Everything is simple. Nothing is easy.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day when he mentioned that motivation and inspiration are pretty much just a lot of bullshit.

Now, as the guy who wrote the no-bullshit (and free) manifesto How To Be Legendary and launched the amazing Everyday Legendary community — this troubled me me.

After all, my most popular post, “The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About You“, has got to be on the “inspiration and motivation” continuum. Just about the only other things it could be are philosophy or entrepreneurship — and let’s be honest; it’s not really philosophy and it’s not really entrepreneurship. The intention of that post was to inspire people to do the things that mattered to them and to motivate them to do it by pointing out that the clock was ticking.

And that’s almost 5000 Facebook shares worth of motivation. Fuck me.

And then, when I thought about it, I realized the same could be said of “Disobey.” That one is supposed to inspire readers to stop listening to authority for the sake of authority and to live their own lives. Or “You Are Dying, and Your World Is a Lie,” which which I hoped to motivate readers to stop worrying so damn much about being comfortable, and to worry more about actually being satisfied with how they were spending their lives.

So yeah, this might be a problem for me, because some people feel that “head stuff” and “heart stuff” and anything that lacks step-by-step instructions is just so much airy-fairy bullshit.

But what I say — and this is what I told my curmudgeon buddy — is that we’re living in an age where we’ve got more step-by-step, nuts-and-bolts, here’s-exactly-how-to-do-it-and-look!-there’s-a-YouTube-video-and-three-vaguely-related-porn-forums-about-it! information than we’ve ever had before, and we can get at that information instantly, wherever we happen to be.

And yet, we’re still not doing anything right. Most people still spend way more time doing things they’d rather not be doing than doing things they enjoy, and most people still never reach any of their goals — not the big, important ones, anyway. Why is that?

It’s because information is not the problem. The problem is in our minds.

You are in your own damn way

I recently hired a personal trainer named Roger Lawson. I did this despite the fact that I’ve been a reasonably hardcore gym rat for almost twenty years. I hired him despite having read dozens of books from the best minds in fitness and having run a weight training forum for several years. I’ve spent hours and hours and hours thinking about the best ways to eat, the best ways to train, sharing articles with like-minded people, trying new things, and, frankly, working my ass off. I’ve even got a manly injury — a broken arm from when I caught an Olympic clean wrong and snapped one of the bones (I forget which) in my left forearm.

What I’m trying to say is, I know a lot about this stuff. Yet I couldn’t quite get the six-pack of late night TV fame, so I hired Roger.

Roger told me that I needed to lose fat. To make that happen, he told me to eat less and exercise more.

Stop and think about that. He told me to eat less and exercise more. And sure, there were a lot of details in there, but the details weren’t what made the big difference. Hell, I even tried to make some justifications once about said details. When I did this, Roger slapped me back to reality by saying, “Everything is slave to the calorie deficit,” which meant, “Stop overcomplicating it, asshole, and worry about burning more than you consume.” Roger is pretty humble about such things. I mean, look at the message on his About page. Everything is reduced to simplicity. But the man earns his stripes, because he knows what he knows and he’s unflinching in getting others to do the things that they know.

Today, I’ve lost around 22 pounds. I’d like to go another eight or so, and if I may be totally and obnoxiously immodest, I think I look pretty damn ripped.

So let me ask you something: If the difference-maker was something as simple as eat less and exercise more — and if it was something I already knew and that we all know — then why did I get results this time despite many, many false starts in the past?

I think it was two things.

For one, I’d fooled myself into believing I simply didn’t have that much to lose. I’d convinced myself that I was already quite lean and that if I went below 190 (I’m at 181 now), I’d have no fat on me at all and that would be unhealthy. Roger and a camera changed my mind and taught me to believe something different.

And two, I didn’t have someone on my ass, telling me to get out of my own way and simply do what I already knew.

In other words, I needed someone to motivate me. I needed someone who — through his own results and those of his clients — would inspire me. I needed someone who believed so strongly in what he was telling me that I wouldn’t be able to doubt myself, ever, because he wasn’t going to give me enough slack to do it.

What Roger gave me — and continues to give me — is confidence in what I already knew. What Roger gave me was belief.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist here. You tell me if that means “head stuff” matters or not.

The four-minute mile

I just realized that what follows is a story about another Roger. How interesting.

Anyway, you may know the story of the four-minute mile. Basically, for centuries, throughout all of recorded history, nobody could seem to run a mile in less than four minutes. They tried and tried and tried, and had lions chase people to get them moving faster and whatever else, but, after enough time and enough failure, humanity decided that a person simply couldn’t run that fast.

Then a man named Roger Bannister did it. I won’t take you through how he did it, but he ran a mile in under four minutes, and everything changed.

