• Tony Richards

Diligence Is A Learned Skill

In every circumstance in which we undertake something, we experience outcomes.

Some are incredibly good, some incredibly bad. Some are great, poor, okay, so-so and catastrophic. Believe me, I have experienced all of these outcomes and more in my lifetime. If you follow my recommendation to make at least 20% of your reading time in a year to be biographies of high achievers, you will find they all have experienced these and more in a variety of outcomes. At the same time, you will find in particular areas, they achieved outstanding outcomes and results.

Albert Einstein was terrible at being a husband, was not an expert at relationships, and achieved exceptional scientific outcomes.

No matter if it’s George Washington, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, Benjamin Franklin, Steven Spielberg or any host of others, they had all these outcomes also, but they managed to achieve at least some exceptionally great outcomes, because they learned one specific principle. It has nothing to do with background, education or intelligence. It’s learning to practice the learned skill of diligence. It unfortunate, but this particular skill is pretty rare. Today, most people are driven more by instant gratification, rather than developing diligence. Push a button and whoop, there it is! We want as much as we can get as fast as we can get it. As one writer put it, one jelly doughnut is yummy, three will make you sick and six is an eating disorder.

We all have a natural tendency to follow the path of least resistance. The good news is, we have the ability to choose and we can choose to follow a path of greater resistance and develop diligence to accomplish exceptional outcomes. It’s easier to quote someone else than to have an original thought. If I haven’t at least, moved you to think about becoming more diligent, let me share with you some benefits to becoming more diligent.

  1. Advantage comes to you

In many situations, we are simply competing with ourselves. As a friend of mine used to always say, “we have met the enemy, and the enemy is us”. Yes, as my alarm goes off every morning (Sun-Sat) at 4:45 a.m., and my body screams at me to go back to sleep, that it doesn’t want to get out of bed and go through stretching exercises, drive to the gym, do a cardio session, followed by arms resistance, cardio session, legs resistance, followed by driving home and making a thorough list of that day’s appointments and activities, and at least an hour of reading, my developed skill of diligence answers and gets out of bed. It’s an advantage I have over what my body is internally saying. Your head and body are saying things to you, the advantage is when the voice of your developed skill of diligence answers.

  1. You become a creator of your future, not a victim of circumstances

Our culture is producing more and more victims of circumstance. You can always find someone who has worse circumstances than you. You can always find someone who has had to overcome more than you. My friend and NCAA 2011 Wrestling Champion, Anthony Robles was born with one leg. You should try to get down on the floor and wrestle someone 125 pounds with using only one leg and see how you do. Anthony would not be stopped and today travels around the country inspiring others to create your future, rather than be a victim of your circumstances. Here’s Anthony doing his thing:



  1. True fulfillment and satisfaction can be yours

Don’t be lured in by people with the “get it easy and quick” schemes. Speakers who have no real background, history or track record in what they are pitching you. A lot of people can develop speaking ability, not as many people can develop diligence and results. There’s a difference is having a force of personality and producing exceptional outcomes. Check up and ask questions about the real and true results they have produced and over how much time. That’s what you are after, real and true results over a consistent period. I don’t teach or train on anything I haven’t first succeeded with personally, producing results in management and leadership positions in others’ businesses, in my own businesses, in non-profits (as board member, founder and manager) and as a consultant in over a 30+-year period.

  1. You will be in control rather than be controlled

This speaks for itself. Don’t be on auto-pilot. Be a creative producer in your life, not a controlled consumer. Who decides how you spend your days? How much money you make? Get in touch with the reality that no person is actually keeping you from producing exceptional results. You are not a victim of the economy or your environment. Those things are temporary and can be changed. The diligent change those things. Victims wait and hope for them to someday change. Victims believe no one is willing to help them. Creators get in control and figure it out. Victims go back to what they know and the comfortable. Creators explore new options and love the uncomfortable. This is the skill of diligence.

Finally, I want to share with you this commercial. I saw it in the gym this morning, which inspired this entire post today. It’s DeVry University, “Let Nothing Stand In Your Way”. That says it all. Watch it and then take a look at the action plan, I’ve outlined for you below the video.


Action plan: (do not proceed without a “yes” to each one)

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, do you have a 10+ score of clarity on what exceptional results you want to produce?

2. Can you commit to persist through tough times, dissapointments and failures without taking a u-turn backward?

3. Can you begin to work SMART? (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound)

4. Can you put aside your personal ego and take some straight talk about your plan and performance?

5. Can you perform consistently, achieving higher levels of practice and effort as time advances?

6. Can you work diligently to hit timely benchmarks and outcomes when they are due?

7. Can you sacrifice working on your favorite things, and instead work on the most effective things?

8. Can you focus on giving your very best on each task, rather than being lazy on some and really diligent on others?

9. Can you focus on having a “beginner’s mind” in which you can put aside all you think you know in the pursuit of learning something new, without always sliding back to your “baseline” and being super-critical of the new information?

10. Can you change your perception of yourself from victim of circumstances to creator of the future?

11. Can you submit yourself to someone else who can put some “rocket fuel” on what you are trying to accomplish?

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