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What Mothers, Musicians & Marshmallows Have to Do With The Science of Success for Extreme Athletes

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Over the past century, the science of expert performance has gotten rigorous and codified. Thousands and thousands of experiments have been run; plenty of conclusions reached. Three dominate.

Call them: Mothers, musicians, and marshmallows.

This famed trilogy represent our best ideas about the path to mastery. Yet there’s a wrench in these works: Most action and adventure athletes took a radically different path.

These athletes haven’t just redefined the limits of human potential; they’ve redefined those limits by doing the opposite of what the experts say they should have done. It’s peculiar, alright. Their stratospheric success suggests that we may have completely misjudged the path towards stratospheric success. In fact, it suggests something far more radical: that if we really want to be our best, we don’t just have to rethink the path towards mastery; we need to reconsider the way we live our lives.

 

But first, the mothers.

In the early 1980s, University of Chicago educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom launched the Talent Project, one of the larger and more thorough “retrospective” studies of expert performance ever undertaken. The Project examined the lives of 120 people, all under the age of thirty-five, all of whom had demonstrated the highest levels of accomplishment in one of six fields: swimming, tennis, sculpture, piano, mathematics, and research neuroscience. The question at the center of the study was: Where does prodigious talent come from, special individuals or special circumstances?

Few of Bloom’s research subjects showed any great promise as children. Instead, the one commonality was encouragement, a lot of encouragement. In each case, there was a parent or close relative who rewarded any display of talent, and ignored or punished the opposite. Prodigies, it seemed, were made, not born. As Bloom later told reporters: “We were looking for exceptional kids, but what we found were exceptional conditions.”

The idea settled an uneasy corner of the nature/nurture debate: It democratized expertise. Provided the right environment and the proper encouragement, it meant that everyone had a shot at perfection.

But many of the athletes involved in action and adventure sports came up the hard way. The wrong environment, little encouragement. “A lot of us were from broken homes,” skateboard pioneer Duane Peters once told the LA Times. We were freaks and misfits.” And if home life wasn’t rosy, the outside world even less supportive. Twenty-five years ago, skateboarding was a crime; snowboarding was banned at most resorts; and surfing, to quote the always relevant Point Break, was “for little rubber people who don’t shave yet.

Certainly, there are plenty of action and adventure athletes who came from incredibly supportive backgrounds. Bloom wasn’t wrong — “mothers” matter—but too many of these super athletes came up sideways, backward and feral for this to be the single deciding factor. Something else is going on. And that something else is where the mu- sicians come into play.

 

Next, the musicians.

In the early 1990s, Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson performed one of the more famous studies of expertise in recent history. By surveying elite violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music, Ericsson found that while one’s early environment was helpful, what truly distinguished excellent players from good players from average players was hours of practice. By the time they were twenty years old, expert violinists had put in 10,000 hours of “deliberate, well-structured practice.” The others had not. As Malcolm Gladwell famously explained in Outliers:

[The] research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

But another wrench. If 10,000 hours of “deliberate, well-structured practice” is the secret sauce, consider Shane McConkey’s goals while skiing:

“What I love to do on the hill is find an interesting way to do something fun.”   

Put differently, deliberate well-structure practice is a rigorous, compliance-based approach to mastery. It means you crawl before you walk. It doesn’t mean Laird Hamilton surfing Pipeline at age four, or Danny Way in the deep end of the pool at the Del Mar Skate Ranch by seven. In broader terms, deliberate practice is also how we train genius these days. It’s factory athletics. It’s Kumon math tutoring, Baby Einstein, Suzuki violin, et al. But it’s also the world McConkey walked away from. He turned his back on the factory, yet somehow, still went on to become Superman.

 

Finally, the trouble with marshmallows.

In 1972, Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel, performed a fairly straightforward study in delayed gratification: he offered four-year-old children a marshmallow. Either the kids could eat it immediately or, if they waited for him to return from running a short errand, they would get two marshmallows as a reward. Most kids couldn’t wait. They ate the marshmallow the moment Mischel left the room.

