surface of the earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

Who do you want to be? What actions or habits would make you become MORE of that type of person? 

This Week’s Challenge

You are what you do. What is a person if not their actions and behaviors? Read the section above titled “Precedent” and spend some time thinking about the precedents you want to set for yourself this week — the qualities you want to exhibit. Write them down. Put them somewhere you’ll see them every day. And follow those qualities as best you can. 

Riddle Answer: the North Pole.

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