10 Lessons From “Chop Wood Carry Water”

Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf is a very fun, quick read that has many valuable life stories and lessons. Below are 10 things that I took away from the book, both quotes or excerpts from the book or in my own words.

  1. The little things in life matter – “Every little thing we do, no matter how mundane, matters greatly when it is multiplied by the number of times we do it.” Life is a game of inches, and when we break everything down in life to smaller tasks and focus on one thing at a time, this will compound over time into either something great, or something bad. Reading for 10 pages a day doesn’t sound like much, but multiplied by 365 days and you will have read 3,650 pages. “In the big picture, every single choice matters, no matter how small. Everything you choose to read, listen to, or look at. Everything you think about, dream about or focus on. And especially your circle – the people you surround yourself with and allow to influence you – can make all the difference in who you become. Inches might look small up close, but added up over the right amount of time, they can cover any distance in the universe.”
  2. “Uncomfortable isn’t a choice, but where you experience it is. Life will always be difficult somewhere. But we can choose to experience that difficulty now, or push it off until later. Everything costs something. Nothing is free. Hard isn’t a choice, but where you experience it is.” If you always focus on putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, you will always continue to grow and adapt and become better every day.
  3. “Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That is why we train so hard.” Whatever you are trying to achieve in life, your preparation and work and training will dictate what outcome you receive.
  4. “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.” If you are constantly controlling all six of these inputs, you will become unstoppable and you will feel so much better about yourself and the world around you.
  5. “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.” You must focus on your own journey and stop comparing it to others.
  6. “Hardship often prepares ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Bad times in life suck, but if you focus on a productive mindset, those bad times can help shape the rest of your life. My dad passed away when I was barely 21 years old. By far the worst time in my life, but I channeled that energy into things I can control, into focusing on honoring him, but pouring my anger and sadness into my workouts, by trying to make him proud in everything I did. The worst time in my life turned into the best thing to happen to my personal development, my mindset and helped me transition from the mindset of a boy to a mindset of a man.
  7. “The wind can be both creative and destructive at the same time. It all depends on how you harness it.” “Words are a lot like that. Just like the wind, they are everywhere. We use them every day to talk to ourselves. And just like the wind, their power can either destroy, or create. You may not have control over how other people talk to you, but you do have control over how you talk to yourself. And that is hugely important, because words put pictures into your mind. Pictures in your mind impact how you feel. How you feel impacts what you do. What you habitually do impacts your destiny.”
  8. “Your failures, shortcomings, and challenges can either end up as your excuse or your story. I hope you choose courage, curiosity and persistence.” You can’t always control what happens to you in life, but you can choose how you react to anything in life. No matter what, you are always in control.
  9. Bad things will always happen in life that will really put a wrench in what you were looking to achieve. Take an injury for example. If you are training for a marathon and you have a knee injury that prevents you from running for 6 months, that can feel like the worst thing in the world. But you have to look at it as an opportunity. Now you have 6 months to study running techniques, to focus on your upper body strength (which will also help your running), to have more time to read on your knowledge of the sport and study the best to compete. If you pound away for 6 months, you will come out the other end a better runner when you are able to run again.
  10. “The point of life is not to arrive safely at death. Don’t believe that lie. On your deathbed, you will regret the mountains you chose not to climb. You won’t regret the bumps, bruises, broken bones and scars you got from the ones you did climb.

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