When interviewed fourteen years later, the kids who could wait were more self-confident, hardworking, and self-reliant. Those who resisted at four ended up scoring 210 points higher on their SAT’s at sixteen. This may not sound like that much, but, as fellow Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo explains:

“[That] is as large as the average difference recorded between the abilities of economically advantaged and disadvantaged children. It is larger than the difference between the abilities of children from families who parents have graduate degrees and children whose parents did not finish high school. The ability to delay gratification at four is twice as good a predictor of later SAT scores as IQ. Poor impulse control is also a better predictor of juvenile delinquency than IQ.” 

But there’s another issue. According to psychologists, by definition, action and adventure athletes are “sensation seekers.” They’re impulsive pleasure junkies. Delayed gratification is not their game.

So what gives? How do a bunch of impulsive hedonists raised far from the storied incubators of athletic excellence end up rewriting the rulebook on human potential? The short answer, of course, is flow.

Psychologists describe flow as “autotelic,” from the Greek auto (self) and telos (goal). When something is autotelic — i.e., produces the flow high — it is its own reward. No one has to drag a surfer out of bed for overhead tubes. No one has to motivate a snowboarder on a powder day. These activities are intrinsically motivating, autotelic experiences done for their own sake. The high to end all highs.

When doing what we most love transforms us into the best possible version of ourselves and that version hints at even-greater future possibilities, the urge to explore those possibilities becomes feverish compulsion. Intrinsic motivation goes through the roof. Thus flow becomes an alternative path to mastery, sans the misery. Forget 10,000 hours of delayed gratification. Flow junkies turn instant gratification into their North Star—putting in far more hours of “practice time” by gleefully harnessing their hedonic impulse. In other words, when it comes to time perspectives, flow allows Presents to achieve Future’s results.

Steven Kotler is the author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. As co-founder of the Flow Genome Project, Steven has drawn on more than 10 years of research for this book exploring the frontier science of “flow”  and shows you how to unlock the code of ultimate human performance. 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. pedeveaux

    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Could it be possible that deliberate practice triggers a flow state? The ideas of goals, immediate feedback, and focus seem to be consistent in both deliberate practice and flow. With the action and adventure athletes, their use of flow may allow them to accelerate the 10,000 process.

  2. Koko

    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I LOVE this article. It explains it all and there is nothing I can add here. Perfect article Steven 10/10 from me 🙂

  3. Leslie

    Mar 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I seemed to have raised my daughters to connect their passion and flow together in a meaningful way. One teaches English in South Korea and she loves teaching her students to find their power and she loves travel. The younger one helps Alzehiemer patients embrace each new day and not worry about what they can’t remember. Which brings her a lot of joy helping them and their families. I help my husband run his dream company. But my husband and my girls always worry that I’ve never connect with my own passion and flow. Your article really got me thinking about how I need to have my own joy. Not just living the joy of others. I need to get busy figuring that out. I think my family would get a lot of pleasure seeing me work that out. I sure get a lot pleasure seeing them work on what they love.

  4. Elyssa

    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This is a great article – thanks for putting all this together! I worked with a violinist who had all the talent he needed to succeed and had definitely put in his “10,000” hours, but he was so intimidated by the idea of a certain major performance he was preparing for that he had psyched himself out and was unable to play without trembling. I walked him through some exercises, getting back in touch with, as you put it, the “flow.” He needed to remember why he had chosen this career path – because he loved the music and the instrument, and had a story to tell to his audience. Just in time for the day of the performance, he had a breakthrough! When he connected with his original passion for what he did, he was able to see past the scariness of the performance, and push through to connect with the music and his audience. Thanks again for the topic – it’s right on!

