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13 Lessons You Can Learn From An Olympic Champion – Kieren Perkins

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So before interviewing Olympic champion, Kieren Perkins, I was not sure what to expect. Would he be washed up? Would he be old and burnt out? The answer is neither. Next to Tony Robbins I believe he is one of the most inspiring, motivational geniuses of our time.

He is not someone you want to underestimate. He has success oozing from every part of his being, and he knows every form of motivation and personal development skill you could imagine. If you want to know what it takes to be successful, and you have been looking for the answer, then the only thing you need to do is listen to Kieren’s advice!

This interview will stay with me for a very long time. There were so many a-ha moments, and so many quotes (thank god I recorded the audio). I almost had to make the entire article just quotes because there was no filler to anything he said. Everything he learnt by being an Olympian he still uses today, except he does it in the corporate world, not the pool.

For Kieren, he was attracted to swimming and not team sports like Football and Soccer, because his whole life was about beating himself and improving every day, it was not about looking good or trying to be what everyone else wanted him to be.

Below are the thirteen lessons you can learn from Kieren’s life and Olympic success.

1. You know you will win before you even start

If you stand up on the blocks in an Olympic games, and you think you can’t win, you won’t. If you do win, it’s because you knew you would, you prepared, trained, practised, stressed and pushed yourself to your absolute breaking point.

You repeated this process again and again until you got to that moment in your preparation, which aligned with your strategy, that meant that when you stood on the blocks you were ready to go.

2. Develop the mental toughness ingredients

Kieren never worried too much about his competitors. One of the things he got taught when he was very young was that if someone tries to psych you out before a race, that’s great because there worried about you, you need to ignore them and worry about your race.

This thinking was part of the manifestation of the mental toughness that evolved in him. You need all the ingredients such as:

– Being able to stay calm and rational

– Understand what matters and what doesn’t

– Have clarity around what you’re trying to achieve

– Being willing to deal with the issue, not the circumstance so you don’t get caught up in the emotion of a problem

All of these ingredients go into providing a resilience and a clarity of a mindset that enables you not to get dragged down the path of emotions that are destructive and undermine your ability to get the job done.

These destructive emotions are usually not particularly real or helpful; they’re just perceptions that are your reality for that moment in time. If you don’t let that reality dominate you, and you can control it, your chances of being successful are much higher and the resilience you have in moments of stress will be greater.

3. No matter how you’re feeling just get started

No one wakes up every day of their life jumping out of their skin saying, “my life is fabulous, I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get to the pool and swim.” No sane human being is like that. We all have days where we think we’re tired, it’s cold, we can’t be bothered, or we want to just stay in bed.

Inevitably Kieren says, you get to the pool, and you start the activity of training. Within five minutes of starting you are engrossed, engaged, you’re there doing it, and all of that negativity or self-talk that was undermining your reasons for starting the process, disappears, and you get it done.

Next time you feel like you can’t do something, imagine what Kieren went through swimming in a pool every morning, and then just get started on whatever it is that you need to complete. You will be surprised how quickly you can push through any type of negative feeling.

4. Find something more engaging in what you’re doing than just the end

When Kieren used to train, he would see people that were only motivated by competition and winning at all costs. He would think to himself, “how do you drag yourself out of bed every day when your competition is four years away? You have got a lot of training to do between now and that competition. How do you wake up every day absolutely engaged in a sustainable performance mindset when the end goal is so distant?”

To Kieren, you want to have something that’s tangible, every single day that you can grasp, feel, touch, and taste that’s pushing you and motivating you to try and continue to improve, to be better, and get you to wherever you’re going.

Kieren has a view that if you want to be sustainable in your performance, if you want to have long-term out-performance and success in your career, you have to find something in what you’re doing that’s far more engaging and motivating than just the end.

If it’s only about the end, if it’s only about the competition, if it’s only about the opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal, the next time you have to start that process again and you stand on the line of day one, of the next four years of work, to get to the opportunity to try and win the next gold medal, Kieren says “Mount Everest looks pretty bloody big from there and pretty much unattainable.”

