The Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

About three years ago, I was sitting on the veranda at the King Kamehameha country club in Maui, wondering what the hell I was doing there.

I was at a mastermind summit, and had no business being there. All day long for three days, I was surrounded by business owners and entrepreneurs twice my age who made 1,000 x my income. I was way out of my league.

I was not supposed to be there.

48 hours earlier, I was at my parents’ house in Chicago doing nothing.

48 hours earlier, I couldn’t even get a job at Starbucks, much less start my own business.

48 hours earlier, I was stuck, spinning my wheels, with no idea what to do with my life.

Surrounded by these guys that were pulling in hundreds of thousands (and even *gasp* millions) of dollars a year, I wasn’t just out of my league, I was in a completely different world.

Maui

Somehow, during one of the breaks, I managed to find myself sitting across from Perry, while people peppered him with questions. I wanted to ask a smart sounding question about business strategy or entrepreneurship, or maybe ask him about the three most important things he learned while scaling to a multi-million dollar business, or maybe something about hiring effectively.

I managed to ask none of those questions. Instead, I squeaked out the one little question that was in my microwaved 23-year-old brain (this is what happens when you’re around brainiacs 100 x smarter than you).

How do you even start?

Perry looked at me for a second before he leaned in and said:

All you really need to do is three things:

  1. Commit to something
  2. Put your balls on the line
  3. Then figure it out

That’s all there is to it.

He leaned back, and continued to answer questions while I just stared at him like you do when someone’s just mentally fried and re-wired your brain.

Commit to something. Put your balls on the line. Then figure it out.

It’s remarkably simple advice, but it changed (and continues to change) how I look at things with my blog, with my business, and with my life.

Three years later, whenever I get stuck, I always go back to that piece of advice.

The specifics of each project were different, but the outline remained the same:

  1. Commit to something – anything. It matters less what you do, and more that you do it.
  2. Put your balls on the line. Blackmail yourself into becoming successful.
  3. Then figure it out. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is when it’s your balls that are on the line.

None of those steps take anything more than time and a willingness to jump off the bridge, and then figure it out on the way down. This is part of the reason that I think most productivity hacks are B.S., and why you’re much better off learning how to decide instead.

Once you do, put your balls on the line and figure it out.

That’s all there is to it.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think this is a great mindset to live your life. Just start out, everything else will fall in place.

    Ready! Fire! Aim!

    Ps.: Finished today cold shower therapy with a freezing 10 minutes session. Victory!

  2. says

    Sounds like pretty solid advice. I think too many people, me included, sometimes try to do too many small things rather focus on one thing and killin’ it.

  3. says

    That’s actually amazing advice, Joel. People are afraid because they think they have very little understanding. Sure, there is a lot we don’t know but we truly hone our skills and our knowledge of the craft once we get started. We sort of play things by ear to a certain extent. I wouldn’t believe you if you went back in time to tell my past-self from 6 months ago all the things I would know now. I put my balls on the line and because of it I figured it out as I went.

  4. says

    Well said. Just figure it out. Everything will never be perfect.

    I experienced this earlier this year. One evening I was bored. I wanted a challenge. So I signed up for two races. I paid for them. Being the cheap man that I am, I knew that there was no turning back once I paid.

    So I showed up to this 10k run with zero experience (unless you count running from commitment). Somehow I managed to do it. I didn’t die. I ran 10k in less than an hour. I was sore for a week. But I got the nice medal in my room to show I had the balls to show up.

  5. says

    His advice is so true. I never actually get anything great done unless I take those first two steps. Otherwise it’s just a lot of speculation and thought, that generally leads to nothing worthwhile. The biggest rush is when you commit and put yourself out there then are faced with execution – that’s when I learn a TON. And grow a lot.

  6. says

    Great post and straight to the point! I would like to think that I’ve had that mentality for a while, but the truth is I’ve mostly done that on a small scale, low risk type of stuff.

    Last month I quit my job and now I’m leaving out of the country in just shy of 3 months to figure something out, to get me on a path that will have me motivated and passionate. I know I have the tools and knowledge to create and do something, it’s just a matter of that final jump to commit, put my balls on the line and figure it out!

  7. says

    Love this article, simple and well put.

    Being 25 years old, sometimes I feel I’m out of my league when I go to a networking event or hang around older, more successful people than me… but I do it regardless.

    You just gotta put yourself out there!

  8. says

    Great story & even better point. Like most people, I spent my 20s trying to get picked or work my way up in a system that other people had built. Getting older helped, but it’s a hard habit to break.

    Thanks for this post. I needed a little kick today.

  9. AI says

    It’s a cliché that you hear all the time,” I wish I knew then what I know now.”

    All of us have the seeds of greatness in us. However for many of us the sprouting comes much later in life.

    I am more than twice your age, and just now fully realizing that those 3 principles are correct.

    All you really need to do is three things:
    1. Commit to something
    2. Put your balls on the line
    3. Then figure it out

    I would add one more though.

    “It’s never too late to be what you might have become” George Elliot

    Adventure Insider

  10. Jeremy says

    Great Post. First part really resonated with me. I’m about to be at a mastermind where everyone is pulling in at least $3MM plus (except for me, of course – my business has a ways to go). Feeling a little anxious, but then I always think that fear is a sign that I’m doing something right.

  11. says

    We forget that we are survivors and we will always find a way to make it happen. Thanks for taking action in your goals and sharing it here. Very Inspiring!

  12. says

    Joel-

    Great post. It reminds me of a conversation I had a few months ago with a man who founded over 40 companies in his 80-something years. He is now a multi-’gazillionaire,’

    I asked him “What advice would you give someone starting out in business?”

    Without hesitating…

    “Get up in the morning and put your pants on!” was his reply.

    We make things so complicated at times. It’s always good to spend time with people with the wisdom to keep it simple for us!

    MOTORhard!
    Tom

  13. says

    Thanks for sharing this Joel. I have come to a similar understanding lately…as always it is sticking to it and not reverting back to old habits that is the difficult bit :)

  14. Stephen Yeh says

    Such a simple equation to really accomplish anything in life. I believe having confidence is the most important factor in starting anything, because it allows you to pursue the goal with 100% effort. Any less will allow you to quit too easily.

  15. says

    Great advice – the simplest advice usually is the best.

    I think the first thing is what most people get caught up in – me included. It’s easy to settle into something comfortable – like a job – and wish something bigger and better will come along. I’d guess most people at some point or another do that.

    It’s much harder to actually come up with something and commit to it. Even though it sounds easy, figuring out what to commit to without changing stream can be a mental barrier for a lot of people.

  16. says

    I wish women would give each other advice this way. It’s so interesting and so apparent that men speak to each other differently than women speak to each other. I love the male perspective and view of achieving goals, I find this facinating. As a women this is probably some of the best advice I ever got. I mean I don’t have “balls” but I do have “balls”
    Thank you

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