After Roger did it, a lot of other people started to do it, too. Today it’s not even a very big deal to break the four-minute mark, and new records are being set all the time.

Think about that.

Suddenly, everyone’s able to do something that for centuries was considered impossible. So what changed? Did humanity read a great blog post about the mechanics of foot turnover and body position and pacing? Did someone release a new running book that made the difference? Did anyone release a how-to info product on improving stride length?

Nope. What made the difference was that one man finally did it. One man showed that it was possible, and that meant that suddenly, overnight, the minds of millions of people were changed. And when their minds were changed, people were suddenly able to do something very simple — to run faster. To step more quickly. The answer, it seemed, was obvious. How do you run faster? You run faster.

In the end, it was simple — just like everything you could ever want is simple.

Everything is simple

I’m going to tell you how to create a successful business. Ready? Here we go:

Sell something people want at a good price.

But what about getting customers, you’re asking? Okay:

Seek out people who might like what you’re selling, and tell them about it.

See? These things are very simple. And yeah, there are nuances, and I’ve taught those nuances in courses of my own. But the nuances — including the “how” — are refinements on a central theme that is missed surprisingly often. You’d be amazed how many people want to “start an internet business” but haven’t given any real thought to what they want to sell, if anyone would buy it, and where those people are.

Let’s do another. What about something a lot of people struggle with, like quitting smoking? Okay:

Don’t smoke.

The feedback system for this one is simple. If there’s a cigarette in your hand, you’ve done it wrong. Put it down and try again. (If you substitute “drinking” for “smoking” and “alcohol” for “a cigarette,” this is how you quit drinking, by the way.)

Want to have a better relationship with your teenager? Talk to him or her.

Want to get strong enough to lift twice your body weight? Lift weights, then make those weights heavier as you’re able.

Want to learn to dance? Practice dance steps until you get them right.

And if you’re red in the face right now, angry with me, screaming your objections, saying that there’s a lot more to it, that it’s haaaaaard to “just eat less” and it’s haaaaaard to “just not smoke” and it’s really, really haaaaaard to refine your product and your marketing and to get enough people to buy what you’re selling, then just calm down.

Yes. All of those things are hard. I agree. They’re very, very hard.

But I didn’t say they were easy. I said they were simple.

The latter is about knowledge. The first is about your mind. And this, my friends, is why “mind stuff” is important for all of us, all the damn time.

We’ve got the knowledge. What we lack is the drive, the belief, and a compelling reason to use what we already know… and to keep using it through a lot of hard work and pain, riding out the rough times in anticipation of better times ahead, until we get what we want.

Knowledge is not the problem

I’m so fucking tired of everyone blaming failures on lack of knowledge. Are there cases where you can fail because you didn’t know something? Of course. Are those things the norm? Absolutely not.

Let me tell you something, and I hope this doesn’t surprise anyone:

Nobody fails to quit smoking because of a lack of knowledge.

There is no factual knowledge that is lacking when someone tries to quit and doesn’t make it. “Hey, John, did you know that you should remove that cigarette from your mouth?” has never, ever been the piece of information that has made the difference for a struggling smoker. Same for the combos of drinkers/alcohol and people who want to lose weight/cake/sitting motionlessly. Nobody has ever seen a late-night infomercial, bought a weight-loss product, opened it up, and found only a slip of paper that says, “Eat less and move more” and had a light bulb go on over their head, saying, “Of course! I didn’t know this!”

When these things change, they change because someone finds something in their motivation, their belief, that allows them to get through the hard. Sometimes that’s a support group. Sometimes it’s finding a kind of Roger Bannister — a role model who has done what they want to do and proves that it’s possible. Sometimes it’s simply hearing the right words, in the right way, at the right time. Sometimes it’s hearing that the universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about the huge failure you think you’re going to have, and so you decide that it’s now or never, and it’s up to you.

Nobody likes to hear this, though. It’s so much easier to simply buy an easy button.

In fact, here. Let me give you a pitch for my new product:

For only $997, you can bust your ass for five years, failing constantly and exposing yourself to ridicule, banging your head against the wall and feeling like you’re getting nowhere. In this miracle product, You’ll drag your ass out of bed and show up each and every motherfucking day and put in really hard work until you feel like you’re at your breaking point, possibly crying and panicking. And then, after one hell of a lot of drudgery, you’ll finally see a tiny amount of progress, and then you’ll maybe have another setback and will want to quit. But if you push through the suck, it’ll get better — and one day, some day, you’ll succeed and get that thing you’ve always wanted.

Who wants to sign up? Here’s a PayPal button.

No? Okay, well then how about the same thing, but I’ll give it to you for free?

