“Always do your best. What you plant, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino
Years ago, I wrote a book called, The Silk Merchant. It was set in ancient times. Two-thousand years ago, it centered around the life of Pontus, one of the greatest silk traders who had ever lived. Shunned as the bastard son of a king named, Tiberius, and although he was forced to live in exile much of his life, struggling to help his mother and siblings to survive, somehow he persisted.
Pontus was a character who lived somewhere in the far-reaches of my mind for many, many years. As I struggled in my own life, I looked for examples of others who had faced similar situations. It forced me to dig deep to truly understand the nature of success and failure. For much of my life, I was so afraid of failure. I lived in fear of what others thought of me and how I was perceived. I was so reliant on the opinion of others that it made me sick to my stomach when someone painted me in a negative light.
What was I so afraid of? It was the fear of failure. It wasn’t so much the act of failing itself. That part wasn’t so bad. It was more the projections of all the bad things that could possibly occur. But we all project, don’t we? As I stepped out of that old-self, I began to realize that even the most famous people in the world had failed. Failure has become so taboo in our society that we’re all deathly afraid of it.
It was almost as if I had recached some epiphany through failure. It was like all of that pain had really carved out true meaning and a new sense of self. Thus, it became my mission to teach people that it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s through failure that you learn life’s biggest lessons. But the biggest thing I took away from those major turning points in my life were that no matter what happened to us, it was less about the events of our lives that defined us, and more about how we reacted.
So I started to plant these seeds. I realized, back then, that I could only truly succeed over time. I couldn’t look for shortcuts and try to cut corners. I could only reap what I had sown. I suppose that everyone reaches these epiphanies at different points in their lives. But you know what? It’s easy to get caught up in success. It’s easy to allow it to get to your head. It’s far harder to not allow failure get to your heart.
How To Always Do Your Best
No matter what situation you face, regardless of how difficult things might seem, you have to do your best with what you have. So much of the state and quality of our lives is born from our thoughts. If you’re not a steward of your thoughts, they will control you. Instead, if you can hold dominance over your thinking, you can command a life of sheer abundance. That isn’t just some positive-thinking mumbo-jumbo. It’s the truth.
But when we’re faced with difficult situations, we don’t always do our best. Rather, we pity ourselves. We think negatively. As a result, the poor-me scenario sets in. It’s hard to climb out of that self-inflicted mental prison. Our thoughts bear fruit to our emotions, to our finances, our relationships, and ultimately, our lives. But when bad things happen, it seems to build momentum against us. We think that things will never get better, when in fact, they always do.
I’ve faced some pretty brutal situations in my life. I’ve lost businesses, friendships, marriages, money, and sometimes even, my sense of self. So when I read the quote from Og Mandino that says, “Always do your best. What you plant, you will harvest later,” it made me think a lot about the events in my life, but also in the ability to overcome just about anything through sheer persistence.
The biggest problem? Most of us aren’t looking to the long-term effects of our actions today. We’re very here-and-now in our thinking. We want what we want when we want it. Don’t we? That’s why it’s so hard to overcome those pesky bad habits. But this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s simply the temporal pain-versus-pleasure paradigm that our minds operate in. We think about pain in the short term, not in the long term.
If we thought about pain in the long term, virtually none of us would have bad habits, we’d all wake up early, work hard, save and invest our money, and work towards securing a healthy and wealthy future. Nope. We don’t think that way. For the most part. Most of us don’t think that way at least. 99.999% don’t think that way. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t flip the script. We just need a rather large motivator to do it.
How To Plant The Right Seeds Today
The reason why I love this quote by Og Mandino so much isn’t just because of what it stands for metaphorically. In fact, if you know anything about Mandino’s life, you already know the demons he had to overcome to become one of the most successful inspirational authors of all time. An alcoholic on the brink of suicide during the holidays, thoughts of ending it all flashed across his mind.
But something happened on that almost-fateful day. Staring through that window at the gun in the pawn shop, destitute and desperate, he could have followed through with his darkest and deepest desires of ending it all. But he didn’t. And because he didn’t, he discovered how to plant the right seeds today to harvest later. And that’s exactly what he did. Ending up in that library wasn’t by chance. There was a grand design for it.