  5. Jeremy

    Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Interesting article! Thanks for writing this, worth pondering about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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5 Easy Ways to Apply the Law of Attraction in Your Business

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Are you a great fan of The Secret? Then you must absolutely be a great believer in the underlying principle of the Law of Attraction. We can attract all that we desire right into our lives. You may be familiar with applying these principles in your personal life, to your health, wealth and relationships. Have you ever wondered about applying this to your business as well? Can business success be a consequence of applying the law of attraction? We say Yes!

Here are 5 easy ways to apply the Law of Attraction to your business:

1. Imagine how you want your day to go down to the last detail

This is the most critical step. You know what is lined up for the day, now it is up to you to imagine with great detail and enormous positivity how you want to see each element playing out. Say, you have 3 meetings lined up for today. The first one is a morning meeting to negotiate the pricing terms of a contract. It is not enough if you have only visualized the how’s and what’s of the contract. Think and plan to excruciating levels of detailing.

Imagine yourself, what you are wearing, how you will arrive at the meeting, the time when you will be going, how your body language will be during the discussion. Preempt their moves and visualize your responses well ahead. Then imagine how you will commute to the next meeting and carry forward your victorious attitude from this one.

“Greater self-esteem produces greater success, and greater success produces more high self-esteem, so it keeps on spiralling up.” – Jack Canfield

2. Visualize clinching the deal

Once you have planned down to the last detail, visualize your victory. Try to imagine beforehand the moments just before finalizing the deal. How do you imagine it? What are your words going to be? What is the spirit of your counterpart’s response then? Imagine the actual deal signing. Think of this like a wedding rehearsal and plan accordingly.

3. Conjure the ideal client

It is not enough to just visualize the business transactions and negotiations, you have to conjure the client you want as well. All clients are not the same. There is no one who is a perfect client. You have to convert all clients into the ideal client. Think of each client listing their positives and ending with what you would like to change about them. For example, say to yourself that I love this client for their clear briefs and great team spirit, however, it would be much better if only they would pay on time.

Now visualize them paying you on time. What is happening that is making them pay on time? Perhaps you have visualized sending invoices earlier or sending a friendly reminder their way by way of a personal chat or a quick call. Visualizing the ideal client and then your own set of actions that can help convert every client into the ideal client is the way of applying the law of attraction principle to client relationships.

4. Dream up the perfect team

Great business ideas, amazing discussions and the ideal client still do not make for great success. The dream team is what creates success. We all know this. Just like perfect clients, there are no perfect employees, however, the good news is that you can shape your team into the ideal team.

Say you have a great team with skills in Strategy, Distributor relationships, Retail merchandising but lacking in Marketing skills. Visualize as having a great team with all skills except an acquirable skill of Marketing. Visualize every smaller team being equipped with Marketing skills.

How do you see this happening? Are you going to be employing a marketing skill set equipped person in each team? Are you going to train team members who have the aptitude for it to perform marketing tasks as well? It could also be a mix of both approaches. Whatever it is, you need to visualize it to the last detail, even to the degree of what kind of training you would be providing to them.  

“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” – Mark Cuban

5. Count your highs at the end of the day

This is the only part where future oriented visualization has no place. You have to go over the entire business day and religiously note down all the positives. Sometimes the positives may not be tangible acquisitions such as a contract or a payment or project completion. There would be intangible acquisitions such as the realization of what was needed to improve your team, or the first steps taken towards visualizing your negotiation.

It doesn’t matter, you have to count the positives that today has brought. Celebrate the key notes of the day with your team and verbalize why you are celebrating. This brings the entire team to apply the law of attraction in their own business days as well.

Successful entrepreneurs apply these skills with great mastery. Follow these easy ways and apply the Law of Attraction to your business as well. Your success is certain and imminent. Are you ready for it?

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Success Advice

Braggart, Blowhard, and Annoyingly Successful: How to Promote Yourself and Your Ideas

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Most of us don’t want to look like a braggart, which is good. However, sometimes it makes us stay in the shadow without showing our positive sides. We remain silent about our achievements. The thing is, sometimes politeness can play a bad joke on you. This great feature of your character can become one of those things that prevent you from succeeding.

