Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall In Love With the Process of Becoming Great

Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall In Love With the Process of Becoming Great

Author: Joshua Medcalf

Rating: 6.5/10

This is a short and easy read with a lot of valuable life lessons. The fictional story follows John to Japan on a quest to become a samurai archer. Guided by Akira-sensei, he encounters a series of setbacks that have a strong resemblance to our own day-to-day struggles. Putting the clumsy and oftentimes cheesy story aside, this book offers quite a few valuable insights about developing mental toughness, setting goals, and overcoming adversity.

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” – Buddha

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Highlights

Everyone wants to be great, until it’s time to do what greatness requires.

Humility is not thinking less of your self, but thinking of your self less.

“The only thing that is truly significant about today, or any other day, is who you become in the process. Each of us are building our own house. Sometimes you might think you are building for your school, your family, your company, or your team, but you are always building your own house… I hope you build wisely.”

Your greatest challenge during your time here will be faithfully keeping your focus on the process, while surrendering the outcome.

“You will learn, young John, the reason it takes longer is because with one eye on the goal, you only have one eye for the journey.”

“No man climbs a mountain all at once. He climbs it by making one solid step at a time.”

“John, you keep getting in the way of your own potential, because you keep seeing everything as a test. The secret is to understand that nothing is a test, but only an opportunity to learn and grow. Many people never fulfill their potential, because they look at every situation in life as a test. If you look at something as a test, then you will focus only on passing the test instead of maximizing your growth through the experience. Over time, the person who is simply focused on maximizing what they can learn and how they can grow will become much greater than the person who sees life as one continual test to prove themselves.”

I constantly have to remind myself that my value comes from who I am, not from what I do. I am not a samurai archer, I am a human being who happens to be world class at archery.

The truth is that your value is constant, it is priceless, and it never truly goes up or down based off of results or your performance. Your value comes from who you are, not from what you do.

When your identity gets wrapped up in what you do, it clouds every decision you make. It is easy to see some of the reasons that a person would make very compromising decisions when their identity comes from what they do. You must fight that instinct.

Whatever you do though, please don’t find your identity in something that can be gone in a moment’s notice.

Like thirsty people guzzling salt water, achievement only creates a greater desire for accomplishing more, dehydrating us of true satisfaction and fulfillment.

You fuel your heart with six things: what you watch, what you read, what you listen to, who you surround yourself with, how you talk to yourself, and what you visualize.

Let me ask you a question: if you owned a Lamborghini, would you ever put water into the gas tank?” John looked up in confusion. “Of course not! That would ruin the engine!” “Exactly,” Akira said, “But this is what most people do with their hearts. You and I were created just like that Lamborghini, but if we put the wrong fuel into the gas tank of our hearts, we won’t run as we were intended to.

Write daily:
Worth Statement: My value comes from who I am, NOT from what I do. Growth Mindset: Anything that happens to me today is in my best interest and it is an opportunity for me to learn and grow. What Went Well: (Write out 15 specific things you did well today. Feel free to use examples of areas you got better in even if they weren’t the very best you are capable of.)
Areas For Growth: (Formerly called “Weaknesses” but we are looking at them as growth opportunities now)
What I Learned: (This can be something that you already know but learned the importance of again)

Talent without character is like an expensive, fast car with no gas. It is useless without the fuel that drives it.

Most people never realize their potential, because when things get hard, or they experience failure, they just quit. Or, they never give their very, very best and exhaust themselves in order to protect their ego. They enjoy being able to say, ‘I didn’t even really try,’ or ‘I didn’t really care.’ Because if they did really give it their best, and still failed, that would be too much for their ego to handle.

We get so used to seeing superstars on game day, that we forget what we do not see: all the hours they spend beating on their craft, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, with no one watching.

Too many people seek exposure from the bright lights, but the bright lights only expose their lack of faithfulness to their craft in the dark.

Comparison is the thief of all joy, and the grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.

Even though you are equipped with life-changing wisdom that could transform lives, you must not share it without an invitation. Most people just want to be heard and loved, they don’t want your wisdom, and that is OK. Sometimes, you can actually become the greatest impediment to other people growing when you try and force things on them. In time, if they see you model it, they will probably start to ask.

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