What? Why not? Look at that last bit, about succeeding and getting what you’ve always wanted? YOU CAN HAVE WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED! It’s a surefire thing, too. I can guarantee it if you’d like. All of your money back if you’re not completely successful after years of effort, at my discretion as to whether you actually worked hard or not.

In much, much less severe terms and a shorter timespan, this is what Roger sold me, by the way. I got to deprive myself and bust my ass, and he got to hold me accountable and tell me when I wasn’t actually working hard enough.

Yes, getting what you want is hard. I agree.

But the difference between people who succeed in getting the things they want and people who don’t is that the successes would take that deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Stop searching for the magic key and do the fucking work

Like I said, I wrote what I hope is an awesome (and free!) manifesto called How To Be Legendary: A Realistic Guide To Being the Superhuman You’re Supposed To Be, and if you agree with what you’ve just read, you should pick it up and spend some time studying it.

I want to save you some time right now, though. It’s reasonably long for an internet manifesto, so don’t bother reading it if you want some hot and secret tips that will instantly make you awesome overnight. Don’t read it if you don’t want to do a lot of hard work.

See, there are very few people who truly create the lives they want, and the reason is because getting what you want is hard. People don’t want to hear that, though. People want things to be complex but easy, because that combination means that once you learn the magic trick that you don’t currently know, you can have your dream without much effort. But that’s not the way it is. Success in just about everything is actually very simple… but it’s not easy.

Once you understand that — once you really grasp it and commit to busting your ass because the end result is worth it — then you’ll be able to achieve pretty much anything you want.

You may not want to believe it.

But it’s true.


  1. The work. Yes, the work. That’s where I come in. (You’re AWESOME at the inspiration bit, Johnny. Me? Not so much. But I help people figure out the details and get the work done.) Both of us are needed in this world. Those who inspire, and those who can teach you exactly how to ship the shit. Can’t wait to read your new manifesto!

  2. Sean says:

    A personal trainer was one of the first things I ever bought for myself when I was 19 and first making money. It’s always a good idea to pay for the nudge that will take you from good to great, even if that nudge is just two millimeters.

  3. Simple brilliance.

  4. Um, holy hell, YES. This is basically the underlying message for everything I write under the “Pajama Productivity” banner: You do not need new “knowledge” about “how to be more productive.” You simply need to make better choices about what you do with the time you’re given – which, as luck would have it, is a known quantity that doesn’t change even by a fraction of a second for any person on this earth.

  5. the rogue poet says:

    Awesome post johnny! Its like functional zen for everyday life. We all seem to be so jaded towards the simple solution and our confidence in out own intuition is severely lacking. Keep on with the good knowledge. Looking forward to your book!

  6. Candice says:

    “Universe” gave me a nice nudge when I needed it. I listen to cds in the car, and read certain blogs, and write down goals and action plans, all in an effort to stay motivated. Maybe there are some people who find all the motivation they need is internal (I doubt it), but I’m a believer in regular infusions of get-off-your-%ss reminders.

  7. Bummers! Success requires action, not just knowledge?

    But I love amassing knowledge so much.

    Ok.Ok. Time to get back to work then.

    Ouch! Thanks for the kick. I

    • Dan says:

      Flora, you are so right. Personally, I have tons of knowledge about the job/life/existence I want but the hardest thing I find is doing it!
      I think we all have a fear of failure. The successful ones are the ones who overcome it.
      Here’s to overcoming that beast named fear!

  8. Carmelo says:

    Absolutely LOVED your PayPal Button! Hahahaha.

    Sure, we can see why some people say inspiration and motivation is just so much BS. People can only be motivated when they’re ready. And most of the time they’re just not! We can’t know when it strikes a cord, when something inside of them is simply waiting for the right words, the right mentor, the right note to be played.

    Hey Johnny, my friend, it’s bold of you to swim against the current and offer that which “nobody” wants. I applaud you. But, then again, you DO know what people want – I mean really want. And you are an expert at reminding them what that is. We only THINK we want the steps, the knowledge, the how to, the technology.

    Alright, enough of the pseudo kissing up (man I hate doing that.) Now go get off your ass and finish the damn manifesto and let us decide if it’s right for us or not! 😉

    • Johnny says:

      Ha, thanks. We’ll see if people dig “How to be Legendary,” but I do feel like most of us have just about had it with 1) lack of any real progress and 2) bullshit.

  9. Yes, “mindstuff” matters. Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you’re right.”

    “Getting what you want is simple, but not easy” is a statement of belief. It isn’t an absolute. It’s only “true” if you believe it’s “true.”

    Because there is only one Absolute in this Universe and that is: There are no Absolutes.

