The Doctrine of the Doers—5 Principles of Achievement

Same can be said about writing a book...

Same can be said about writing a book…

Success has a LOT of common denominators. Whether we want to be an excellent parent, run a thriving business, earn a promotion, have great friendships, become published, lose weight, one day have enough money to build a secret lab in the side of a mountain…? There are fundamentals we are wise to understand and apply.

Thus today, we are going to talk about 5 Principles of Achievement or The Doctrine of the Doers because I dig alliteration 😀 .

Principle #1—Understand What We are Doing is HARD

Pros make stuff look easy. I can listen to Donald Trump ten minutes and believe I, too, could be a financial genius. When I was four, I recall being allowed to watch Wonder Woman and she did these amazing handsprings. Well, pshaw! I totally could do that…or not.

And my cousin found me semi-conscious and confused why my arm was going the wrong way.

I made this mistake of not understanding I was seeing the END result of a lot of training. Outsiders make this mistake all the TIME. They see a thriving business or someone who drives a nice car and…that person must have “inherited money.”

When I was a teen, I was in marching band, the swim team and taught karate in the evenings. This meant I was up before dawn marching until 9 a.m. I then swam laps from 2 in the afternoon until 4:30 just in time to get home and pack up my gear so I could teach martial arts at the local recreation center.

One night, I was taking a break and a woman—holding a candy bar and a Pepsi—bemoaned how I was born so naturally fit. 


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Success is NOT natural. What’s natural? Entropy. Disorder. Chaos. Those who write a book, finish a book, have a thriving blog, a strong business, great kids, a clean house, a smoking hot body often worked hard for it. 

We must do what others are unwilling to do. We are not the AVERAGE. Even those of you who are just starting out. You are NOT the average. Most people never try.

We must always guard ourselves from thinking someone “better” than us achieved whatever easily. If we don’t, we will get discouraged and are more likely to give up. The other side of that is if we DO the hard work? Expect someone to believe whatever we achieved was purchased, inherited or the result of “magic.”

Principle #2—No Company Better Than Bad Company

Lions don’t hang with sheep. Show me your three closest friends and I’ll show you your future. Complaining, excuses, procrastination, laziness are contagious because they represent the natural order of the universe—ENTROPY. When I began as a writer, I had A LOT more “friends.” Now? Not so much.

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Even in martial arts, I don’t roll with people who are reckless and lazy. It’s a good way to get injured and it won’t make me better. I won’t spar with the guy who always shows up to class conveniently after the grueling warmup is over and who needs a water break every five seconds.

Choose people who are willing to do the hard stuff. If you’re a writer, hang out with people who WRITE, who are willing to read and take classes and are always pushing their skills to a higher level. Yes, there will be fewer of those, but it’s worth it.

Principle #3—Basics Trump Cleverness

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There are always people who want the shortcut. They want the Shake Weight Success and instead of being “successful” they look more like they are….ok, *leaves that to your imaginations*.

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From music to writing to business to parenting to marriage to martial arts, there are fundamentals we should master because they never outlive usefulness. From white belt to black belt, the Kimura is one of the most successful tactics in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu even though it’s one of the first we’re taught.

Writers? Proper grammar, punctuation and tight prose never go out of style. I see way too many new writers so busy trying to come up with a plot never written in HUMAN history and they do this at the expense of learning and mastering the essentials.

Principle #4—There Will Be BLOOD

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We live in a world that tells us we can have it all. NO. We can’t. That’s a lie designed to sell us stuff. We must choose and then focus and then sacrifice. Often, people see how much I write and think everything else is perfect in my life. Nope. I gave up the idea of having a Martha Stewart house a looooong time ago. Also haven’t had my hair done since last summer. I focus on family, writing and martial arts. Anything else? I’ll get to it.



Principle #5—Achievement is a PROCESS

It also never ends. We have to be careful we aren’t comparing the highlight reels of others to our own “behind-the-scenes.” When I started blogging, NO ONE cared except the man-part-enlargement bots. I was thrilled to pass 40 visits in a day.

I read a lot of other blogs to hone my skills and still do. And, even though it’s common for this blog to have triple digit comments and thousands of shares, I still read blogs with 27,000 or more shares and have to maintain perspective.

Whoever is getting those 27K shares didn’t get that Day One. Just like I blogged for over a year and a half before real humans started outnumbering the spammers who commented on my blog.

