Life requires a level of effort I can’t afford to give right now…

Whatever you’re doing right now, chances are you’d probably rather not be doing it. Something you’d love to skip like a meeting or a class.

Maybe you have some chores to do around the house. Or you’ve got homework. Or an application for your “dream job” you need to fill out, but you just want to blow it off.

Well, you can’t.

Van Halen and the Brown M&Ms walk into a bar…

Okay, that’s not how the story goes, but there IS a story about Van Halen I want to share with you.

(For those you who don’t know Van Halen, check out this rockfest!)

Anyways, the story goes like this.

When Van Halen toured back in the 80s, they demanded in their rider that their waiting room or lounge have a bowl of M&Ms…BUT being the rock gods that they were, they amped (get it?) up the demands.

Not only did they require a bowl of M&Ms, the bowl was to have ZERO brown M&Ms in it.


Van Halen’s infamous list of demands

The contract literally read, “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” (Their lawyer was pretty good if he can get that into their contracts.)

Van Halen was REALLY serious about these demands too! In fact, they refused to play a show because they found brown M&Ms in the bowl! Yup, you read that right…they refused to rock out because they found brown M&Ms in their bowl of M&Ms…


Now, making crazy demands when you’re a superstar isn’t all that weird. Kanye apparently demands having a barber chair in his green room. But that’s what we’re talking about today. We’re not here to talk about absurd demands or how out of touch celebrities are.

We’re here to talk about a phrase I’ve grown to obsess over. And that phrase is:

“How you do anything is how you do everything”

So how does this phrase relate to Van Halen?

According to lead singer David Lee Roth, Van Halen included these crazy demands to see if the venues paid attention to the contract. They knew that if they saw brown M&Ms, that the venue didn’t give a damn about them.

The brown M&Ms symbolize how seriously the band approached their music, and they wanted to be around others who took it just as seriously. If the venue didn’t care too remove the brown M&Ms, maybe they didn’t care to wire all the lighting correctly. OR set up the pyros and fireworks correctly.

If the venue is willing to let something as simple as easy to accommodate as getting rid of brown M&Ms, what else did they put zero to no effort into? 

In other words, how you do anything is how you do everything…

How you manage ANY situation in your life is how you probably manage ALL of them.

Think about that sentence for a minute.Now, your first reaction to this may be disbelief or even insult. But really reflect on it and you’ll see how true it is.

In other words, the process of reaching your goal or creating your ideal life is WAY MORE important than your goal. So, if you’re going to do something—no matter what it is—do it to the best of your ability.

It’s about being willing to take that first small step, no matter how insignificant it may be to help you reach your goals. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and wherever you’re going, you owe it to yourself  to do it well.

This phrase to me is about living a life at a high standard. And to do that, you have to hold yourself to that standard – no matter what you do.

Be honest – when you have to do something you think is pointless or a waste of time, do you put in the effort to get it done? Probably not.

But if you think about it, it’s these situations where putting in your best effort makes the most sense. Because if you can do it when it sucks and you have no passion or desire for it, then you can do it when it truly matters. 

“My time is better spent on things that matter”

As someone who wants you to maximize your life, the last thing I want you to do is waste your time. But the problem with these kinds of statements is that by consciously allowing yourself to make one excuse of “it’s pointless,”  you leave room for similar excuses. These types of reasoning, excuses, rationale, whatever you want to call them are infectious and they spread like wildfire.

All they need is a little spark. Let’s use making the bed as an example.

Most people look at making the bed as a pointless activity. (I, of course, don’t and find many benefits to it.)

“What’s the point of making the bed when you’re going to be messing it up again in a few hours, anywaysIt’s a waste of time.” 

If this is you, then I’ll be the first to say – yes, this rationale makes sense (and it’s the excuse I used all my life for not making the bed…or cleaning my room.)

But if you don’t put in the effort to make your bed, you’re saying it’s okay that your bed is messy. What’s to stop you from saying it’s okay for your bedroom to be messy? What’s the point of cleaning it up, right? It’ll just get messy again anyways.

Matter of fact, why don’t we apply this logic to your home. Maybe your finances (what’s the point of saving money, I can’t take it with me when I die.) Or your health.

Okay, so this may be an extreme example. And I don’t want to scare you into thinking that not making your bed will leave you broke on the streets. But what I want to make clear is this – if you’re okay making self-sabotaging excuses once that you won’t have trouble making it again and again and again.

Don’t confuse effort and ability

Some people will read “how you do anything is how you do everything” and think it says, “if you fail at one thing, you fail at all things” – that if I’m not able to do one thing that I won’t be able to do anything.

This isn’t the intent of this statement. It doesn’t have anything to do with how successful you are, just how hard you’re willing to work to be successful.

A better translation would be, “I put the same effort into the big things that I do the little things”.

But in any case, this phrase is something that helps me put into perspective how I want to approach my life. If it doesn’t help you, then get don’t use it.  Forget you even heard about it and find some other phrase that inspires you to do better instead of making you feel like you’re being judged.

Where to do go from here

“In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answer. Our job is simply to answer well.”

—Ryan Holiday

Every day of your life is an opportunity to get you closer and closer to your goal. And on the road to success, you’ll have to do things that you’d rather not do. Most people think that it’s the big splashes that ultimately lead to success, or that they can cherrypick what they want to do in order to be successful.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The reality is, it’s the effort that you put into the minutia of life that matters most.

Most people are ONLY willing to take the time to do the things that lead to immediate results or has instant value. They can’t see the purpose in the little things, and come up with excuses like, “If it doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t do it. It doesn’t matter.

This is the EXACT attitude that stops people from reaching their potential. Everything is a chance to do and be our best.

It’s easy to blow these things off. To blow off the things you’d rather not be doing. Most people aren’t willing to put in the work that creates success.

Are you one of these people?

If you’re read up to this point, then I’m thinking the answer is NO.

Find a small habit, like making the bed or waking up 5 minutes earlier, and put forth an effort. These things may seem insignificant when you look at them in isolation, but these habits will have a positive ripple effect on your life.

They’ll show you that you are in control of your life.

That even though there’ll be times when doing the right thing seems difficult or when your mind tells you to stop or “this is stupid,” you’ll still find a way to push yourself to do the little things. And day after day, you’ll build more and more momentum until it rolls on like a freight train. Remember, momentum starts with a moment.

A small, insignificant moment. An opportunity made of an obstacle.

So, take pride in your effort, in your craft – no matter how small or insignificant the task may seem. Your dedication leads to discipline. And discipline leads to success.

Don’t phone it in…because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Thanks for reading!

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What’s your “anything”?

What is something that may be insignificant or silly to others that you have to do? For me, it’s making the bed.

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