There are two types of people in the world: those who keep score, and those who don’t.
I’m not a scorekeeper. Never have been.
That doesn’t mean I’m not hella competitive. Trust me, if you’re on a rowing machine, treadmill, or spin bike next to me, I’m racing you… even if you aren’t racing me.
But, I’m not racing you to do better than you; I’m racing you to do better than me. The only person I want to beat is the person I was yesterday. Ultimately, your hard work pushes me to work harder than I would have without you. And, my guess is that seeing me work hard pushes you to go a bit harder than you intended when you first pulled on your spandex. Because together, we are better than either of us is alone.
“If you’re not screwing someone, you’re getting screwed.”
“Don’t do anything for anyone else, unless they’ve done for you first.”
I have heard this advice all my life. And, I think it’s horseshit.
I can prove it too. Every major thing I’ve ever achieved found its roots in a relationship, a gift of time and counsel, an opportunity introduced to another with no expectation of return of favor. Success is born from an abundance mindset.
It turns out that it’s the same in life and in work as it is in the gym: Together we are better than either of us is alone.
Two months ago, Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life launched and immediately debuted at #2 on the Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List right behind Michelle Obama. (Watch your back, Michelle, I’ve only got 9,989,000 copies to catch up!) This debut is unusual for most authors — did you know that the average books sells only 200 copies? — but for me, someone who is a relatively unknown, first-time big idea book author with a mailing list of approximately 17, it was remarkable. So much so, in fact, that the publicity firm I hired called me up and asked what exactly I did, because they’ve never seen a ground game so effectively executed and wanted to have all of their authors do the same thing.
Want to know the secret to success?
Got a pencil?
Here it is: I spent the last 30 years — who can say what really happened before my frontal lobe was formed — not keeping score. I gave without agenda, helped without expectation, advised without billing and always showed up for others. And in turn, when the time came, they showed up for me. Even more so in a really big way.
Sure, along the way there were people who deeply disappointed me, who showed me their true colors, who were noticeably absent whether in person or in spirit from the successes (and worse, the crushing defeats). Of course I noticed, and of course I was devastated. But I was faced with the choice to hold on to the pain, the anguish, the anger, or move the fuck on, boss up, and crush the path ahead.
When you are so busy tabulating who owes you what, keeping score as if those psychic chits matter one single whit, you get distracted from what you really need to do: be the kind of awesome that attracts unbridled success.
The quid pro quo mindset might tarry temporary trade of favor, but the people who authentically show up for you in a needle-moving sort of way are the ones into whom you poured yourself without craven expectation or assumption. I know this because I didn’t even intend to write this book. So, I not only wasn’t playing the long game, I wasn’t even on the board.
Success, I believe, isn’t like physical matter which is neither created nor destroyed. Success is regenerative, and therefore boundless. It multiplies mirroring the goodwill and stoking with which we fuel it. Better still, it is ever expansive, copious, and available for all.
You want success? Stop keeping score and start showing up.