Today we thought it might be interesting and fun for our readers if we discussed an amazing book that Tab Norris, Co-founder of ASLAN has been reading, called Win the Day. “In Win the Day, Mark Batterson, the New York Times bestselling author shares practical yet life-changing habits that will set you on a path to harnessing the power of twenty-four hours. And the best thing about it? You can start today.”
We thought that some of the amazing insights from Mark Batterson might be helpful to many people (us included) on how to jump start your way to achieving your goals, with some “powerful habits that can help you turn yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s anxieties into fuel for a better today.”
If you’d prefer to listen to our conversation on this topic, please feel free check out our SALES with ASLAN podcast episode 137:
So you’re stuck…
It’s happened to all of us, feeling stuck, in a rut, or unclear about our next steps in our personal or professional lives. Those feelings of inertia and/or the inability to clearly see our purpose and outline the steps forward can be overwhelming.
Almost everybody, if not every single person, asks themselves these questions from time to time: “Does what I’m doing matter? Am I spending my time doing what I should be or need to be? Does what I’m doing count?”
It’s interesting to look at this idea through the current lens of the pandemic and the Great Resignation. Professionals of all ages and careers are asking themselves, “What am I doing? What do I want to be doing? Why am I in this role?” The bottom line is, people are experiencing a wake up call.
Given that current reality, Win the Day is especially relevant. It talks about living life each day like it’s both the first and the last day of your life – and how to make the most of it. It’s so difficult to isolate the present moment from the past and the future. It’s amazing how much time you spend (and waste!) thinking about either the past or the future, if you really sit down and process it. But this mental energy and focus is misplaced and often gets in the way of our goals and ability to execute them in the present moment.
Beyond making money or getting promoted etc., it’s about making a difference and having an impact – and to do so, we have to be present and intentional.
At the risk of sounding cliché, how can we truly “be present” in order to make the most of each day as we work towards our goals and aspirations?
Dealing with the Past
Dealing with the past is a huge barrier to allowing ourselves to focus on the present moment. Mark Batterson sets up how to deal with the past by urging readers to “flip the script.”
Think about it this way: we often have the tendency to tell ourselves the wrong story. In the book, Batterson writes,
“The difference between success and failure is the stories that we tell ourselves. They become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you tell yourself the wrong story, you live a lie. If you want to change your life, start by changing your story.”
How do you interpret what happens in your life? Where are you limiting yourself?
For example, our CEO Tom Stanfill shared two ways that he interprets a failure – and it’s all about what you associate it with:
- If you associate a failure with a project or a presentation (a thing), for example, it’s not a big deal. It just didn’t work out, so you learn to approach it differently moving forward. You’ve associated the failure with something you’re doing and need to do differently, not with who you are. This approach can propel you forward with positive intel about how to do or be better. It’s all about how you interpret that failure.
- But there are other mistakes/ failures that we often tie to our identity. If you interpret failure in this way, you think things like, “I’m a bad person. I can’t do this well. I’m never going to be successful. There’s something wrong with me. I am a failure.” This thinking is what will get you stuck in the past, unable to move forward towards your goal(s). It’s fear driven.
Mistakes and failures will happen. Moving through and past them is all about self talk and the stories we tell ourselves.
This is why many people aren’t open to receiving feedback – because they associate it with their identity, not with something they do. When you associate failures with your identity, feedback can be debilitating.
So you can’t make that your script, you can’t tell yourself the story, “I am a failure,” if you want to move forward towards your goals and “win the day.”
Flip the script. Do an inventory on yourself. Where are you limiting yourself based on what somebody told you or what you’ve told yourself?
Winning the Day
Dealing with the past and reframing your story allows you to begin focusing on each present day; to win the day, just one day at a time. Things start falling apart when you put too much energy into the past or future.
Break it down. Take small steps. One day at a time. To cite another cliché, “how you do anything is how you do everything.”
This approach is also addressed in the book Atomic Habits, which many of you may be familiar with. If you can just focus on improving small things steadily, day by day, you will see results.
Tab shared an example of one of the small changes he’s begun to make in his life. By waking up just an hour earlier each day, he’s found quiet time to reflect, journal, dream, plan, and enjoy personal time before entering into each day, fully present.
And for Tom, when he began writing his book, UnReceptive, the idea of writing 70,000 words was daunting. Especially because his “script” (or the story he had continually told himself) was, “I’m not a writer.” He had to flip the script in order to accomplish his goal, which was to deliver a message through his writing.
In order to do so, Tom had to break down the giant task of writing a book into writing just a small portion of it every day. And to help with the parts of writing and publishing that he needed to learn and develop, Tom found someone to help edit his words and bring the book to life. Tom still says, “If you’d told me when I was younger that I would write a book one day, I would’ve called you crazy.”
It really is all about habits. And now, writing comes much more easily for Tom. Asking for help and breaking it down into small steps does not mean you’re not smart or talented, it’s about accepting feedback, associating failure with something you do (not something you are), and learning and growing each time you set out to “win the day.”
Imagining the Future
To set up the idea of imagining your future, Batterson uses the phrase, “cut the rope.”
To illustrate, he tells the story of Elisha Otis, inventor of the elevator brake. In 1854, Otis attended the World’s Fair in New York City to try and sell his invention. At the time, New York was running out of space for real estate, so buildings were being constructed to greater and greater heights. The problem was, no one wanted to rent the higher stories because they didn’t want to take all those stairs. It would seem that this is the perfect set up for Otis’ invention – but no one wanted to buy his important safety feature for elevators.
To gain attention and interest for his elevator brake, Otis hoisted an elevator platform several stories up and stood on it alone, in front of an audience. He then had a man with an ax cut the rope, sending him hurtling towards the ground. As the crowd watched in fear, the elevator brake kicked in and stopped the elevator platform from plummeting to earth.
This demonstration had the effect that Otis had hoped for, garnering his invention both attention and success – and the rest is history.
Cutting the rope doesn’t always seem “safe.” (Granted, Otis had done his research and knew his invention was going to work). But for many of us, this idea of “cutting the rope” in our lives does not feel safe.
But as Batterson says, “playing it safe is risky.” Obviously we’re not encouraging you to make decisions that risk your health and well-being, but the analogy is a good one.
Evaluate the risk, but don’t be afraid to take it. Go for it. Whatever you don’t do today, you’re less likely to do tomorrow.
Tom shared that he “cuts the rope” by going public with an idea or project or intention. You have to put yourself out there. You have to almost “trap” yourself into having to do it.
Even if it’s something like taking time off for a vacation – if you announce to your team that you’re taking time off, then it’s happening. You’re going on that vacation. Or going after a promotion, going to a training program, signing up for a workout program – whatever it is, cut the rope.
It can be scary to cut the rope, again, because of how we perceive and associate failure. We don’t want to be judged. But if we can learn to not tie failure to who we are, but instead tie it to a learning experience, it will lead us to the right thing and we will move forward in our lives with the ability to flip the script and ultimately, win the day.
You can find Win the Day online if you’re interested in reading the whole book by Mark Batterson.
And if you found this blog helpful and want to learn more about ASLAN and our philosophy, please check out our new book, UnReceptive, at unreceptivebook.com.