    I’m not saying getting what you want can be done with nothing more challenging than wishful thinking. However, “hard work and suck” is only “hard work and suck” because we think and believe it is.

    I’m not waiting or working for things to get better. I’m making now what I want it to be. And I look forward to how much fun I’m going to have doing my great hard work and suck, because that’s Life and it’s better than being dead.

    Someday when I’m 100 and some other guy is 100, I want to be able to say I had a whole lot more fun getting there.

    Wishing you Inner Peace, Outer Harmony and Joy All Around,

  10. Laura Gates says:

    Love your posts. Always. I have a chance to do something big. It’s gonna take a lot of work. People are saying it can’t be done, never been done, and given me all the reasons to not do it. I woke up this morning thinking “I need to take this thing on” This post was perfectly timed to motivate me to go for it regardless. AND I need to eat less and exercise more. No more magic pill thinking around losing weight.

  11. Adam says:

    Hard work. Tell me about it.

    Every business I’ve ever started shared that one common factor, and quite a few failed. Lots of time invested and loads of effort every time.

    Even though I love trying something new I’ll recognise a failure faster and drop it. Equally I trust my gut when something is panning out right and go with it.

    There’s one more thing that underpins everything successful and will accelerate the creation of anything you do Warp factor ten stylee. PASSION.

    I just happen to be in the middle of a three week fitness programme from Hell, and I’m so fucking focused to a level I’ve never experienced before. Feels amazing.

    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, I think passion is both underrated and overrated. Mostly underrated, though, meaning you need to love what you’re doing if it’s to reach its full potential. But I hesitate a bit from saying “follow your passion” because I think it needs to be done intelligently, and in the context of a bigger plan for your life.

      But in general, in the spirit of your content, I totally agree.

  12. Stacie says:

    I know this is weird, but your post almost made me cry. I’ve been having lots of “aha” moments recently about my own worth. I’ve always thought that I can’t earn money with what I offer people because it’s not lots of nuts and bolts and “how to.” I don’t really “know” a lot of “secret” nuts and bolts stuff others don’t. Most of what I know other people “know” but don’t always DO.

    Recently I’ve been realizing that many coaches (life coaches, business coaches, whatever) often offer the same things others do as far as “knowledge/information” goes, but what makes them special about what they offer is THEM.

    As you mentioned, most already know how to eat/live healthier, but we don’t do it. Most people know it’s not a good idea to spend more money than you have all the time (duh) but most don’t actively carry out actions that go with the things they “know.”

    When you can find someone that “inspires” you do actually DO what you already know, it’s PRICELESS! And people ARE willing to pay for that. Same reason my husband pays a nice sum each month for CrossFit…even though we both grew up active and athletic. It’s not so much the exercises your taught or the equipment that’s available – most that stuff you can do almost anywhere…but it’s the environment you put yourself in when you go there. It’s the little extra “push” you get to actually go out and DO the WORK to get the results you want…when you get those results and consistently find yourself DOING what you “know” you should and your life changes for the better because of it, you’re willing (and even happy) to pay for that.

    Thanks for sending just one more message to pound that concept into my head. If you can inspire others to take actions and improve their lives, you ARE valuable and WORTH more than free.

  13. I sometimes think “dreams” should be spelled “h-a-r-d — w-o-r-k”. LOTS of people don’t want to believe it, but it is really true.

    I hit the Paypal button, BTW. I’d sign up for that. I already have, for about the last 9 years. 😉

    I’ve been accused of being “no fun” by the party-hearty crowd because I have to work some nights, and labeled “negative” because of the occasional panic attacks and crying that we all know are par for the course. I don’t care. I love my life and while things always get better for me, they’ll still be dreaming with their buds in the bars 10 years from now.

    • Johnny says:

      To be clear, I firmly believe in fun as well… I just don’t like mindlessness! Conscious fun and conscious work, IMO.

  14. I fucking LOVE you, Johnny Awesome! (Johnny Bravo’s much smarter, cooler cousin or something)

    Thanks for kicking my ass into gear. You’re getting a shout out on my book’s dedication page.

    Oh, and kickass PayPal button. =)

  15. Evan says:

    I think you are absolutely right about making money.

    As to the head stuff. The solution is to embrace all of it. Don’t push through reluctance, listen to it. You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do. There may be good reasons for not doing stuff (like giving yourself a break now and again). There may be good reasons for continuing and if so you may be able to continue in a better and easier way if you listen to why you are reluctant.

    This is something else that is simple but not (always) easy.

