The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. – Sun Tzu

Like I mentioned a few blog posts ago, I had this little success formula I ‘came up’ with in high school. I say ‘came up’ with dramatic air quotes because obviously it’s not a new formula and many before me have expressed it in some form or the other across the ages. But bear with me…

To get what you want, all you have to do is three things:

  1. Know what you want
  2. Count the cost
  3. Pay the price

So far, I have talked about knowing what you want, and how you need to know yourself first so that all you seek comes from a deep authentic sense of self. Once you have figured all of that out, you have to figure out what it would take to get what you want.

This step is what separates dreams and wishes from true goals and desires. To get what you want, you must pay the required price.

To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.”

—Charles T. Munger

What will it take to get what you want?

There is the gulf between where you are now, and where you need to go. How will you bridge the gap?

Some costs are easy to figure out. Want a summer body? The cost is regular exercise and a healthy diet. Others are a bit more complex. Want career success? Learn more about your field and industry, make a career plan, invest in gaining new skills, get a mentor, and be on the lookout for opportunities.

1 + 1 = 2

Sometime around 2015, a few friends and I are busy working to get a fledging startup off the ground. We are hustling our asses off, taking two steps forward and five steps back. We are going to meetings, pitching to clients, investors, and being very busy. In the midst of this flurry of activity, and after a few years of dealing with all sorts of business people, it finally dawns on me.

1 + 1 = 2

There is a deep sense of wishful thinking that is so difficult to keep at bay. Hollywood has conditioned us to think that someone is coming to save us. That by some stroke of luck, or magic, things will somehow work out. We see it in the ‘so-called strategies’ of companies. We see it in the hopeful entrepreneur eagerly pitching his idea blissfully oblivious of the holes in his logic and product. If you are to get what you want, you have to work hard to shed this warm blanket of delusion. You have to know no one is coming to save you. It is all on you.

1 + 1 = 2

Which means that there must be a clear logical sequence of things for you to get what you want. Getting what you want will not happen by magic. It will happen by respecting the amount of work, the amount of time, and all the factors involved in actually making it happen, and then executing 100% against that.

To make the MacBook I am typing this on right now, teams of people at Apple had to work together to create the software, design and manufacture the hardware. It took incredible coordination to finance the deals, make the product, package it, market it, and ultimately sell it to me at the iStore. None of it happened by magic and none of it happened without due deliberation.

You’ve got what it takes, but it will take all you’ve got.

I want to build the company of my dreams. I respect what it takes to do that. The entrepreneurial spirit, the leadership skills, the communication skills, the sales skills, the deal-making skills. I understand the cost, the potential decade or two or three it would take me to get there. I understand that I have to become a dramatically different person to achieve this. I respect the lessons I must learn about design, about culture, about finance, about process.

I think I’ve got what it takes, and I’m sure it will take all I’ve got and more. It is what I want. I’m prepared to pay the price.

So, think about what you want. What will it take to get there? What are the steps you must take? What are the gaps in your knowledge you must fill? What commitment must you make? Will you respect the law of cost? That 1 + 1 must equal 2.

You must pay the cost to get what you want.

“The first step to getting what you want is to have the courage to get rid of what you don’t.” —Zig Ziglar

The cost is not just the things you must do. It is also the things you must not do or stop doing.

Every choice comes with an opportunity cost. Sometimes, getting what you want will need you to make dramatic changes in environment or associates. Sometimes you must give up something you hold dear, to get something even better.

All of this is incredibly hard, but it can be easier, if you cultivate burning desire…


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