I so lick your blog. Wonderful poinsettias you make. I must tell my brother about you’re genius. What web browser do you use? Is there a grate spam filter?

Apparently not “grate” enough…

Have any idea how HARD it was not to delete these comments in the beginning? Um, maybe the commenter is writing English as a second language?

THIS is how blonde I was when I decided to blog. I started my WordPress site and posted…and immediately got MY FIRST COMMENT. Proof I was awesome! *does bad Cabbage Patch dance* It was a lovely and thoughtful comment from this dude named…Akismet?

What kind of name is that? Must be foreign.

Or an automatically generated message from the WORDPRESS SPAM-FILTERING software *head desk*.

What if I’d given up? We all start somewhere. Goals will always be shifting and evolving. We never cross a true finish line unless we decide to quit.

And we’ll need to remember to take that moment where we can enjoy our achievement, but new level? New devil. I was so STOKED when I earned my second stripe on my BJJ white belt. I felt bad@$$! Those two stripes cost me a broken nose, a few broken toes, sprains, strains, time and sweat. I was EPIC (in my own mind).

Double-rainbow all the WAY!

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***For those who don’t know, in BJJ you are a white belt FOREVER—okay, about a year to a year and a half. Four stripes and then blue belt. Most people QUIT.

I basked in my awesomeness until the next class when I got my tail beaten like a drum.

With writing? Finishing a book is life-altering? Publishing it? Holding it in your hands? OMG! Then you get the scathing review from someone who loved the book, but gave you two stars because there were four typos in 70,000 words.


Also, once that book is out? It’s back to the beginning with the next book and the next. We are always starting over and reaching higher than the last time. It’s why we need a solid relationship with being a beginner 😉 .

You can DO this! I know you can. Just remember baby steps are steps and the most valuable stuff in life, money can’t buy.

What are your thoughts? Ready to rule the world? Do you get frustrated with people believing what you do is easy? Or people who want the fruits without the work? Maybe people who dismiss all the sacrifices you’ve made? Do you find you do better if you keep revisiting these basics? I do. If it can be overcomplicated? I AM your GIRL!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Reblogged this on AM&SM.

  2. Lovely stuff, Kristen! You always motivate me and are so generous with your knowledge.

    1. You guys are worth the investment ((HUGS))

  3. I feel like a doer, honest to god I do. I tweet and post and friend and chat and write write write (get edited, get edited, get edited) and promote and buy quality cover art for existing books. But today I got my 18th agency rejection and from the one agent I really targeted with homework about them, their client list, their ability to get projects placed and their “style” which (I thought) matched mine). I am sad and feeling like “a drinker” instead. It’s the longest, slowest, harshest slog ever some days. But your insight is always spot on. Thank you.

    1. You are in The Dip. It sucks but it will end.

  4. I saw the title and thought, well DUH average people never get a black belt.
    Oh, Kristen points this out. And inspires me to get back to the keyboard to finish that not-so-average story I’m working on. Not to mention the blog inspiration knocking the idea we can have it all, whatever “IT” might be. Happy Inspiration Day (which is every day I manage to produce)

  5. Kristen, thanks I was having a bad day and needed the kick – perhaps not BJJ but karate – to remember ‘quitters never win’.

    • lynettemirie on February 27, 2015 at 3:20 pm
    • Reply

    Great encouragement and reality check as always. I am nearing the end of your book, “Rise of the Machines,” and look forward to diving into social media and blogging head first (or maybe just a toe at a time). It has taken lots of time spent studying, praying and working on my writing skills to get here. You are a BIG reason I have come this far. Thanks for being you and being real.

  6. Exactly what I needed today. As always, loved the post! Thanks so much!

  7. Kristen, you never fail to inspire me, and sometimes make me laugh too. I finished the first draft of my second novel this morning, the one that’s taken over a year to write. It’s been hard some days to stick with it, especially when my pile of laundry looks like I envision yours might. So many thanks for being an inspiration, admitting to being just like the rest of us and offering a hand back when so many of us need one.

  8. I don’t usually have bad days. I have my health, my wife, my two dogs and my family and friends. I feel very blessed that this new wonderful age of Indie is here. I also bow down to Word, spell check, and the internet for taking away the incredible frustration of a two-finger typist who knows not how to spell any word over one syllable; and some of those challenge me.

