The higher the skyscraper you want to build, the stronger foundations you need. Without strong foundations, the skyscraper will collapse sooner or later. It’s the same with achieving your goals in life. The more ambitious goals you have, no matter in which area of life, the stronger foundations you’ll have to build.
The secret to setting strong foundations lies in Bruce Lee’s quote:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.”
Building strong foundations is a process. It takes patience and time, and you must do all the boring work over and over again. The skyscraper that everyone admires is the final result. Without the process, there is no final result.
We all want the final result without the process. We all want our skyscraper without putting the effort into building it floor by floor and even more than that: we want it without setting strong foundations. Because it’s hard to set strong foundations. Extremely hard. But without strong foundations, without putting in the effort to build firmly floor by floor, there is no skyscraper to admire. At least not in the long-term.
The stories in the media may fool you. There are exceptions in the world. Hollywood actors, teenagers selling their start-up for millions, winners of talent shows etc. But Hollywood is also a city of broken dreams. Silicon Valley is also a place of broken business dreams.
There are thousands of failed start-ups for every one that had been sold, you can see millions of talented people on every talent discovery show but there are only a few who become famous. People love to read and watch overnight stories, because they give hope that it can be done without hard work. But hope is not a strategy, setting strong foundations is. It’s a strategy that brings overnight success, but only after years of hard work.
Setting strong foundations in different areas of life
It’s time to look at some practical examples.
If you want to have a fit and healthy body, you must build strong foundations first. No pain, no gain could be the worst advice ever, if you don’t have strong foundations. You can seriously hurt yourself. Believe me, I’ve experienced it.
Going to the gym and pushing yourself to the maximum, doing hyper-intensive training, cross-fit or any other extreme form of exercise will break your body sooner or later, if you lack strong foundations. Your skyscraper will collapse and you’ll go many steps backwards.
Strong foundations regarding your body are strong core, flexibility, good condition, warming up and cooling down, doing enough stretching, preparing your body for effort, increasing the amount of weight you lift bit by bit, good posture etc.
Yoga and Pilates and planking and swimming and doing some sports in nature, like hiking, can help you build strong foundations. If you’ve been doing sports from a young age, maybe your strong foundations are already there; if not, you’ll have to start with the basics.
The same goes for money. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, the thing that matters most is how much you save. If you can’t save money when you earn a little, you’ll never save money when you earn a lot. There’s a saying that if you can’t save money, the seeds of becoming wealthy are simply not in you.
That may be true, but it’s also true that you can always improve, grow and change your behaviour. So if you don't have it yet, you can seed the seeds in greatness in you with self-improvement.
Look at the statistics for lottery winners. Most of them go back to being broke in a few years. Because they don’t have strong foundations. They start spending like crazy and have no money management skills. The large amount of money brings them happiness only for a short period of time. After they go broke, they’re usually less happy than before winning the lottery. Strong foundations are the ones that work in the long term.
To lay down strong foundations regarding money, you have to start small. Pay yourself first. When you get your paycheck, put a small percentage of it to your savings account. Sell stuff you don’t need, start curbing you impulse buying decisions etc. Read about different types of investments.
Become financially educated. Challenge your beliefs and money blueprint. There are many things you can and should do. Step-by-step, feeling proud of yourself for having a strategy and sticking to it.
Let’s continue. If you want to have a promising career, you need to build strong foundation. Strong foundations are hashtag (#) shaped skills. You need to develop soft skills, like good communication skills, team work, networking skills and all other soft skills that are very important today.
You also need general knowledge about a specific industry you’ve chosen to create in and add value to. These are your strong foundations. Based on that, you need to become an expert and develop a specific skill for which there is a great demand on the market and a short supply of. If you have two different kinds of expert skills that you can combine, your career potential is probably even better.
In order to have good key relationships in your life, you need strong foundations. That means having good communication skills, a great capacity for love, empathy and so on. If you want to receive, you have to know how to give.
If you want to be empowered by other people, you must empower other people. If you want to be loved, you need to love yourself first.
Why setting strong foundations is hard
Setting strong foundations also means tackling all the problems that prevent you from building your beautiful skyscraper that everyone will admire. If you want to lay down strong foundations, you have to dig first. You have to dig deep and while doing it, clean all the shit out (but don't confuse this metaphor with the saying that you have to stop digging if you are in troubles).
I’m talking about all cognitive distortions, fears, mental bugs and other inherited and imparted psychological crap we all have to face. Much as you have to build a strong foundation on the physical level to be healthy, so you have to build strong foundations on your mental, emotional and spiritual level to be successful in all other areas of life.
Setting strong foundations can also be fun, not only boring and straining. For example, you can improve your intellectual capacity by learning how to play an instrument, trying to draw, playing Scrabble, reading books, solving Sudoku or crossword puzzles, maybe you can learn how to program and so on. There are many ways for how you can train to lay down strong foundations; and you may enjoy some of these ways.
For finding exercises that you enjoy in life and that will help you to lay down strong foundations, you can use the search mode concept. You can try, you can experiment, you can reflect and listen to yourself, to see what suits you best.
Your skyscraper is never really finished
It doesn’t matter if you’re setting strong foundations, building your skyscraper floor by floor or fine polishing on the roof, you should know when you are in the search mode and when you are in the execution mode.
Even after setting the strong foundation, there are always new challenges in life, new setbacks, new obstacles, new ways of doing things etc., that require of you to go back into the search mode and learn. You have to continuously improve yourself. Your work is never really finished until your last breath.
Everything starts with a strong foundation. Use the search mode concept to help you identify all the activities that will help you lay down strong foundations. Execute it and build them to be as strong as possible. Strong like concrete.
Go back to the search mode and experiment and learn about what would be the best way for you to build the skyscraper as high as possible. Execute it, with agile sprints and by being in the flow. When you face a setback, go back into the search mode and by experimenting, discover new ways of building your skyscraper even higher. That is a superior strategy in life.
And remember, if you start to feel like your skyscraper is shaking, climb down, look at your foundations and strengthen them if necessary. Don’t let your life collapse because you’re greedy or want too much too soon. Don’t be afraid to progress slowly, be afraid to stop.
Now start digging and building concrete strong foundations in the area of life you’ve disregarded the most.