Kieren has seen it many times before (athletes who have treated the Olympics like a mountain) and when they have to climb the mountain for the second time or fourth time, they just can’t comprehend pushing themselves through the struggle ever again.

If you have a bit more of a sustainable mindset about those smaller chunks, (eat an elephant one bite at a time kind of an attitude) your chances of being sustainably successful are a lot higher.

5. Dealing with extreme pressure is a skill, unlike fitness

Throughout the interview, I wanted to know how Kieren’s mentors had influenced his success. The lesson Kieren told me that had a profound effect on him was from his swimming coach Mr Carew.

Mr Carew was very technically focused and believed that what made a great athlete was firstly the human being, the values, beliefs and attitudes, but then secondly, their technical ability. His view was that anyone could be fit, and that fitness was not mysterious or difficult.

His coach believed that to be technically perfect, under immense pressure, in an extremely hostile environment, and to challenge yourself and push yourself to do something extraordinary, was where the real skill lied.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to athletes; it also applies to life in general. Most skills and professions can be learned, but the one thing that will determine your success is the way you think and your psychology. Luckily all of this can be learned, and your brain has the ability to evolve.

“Every human being you interact with has got something to teach you and that they know something that you don’t know. The challenge about whether or not you learn anything from them is your capacity to actually listen and ask the right questions”

6. Let someone else show you what’s possible

A lesson we can all learn from Kieren is that often we have no idea what is possible until we see someone else achieve what we think is impossible. These experiences are invaluable and provide us with a blueprint for success.

The moment for Kieren, which showed him what was possible, was seeing Glen Houseman swimming in the 1989 Commonwealth Games Heats, in the 1500m freestyle. As Kieren was talking to his coach in the stands after his own event, he began to hear this amazing noise building from the swim centre which was uncommon for a 1500m swimming race at the time.

800m into the race, the commentator worked out that Glen was under world record pace. Back then, half a dozen records would be broken globally a year, on average. To see a world record at this time was just incredible, and it barely ever happened.

The 1500m race was one that nobody believed a world record could be broken because it was set by an extraordinary Russian athlete that was five generations ahead of his time in terms of what he achieved in the pool.

As Glen touched the wall and broke the world record, it shattered all the beliefs of what Kieran thought was possible, and broke down all the things that he took for granted about what could and couldn’t be done.

It really opened his eyes to the fact that if you think differently, give yourself a chance and dream high, who knows what you might be able to deliver.

7. Your state of mind shouldn’t change no matter how big the event is

For Kieren, one of the things he learned in his sporting career was that when that moment of truth comes, and you’ve got to stand on the blocks and deliver your performance, your capacity at that moment in time is physically set.

At that moment, you’re not getting fitter, stronger or more technically proficient. The struggle for anybody in that moment, when the questions being asked, “how good are you?” is to have the capacity to be realistic about the challenge that’s in front of you and control the emotions that inevitably come with it.

When you’re ten years old, the consequence of failure is nothing. Being able to balance out the reality of the situation versus the emotion of the perceptions that can be created, versus your experience, is really where the skill comes in.

The nerves and the emotion that you feel standing on the blocks, racing in your first school carnival, shouldn’t be any different to the state of mind you’re in when you’re standing on the blocks defending your third Olympic title.

If there is a big variance in your state, then the chances are that variance is going to lead to mistakes and bad performance.

8. In moments of unease, get some perspective and do your best

One of the hardest parts of being a champion is dealing with the huge expectations that are placed on you. These expectations can sometimes create unease and a feeling of sickness. The irony is it’s not about pushing through the sickness it’s about stepping back and getting some perspective.

In the lead up to the swim at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (the final), Kieren started to panic and get incredibly nervous. There was a moment in time where he recognised that the physical state he was in was going to lead to a guaranteed bad performance.

He was smart enough in that moment, to recognise the reason he was in that physical state was because of his emotions, but he recognised that if he stayed in that physical state he wouldn’t be able to perform well.

It shocked him into stepping back and saying to himself well “you never used to get this nervous as a ten year old, what did you used to do, what was the process, what were the skills you utilised to put yourself in a position as a ten-year-old where you were far more in control and relaxed than you are right now?”

