“Mark Twain – lecturer, satirist, humorist and author of classic books like The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – is one of
my favorite people to find great quotes from.
So today I have put together 5 essential tips from Twain. I hope you’ll find them
inspiring and helpful.
1. The secret of getting ahead…
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is
breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and
then starting on the first one.”
This is a very good tip and one of the best ones I have ever discovered and used to
When you start to look too far into the future any task or project can seem close to
impossible. And so you shut down because you become overwhelmed or fearful (of
success or failure) and start surfing the internet aimlessly instead.
So instead, break that task into small and practical steps.
Then just focus on taking the first step today. That is all you need to focus on,
nothing else. By taking the first step you change your mental state from resistant
to “hey, I’m doing this, cool”. You put yourself in state where you become more
positive and open, a state where you may not be enthusiastic about taking the
next step after this first one but you are at least accepting it.
And so you can take the next step. And the next one after that.
Until you have arrived at your destination and completion.
2. Less talking, more doing
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and
people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”
It’s often easy to talk but developing the habit of being a person of action is quite a
Being in the habit of breaking down your task into smaller pieces is one of the
most effective things you can do to take more consistent action. Two other habits
that work very well for me are to:
Start your day with a good morning routine. This is probably the most
important factor for how much action I take during a day and how the day turns
out in general. A good start often leads to a good day. A bad or indecisive start
often leads to a pretty mediocre day.
So create a morning routine with a good breakfast, perhaps a short work out or a
short meditation and other things you find gets you off to a great start. Then add
doing the most important task of your day at the end of that morning routine.
Or if you, like me, may feel low in energy, unmotivated or have extra inner
resistance to taking action on some mornings then start small and do something
easy and simple.
Take one small action right away to get the ball rolling. What is one
thing you can do to pretty much make sure that something will get stuck on your
I’ll-do-that-when-I-have-the-time list for a long time? Read about something and
get excited about it. And then do nothing about it or tell yourself that you will take
Instead, take one small action today, as soon after you have read about whatever
you are excited about. Make a plan, book an appointment, do something concrete.
3. Be courageous in the face of fear
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
Being courageous can be difficult but if you want to live the life you want to live
then sometimes you have look into the face of fear and get going/keep going
And although it is rarely easy to be courageous I have found a few ways to make it
Ask yourself: what is the worst that could happen? Really think about.
Don’t just think about it for a few seconds. Sit down with a pen and piece of paper,
your laptop or cellphone. Write it all out and think about what the realistic worst-
case scenario would be. Then write down a plan for how you can come back from
such a scenario.
This step brings clarity, defuses fuzzy fears and helps you realize that you can
most often bounce back pretty quickly even if the worst-case scenario somehow
Share your fear with someone. By sharing your fear you can relieve inner
pressure. By just keeping it on the inside it’s easy to build it up into this massive
nightmare and extremely dangerous thing.
By sharing and by getting some input from a levelheaded friend or family member
he or she can help you to alleviate the fear and inner pressure. And you can gain a
much healthier perspective on things again.
Accept the fear. It is a natural impulse to try to deny the fear when shows up in
your life. Perhaps you try to not think about it, you try to push it away. I have
found that in many cases it is actually better to just accept that fear is here right
now (although it can be hard to sometimes convince your brain that this is a good
By doing so you stop feeding more energy into the fear and you stop making it
strong. After a few minutes of fully taking in this uncomfortable feeling and
accepting it then it starts to lose steam. It just seems to float away – or at least
becomes smaller – and you feel more open and centered.
4. A good compliment is a wonderful thing
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Compliments are awesome. But make sure you make it a genuine one. Make sure
you really mean it or it may have the opposite effect as your insincerity shines
through. Find something a bit unexpected – like great taste in old soul music
rather than looks – and something that is important to the other person and make
a positive, appreciative comment about that.
5. Keep positive company
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people
always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become
I have mentioned this many times. But it bears repeating.
Spend more time with positive people, books, music, movies and websites. Spend
more of your time in an environment that lifts you up.
Make a conscious choice and start to shape your environment instead of just going
along and reading, listening to, watching what people in general or people around
you may be in the habit of consuming.
Have an fantastic Friday and weekend!”