  16. jack says:

    Johnny, do you believe in talent? Have you read the book Undefeated by Laura Hillenbrand? http://laurahillenbrandbooks.com/

    The hero of the book was an amazing guy who might have been the first American to break the 4-minute mile. He went to the ’36 olympics in Berlin, actually shook hands with Hitler, and he might have done the four minutes in the early forties, but then he went to war, landed in the Pacific with two other guys after their plane got shot down, spent 45 days on a raft fighting sharks and trying not to go insane, landed on an island, got captured by the Japanese, sent to prison, abused for three years, and eventually made it out, sick, skeletal, but undefeated.

    And he tried to run again, then ruined his leg and never made that four-minutes. Became, for awhile, an alcoholic. Toughest guy who ever lived. He might have beaten Roger B by 10 years, but when his leg broke that last time his will broke with it. Until he found something else.

    When I was 26 and in the army and running every day, I couldn’t make it to a six-minute mile, no matter how hard I tried. Now, at 57, if I tried to run a 7-minute mile, I could do it, eventually, if I trained, but not six, never six, because I’m a bit old and I do not have the talent, never had the talent. I could kill myself trying, literally, but I would never make it because my legs do not move that fast, my lungs cannot process that much oxygen, my heart cannot pump out the toxins fast enough. No matter the strength of my will or the intelligence of my approach or the dedication of my training. I cannot do it. That’s not a defeatism, it’s realism.

    You could train for it all your life and then stand out there with a bat and face Cliff Lee and you’re not going to touch the ball, no matter how hard you work, unless you have the inate strength, speed, coordination, and reflexes of a professional baseball player.

    The greatest basketball player in the world is not the greatest basketball player in the world because he outworks all the other great basketball players in the world. Take ten people, raise them together, give them the exact same life, the exact same training, in the exact same amount, and one is going to be best.

    If you’re going to be great, you have to find your talent, and that’s where you put the work in, and if you have no talent, or make the wrong choice, you’re going to fail.

    Talent is the essential ingredient of greatness. You can have it and fail because you have not tried hard enough, or squandered it in some way, it certainly doesn’t guarantee success, but without the talent of a Michael Phelps, all the weight training, nutrition science, and early morning swims in the world aren’t bringing home that fistfull of gold medals.

    And of course, you’ve got it. Talent, that is.

    • Johnny says:

      I’m glad you brought this up.

      Yep, I totally believe in talent. I also believe in physics and genetics. Meaning: I decided once I wanted to learn some gymnastics stuff as an adult. But I’m six feet tall and at the time weighed over 200 pounds, so physics was against me considering the size of most gymnasts and the way physics works. So I learned to do some stuff, like backflip and front flips and aerials, but was never going to be able to do heavy ring work or a lot of other stuff because I have too long of a lever.

      The reason for the tone of this post is because I think we err most often in the other direction. Put another way, for every one person who tries their damnedest and puts in the work and pushes and can’t make something work because they just aren’t talented enough/fast enough/strong enough/big enough or whatever, there are about a thousand who COULD do much better than they are but excuse themselves based on a bogus perception of talent. A lot of people your age, for instance, say that they’re too old to RUN… forget about how fast.

      This post is meant to push the latter. I agree that we’re all going to hit our potential wall eventually and only the exceptionally gifted will excel in certain areas, but most of us are similarly nowhere near our potentials.

      But that’s an excellent distinction, and I agree. Thank you.

  17. Thanks Johnny, what you do well is tell it like it is and leave no doubt.

    Motivation is always in the moment if I am in touch with the image of what I want to do or the results I want to create.

    What sometimes falls to the side of the road is my determination to push harder up the trail when I could just run and enjoy. The rationalizing ego-mind is a slippery bugger.

    Looking forward to the next installment of how to be epic,


  18. Martin says:

    Complex but easy vs Simple but difficult – you’ve just solved a conundrum that has had me stumped for years. Excellent stuff, again.

  19. Jean Gogolin says:

    ummmm . . . . did you really need someone to tell you to eat less and exercise more? Really?

    • Johnny says:

      I think you missed the point, Jean. 🙂

      Of course I didn’t need Roger to tell me that… I already knew everything I needed to know. What I needed him for was to push me to DO what I already knew and to give me a reason to believe in it. That’s why inspiration and motivation matters.

  20. David Wright says:

    I enjoyed your post, and have to say that our discussion left me examining my thoughts on the matter.

    I agree that it IS THE HARD WORK and it’s always the hard work, that makes the difference. (Along with a bit of luck, which you can help create via your hard work.) And while I have ZERO problem doing the hard work — I’ve busted my ass to get to where I am — I’ve never found anyone outside my inner circle of family, friends, and colleagues, who ever inspired me do anything. Maybe that’s a “me” problem, because I’m a cynical bastard who needs to do everything on my own.

    If people find inspiration from others, and it helps them, then awesome! Do what works for you, most certainly.

