There you are, walking away from a heated argument. But you feel good. You feel accomplished. Your head is held high. Finally, you got to say exactly what you wanted to say when you wanted to say it. What a rare opportunity! But, the next day you wake up, that conversation is still on your mind and you don’t feel as hot as you did 24 hours ago.

“What gives? I won. I should feel great, but now I just feel like crap.”

Yea. That’s a place I’ve been to a few times. My ego transforms into this uncontrollable giant fire-breathing grizzly bear thing that consumes everything in his way (it must be the redhead in me). Each time I apologize and subsequently promise myself that it won’t happen again… until it does.

On the path of self-discovery, you become faced with the same challenges over and over again. Despite your values, there are flaws in yourself that you just can’t seem to overcome. I listened to the awesome Tim Ferriss/Tony Robbins podcast the other day. At one point (around 48min), Tony talks about what drives happiness – and it’s so simple, but rang so true:

Progress = Happiness


This very concept is something that I feel deep down in my core. I am most happy not when I am in a certain place or experiencing something exotic and new, but when I feel myself growing. Growing emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.. To grow, I try to align my actions with my personal values as best as I can, but sometimes that is not enough.

The great former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh created several Do’s and Don’ts lists throughout his coaching career that he passed along to his players. These lists were guidelines to live by that he believed would manifest into success on the field and, more importantly, in life. So, I borrowed this wonderful idea and applied it to my own life.

In one list, in particular, Bill addressed standards of performance. The Do’s and Don’ts list below contains my personal standards of performance that I try to hold myself accountable to and I read every morning before I start the day. I continuously remind myself of these because I can’t simply write them down, apply them to my life, and move on. These are things that I need to work at every single day.

Keep in mind that this is not a definitive all-encompassing list. As I continue to grow, so does this list.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t be the victim
    • It’s tempting, but it undermines your resolve to change anything. Shitty stuff happens. Own it and move on.
  2. Don’t let your ego interfere with your relationships
    • Being right is isolating. After 5 minutes, you get nothing from it. It leaves them feeling resentment and you feeling regret.
  3. Don’t use others as a measuring stick for success
    • Professionally, personally, sexually, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, romantically, creatively, metaphorically. Whatever. Your success in life depends on you and you only.
  4. Don’t seek distractions
    • Put down the phone. Sign out of Gmail. Turn off the TV. These things consume you, not the other way around. When the day is complete, then unwind.
  5. Don’t put on a face
    • You are you and they are they. Being someone else robs both of you of an authentic experience. Live according to who you are, ugly stuff included.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • Suck up your pride. You can’t do everything on your own no matter how hard you try. People are willing to help, you just need to ask.

Do’s

  1. Do something physical
    • When you’re young, get off your ass and sweat for at least 30 minutes. When you’re old, walk around the block.
  2. Stimulate thought
    • See the world in a new way. Get sucked into a deep conversation. Watch a speech. Read an essay. Always reflect afterwards.
  3. Do something uncomfortable
    • Seek the uncomfort. Being uncomfortable involves experiencing something new. More lessons come from the unfamiliar than they do from the familiar.
  4. Write something new
    • Writing is free therapy. Bleed your heart out on paper. Write a story. Write a song. If the mental block is there, bust through it with no regrets.
  5. Be vulnerable
    • Life is more than seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. You’re stronger than that. Give yourself the chance to feel the shitty emotions so you can fully experience the great ones.
  6. Be kind
    • Everyone goes through shit and sometimes you don’t see that. When in doubt, just be kind. It’s that simple. This makes life more enjoyable for both them and you.

Spark Your Growth

This list has helped me grow immensely in several areas of my life. Now, it's your turn.

Create your own standards of performance. Write down the things that you know you should be doing (and not doing) based on your own personal values. Does your ego turn into a fire-breathing grizzly bear? Do you want to take better care of your body? Whatever they are, address them in your list.

This is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable to the way you want to live your life and continuously grow as an awesome person.