Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

What Can’t You Do?

Why not?

This video moved me. What do you want to do with your life?

So many of our impossible challenges require long term commitments. They require failing, day after day after day after day. Gradually, you fail less spectacularly. And when success comes, it’s like a birthday. All that aging in steady increments, but then you are suddenly something different, in that clearly defined moment when you do what was previously impossible.

For the last three months, I’ve been doing exercises every morning called the Five Tibetans. At first, I couldn’t do them all. Even now, I can’t do them all that well. But they feel different every day. I feel different every day.

Exercising, dieting, writing, practicing, these things require habitual application when we want to do anything else. But what do we want to become? Do we want it bad enough? Are we willing to put in the effort?

The most inspiring thing about this video? The fact that he set up a camera and filmed week one. You know who does that? Someone who expects to succeed, no matter what. Name your challenge. Know you’ll conquer it. Know it in week one, when you can’t even touch the rim.

 

14 replies to “What Can’t You Do?”

I really like this, and the advice couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks for posting, Hugh. This chump is going to keep pressing on, working every day to be the kind of chump I want to be. :)

Thanks for sharing this, Hugh. It highlights what I tell people all the time about the things I’ve achieved in life: they take immense effort.

I don’t have big fitness goals, but I do have them. One was to ensure I stay lean in middle age, as well as increase my strength and endurance. I’m 48 and very healthy, but I did have periods where I was rather chunky and in pretty average shape. Owing to a family history of diabetes and heart disease, I decided to take control of the situation in my 30s, with reasonable success. I mostly kept weight off and exercised a decent amount. In the past three years, I decided to step up my game. With my second 14K race coming up in August (Sydney’s iconic City2Surf), I aim to finish under 90 minutes, which is well within my abilities, but not without a lot of good, focused training.

My trainer has given me a program that’s realistic for me: for my long distance runs, increase them each week by 500 metres, which is not a huge amount, and also increase my speed slightly, so that come race time five months from now, I’ll be able to consistently average about 5:30 per km, which will get me over the finish line at under 90 minutes.

I have good running days and not-so-good running days. But I do them anyway. I have a goal in mind and I know what it requires to achieve it.

Similarly, I heeded your succinct advice with regard to writing, which was: finish! It took me a lot of planning, a lot of dead ends, and some false starts, but I not only finished my book (a memoir about my year teaching English in Slovakia in the 1990s), but I have completed major revisions, as well. It was a lot of work, and I had to fit it in between a day job and a pretty active social life, but it was worth the effort. Now I know that I can do it, and it’s given me fuel for my future writing projects.

Two things…
When I was in 6th grade I had an obsession with touching at least the net. Everyone thought I was crazy considering I was maybe 5 foot maybe 4’11” and a girl. I didn’t even play basketball, but I was one of those naturally athletic children. Every day during lunch in the gym (small school) I’d try over and over. I don’t even remember how long it took, but I finally grazed the net. Everyone except one boy had their backs turned at the time. None of them believed me except that one boy who saw it. We both could barely believe it ourselves. After that I never tried again, but I still remember the feeling of shock and excitement when it actually happened. I believed I could the entire time though… I think that’s what mattered the most.

About 2 wks ago I first heard about the 5 Tibetans. After reading all about them for an entire day I still haven’t done any. Seeing this mention though makes me think maybe I should. Synchronicity and all. :)

Thanks, Hugh.

Over the last few days I ran a promotion for my creativity Book The Leonardo Trait. I took a screen shot of the really poor ranking on Amazon the day before the promotion. I just took a screen shot of it now at #2 in one of its categories. Then I read your post. I knew I was going to succeed, or I never would have.

Thanks for posting this. We all need a much motivation as we can get.

One question: did you know you were going to succeed (be a best-selling author) when you started writing?

Keep on writing. :)

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