    But a lot of what I see on the internet is people selling the opposite — Instant, turn-key solutions that will work for anyone no matter their skill level. That, combined with nebulous self-help type stuff from people who can’t even help themselves is the reason I cringe whenever I see anyone marketing tips on “how to be” anything.

    By and large my problem isn’t with personal development so much, but rather a good chunk of the people behind it. You know, the snake oil salesmen/women, of which you can’t throw a rock without hitting on the internet.

    I’m talking about the shady fuckers who are just looking to keep you coming to their high-priced well. The so-called life coaches and “experts” who exploit the weak and vulnerable, knowing full well that they can’t truly help a lot of these people. The self-labeled gurus who start up blogs telling you how to do shit they haven’t even done for themselves. I’ve seen money bloggers, A LOT of money bloggers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, proclaiming they’ve got all the answers if you just follow them.

    These people are a waste of time at best, and dangerous at worst, hurting vulnerable, desperate people who don’t can’t discern the expert who can help them versus the so-called “expert” in name only.

    Um, no thanks. That would be like me starting a blog on how to lose weight. I might start one charting my progress, but I certainly wouldn’t bill myself as a weight loss expert unless . . . I actually lost the weight! And even then, I’d feel uncomfortable with the word ‘expert’ for something I happened to do once.

    There is a LOT of that on the web. A metric fuck ton. THAT’S the shit I have a problem with. However, IF the a good idea is married with someone of integrity, someone who has actually done the shit they’re preaching and isn’t a big fat hypocrite, then I’ve got no problem with it. The “head stuff” might not all work for me, but I can’t argue with what works for others.

    All that being said, I think you’re a stand-up guy, Johnny. And I don’t think you’d put out something that didn’t really offer something of substance, something which you believe in.

    Best of luck!

    • Johnny says:

      We talked about this off the blog, but I agree with all of this. There’s bullshitters in every quadrant, so I try my best to stay on the good side. When I sell anything, I try to deliver a shit-ton of value for the money and try to never make promises that are at all inflated.

      My next thing flat-out tells everyone beforehand that they don’t need it at all. You just watch.

  21. Citizen Zeus says:

    You need them all: Simplicity, hard work, accelerated knowledge, and organization. Applied knowledge, in particular, does matter to success. Deciding how best to get knowledge is also crucial. Organizing your knowledge for better effectiveness is also essential. Each one of these is simple, but get more complex as you try to coordinate them.

    What do you do when you have to assemble and integrate a bunch of simple things to succeed? Is there a simple way to do it? I think the answer is “yes,” but not many people seem to know how to enact that “integration of many simple things” successfully.

    I make my living from helping people people learn at a rate that is about eight time faster than their normal learning pace (especially those that have experienced failure in conventional methods). I do this by being simple, direct, but also by customizing the teaching and consolidating the good stuff and eliminating the b.s. That is a service I provide that they cannot provide (or simply do not have the skills or time to provide).

    Now I wish the same was true for website development. I have to assemble everything, and when I can’t or don’t want to spend the time on specifics, I find I have to hire someone (or work out a professional trade). Then I have to learn to manage the site while developing a good working relationship with that person (or fire them for not doing the job satisfactorily and start over again).

    In this process I am learning the simple things I need to succeed about myself and my craft. And these insights may be applicable to others. I am “stacking” and learning to prioritize a whole lot of simple things.

    Most people would call this “complex”. It’s not really. (You are correct.) However, it takes time, and many of these packages being sold abound online business imply a “just do it” approach that will only be a few simple steps (website, customer need, your value added, and a pay pal button) as if it were simple AND easy.

    The simple is not easy. Especially integrating the simple components of a larger projects. Even experts are not doing it well. They learn to dominate a segment of the larger picture and expect you to integrate the segments of other experts with their segment. So I find myself (working with The Word Chef) having to invent integration tools.

    Now that is a simple one-word motto: “Invent!”. But that takes time, change, commitment, imagination, and perhaps money.

    I’m glad, Johnny, you are not choosing to lay out the “7 steps of… simplicity”, but it would be helpful to lay on more no-b.s. talk about what the work is like and what the demands will be for “simplicity”. For my part I am doing a weekly blog on it with Tea as part of The Zeus Experiment

    In my experience, most self-starters have the belief, the motivation, and at least some of the knowledge. Bringing it together is a skill and not a particularly obvious or easy-to-learn one. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

    That, in my mind, is what’s missing. Often it is not lack of inspiration, motivation, or even guts. It’s the presence of bewilderment and not knowing what to do with it.

