During his 27 years in prison, when he felt like just giving up, Nelson Mandela would recite those lines. They gave him what he needed to keep his head held high.
Those final two lines…
I am the Master of my Fate,
I am the Captain of my soul.
At DreamBigStartSmall, we believe that everyone is the Master of their Fate. We believe each of us is the Captain of our Soul. We believe everyone has the power to change – to become who they want to become.
In fact, we believe that we can all change the world. It all starts with changing ourselves.
“To live in the world you dream of, you must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Simon Sinek
How do we change ourselves? How do we become who we want to become?
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
By changing what we repeatedly do, we change who we are. By changing our habits, we change who we are. Aristotle’s quote applies not only to excellence. It applies to every virtue and every task we perform. Courage, humility, curiosity… these are not acts, but habits. Creating a beautiful peice of art, playing a masterpiece on the piano, running a multi-million dollar business… these are not acts. These people are not skilled from acts – there skill originates from their habits.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
Change our habits, and change who you are. Change who you are, and change the world around you. From this idea DreamBigStartSmall was born.
DreamBigStartSmall is not a blog, nor a business. It’s a movement. It’s a community. We’re a group of people who say “I’m gonna be better than who I was yesterday.” We’re a group of people who say “I’m not gonna live in the world that was given to me. I’m gonna build the world I dream of.” We’re a group of people who know that it’s got nothing to do with the system, but everything to do with how much we’re willing to grow stronger.
This isn’t iainharrison.com. It’s DreamBigStartSmall. It’s not about me. It’s about YOU. It’s about sharing, learning… – inspiring and being inspired. We owe it to the world to become the strongest versions of ourselves.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Wilson
How do we let our own light shine? How do we become who we want to become?
By changing what we repeatedly do – by changing our habits. How do we change our habits?
We Dream Big, and Start Small.
First, Dream Big. Who do you want to become? If you don’t know this, it’s like having a Lamborghini but no destination. First, know where we want to go. This means knowing who our “Ideal-Self” is. What does the strongest version of ourself look like?
If you don’t know, ask yourself, “Who inspires me?” “Who do I admire most?” “What do I admire in them?” And have some fun with it. Watch inspirational movies. It doesn’t matter where you get the inspiration from.
I can tell you that some of my biggest inspirations – people I admire – are people from movies. Sam and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and Maximus from Gladiator, to name a few.
So, get creating your ideal self. Get excited! It’s called Dream BIG for a reason. Let your imagination run wild!
The next step is Start Small. We build habits by starting small.
How do we start small?
We start small with 30 day challenges. A 30 day challenge is doing something everyday for 30 days.
Warren Buffett, the world’s top investor, said “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
At the start of the challenge, it might be tricky. Even hard (see end of post). You have to think. You’ll have to remember to do the thing. You’ll have to remember to take action, at the same time, day after day, for 30 days. But as you near the end, you won’t even have to think about it – that’s when you’ve developed the habit.
Small means one habit at a time. We overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year – human nature. So we go one habit at a time. One a month. By the end of the year, that makes twelve kick-ass habits. Twelve new feathers to your cap. Of course, you might decide you only want to keep one. And that’s perfect too.
Also, by completing the twelve challenges, you’ll have cultivated a meaty chunk of discipline, as well as a feast of other virtues to boot. Thus, your success in each thirty day challenge will spill over to the next one. And when you know that you can change any part of your life just by changing your habits? That is when you realise that we truly are the Master of our Fate, and the Captain of our Soul.
I don’t have the discipline to do that!!! 30 days sounds impossible!
I’mma tell you right here, right now. Discipline is NOT something you either have or don’t have. Discipline is something you cultivate, something you develop. Discipline is not an act, but a habit. It’s what you build DURING the 30 day challenge. You’ll look back after six months, and be amazed at how much more disciplined you are.
Small also means… well, small. If you think you can do 10 minutes a day, you only do 5 minutes a day for 30 days. If you think you could study an hour of French, or ask 5 questions a day, or do 100 crunches…. do a little less. Why? Because in habit building, glorious defeats count for nothing. They leave you burnt out and demoralised. Small wins on the other hand… These are what we’re after. Because when you string enough small wins together, they build something that is massive – momentum. This is when you can finally see the “chain of habit” that is too strong to be broken.
The problem with everyone come January 1st is that they’ve not cultivated any discipline, yet embark on a ridiculous program to workout like Schwarzenegger. Of course they fail. With 90% of people quitting after a week, they give up, dejected, and think, “Ahhh well, there’s always next year.”
“We are mortal in all that we fear, but immortal in all that we desire.” – Seneca
The “there’s always next year” mindset is what Seneca is talking about. By putting off getting in shape for another year, we expect that we will live forever.
No, we need to start small. And start NOW. Dream Big with who you will become, but start small with habit change. That’s our recipe for a kick-ass life.
Of course, as time goes on and your discipline soars, then go bolder. You’ve earned it. But at the start, humour me. Start small.
Ok. So – start with who you want to become. Then we change our habits. But which habits do we go for? How do we decide?
This is why you need your ideal self – what habits do you need to build to get there?
When we know the answer to these questions, we can go straight to the top. Who throughout history was the best at what we’re after? For example, who was the most courageous? The most curious? The most humble? The most skillful violinist? The greatest orator? We then devour their (auto)biographies, and discover the habits that made them tick. Maybe they kept a journal. Maybe they did a bit of gardening everyday. Maybe they had a gratitude list. Maybe they woke up two hours before sunrise.
The best place to start, I believe, is in the cornerstone habits. Those habits that form the foundations of an incredible life. Tony Robbins said “Success leaves clues.” So, what are the common denominators of great people? Tai Lopez’ 67 Steps to the Good Life is a cracking place to start. After that, it’s research. Investigate and uncover what your heroes did everyday. Did they read? If so, what did they read? Books? Newspapers? Fiction or Non-Fiction? Did they journal? What did they write in it? Did they play a musical instrument? What questions did they routinely ask themselves? How did they think? What did they do?
For example, say our ideal self is an incredible public speaker. We want to be able to captivate our audience with every word, leaving them inspired to spread our message. To take our public speaking into the stratosphere, we need to go straight to the top. Who are the best public speakers in the world? Historically, maybe Martin Luther King Jr. Or Abraham Lincoln. Today, perhaps Tony Robbins. Then, dig deep into how these people become incredible speakers. In Lincoln’s case, he had an absolute mastery over the English language, which screams through in his speeches. Robbins at the start of his career booked himself to speak four times a day, whereas his colleagues spoke four times a month. Thus, Robbins was getting 30x the experience in the same timeframe. No wonder he’s an incredible speaker!
So, there’s two ideas on where to start. Mastering the language, and speaking regularly. Now devise habits for both of these things. For the first, what habits did Lincoln have? How did he do it? (He devoured books, but mastered only three works: Shakespeare, Pilgrim’s Progress and the Bible.) So a habit could there be to read 15 minutes of Shakespeare everyday. Taking a leaf from Robbins’ book, make a 10 minute video of yourself speaking every day for 30 days. Simple.
After 30 days, if the habit is resourceful, keep it. If not, don’t. Simple.
So, three questions.
“What does my ideal-self look like?”
“What character traits do I need to get there?”
“What are the habits I must build?”
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Let’s make 2017 epic.
And if it ever, ever, EVER gets tough… Just watch this:
The hard is what makes it great.