    When I first learned to play a guitar, I found the chords to House of the Rising Sun, and played then over and over again. I learned trumpet in school where the music books for trumpet where limited to what a boy would want to play. Now, there is every tool available, from you tube on down. The same applies to most crafts, making the journey more accessible.

    But, you are right, as usual, Ms. Lamb; one has to put in the effort. I decided I wanted to finger pick after twenty years or so of only strumming a guitar. That effort took me a year of sitting most nights just making sure my fingers did what I had researched on the net. After a year, muscle memory kicked in, and a year later I can finger-pick.

    Writing novels has been a similar journey. I have always been an avid reader and a writer of poems, short stories and songs. I wrote my first novel approximately four years ago, self published, and moved onto the next; finished that one, began the third, and realized i was beginning to see what was needed to write a readable novel. I pulled the first book down, and just recently after much revision and work with and independent editor I released my first real book (in my humble opinion); now on to the other two.

    I am approaching marketing, author platform, blogging, other social media the same way.

    A most wonderful journey it has been so far. Thank you much for the many things you have offered.

  9. Wow, this is really inspirational. It can be all too easy to lose courage after receiving rejections but this is very uplifting, thanks for being such a good motivator. Also, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the word ‘pshaw’, nice!

    • Renee on February 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm
    • Reply

    Okay, so just WHO came to my house and took those laundry photos?

  10. Thanks for the inspiring post, Kristen! I have a black belt in TKD, and I had to work FREAKIN’ HARD for it!! No broken nose, though… 🙂

  11. Thanks coach!!

  12. Darling, your timing is so perfect. I just put the finishing touches on a book that I’ve been working on for two years! Onwards.

  13. Thanks. I’ve been blogging consistently for over a year and still only get 20 views on a good day. I like blogging and plan to continue but it’s discouraging at times . . . 🙁

    1. My book Rise of the Machines might help, but other than adjusting content and tagging? It’s simply sweat equity. But one day you will hit that tipping point and be REALLY glad you have all that content for your new fans to enjoy 😉 .

      1. Same here, a couple of years in. I read ROTM, I made some changes, and I’m up to posting three times a week now. I don’t have a presence on multiple social media sites, but I don’t think I could cope with any more than one in more than the most half-assed way, so I stick to WordPress.
        I keep going, but sometimes I feel like I’m just doing it for the practice in putting the sentences together. Any advice would be welcome!

      2. Your book was awesome, Kristen. It changed my view of social media entirely, and made me more confident (read: at all willing) to use it. Thanks for your no-nonsense, super-practical wisdom.

  14. Encouragement? That’s your spiritual gift? Thanks for your awesome coaching to the masses.

    I wonder how many book projects get a second wind from reading something here? It’s like you’re… the old bald guy, and I’m Rocky. No, wait. Not with that picture. You’re… Mr. Miyagi, and I’m the Karate Kid! Still wrong. You’re the gipper! And I’m Knute–no. That’s not it. Dangit!

    1. I’ll own any of those. Most battles are fought and won (or lost) in the mind 😉 .

  15. Excellent motivational points. A creative writing prof. made another point at a conference I attended. In the eyes of those who don’t write, we are zombies. Don’t try to explain it to them. Find other zombies to talk to. They’ll understand what you’re going through.

    • Steve Hartline on February 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you so much Kristen for this post. I never thought about 2). as applying to writing, but in order to achieve one should realize the cost of not considering it’s value. My best friend and wife Andrea is 100% supportive of my new and improved (i.e. process, method, etc.) commitment. And If I could be so bold as to offer a supplement. 5.1. Make failure your friend.
    I have ‘false started’ so often in the past, but I always got going once again. I finally was honest with myself and looked at those failures critically to determine how I went astray. That ties indirectly back to 2).

    • Steve Hartline on February 27, 2015 at 5:34 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Laser sight commitment. 5 small steps that are anything but simple. Worth the read

  16. Great stuff today. Thanks for sharing it.

    • jmollytwilight on February 27, 2015 at 6:08 pm
    • Reply

    You are speaking my thoughts today. 🙂

  17. It is the same with all things. We achieve them because of time and hard work. And when we achieve them we realize that the pursuit of the thing was the essence of the thing.