    Mentoring/apprenticeship can develop a way to handle bewilderment. (Simple– “Get a mentor”) but it could also be done by “legendary” or epic people working in service to fill a very widespread and pressing out there to bring simple things together, to actively support people who have what it takes but get stuck finding a simple way to assemble the various simplicities.

    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, I think it takes a variety of methods. That’s why I very much still believe in coaching, as long as the person being coached understands that the coach is a guide and not a magic fairy or something. Work + push + direction, I think.

  22. Stacy says:

    This is so true. I’ve found this to be true so many times in my life. The answer that I’m looking for is simple but most difficult to implement. Sometimes it can take years.

    For instance, for years I knew that I needed to find something to do for myself. There was a strong need in my life for that but as I searched for ideas I always came up dry.

    Earlier this year I found the answer that I’d been looking for. Writing. I was looking in all the wrong places: classes, clubs, sports, etc. I have loved writing since I could write out a sentence. I started writing chapter stories before I was ten and kept it up through college. Then I “grew up” and lost that dream. Now I’m in my 30s and am writing again and am loving it! I should have my first novel published this year – many thanks to the SPP! You guys rock and came at just the right time for me!

    It certainly hasn’t been easy, it’s been downright challenging at times. But it is simple. Write.

    Everything else that matters in life follows the same pattern. The answer is usually very simple but putting it into practice is difficult. We have so many deep rooted habits that get in the way. Those neuropathways are strong and they don’t want us to change. We need to do the work and then we will enjoy the rewards!

  23. Liz Seda says:

    Hi Johnny,

    This is the first time I’ve stopped by and I’m sold.

    I have a question. What do you make of the fact that almost everyone KNOWS this deep down inside, yet they still skirt responsibility. Whenever the fact that getting what you want is hard starts to cross their mind, they blank it out. They don’t want that thought to exist so they suppress it, as if not thinking it would make it not exist.

    I’ve thought about that a lot and I’m still haven’t come to a conclusion. The closest I’ve come is this:

    People just can’t bring themselves to say the obvious, SIMPLE truth, because the truth is HARD to say.

    They can’t bring themselves to look in the mirror and say “I just don’t want to work that hard. I’m lazy and I’d rather agonize over it until something magical happens.”

    When I quit smoking, I had to do this. I had to just look in the mirror and say, “Hey Liz, you know what? You’re just fucking lazy. You know it’s possible, you know you need to, you just don’t want to do it because its hard.”

    I do that a lot now. Why don’t I write that guest post? Because it’s too fucking hard and I’m lazy right now.

    Why didn’t I work out? Not because I didn’t have time, it’s because it’s hard and I’d rather use the excuse of work to get out of it rather than saying that I’m lazy and I don’t want to put in the effort required to be healthy and take care of myself.

    What do you think?


    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, I think it’s about feeling that it’s easier to blame something else — some external foe, or lack of knowledge, or something outside of ourselves — than to admit that we’re choosing apathy. There is a real freedom in giving up control, and sometimes I even think it’s okay. But not about the most important stuff that makes up our lives. I’ll take feeling bad for my own inaction if it means I can make change when I want to.

  24. LOVED this JT! I’m shooting the modules for the Solution Revolution Boot camp right now, and I swear; it’s like you’ve got my house tapped or something… One of the biggest obstacles in creating this thing, is I keep thinking “I’m not sure people will buy into this. It’s too simple”. You helped validate my response: “Have you done the work?”. Keep ’em coming. Warren

  25. Paul Denni says:

    Hey Johnny,

    Thanks for bringing things back to reality. That’s what I love about your writing – exposing bullshit for bullshit. People are lazy. They don’t like to do the work. I’m reading “The War of Art” right now and it’s all about overcoming resistance, i.e. doing the work. I think all successful people are successful because they DID THE FUCKING WORK. Anyone selling a magic pill is a bullshitter. There is nothing new under the sun.

    Getting back to work,


    • Johnny says:

      I do think that HELP is a good thing, though. Magic pills are bullshit, but we can and often should ask for and accept (and yes, sometimes pay for, as in my personal trainer example) help. But we need to see what that is — assistance to help us do what we know. Not a key to easy land.

  26. In acting, and to an extent moviemaking, we say, “You can’t get the work if you don’t do the work.” Sounds like close to what you’re saying above. Thanks!

  27. Laurie says:

    “Work through the suck.” Love it! Great post – thanks, Johnny!

  28. I’m pretty big on inspiration being the #1 needed ingredient for most people + projects. Hands down.

    Rock on and ryze up, Johnny.

    P.S. I reference the other Roger’s 4-minute mile story allll the time lol.

