I’d like to share a short motivational video clip I came across recently. It’s a two minute clip from Jocko Willink’s podcast titled simply “Good”.
Odds are you’ve heard of Jocko before. He’s a retired Navy Seal commander who led Task Unit Bruiser in Ramadi during the Iraq war. He’s also an author and podcaster who likes to take black and white close-up photos of the sweat-drenched leavings of his infamous daily 4AM workouts.
Rather than explain the video I think it’s best if you just watch it. It’s a short two minutes and I promise it’s worth it.
Why I find this video and its message so particularly poignant is the simplicity of the statement ‘good’ and its power to trigger a state change in our negative thought patterns.
The video is all about perspective and how we respond to adversity. About seeing setbacks and challenges not as impediments to our progress, but as opportunities to learn, adapt, and improve.
This is hardly a new concept. Those of us who have undertaken a minimum examination of ourselves will have likely found it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we perceive and respond to events in our lives that shape us.
This concept is so widely spoken of it’s already a self-improvement cliché at this point. This is true of most self-improvement advice and the reason why sometimes I have a difficult time discussing the topic. The thing to realize is that there is a difference between knowing this concept is true intellectually and actually putting it to use as a mental framework.
It’s all too easy to become demoralized by the challenges of life. To be beaten down and put into a negative headspace by a string of bad experiences. To feel that things just aren’t going your way. That they are happening to you instead of for you.
I’ve definitely felt that way recently. First, I had to cancel a few trips due to Corona virus. Then, I had my only freelance copywriting client drop me because their business was going sideways.
Right when this happened I had another agency respond to a cold outreach email I had sent a few months prior. After interviewing, we both decided it was a good fit and they brought me onto their team as a part-time contractor for an estimated 20 hours of branding and copywriting work per week.
The first week with them I knocked out a few small projects but I wasn’t close to hitting that 20 hour work load. The second week communication slowly petered off from their end. They basically ghosted me for a week and when I communicated my willingness to help them out in any way I could, they responded by terminating our relationship without communicating why.
These events put me into a tailspin of frustration and anger. I thought I had found a good thing and was angry that this agency had ‘wasted my time.’ As a result, I then wasted the next two weeks being angry but not taking any positive action to remedy the problem.
This is where Jocko’s video is helpful. Instead of feeling victimized by these events I should’ve thought ‘good’ instead. I was fired without being told why? Good. It obviously wasn’t a place I’d like to work anyway. Instead of resting on my laurels with a cushy guaranteed 20 hours a week I should work on my lead pipeline and cold e-mail more prospects to increase the odds of finding somewhere I do.
This experience exposed a weakness in my freelance business, evidenced by the fact I was willing to work with the agency in question for less than my normal hourly rate. The solution? More outreach and more networking.
As Jocko puts it in the video: “Unexpected problems? Good. We have the opportunity to find a solution.”