Personal Mantra

One of the things that I have and that many creative and highly-productive people have, is a personal mantra.

Now, I know, the word “mantra” can sometimes elicit feelings of the supernatural, spiritualism, and other things but spare me those paths and just follow me for a moment.

For me it’s most simply something that helps guide my work and my thoughts and something that creates incredible internal drive and motivation, insanely so.

The challenge that many people have is coming up with one that they completely engender, one they completely and unequivocally buy into – in fact, there is no “purchase” so to speak as those that find one that works discover that it comes out of them as naturally as breathing. It’s something they may never have expressed in words but they know it, intuitively, in their very soul.

I have one that I rarely ever share (but I will today). In fact, my wife probably couldn’t tell you what it is explicitly but if I did tell her I bet she’d pause, think for a moment, and say something to the effect of “Yeah, that’s you alright.

Here it is (I have two actually):

John, you must work smarter and harder than everyone else. When they rest, you must work. When you’re tempted to relax just remember that your competitors are catching up. Your ability to work through your personal doldrums is your secret to your success. No one works as hard as you do. Sheer force of will is your chief strategy. Execute. Move. Don’t stop. Don’t give up.

And here’s the second:

John, never forget, no one will ever believe in your projects/products more than you. You must be the creator, the bearer, the one responsible for the work of your hands. No one will do it for you. They couldn’t if they tried.

Both of these are hardcore. They reflect an uncompromising picture in what I need (want) to be. There’s little room to be flexible. I internally “chant” these things to myself in a variety of forms (not these long forms all the time) when I’m feeling down and out.

What’s interesting is that most people, as reported occasionally in an email, tweet, or conversation, understand this about me. They see the long hours of work and are astonished. But equally fascinating is that they don’t see the long hours of intentional rest. I work and play very hard.

These personal mantras have been developed over a long period of time. It’s a reflection of core beliefs, of who I am, of who I want to be. I literally say these things to myself when I find myself “stuck” or unable to move forward.

I want to challenge you to develop and/or crystalize what they are for you (or at least challenge you to consider it). Some of you may know intuitively what they are while others of you may have to spend time thinking and crafting it. Some of you need to create some new ones from scratch.

I have no suggestions on how to go about developing one unfortunately. It’s all in the gut I’m afraid. But take some time to reflect on what your own personal mantra might be. You can iterate and change it up over time, which is fine (mine has) and refine it as you experience it.

Thoughts? Jot down what it means to you to have a personal mantra. What would it look like? What would it be? Would it be helpful, at all?

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