  29. Kamal Webster says:

    WOW! And the hits just keep on comin’. Loved the post, Bro! I run into a bit of this “motivation is bullshit” mentality, on occasion when I tell people I speak and do workshops. Oddly enough (not really), many of those same “Just get-er done, who needs that hippie dippy stuff?” people seem to either be rather bitter and cynical about pretty much everything, of struggle to “get-er done” themselves. That’s why I say: Just be open to using any tools possible. You never know. ‘Preciate Ya.

    • Johnny says:

      Right. If “head stuff” doesn’t matter and if so many people believe that a lot of “how to” = systems and that systems = scams, what’s left?

      I think a lot of this goes to optimism, too. Pessimists can’t embrace any of this; they think it can never get better by any means.

  30. Offthegrid says:

    Everything truly is simple, as you say. So simple it seems dumb to most people, but simplicity is life-changing. A few years ago, I decided to change a few things: I took out the TV from my bedroom; consequently, I barely watch TV anymore, except for a few programs I find to be of great quality. I no longer answer most emails or phone calls right away, and I socialize with friends once a week, on average. I started walking up early by going to bed earlier. These “little” changes have made me serene and happier. I have much more time to read, write, walk, think, prepare good meals, and do the countless other things I enjoy.

  31. Joh Branston says:

    Sell something people want at a good price – check!
    Seek out people who might like what you’re selling, and tell them about it – Damn…
    I’m onto it….

  32. Teresa says:

    Oh boy, is this true. Things are really much simpler than we make them. I think we like to make it more complicated to convince ourselves why we don’t have to do something. It’s our little excuse and justification for NOT doing the hard work that needs to be done.

    You’re right, if we can get out of our own way, we would probably get a lot more done and be more successful! How much motivation do we really need?

    Maybe we should just do the work for the sake of doing the work. In time, little successes will begin to appear and suddenly more motivation for doing the work will finally rear its little head!

    Here’s a little recipe I have created for myself: Do the work first -> motivation will follow

    Here’s what we usually do: Wait for the motivation -> then do the work

    The problem? We can wait a very long time before motivation will finally strike is. Usually, we have to do something first before we finally feel the motivation. It is a result of actions and not necessarily a catalyst for taking action.

  33. Darick Reed says:

    I think I am going to quit drinking now and get my shit together. Maybe drop a few pounds while I am at it. Maybe start writing again. Mow the lawn. Damn, I am jacked up now. Thanks Johnny!

  34. TK says:

    easy is for sheep and sissies… Mr. T is making me want to get another tattoo… THAT’s mo-Jo-T-vation! Thank you!

  35. jeff says:

    living is easy…life is hard…i like your ‘its common sense’ writing style. gives me that kick i need.


  36. Marcus says:

    Great article, inspiring as always! Cheers!

  37. Jim Self says:

    Thanks again Johnny. Motivation is hugely important. There are all kinds of forces telling you that you can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t; it’s important to have the wind at your back sometimes, too. Most of us are mere mortals that can’t summon up that wind at will.

    I’m getting back into shape, and my wife is building strength and endurance so she can improve her ability to spar in taekwondo. Today was the second day she went on a mile run with me, and she discovered something: after the misery, pain, nausea, despair, and wondering of why she would ever treat herself that way, she felt amazing. This is true of all of the suffering that pushes you closer to your goal. It’s miserable, but you get to immediately look back and say “Look what I did!”

  38. Alic says:

    I love this. I’m a psychologist and I tell people this so often. My favourite client was a 69 yr old guy who really went for it with phenomenal success. Said he wished he’d met me when he was at school.t

  39. Eric says:

    Ohh hard work, Now I get it

  40. I love your no bullshit attitude! I am so tired of being told that you can work less and still do great…blah, blah, blah. You are right, it takes work, simple and period! I do need a shot of inspiration from time to time and you give that too. Love your Manifesto, by the way.

  41. Andrea Hypno says:

    The big problem with solutions being simple is that if something doesn’t work then it’s my own fault, and not many of us like to have this simple truth thrown at our face.

    If it depends from someone else then it’s his fault, but if it depends from me who’s to blame?

    It’s easier to say it doesn’t depend from ourselves. But 95 percent of times it’s a lie we tell to avoid feelling losers for our own choice, because it’s easier than changing things.

    Actually I do prefer eat better and exercise better, or substituting wiser to better, but the concept is correct. Having been a BodyBuilding trainer that’s how things work except those uncommon cases when being overweight is due to hormonal imbalances or similar issue pretty undependent from how much food someone puts in his own mouth. A very small percentage but real nevertheless.


  42. You had me at “Stop searching for the magic key and do the fucking work”

    Maybe you should use that at the beginning of your EL lessons. That oughta show us!

  43. drsachdev says:

    nice write up..made me think for a long while about few things in life


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