Just breaking it down into chunks and thinking about the things he had control over, and controlling them in the way he had learned over all those years, brought him back to a space where he was really able to get some perspective and unburden himself from the consequence of failure, and of not winning an Olympic gold medal.

It enabled him to bring it back to the thing that had always been the most important view in his life which was saying to himself “if I do my best, it doesn’t matter whether I win, lose or draw as long as I know I have done my best, and I couldn’t do any better, I will be proud and satisfied with my performance.”

9. Allow the adrenalin to dissipate during stressful moments

For Kieren, the main skill that he learned about controlling his emotional state during stressful moments was being able to distract himself. When he felt it getting out of control, he would distract himself and allow the physiological impacts to dissipate, which is essentially the adrenalin.

When you get stressed, adrenalin is produced by your body. Your body needs to first stop producing more adrenalin, and then secondly process the adrenalin that’s in your system, and once that’s been processed, you will be calm and rational again.

What helped Kieren was to distract himself and be able to step away from the pressure of the moment to allow himself to calm down, to allow himself to process that adrenalin, to then build some rational perspective – mentally that was the key. While training for the Olympics, Kieren would experience this phenomenon throughout the entire process.

It might happen while eating, doing stretches or in the middle of a warm up. What helped Kieren greatly was to work hard to focus on the here and now, and focusing on what the most important thing that had to be done, at that moment in time.

10. You’re always in control; there are no lucky charms

One concept Kieren says to drop is the idea of lucky charms. Some athletes have lucky charms like wearing red undies on the day of competition, and they believe that if they don’t, they will lose. When an athlete says “I ate a certain meal on the day of an event, so I knew I was going to win,” Kieren says that’s feeble-mindedness.

If you really think that your success is predicated on what you’re wearing, or what you’re eating, or other external circumstances, then you aren’t in control of what you’re trying to achieve, and that’s madness.

The real skill in being able to deliver your potential is always being in control so that when things go wrong, when you wake up in the morning arrive at the pool, and realise that you didn’t bring your favourite red undies your response isn’t hysteria, or “oh my god I am not going to win.”

Your response needs to be “who cares, it’s not going to make any difference, I am going to do what I need to do today.”  You don’t actually control, the whole process; there will always be stuff that goes wrong.

11. The ultimate feeling of success is pride – replicate these moments

During my time with Kieren, I wanted to know what it was like to achieve the impossible Olympic gold medal dream, what feeling came from it, and what lesson I could learn – I got a great lesson. The lesson he gave me was an analogy that is his blueprint for success and can be used as a winning strategy for anybody’s life.

The analogy Kieren gave is, think back to being in primary school when you got the first assignment that you actually cared about. It was a subject or a topic that you really loved, were curious about, interested you and intrigued you.

When you got that assignment, you were excited. The thought or possibility of what you could achieve was real, and it was tangible because it mattered to you. Then you went through this process of working hard to get the result.

You focused, concentrated, and put in effort to deliver that assignment better than any assignment you’ve done before because you cared about it, and you engaged with it. When you got to the end of that process, and you had finished your assignment – after you had put in more work than you had ever put into anything you had done before in your life – there is a moment of huge anticipation when you hand it to the teacher.

You think to yourself “is it good enough, is it the best I could have done?”  You know you couldn’t have worked any harder, and you wait with bated breath for the result to come through. Inevitably, the mark you get is fabulous. It’s a better mark than you could have anticipated.

In that moment, when you receive that mark, you get a swelling in your chest where you feel your heart pushing on your rib cage, and there is a buzz that goes through your core at that moment in time.

That sense of pride, in knowing that you set yourself a task, you were engaged, motivated and committed to achieving it, you were focused on delivering the result, you worked as hard as you possibly could to get it done, and you have received the rewards for your effort.

That moment of pride is exactly what it’s like winning an Olympic gold medal. If you can find an experience like this in your own life, and break down the components to the things you did that enabled you to deliver that result, you can apply this strategy to anything you want.

