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Inspirational people often have commonalities. Finding them makes it easier to become a happier, more productive person. If the same advice is given by countless people at the top of their fields, it’s usually incredibly useful. There are so many self help gurus nowadays that it’s hard to tell who makes sense, and who is spinning bullshit narratives for personal profit. Apparently, the repeat audience of most leaders like this are the same average people who endlessly fail to improve themselves. So a lot of advice from those whose job it is to give it seems useless. However, some life coaches do give helpful suggestions. You can look at plenty of first hand accounts of people who have drastically upgraded their lives with them.
There are many motivational people, but three of them stand out to me. They’re very different, but some of their beneficial advice is the same. One of them is a dead Japanese warrior, the other is an ex-Navy SEAL, and the third is a self help coach. But one particular recommendation that all three of them have mentioned is phenomenally helpful.
The dead Japanese warrior who I’m referring to is Miyamoto Musashi. He was a samurai in the late 1500s and early 1600s, and is famous for his book called The Book of Five Rings. It’s all about his life philosophy. Musashi was known for being a phenomenally skilled swordsman, and he fought with two swords. He claimed to have killed more than 60 people in duels, and he never lost, but he didn’t fit the stereotype of warriors. This samurai encouraged balance in all areas of life. Other than being an expert in combat, he was an excellent poet and proponent of pursuits like poetry and gardening. While he killed many men, he didn’t go around looking for battles, and he would sometimes give his opponents the advantage. Musashi apparently at least once used nothing more than a stick to fight a man with a sword, and still won. He cultivated and recommended self defence training, but wanted to avoid conflict. His life philosophy appeared to centre around pragmatism and balance.
The former Navy SEAL who I’m talking about is Jocko Willink. He was in charge of one of the SEAL teams who fought in the Iraq war, and he is now an entrepreneur and author. Willink has a podcast that is simply called Jocko Podcast, in which he reads excerpts from books describing first hand accounts of war, and interviews veterans. He also discusses issues like battle, leadership, and productivity. Similar subjects are analyzed in his books, including Extreme Ownership, with another ex-SEAL named Lief Babin, the Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual, and the Way of the Warrior Kid. That last one is designed to help children become mentally and physically stronger through hard work. Jocko frequently discusses the importance of discipline, self improvement, and humility, which you can tell from his book titles. The idea behind his Discipline Equals Freedom mantra is this: If you consistently cultivate discipline, it can dramatically improve you, which allows the freedom to slack off every once in a while, without guilt. Extreme ownership is about personal responsibility, avoiding blaming others for your problems, and taking control of setbacks to use them to your advantage. The two ways that Willink encourages self improvement the most is through learning and exercise. This is because the healthier and smarter you are, the better you’ll do at almost everything.
The self help coach who I’m referring to is Tony Robbins. Most people have probably heard about him. He’s one of the most famous motivational speakers and life coaches in the world. Robbins has written many books and often hosts seminars. While I disagree with some of what he does and says, a lot of his advice seems extremely useful. He encourages similar virtues as Musashi and Willink, including balance, humility, discipline, and physical and mental development. Robbins also promotes compassion, honesty, self reflection, and has many useful tactics for productivity and becoming happier.
So what’s the one common piece of advice between all three of these people? Take Action. Pursue knowledge that helps you improve yourself. Like I said earlier, a large quantity of recommendations from self help gurus seems useless, but taking action is very pragmatic. People can wax philosophically all day long about ways to think about improving emotions and productivity. However, a lot of this is just noise, and it’s better to give people actionable advice; simple tactics than anyone can immediately use to change their lives for the better.
I like pursuing knowledge for its own sake, and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t believe that Musashi, Willink, or Robbins would say that learning just to know more is a bad idea either. But I understand the importance of pragmatic advice. It’s easy to read tons of books about meditation and to-do lists, but never implement these tools into your life. This is why one recommendation of all three of these people is to do things that help you, instead of researching them to death without ever taking action. So if you think that following a new diet, working out, and reading more books will improve your life, just try them. You can tweak the details along the way. You don’t need to scour your library or book store for what seem like the best ideas in nutrition, exercise, and speed-reading. Just find any book, workout program, and diet that are better than what you’re already using. If you make mistakes, you can fix them, while likely having done less damage than you would have if you hadn’t taken action.
People are different of course, but this is sometimes a problem for me. I want to learn so much about an idea before I implement it that I stagnate while waiting to improve. It’s not’s good to rush some decisions. But if the only consequences will be upgrading your body and intelligence less than you would have before discovering more accurate information, then taking action is better. This is one of many reasons that I like Miyamoto Musashi, Jocko Willink, and Tony Robbins. They don’t want to waste people’s time with bullshit advice. They want to give you pragmatic tools that you can immediately use to transform your life. So the next time you’re planning on researching diets, meditation, and exercise for half a year, and reading dozens of books, don’t waste your time. You can learn just as much, but if you start improving right now, you can make adjustments along the way. This will lead to a hell of a lot more positive change overall. Don’t become an expert on useful advice before you implement it. Just take action!