How to Achieve your Dreams (Especially if the Odds are Against You)

HOLY HECK THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN WERE SO BADASS!


Not only were they some of the best pilots during World War 2, but they were also among the first African American military pilots ever.


Oh my god they look so cool. LOOK AT THOSE JACKETS TOO!

As you can probably guess, before and during most of the war, people of color weren't allowed to do much more than menial labor in the military. Even if they wanted to contribute in different ways, they had to sit on the sidelines and be horrifically disrespected. But the Tuskegee airmen broke down all those barriers, ended up flying over 15,000 different missions during World War 2, and even flew on missions that led to the end of the war itself. They weren't just fighting fascism overseas, but facing non-stop racism at home. Despite their ludicrous heroism, the earning of over 850 awards for their work, and objective measures that showed they were some of the best pilots in the world, they were still segregated, and hated for simply existing.

One of the Tuskegee Airmen's custom P-51 Mustangs

Still, they pushed through - relying on their intense levels of focus and hard work to make sure they could stay the course. Milton Holmes, a former Tuskegee airman, said in 2017 “We knew we had to have discipline. We had to be better than everyone because everyone expected us to fail." There's so much beautiful intensity to that statement that I can't get enough of it. While our struggles may not be anywhere near what these badasses had to put up with, their message can help us a great deal: Almost any mountain can be climbed, and any dream accomplished, providing we have the discipline necessary to make it happen. The word "discipline" often invokes thoughts of being yelled at or forced to do something But here, we're talking about a mindset that we carry day-to-day. True discipline is having an internal compass of knowing what we must do, and then acting appropriately. We've all met people who just get things done, regardless of the circumstances. No one has to tell them to do it, no one has to berate them into succeeding… they just get to work without an issue or single complaint. That's the truest form of discipline: the ability to know how to get the most important stuff done, despite the fact that it may suck and feel terrible sometimes. This, today, is a master skill Because so few care to develop it. When we can get ourselves to do the tough work, to focus, and to work towards what we deem appropriate, we automatically get better results than most other people. It's just a matter of time before our consistency yields us higher and higher levels of success in whatever arenas we want: family, career, fitness, friendships, finances, and on and on. The tricky part is in developing it And this does change from person to person. Some people do thrive on some levels of external pressure - having someone force them to do something until they're able to do it themselves. Others do better when any and all outside stimuli are drastically limited. When there are no distractions, there's nothing to get done other than our life's work. Most fall somewhere in the middle - needing to be forced to do some things, and preferring to do some things in complete silence. But at the core of all of this There are some commonalities. Regardless of who you are, there are things everyone must consider to become more disciplined. The suggestions I'm giving here are those that I've picked up from spending time around former U.S. special forces, fighter pilots, athletes, speakers, artists, entrepreneurs, actors, musicians, sound designers, and game creators. Even though their fields are all radically different, they all do the same things to keep sharp. Firstly, they spend time around other driven, disciplined people Which is what we must start doing as soon as we can. When we start to spend time around people who don't entertain people's nonsensical (often pointless) complaints, we start to realize that many of our own complaints are trivial and not worth giving time to anymore. The way we view the world changes. Instead of complaining, we take action. And if we don't take action, the disciplined people in our lives won't tolerate it, and will quietly stop engaging with us. Do stuff, and then do some more Whenever we do anything, whether it's making some sound for a client, or doing the dishes, a disciplined person always makes sure to do something slightly extra on top. If we're giving some sound to a client for feedback, maybe give a couple variations to help them narrow the tone of what the game should sound like. If we're networking with people, take note of things they said they enjoy, and curate some resources for them. For example, I'm a voracious reader, so I'll recommend books to my other book-reading friends. When we're making the bed, we can make sure to do a damn good job of it. Doing a little extra doesn't just benefit other people, though. It also helps you. When we start doing this more and more, even in seemingly-small ways, those habits seep into the rest of our lives. We start going just a bit further in, well, everything, and everything we do gets better and better. Cut out addictions When we think of addictions, we typically think of things that are very severe, like extreme drug and alcohol use. While, yes, those things can mess us up terribly, there are also countless others that we deal with on a daily basis:

  • Unhealthy food

  • Outrage

  • The news

  • Buying stuff we don’t need

  • Porn

  • Social Media

  • Devices

  • TV/Games

  • Etc.

The more of these we cut out/moderate, the better everything becomes. Do we need to never have fun again? No. Not at all. We can still absolutely enjoy ourselves and go nuts sometimes. But the second anything becomes a compulsion is when it should be moderated. When our discipline starts to get honed We can use it everywhere. Someone say something stupid to you on Twitter? Won't bother you anymore. Need to workout, even though all the gyms are closed? No issue. You'll find a way. Need to find new clients, even though things feel like they're in a rut? You'll get it done. Have to learn a new skill/topic? Picking up a book and reading it cover to cover suddenly becomes no problem. Have to work through a problem with your partner? It'll be way easier to face it instead of running away. The more discipline we have, the better everything becomes. "But Akash, you limited edition jar of Nutella" I hear you say "I don't want to sacrifice my life for my career!" You don't have to. Sacrifices absolutely need to be made to get to where we want, but we don’t need to destroy our lives to get there. There is a fine line between being positively focused on something, and unhealthily obsessed. Only you can determine where that line is for you. And yes, disciplined people can absolutely hate the grind of what they do It doesn't always feel good to keep our eyes forward and to be working on our dreams. In fact, it often feels punishing. But Jerry Seinfeld said it best: "your blessing in life is finding the torture you're comfortable with." No matter what we do, it won't always be fun or easy. But, the more time we put into a focused path, the more fun and easy it becomes. But when stray and bounce from thing to thing, looking for a magical path that will suddenly feel easy? That's when things get tough. Now, a lot of people start to berate themselves when they can't be as focused as they wish they could be And that's a big mistake. Even the US Navy SEALS are very careful about their self-talk, and do their best to keep the voice in their head uplifting and positive. If some of the roughest, most intensely-trained people on the planet do what they can to stay positive while in extreme danger, then we can learn a thing or two from that. Telling ourselves that we're worthless, lazy, etc. isn't productive And we all struggle with this from time to time. Just know that using this self-talk isn't effective long-term. Instead, I recommend learning and repeating this technique (and reading this book). When we use techniques like this repeatedly, our brain state changes from negative and self-hating to positive and upwardly driven. Alas, these sorts of mindset shifts don't happen overnight It takes consistent progress and effort. Often, we'll take many steps backwards in our quest of building inner-discipline. That's okay. It's all part of the process, and there's no finish line. So let's cover what we talked about today

  1. Discipline isn't about being yelled at, but instead about the mindset we carry toward what we must do

  2. The more of it we have, the better everything becomes

  3. Developing discipline involves being around other disciplined people, cutting out/moderating addictions and vices, and going just a little further on as many tasks as we can

  4. Our self-talk should be uplifting and positive throughout this whole process. Self-hatred and berating won't give long-term results

  5. The Tuskegee Airmen were the most fashionable, badass, and coolest people ever

So while our struggles aren't the exact same as the Tuskegee Airmen's We can still learn from their extreme discipline. Even though the odds were against them, they became some of the best of the best. The same can be true for you.


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