12. Understand how to come down from a major high

The only time Kieren had to come down was the day he retired. He describes it as horrific and awful, and it took him a decade to get it through it.  It wasn’t about the buzz of victory or the thrill of competing in the Olympics; it was about the lifestyle, a sense of value, belonging and being, that had disappeared overnight.

Kieren knew he would never have access to that again because the reality of sport at the highest level is that you are surrounded every day by people who have the same level of commitment, motivation, positivity, self-focus, determination, and attitude around what it means to be successful, and an understanding of excellence and what it looks like.

“You have to be able to pick and choose the bits you allow to infect you and the stuff you want to engage with. Try and hold onto those things that make you happy and engage you, and not let other people’s perceptions, values and beliefs drag you down”

Unfortunately, these things just don’t exist in a broad environment. You can’t expect to work in a large organisation with thousands of people, and have everybody turn up knowing with complete clarity, focus and an unwavering spirit to deliver success at their absolute edge of potential and excellence every single day. It’s unnatural, it’s not normal, and it isn’t replicable.

13. Step back from the emotion of not achieving a goal

During Kieren’s career, he admits that there was no doubt he didn’t achieve all of his goals. There were times when the performance was not at all what he wanted to achieve. He says the skill in those moments is to be able to step back from the emotion of it and say, “what worked, what didn’t and what am I going to do better next time?”

If you have got that sense of hope and possibility that it can be done, you can reassert yourself, you can focus, you can adjust, adapt and act, and keep pushing yourself forward to deliver the result.

***Final Thought***

At the end of the interview with Kieren, I only had one last question for him, which was, “what is the one quote that you have lived your entire life by?” Kieren replied by reciting a poem his father gave him when he was young that really resonated with him.

To Kieren, it was one of the things that enabled him to think beyond what everybody else told him was possible; it enabled him to step outside of the norm. IF YOU EVER WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE ONE INFLUENCE WAS THAT MADE KIEREN A WORLDWIDE HERO, THAT WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN, THEN HERE IT IS!

The Man Who Thinks He Can – Walter D Wintle

If the advice Kieren gave was beneficial to you, then I encourage you support his passion for helping others, by visiting the Starlight Foundation’s website and getting involved anyway you can.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ackii

    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Awsome article Tim, like your previous ones…..

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 26, 2015 at 4:58 am

      Wow thanks Ackii glad you liked it!

  2. Steven

    Sep 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Point 1 reminds me of a Sun Tzu quote: ““Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” Very nice article. Thank you.

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I thought of the same thing Steven when I was writing that point. Good pickup.

  3. Dotchamou Zakari

    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. The secret behind any success is always the same: always do the best you can do no matter what. Yes, Kieren Perking is truly an exemple to follow for anybody who really wants more for himself .

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Thanks Dotchamou for leaving your feedback.

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Success Advice

How to Overcome Stage Fright in 5 Simple Steps

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Fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia (which literally means fear of the tongue) is the apprehension that one experiences when speaking in public. It’s reported that 1 in every 4 individuals reports some sort of anxiety when presenting ideas in front of an audience. Regardless of one’s personal or professional background, being able to communicate ideas confidently and eloquently is of utmost importance. So, how can you overcome stage fright?

Here are 5 simple steps to help you overcome the fear of speaking publicly or in a group:

1. Success Visualization

A great deal of the fear we experience stems from the negative self-talk that goes on in our minds. Thoughts such as “I don’t think I can do it; I’m going to forget my notes; what makes me think people want to listen to me?” The first step in trying to counter the negative self-talk is through what I call Success Visualization. It’s a well-known scientifically-proven fact that the best way to counter negative mental chatters is with positivity.

Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for at least 15 minutes, create a mental image of the speech being a complete success. See the audience cheering and learning. See the equipment working properly. See yourself sharing your ideas with confidence. After all, no one goes to a speech to see a speaker embarrass themselves. Visualize what you want (success), not what you dread.

2. Purposeful Practice

How many times have you heard this well-intentioned advice: “Practice makes perfect”? You might wonder, “I’ve practiced over and over again, why am I not improving?” We’ve been told to practice, but no one ever told us how. In his bestselling book Peak, Anders Ericsson introduces the concept of purposeful practice that he defines as a focused process toward a well-defined and specific goal.