  18. Wait. Those 40 hits are…spammers? Crap. 🙁 Onward.

  19. You always keep me focused. Thanks again!

  20. I have a black belt and a decade of martial arts experience and I wish I could apply all those lessons about tenacity and discipline to my writing. [/battlecry]

  21. The more I write, the more I hate ignoring it because I’m tired, or in pain, or feel the need to watch Futurama reruns. I just got myself booted off of Facebook for not using my real name, and so far, I have actually wasted less time farting around on it; with the end result being that I have gotten back to really thinking about what’s in my book (or what isn’t in my bank account.)
    Upon reading this particular blog, Kristen, you made me think of the scene in “Enter The Dragon” where the bad guy claws Bruce Lee across his chest like a high school girl with an overly long manicure and a bad attitude.
    Bruce steps back to taste his own blood, and his eyes convey the message: “No one claws me like a little bitch and gets away with it!” It was clear that tasting his blood reminded him of the blood and pain he had paid to get to that moment, and no one was going to take victory from him.
    Keep lashing out at us slackers, Kristen: Not only am I enjoying the abuse, I’m actually getting something done!

    1. We all need a swift kick regularly. What we do is NOT NORMAL and far from AVERAGE. We are a team 😉 .

  22. Great post. Agree with all of it. I think I’m slow and steady but I’m not a quitter and I never get jealous of anyone. I see a lot of others do and it never does them any good.

  23. Referenced to you with a blog on the formula for success.

  24. I gotta work out more. I’m actually doing well on the blogging side as of late.

  25. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Doctrine of the Doers – 5 Principles of Achievement – Kristen Lamb’s great post on how to get things done…

  26. Just like in life, in writing I get one element semi-handled and three other weaknesses pop up. If I ever “arrive” I will probably be dead, because what would there be to look forward to after that?
    In other news, I started reading a “craft” book today that gave me permission not to exercise for 9 days so I could write 10 hours per day and finish my first draft. No, thanks. If I don’t exercise for TWO days, my brain takes a face-dive into depression – screaming for its all-natural endorphin fix. So, part of being successful is discerning what “methods” won’t work for you.
    Thanks for another awesome post. I will keep on – and hold the novel written by me in published form one day soon.

  27. Reblogged this on Shaven Wookiee.

  28. What a great post, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Motivation! Thank you!

  29. This post needs its own blog post in response. Great one this time, Kristen! (Well, most of your posts are great, but you know what I mean, everything’s relative and this one’s really, really good.)
    Yesterday I reread the first chapter of my newly published book and decided it was good. I should be proud. One day soon I’ll reread the whole thing now that it’s finished. But it’s still too close.

    But I’m halfway through the first book of the elf story! (It was put on a break due to publishing the other book and because I had labs to explode with acid)
    And lately I’m getting a lot of great ideas. I can barely keep up with writing them down.

  30. So true, Kristen, anything worth while never comes easy. I gave up so much for my job, my first in 6 years, but it’s totally worth it for the joy I found. I’m getting paid pretty good money to do something I thoroughly love doing, this isn’t work it’s fun. I’m working hard, learning all the time how to better myself and become the best me I can be! Hope you’re having a great weekend, I will be working tomorrow from 4a.m. but I’m looking forward to it.

  31. Reblogged this on barclaydave and commented:
    Insightful look into success. Enjoy and check out Kristen’s blog for yourself.

  32. Great principles for life, especially #5. It never ends. I wished I had these 5 statements framed on my desk for visitors to read. I had more encounters with “time wasters” than productivity generators. Now that I am retired, I’ve learned to walk away rather than be sucked down by drama kings/queens. Great post.

    1. Heck, make a sign with them, LOL. You are always free to use my stuff ((HUGS)).

  33. This blog post came at the perfect time for me. I needed the reinforcement. Sometimes the chaos around me catches hold and I lose my focus. I’m back on track. This blog post helped do that.

  34. Wow, I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m hooked. Your words are so timely as I embark on a photography business with my partner. It doesn’t just instantly come. It’s going to take a lot of learning, hard work, tears, and as my husband always tells me, baby steps. Thank you!

