"An artist doesn't blame the pencil."
Last week I was really craving some cookies so I reached out to my friend Suzie because she makes the most incredible chocolate chip cookies ever! Suzie was happy to share her secret family recipe and emailed it me the next day. 

"Suzie's Super Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe"


- 1 cup of softened butter
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of hot water
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 cups of flour
- 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2) Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.

3) Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

I was ecstatic that Suzie was so kind to help me out. She also kindly reached out and said,  "Hey Zack, it is very important to follow the recipe exactly. Don't skip any steps."

I rolled my eyes thinking "Yeah yeah Suzie... I got this. Looks super easy."

The next day I started baking. 

Step 1: I mixed the butter and white sugar together. I only had 3/4 of a cup of butter and didn't have any brown sugar so I just doubled the white sugar and mixed it with the butter until is was kind of smooth. 

Step 2: I was pretty hungry so I just put both eggs in at the same time and tossed in 3 tablespoons of vanilla. Close enough. 

Step 3: I dissolved the baking powder with the 20 teaspoons of warm water. I didn't add in the salt because I didn't think salt should go in cookies. 

Step 4: I stirred in some flour (kind of eye-balled 3 cups), added 3 cups of chocolate chips because "YUM", and then launched in some coconut and cinnamon (because I like those ingredients) and spread the batter on a greased pan.  

Step 5: "Oh, for fox lake!". I forgot to preheat the oven (face palm). Good thing my math skills are so phenomenal. I turned the oven to 700 degrees F. That way they will only need to bake for 5-minutes. 

Step 6: "ERRR..." I forgot the walnuts. I quickly pulled the cookies out and dropped some pecans on top of the half baked cookies. Should be good. 

Step 7: I waited the full 4-minutes and then pulled the pan out of the oven. 

Step 8: BOOM. Done. I grabbed a few of those bad boys and fired them in my mouth...

"What the...?! These are absolutely disgusting" I thought. "What the heck could have gone wrong? I followed the recipe exactly. There is no way this is my fault. Maybe my oven is broken. Or maybe my measuring cup was incorrect. Or maybe Suzie sent me the wrong recipe. Yeah! That's it. It was Suzie's fault for sure. Damn that Suzie and her messed up family recipe that doesn't make any sense. Suzie tried to tell me that it wasn't the recipe. It was because I must have done something wrong. Pffff not a chance... See ya Suz. We done."

Alright, back to reality.

The truth is that I don't actually have a friend named Suzie. And that was just a fictional story...
(mind blown I'm sure).

However, here's my point. Your ego is your worst enemy.

And before you start to think, "Nope. Not me. I don't have an ego." Just hear me out because that's your ego talking. 

You see, we all have an ego. It's that thing inside of us that likes to defer blame to others and wants to make sure that everyone knows that we are awesome, important, and special. 

But it's ok. We all have that. However, to live your best life you need to work on keeping your ego under control because it truly is your worst enemy.

Quite often we will go through life looking for shortcuts, taking shortcuts, skipping steps, ignoring good advice, doing what feels good instead of what is actually good, doing things our way instead of the right way, and thinking we know everything. Then the moment anything goes sour we immediately want to blame someone or something else. It's just too damn hard to point the finger at the person in the mirror. Taking extreme ownership is extremely difficult for our ego to handle. 

Our ego can't possibly take the fact that perhaps we made the mistake. That something went wrong because  of something that we did. There's just no possible way that I messed up the recipe. Nope... it was 100% Suzie's fault. And we are definitely not going to accept any criticism.

It's a really difficult skill but things get so much better when you just check your ego and own it. Own everything. Own your mistakes and own your faults.

Now move on. Don't let your mistakes bury you. Just learn from them and quit blaming others. It's not the recipe's fault. It was not Suzie's fault. It was my fault. 

Here is my real life example:

I remember when I first opened the gym. It was 2013 and I was a very young naive business owner at only 26 years of age. I thought everything would come easy and people from all around would come running to check out MY gym because MY gym was the best thing since sliced turkey. Guess what? Nobody really cared that there was this new gym in town and some young kid knew a few things about burpees and snatches. I had this thought I would be at 100 members or more within a few short months. The truth is that I didn't hit 100 members until year 4. I remember thinking back in 2013 when business was a little slower than I had imagined, "I know what it is... It's Brandon. Brandon is just a small town. Not as many people as Winnipeg so not as many people know about CrossFit."

Blah. Blah. Blah. I fed my ego a load of reasons and excuses on why I wasn't a success after 4 months. I found something else to blame it on to make myself feel better. And to be honest it worked. I felt a bit better for a week or so until I realized the blame I was putting on the POPULATION OF BRANDON (Are you kidding me "2013 Zack"?!) did absolutely nothing to resolve my issue. It wasn't until another gym owner said to me, "Zack, I am sorry to say but it's not Brandon. It's you and your product. Put your ego aside and own the fact that YOU need to be better, your gym can be better, and your product can be better. Focus on those 3 things and people will come. But it's going to take some time." It was a hard pill to swallow but he was right. 

You see, if you just stick to the recipe then you're going to be fine. There are hundreds and hundreds of great recipes out there and you also have hundreds and hundreds of cookies to choose from. So find what you love and go after it. Learn the recipe for success and stick to the recipe. There's always a game plan that works. Don't get distracted and fall off track. And if you do, then own it and just get back at it.

A baker doesn't blame the recipe.
A carpenter doesn't blame the blueprint. 
An athlete doesn't blame the program. 
An interior designer doesn't blame the furniture.
An actor doesn't blame the script. 
An artist doesn't blame the pencil.

And if they do, then that's their ego speaking. 

If you skip steps, take shortcuts, try to speed up the results, blame others, and always believe you know everything, then your cookies are always going to taste awful... and continuing to blame Suzie is not going to fix anything. 

"It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows."
- Epictetus

Thanks for reading, 

Zack McMillan

ps. You'll be pleased to know that I reached out to Suzie and apologized for my outburst. Friendship back on. 
The Rocker Mindset is dedicated to helping people develop a Stronger Mind, Healthier Body, and Happier Soul.

Embrace the Rocker Mindset and live your life to its fullest potential.
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