What we’re all engaged in is called naive practice, which is repeating a particular task and expecting to get better. That kind of practice as it relates to public speaking is highly ineffective. There is a myriad of skills that need to be mastered in order to become an effective public speaker. As such, purposeful practice is the right way to go since it allows you to focus on one skill at a time with timely feedback on what is and what isn’t working. Always practice with a goal in mind!

3. Energy Reversal

Science claims that we experience the same physiological changes whether excited or stressed. Our adrenal glands release epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol which are the flight or fight chemicals. From a physiological perspective, being ready to fight, or afraid, ready to run away, are two sides of the same coin. Henceforth, we can channel that same energy resulting from stage fright to psyche ourselves up for the speech.

Positive affirmations such as “I am excited! I rock”, can help trick your subconscious mind into believing that you’re excited. Our subconscious mind is impersonal. It doesn’t discriminate or rationalize, it accepts as true and brings to us whatever we suggest. Positive powerful autosuggestions sink deep into our subconscious mind, and manifest themselves in the way you feel, think, and act. Never tell yourself not to be afraid! Well, I mean always tell yourself you are excited and ready to rock.

4. Action

No great results are to be obtained without consistent and persistent actions. Many of us attend speeches, workshops, and seminars expecting to get the desired outcomes right away. It doesn’t work that way, it never did, and it never will. The three previous steps mean nothing if you don’t have a structure that you can use to help reach your goal.

Knowledge alone won’t bring any result. Knowledge coupled with deliberate, systematic actions, will. What are you going to do? Are you going to join a local Toastmasters Club? How many times a week are you willing to practice? Do you have a support group? You reading this article is vibrant proof that you’ve had enough of stage fright. So, why not grab a pen and paper, and write your next action?

5. Know your purpose, audience, and materials

Three things must be absolutely clear in your mind before giving a speech: Your purpose, the audience, and your materials. First, on a blank sheet of paper, at the very top; make sure you have this question answered: Why am I doing this? Or in the form of a similar statement: By the end of my speech, the audience will have learned. Without a purpose to give you direction and bring value to your audience, you don’t have a speech.

Next, Who am I talking to? Before getting on stage, basic information about the audience’s age group, cultural background, and level of knowledge is essential. Those insights empower you to appropriately frame your message, so you can engage the audience and get your message across more effectively. Speaking isn’t about you, it’s all about the audience.

Finally, make sure you’ve mastered your materials. Specifically, the introduction, main ideas, and the conclusion. Part of why we are afraid results from doubts of not being fully prepared. Never get in front of an audience without having fully mastered your materials. Complete mastery of your materials will boost your self-confidence which will, in turn, reduce your public speaking apprehension.

I hope these techniques serve you well as they have me and the many others who’ve attended my workshops. Your willingness to try, fail, and improve is what makes magic happens. As you may have realized by now, all you have to do to transform your fear from a foe to a friend is to S-P-E-A-K despite your fears.

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Success Advice

3 Steps to Overcome Your Brain Biases and Become a Better Leader

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If I asked you what time it was, you would likely look at your watch or a clock and read the time out to me. And if I were to ask you where you were, you would likely tell me the exact place, city, or state. If I were to then ask you who you were, you would likely identify yourself by your name, demographics, and perhaps a work description. On the surface, answering these questions correctly would indicate that you were not delirious. But are these answers technically correct?

Biological research indicates that superficial orientation to time, place, or person is actually far from accurate. Rather, leaders might benefit from tending toward a non-dual awareness of the world, or at least offer themselves the opportunity to see the world this way. For time, place, and person, the biological realities differ from what we might initially think.

1. Don’t let the past dictate the future

We are not ever-present in the moment, nor should we be. In the human brain, the past, present, and future are all represented at the same time. Although we consciously organize our experiences using this segmentation of time, each of these networks can intrude upon the other. In fact, what you remember can influence what you can imagine for yourself in the future as well.