Now, I’m not here to really get too theoretical on you. You know the source of the quote now, but what you might also want to know is how you can actually change your mindset to plant those proverbial seeds now. How do you move past the short-term desires and look more towards the long-term gains? How do you work on a business or towards a goal that might be months, years, or even a decade or more out into the future?
Well, after writing over three dozen books, launching dozens of blogs, and building out multiple businesses that have generated 7 and 8-figure revenues, I can tell you a thing or two about that. It’s a mental shift that occurs. There’s a precise process that you need to go through, and a specific way that you need to set your goals. You can read more about setting your goals the right way here, here or here. All of these are terrific primers for the steps you’ll see below.
#1 — Focus On Your “Why”
One of the easiest ways you can plant seeds today to harvest later is by focusing on your why. When you create goals the right way, and you write them down on paper, the best way to follow through with those goals is to create some fuel that will add to the fire. That fuel comes in the way of a strong enough reason.
Think about it for a moment. How many times have you achieved something that meant everything to you? When it was your life or your family or something else incredibly important on the line, you did what you had to do to get it done, right? Sure you did. Think back to that moment in time.
You see, the biggest problem most of us have, and the reason why we have so much difficulty doing work today that will pay us back in the future, is because we don’t create a strong enough reason why. To change that, write down a powerful reason. Make it emotional. We’re talking life, limb and freedom here. If you want to follow through, it has to be something sincere.
Tony Robbins often puts it this way. Would you do more to make $25,000 or more to prevent someone from stealing $25,000? The latter, of course. Why? Because you’re trying to avoid pain. Theft of something you own is painful. And we do more to avoid pain than we do to gain pleasure. That’s just the way we’re hardwired. So you have to flip the script by coming up with a powerful why. That’s it. Write it down and make it impactful.
#2 — Create Milestones
Milestones are like markers towards your goals. Sometimes, goals can get overwhelming when they’re big. When we get overwhelmed, we tend to give up. Instead, you can plant seeds today if you focus on milestones. Often, what I tell people who I’m mentoring is to just focus on achieving a small daily or weekly goal. It’s much more consumable and digestable to focus on that.
For example, if you’re trying to launch a new business, you can stop and think about the millions of things you need to do. Or, you can break it down into digestible parts and pieces. Milestones like daily goals are easier to achieve. And if you can create some momentum by stringing many consecutive days of achieving, you’ll be well on your way to harvesting your dreams.
Take your big goals that you’re going after, ensure that they’re quantifiable in that they’re number-oriented (i.e. dollar amount, weight-loss in pounds or kilograms, etc). and break that down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. All you have to do is divide by 12, 52 or 365, respectively. Fair enough?
#3 — Meticulously Track Results
Goals are hard to achieve and your harvest is going to be harder to reap if you don’t actually know where you are, how far you’ve come and how much further you’ve got left to go. Find a system you can implement to track your results and be sure to stay consistent with it.
For example, how do you think an airplane achieves its goal of landing in a particular city on a particular day at a particular time? It tracks and analyzes its results on a moment-by-moment basis. Now, you don’t have to go that far. But, if you’re serious about a goal, why not track it every day?
If you veer off track, it’s easier to identify. But when you stop tracking, it’s easier to get lost. It’s easier to go off on a tangent and spend money, waste your time and simply stop paying attention. By tracking it, your goal has focus. And goals that you focus on are easier to achieve.
#4 — Contribute To Others
Can you really harvest tomorrow, the seeds that you plant today, by contributing to others? Absolutely. There’s a karmic value in contribution. By helping other people out there, you can make a difference in your own life. Plus, it just feels good. What can you contribute to others?
If you say you don’t have money, it’s not about money. It’s about time. It’s about impact. It’s about helping people navigate a problem that you might be well-versed at navigating. Not only does that feel good, but it also adds value to the world. And by adding value, you truly are setting yourself up for success. You might not notice it now, but you are.
#5 — Do The Most Important Tasks (MITs) Of The Day First
At the start of the day, we’re always more focused. We’re fresh. Gone is the weight of the day on our shoulders. Anything is possible. And it’s precisely at that time that you should plant those seeds that you can later harvest. In the morning. Wake up early and get after your MITs.
By getting these big tasks done first, you build momentum. When you build momentum, you feel more empowered. Plus, you move closer towards your goals. Your seeds move one step closer to harvest. That’s what’s important. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Those frogs are your MITs. So be sure to eat those frogs!