I really enjoyed Joshua Medcalf’s book Chop Wood, Carry Water. The title refers to one of my favorite Zen sayings: Before enlightment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightment, chop wood, carry water.
For years I’ve adapted that Zen wisdom with my clients and in my own life.
Before success, chop wood, carry water. Do the grunt work. Do the work, period. Hammer the basics.
After success, chop wood, carry water. You don’t ease off, you keep doing the grunt work and hammering the basics.
To create success, your habits, choices and behaviors should look remarkably consistent during and after.
In the book, Medcalf tells a story of a frustrated young student, wishing to become a Samurai archer.
The mentor explains the following…
“First year, you must learn to aim with your eyes. Second year, you must learn to draw your bow smoothly, hold it stable, and aim with your muscles. Third year, you must learn to breathe slowly, control your diaphragm, and aim with your lungs. I have been chopping wood and carrying water for forty-nine years. And while you may only aim with your eyes and your muscles and your lungs right now, I aim with everything.”
Friend, when it comes to creating change, we have a tendency to aim only with our choices. We focus on what we should be doing more or less of. We need to eat more vegetables, less sugar. We need to sleep more, watch TV less. We need to save more, spend less. We are aiming with our choices.
We dramatically accelerate our progress and make change significantly easier when we aim with everything.
Aim with your thoughts.
Aim with your prayers.
Aim with how you spend your time.
Aim with the music you listen to.
Aim with the people you surround yourself with.
Aim with your choices, but also with everything else.
Aim with everything.