As a leader, ensure that you frequently examine your memory for positive reminders and biases, take advantage of your presence circuits by incorporating mindfulness practices into your day, and use your “possibility” circuits to imagine or simulate future scenarios. In fact, in the brain, imagination is a lot like reality.

Using all three components at all times will help you to become aware of biases and could also help you escape traps or an impasse. For instance, when a possible solution for product development is vague, thinking in terms of what you want and then reverse-engineering this process to make what you imagine could be helpful.

Walt Disney saw great success after building Disneyland in Anaheim, California, but outside interests began crowding his theme park. When he decided to build another park in Florida, Disney didn’t let the experience of California dissuade him. He expanded his vision to something greater — a city of tomorrow. He created fake companies to secretly purchase acres upon acres of land near where Interstate 4 intersected with the Florida turnpike so his company could develop the area around the theme park.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

2. Think beyond your reach

We are not where we think we are. The notion of “place” has become increasingly irrelevant in a globalized world. With the increasing interconnectedness of societies, cultures, and economies, leaders need to be careful not to think of themselves too locally. When leaders are global in their thinking, they are likely to elicit more widespread cooperation from international markets.

Ask yourself, “What communities beyond my local community do I want to impact?” and “What communities am I impacting?” When you take this approach, it can help your advertising strategies, for example, become more congruous with specific or global markets. Also, leaders who think globally will be more aware of competition from afar and opportunities for collaboration, too.

Jack Ma can be credited with being a global thinker for founding Alibaba, allowing Chinese consumers to access domestic and international markets that they could not previously access. By moving into e-commerce, online banking, and cloud computing, Alibaba has expanded into India and Southeast Asia. Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform has even enabled farmers in Rwanda to sell coffee in China. This is a perfect example of thinking beyond your reach.

3. Connect the body and mind

We are not what we think we are. We are made up of 50% human and 50% bacterial cells. And water comprises 60% of our body weight. So we are basically bags of water and bacteria — with a dash of human cells thrown in for good measure.

Also, though we might think of ourselves as being separate from other people and things, many people or things you encounter in your life are stored in your brain’s memory centers. Our brain tissue contains images, voices, and other attributes of people and things, too. We are not actually as separate as we think.

Take care of your bacteria, and they will take care of you. Having the right balance of bacteria is of paramount importance to effective functioning because the wrong balance can make you depressed or anxious. Taking a probiotic can help restore this balance. Understanding that you are part human, part bacteria can change the way you take care of your moods by essentially reminding you to take care of your gut.

Mindy Grossman, the CEO of WW International — formerly Weight Watchers — is a good example of someone who understands the mind-body connection. Grossman has led the company’s focus from strictly weight loss to wellness through healthy habits. Part of the transformation includes a partnership with meditation app Headspace to help members maintain a positive mindset.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

When you engage in non-dual awareness by recognizing that your brain fuses and connects time, places, and people, your leadership capacities might also be enhanced. As Warren Bennis, founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California, suggests, “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.” And your “self” is more intriguing and mysterious than you might first imagine.

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Success Advice

3 Ways to Optimize Your Life for Success

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Welcome to the 21st Century! The era of the Internet and computers, lack of focus and superficiality. I know it sounds scary, maybe a little more exaggerated, but it’s true. We live in a world of short posts and 3-minute videos. We barely engage in deep learning, deep thinking, and deep focus to produce iPhone-level products or services. So, the majority of us are actually a failure, thousands of miles away from achieving our life goals and business visions. How do we turn things around? We need to optimize our lives.

Here are 3 tried and tested tips that will help optimize your life for success:

1. Upgrade your sleep

When I started my freelance writing career—about seven years ago—I was passionate and excited at the beginning. I’d fill my To-Do list with 6-10 items, worked until 12 am, set my alarm to go off at 3 am, and had my running shoes close to my bed before I went to sleep. However, I barely accomplished anything. I usually became weak and bored before noon.

I noticed that I was putting a huge strain on myself. I was sleep deprived, which is the primary reason why I didn’t have the energy and the drive to accomplish my tasks. Many studies have shown that sleep-deprivation affects productivity.

