This One Phrase Changed My Life

There is an old zen saying

“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything”. 

I first heard this phrase from a mentor of mine a few years ago and it made me rethink my whole approach to the way I was living my life.

I used to be a someone who would cut corners on what I thought were small things. For example, I would make my bed but I wouldn’t tuck the sheets all the way in. I would clean the house but not pull the lounge out and vacuum under.

I would complete a task to 80{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of my ability and then stop when I thought it was good enough. What I couldn’t see at the time was; by cutting corners on the small things and not doing them to the best of my ability, I had developed a habit of laziness and mediocrity.

Over time this habit had crept into the more important areas of my life. I found myself wanting to cut corners on work projects and wanting to stop when a piece of art I was working on was “good enough” but not perfect.

I had accepted mediocrity as an option in my life and thats exactly what I ended up with. If you have accepted mediocre in one area of your life, you have accepted mediocre. Full stop. The cure for this is to not allow mediocre to be an option in your life. If you don’t accept it, it’s impossible to end up with it.

The world we live in today is a competitive place. There is no room anymore for average. The bar has been raised and people expect excellence. Excellent products, excellent service and excellent work. The people who don’t provide excellence get 2nd place.

The fastest way to become successful is to commit to excellence in everything you do. When you commit to doing every task to the best of your ability, from the household chores all the way to the big things like your work tasks, you develop a habit of excellence. Once I developed a habit of excellence, success in my life soon followed.

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile” – Zig Ziglar

Take those few extra steps and you will set yourself apart from 99{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of your competition who are not willing to walk that extra mile.

Here are two of my favorite definitions of success.

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou

All professional athletes will tell you that becoming successful is not just what happens on game day. As an ex-professional athlete myself, I know first hand that athletes become great by practicing the little things until they are perfectly executed.

They go to training and practice the mundane basics to the best of their ability, over and over again. They don’t cut corners on their training because they know it will affect their performance on game day.

They understand..

“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything”

Understanding this phrase not only helps you become better at everything you do, it also makes it easy to decide on business partners, employees and friends.  You can tell a lot about a someone by the way they handle the other areas of their life.

If someone is lazy at home, chances are they will be lazy at work, in relationships and in whatever else they do in their life.

If someone isn’t loyal and constantly talks shit about people behind their back, what are the chances they will be loyal to you?

In my experience, if someone talks shit about one person, they talk shit about everyone.

“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything”

Start paying attention to the way you do the small things in your life. You may surprise yourself at just how much more you are capable of.

Tobi Atkins is a former Professional Surfer, turned Lifestyle Coach. Tobi runs the popular self-improvement blog Men’s Lifestyle Project and enjoys helping men reach their full potential.


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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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