  35. Lovely words !!! Provides a lot of insight for an amateur writer like me

  36. Reblogged this on scribblings007.

  37. Your writing always cheers me up! Juggling family, illness and part time work I wrote this last year as I was once again starting with a new boss (half my age) and haven’t looked back since. You could say she “got it” and quick as you like I was on special projects and now almost climbing a new ladder -I adore your whit and add that a sense of humour can sweeten the pill… (even if mild dyslexia compromises my puncuation?) Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration!

  38. I trained for a long time to get my black belt and I totally relate to this blog post – it’s awesome! And now I’m about to publish my first book (two years after starting to write it) – it’s about the scariest thing I’ve ever done! But the key is to do it, as you say – don’t give up at the last hurdle. Thanks for all the cool advice 🙂

    • melnadal on February 28, 2015 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply

    Very good post. I look forward to more.

  39. I so needed this. I need to re-focus my attention and make sure I’m getting all my blog posts done and up, and yes my book is out, but no I’m not an instant millionaire What’s up with that? LOL I’m not giving up or letting it get me down, I’m focusing on writing my next book, and editing another. No rest for the wicked 🙂

  40. Thanks for the reminder that all the housework that isn’t getting done while I am writing really is part o the process. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my father who wanted to know how the latest project/books were doing and I had good news to report. To which he replied that he wasn’t surprised as it was all easy for me….*facedesk*….

  41. This was just the perspective I needed – thanks!

  42. Read, Pinned & Tweeted this one. Gives me hope for my own blog! And gives me motivation as I’m sitting at the laptop in the basement. I have to have faith that if I just keep working at it, I will get there. But I won’t get there if I don’t take the steps.

  43. Wo. You are awesome! Shared this post on Facebook, will link to it on my blog, just bought your book. Can’t wait to read through your archives. (Found you on my Twitter feed, btw.) Good work, woman. Bravo.

    1. Great to meet you!

  44. Reblogged this on C.C. WILEY and commented:
    Love me some Kristen Lamb telling it like it is.

  45. Just when you think no gets it, I read your blog and realized that YOU get it, you continue to get it, that’s why you are willing to give it in hopes that more get it. And today was one of those days where my gettin’ it was getting tired. That was until I read your blog and it helped me understand that getting it is a process that should be enjoyed on your way to I GOT IT…

    1. AWESOME!

  46. You seem to post at times just what I need to hear!:) Thanks!

  47. When I was a white belt in Kempo, my sensei told me the definition of a black belt — “a white belt who didn’t quit.” Five years later, I reminded him of that on the day I received my black belt. It’s let me to another definition: “A published author is an unpublished author who didn’t quit”. 🙂

  48. This is both fun to read and helpful! I’m excited to be following you!

  49. Great post, and it does remind me; that ‘no-one is ever an expert’ we’re always learning, no matter what we achieve…..Thank you!

  50. Really a great and helpful post. It reinforces and reminds me that writing and or whatever we want to achieve, requires continuous effort. There are no shortcuts.

  51. Very inspiring post. The 5th point, everything being a process, is very true. As Mylene Farmer captures it in one of her songs: “Et si tu tombes 7 fois, toujours se relever 8.”

  52. That graphic in #4 asking what you’re willing to give up to achieve what you want hit me hard at just the right time. I’ve filled my life with things that aren’t writing — important things, useful things, great opportunities to advocate, but they aren’t writing. That helped. Thanks for the kick in the arse.

  53. Reblogged this on Sunflowers for Moira and commented:
    Dose of inspiration.

  54. I love this post and really, *really* needed it after the week I’ve had (felt as though I hit a wall) it has definitely inspired me to re-motivate myself!!!!

  55. More BJJ references in your posts plz [/nerd]

    • Sarah on March 17, 2015 at 1:36 am
    • Reply

    I’m a young writer who has just started college and I seem to be in this weird age where fellow writers are either a bit younger than me or quite a bit older than me. I’d love to meet some other serious and proficient writers around college-age but I’m not sure where to do that. It seems like I can only find young girls writing a 50 page novel on vampires or an adult women writing some very sophisticated literature. And I greatly respect the ability to write literature, I just don’t know how to relate to it yet. Any suggestions on where I should look?
    As always your blog is very fun to read. You often say things that get me thinking, like “they do this at the expense of learning and mastering the essentials”. *guilty* But then you offer encouraging words immediately after, and it feels as if you’re talking directly to me. Thanks to your blog I checked out my first craft book today. : )

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