As soon as I began increasing my sleeping time from 4 hours to 7 hours, my whole life changed. I started producing a lot and earning a lot more than before while also improving my health. With more sleep, I get the emotional energy and willpower I need to read, learn, and optimize my career.

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” – Arianna Huffington

2. Read every day

I get it. You’re in the middle-class struggling to survive. You simply have enough to deal with. Reading? That’s not included on your to-do list. Well, if that’s you, then you’re not alone. The global literacy rates are at an all-time high at 84 percent, which means people don’t read as much anymore.

We already have enough on our plates. In fact, a study by the National Endowment for the Arts has found that the reading culture among American adults has drastically declined. That’s a big issue in our world.

Nothing can prevent you from reading, not even your plate that’s chock-full of other life’s priorities. If you want to produce more and impact the world around you, you’ve got to read more and learn more.

Take a look at the visionaries and business titans in our world. All of them are avid readers and avid learners. Bill Gates is a bibliophile and Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, reveres books. In fact, Knight customized his library to the extent that, before you enter into his library, you have to take off your shoes and bow.

So, what would you do next? Take Roald Dahl’s advice, captured in this beautiful line of the poem: “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / go throw your TV set away / and in its place, you can install / a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

3. Use Pomodoro to time yourself

You can’t go far in life if you can’t stay totally focused on a task. If you want to achieve your goals, you have got to stay laser-focused on a single task before jumping on to another. Why? Because goals are not achieved in one session, they’re achieved in a series of tasks, one after the other.

To install the focus habit in your system; therefore, you need to use a time-management kind of “system” that will keep you firm and attentive on a specific project. Pomodoro is that time-management tool that will help you stay focused.

It’s an excellent app that lets you set a timer for a particular task. You can set it for 30, 60, or 90 minutes and stop working when it goes off. I use it all the time, and I can’t imagine my work life without it.

“I know when I stay focused, good things will undoubtedly happen.” – Marc Trestman

Optimizing your life for more power, passion, and productivity is not about working hard late at night or running multiple projects at a time. It’s about maintaining your health and recharging your energy (having a deep, quality sleep), updating your knowledge (by reading every day), and staying focused on a project—until you accomplished it (by using Pomodoro technique to boost your concentration).

Of course, developing these sets of habits is not easy. You’ll fail and get frustrated, but as the productivity guru Robin Sharma beautifully puts it, “all changes are hard at first, messy at the middle, and beautiful at the end.”

Which one of these three ways to optimize your life resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!

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Success Advice

If You Want Your Business to Grow, You Need to Increase Your Capacity in the Following 4 Areas

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Every entrepreneur must come face to face with the reality that there is only a limited amount of time, money, and people that you can use within your current position. The question is how do we increase or maximize the things that we find limiting?

As we walk through our hectic and often over packed ten, twelve, or fourteen hour work days, one of the questions that we should be asking is “What can I do to get more, to do more?” Instead, we just put our heads down and plow through the ever growing mountain of work. We are limited by capacity.

Webster’s dictionary defines capacity as “the maximum amount that something can contain.” As an entrepreneur, we have to be a little more creative than the average person and find ways to increase our capacity.

Below, we’ll identify the four areas where we need more capacity and ways to get more with less:

1. Time

Every human on this planet is granted twenty-four hours a day. That is it. Your capacity is a total of twenty-four hours. Within that amount of time you must manage several different demands. Our goal is to buy back our time, when we can, and operate at peak performance when we are accomplishing our daily task list.

First, without staying in performance shape, you will lose the ability to stay at optimal performance levels. Our bodies are truly a machine with an amazing capacity, but when it is abused by lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and lack of exercise, you are reducing the capacity at which you are able to work and function. The closer you are to peak performance, the more you are able to accomplish in a shorter amount of time.

Second is our mental condition. Here is what my experience has taught me. If I am mentally rested, I can think and make decisions faster because I can reason more quickly in addition to understanding the circumstances and information at an extremely fast pace. 

When your brain is healthy, it becomes easier to absorb and process information at a lightning fast rate. Taking the time to allow your brain to rest will give it the ability to function at peak performance.

Third is our ability to train and delegate. So often, entrepreneurs are control freaks. No one can do it as good, as fast, or with the same passion as they can. While that may be true in most cases, you are only one person with twenty-four hours in a day. 

You’ve got to delegate and accept people’s help. If you add one person that’s willing to give you eight hours of work a day, you have now bought back hours in your day to focus on activities that will generate more income and grow your business. Why wouldn’t you want to add more hours to your day by delegating out the appropriate task to qualified individuals?

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar

2. Money

Money tends to be a sensitive topic. We all have beliefs that were formed through our childhood on the concept of money. With many different views and beliefs on this topic, let’s just focus on the fact that money is a tool that will either help grow the company or a tool that limits a company’s growth.

It is always amazing that the faster a company grows, the greater the challenge of money becomes, and this could potentially cause the company to implode on its own success. How do we then increase the capacity and have more money available to keep the company healthy?

Here are a couple of things to watch out for: 

  • Keep an eye on your budget and get accurate figures. 
  • Look at your Accounts Receivables. If they get too long, they could cause significant cash flow issues. 
  • Find investment opportunities. There are many private investors that are often willing to invest in companies that have true growth with solid foundations. 
  • Look at additional profit generators, products, or services that fit within your current business model. 

Each of these are ways to increase the capacity that money contributes to the growth of your business.

3. Space and Supply

I will never forget exactly where I was standing when I had a manufacture call and tell me they were unable to supply anymore products. They had sold us everything they had, and they weren’t going to have anything available to sell for at least another six months. At that time, we were selling customer printed t-shirts and had tens of thousands of orders that we needed to fulfill within the next thirty days.

Space and Supply are tied closely together. Space is often associated with the production. Do you have a space large enough to meet the demands of the supply? If production can only create 1,000 products a day and buyers need 5,000 a day, there is a conflict. 

A business needs to understand that challenge, and there are only 3 solutions to this problem: The business figures out how to increase production within the current workable hours, adds more workable hours with the equipment and space, or adds more equipment and space to increase production.

Space and supplies are assets that can be used towards the business advantage. Here are a few questions to ask when making decisions based on space and supply. 

  • Evaluate your supply channel. Are they able to maintain a solid supply of your raw product materials to match your growth as a company? 
  • Are there back up supply manufactures that can create a safety net for your raw products? 
  • Evaluate the amount of space you have available along with the time the space is usable. Can you run a second or third shift with the current space and equipment?

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. People

Your employees are likely going to be the most important way to create more capacity. We talked briefly about delegating to qualified individuals to increase capacity around your own personal time. The next phase is to create more capacity by adding additional, trained people. 

You need to create leaders of leaders instead of you being the leader of followers. Don’t miss this because the greatest of all companies focuses on increasing their capacity by training leaders of leaders and not just a loyal following.

Entrepreneurs tend to be a lonely bunch of souls. Too often, we are misunderstood and looked at with slight amount of annoyance. Others just don’t always know how to take someone that is passionately thinking outside the box. 

People skills are a must in order to have more than just yourself work to achieve that dream. As an entrepreneur, develop the social skills to work with individuals that are different than yourself.  

Here is a 3 step plan to have great capacity with people as your allies:

  1. Start by learning how to delegate your own tasks to buy back your time. Identify the tasks that are easiest to delegate and document how you do them. This will give you a specific job description, set achievable goals, and create a daily action plan that is now something that is teachable. 
  2. Use this system and apply it to the other things you are currently doing. I would suggest building out an organization chart and dividing the different tasks you do within the company. Then create a plan that will allow you to hire the right person and move you onto the next area in the organization that you will systematize. 
  3. Finally, create the culture. Culture is like a child, it will grow whether or not you pay attention to it. So be intentional. Learn what it takes to build a culture that attracts the employees that want to be there and grow with the company. 

Each of these four areas has an incredible amount of potential to increase your capacity, and allow your business to grow. Don’t attempt to tackle everything at once. Identify just one area that you will commit to grow within the next three to six months. Take action and implement. 

What is your next step? Share with us below!

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