If you don’t show your positive side in meetings and interviews, there will always be somebody else to do it. When such people get a promotion, your politeness doesn’t seem so useful.

Self-confidence turns out to be a very important quality because confident people who are not afraid to speak of their achievements are usually seen as more competent. However, modesty is still considered a virtue in most cultures. The reason is obvious: Most blowhards just don’t understand how annoying their bragging can be.

Braggart, Blowhard, and Annoyingly Successful

The definition of a braggart is a very talkative person who turns any conversation into an opportunity to talk about his or her personal achievements and goals, constantly glorifying himself or herself. A blowhard is, in general, the same sort of person: too loud, talkative, and boastful.

There’s nothing bad about enjoying your success, in fact, what is the point of success if we cannot be proud of ourselves? The thing is, everyone must understand where to stop.

For example, when you talk to your friends at dinner there’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences so others can celebrate your success with you. Don’t turn each conversation into a monologue and don’t forget that other people also have interesting stories to tell.

“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” – Dale Carnegie

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Promote Yourself

Excessive modesty makes a bad impression. People who talk themselves down all the time shouldn’t be surprised if others also don’t find them likable. Some people are so afraid of being a blowhard that they get anxious about describing their good sides. As a result, they miss many opportunities.

If you’re afraid of talking about your own achievements, it means that you don’t believe that your work is valuable. Such an approach is unlikely to create an attractive image.

You need to understand that your work has little to do with your personality. Braggarts love themselves more than anything, and their point is to convince others that they are the best.

Only talk about what you actually did, and what is important about your achievements. This is not bragging. All you need to do is show others that you can contribute to your team or organization.

If you want to succeed in the world of business, you need to gain the attention and respect of your colleagues. The very fact that you’re afraid of being annoying means that you’re likely not that sort of person who will turn self-promotion into bragging. It’s time to face the other side of the coin and push yourself through your fears towards success.

Now that you’re ready to get out of your shell, let us help you with a few tips below:

1. Talk about your work and challenges

If you don’t want to sound arrogant, don’t say “It was so easy.” Great accomplishments don’t come easily, and everybody knows it. Tell others how hard you needed to work to achieve these great results. Everybody respects those who work hard and put a lot of effort into their work.

2. Don’t downplay other people’s achievements

Even if you’ve made more sales than anyone else, it’s not a reason to emphasize it. You don’t need to compare yourself to others, instead, compare yourself to your own past. Remember how you started and compare it to what you have now — this is a good sort of comparison that also motivates others.

3. Be thankful

Listen to any Oscar winner’s speeches, and you’ll notice that all these people don’t consider this success as their own. Don’t forget to mention how your team helped and supported you. Thank your company for the opportunity to become who you are.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

4. Stick to the facts

It’s easy to say “I’m a brilliant leader,” but the only message you deliver this way is that you love yourself. Let others judge you based on facts. Describe how your team managed to double sales after you took it over.

5. Avoid humble-bragging

Some people try to disguise their bragging as a complaint. The truth is, this method doesn’t work. If you say “I’m so embarrassed I scratched my Bugatti Veyron,” this remark will only show how insincere you are.

It’s important to get comfortable with yourself and your success. Don’t be afraid to share your achievements, just make sure you deliver the right message. Show others that you can make a valuable contribution, and you’ll promote yourself without being arrogant.

How do you make other people feel important and valued when they are talking? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

4 Unusual Ways to Identify Your Strengths When You’ve Tried Everything Else

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Did you ever find it difficult to identify your strengths in life? Many people identify their strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of their lives however, successful leaders can argue that this may need to be the other way around. In other words, we tend to forget about our strengths and how we can effectively use them; and instead, we desperately try to further improve our weaknesses.

We sometimes tend to focus on the negative things we see around us and in turn, miss out on all the positive energy that other people and nature produce for to us enjoy. This is to be expected – not all days are the same and we are human after all. In some cases though, it may simply be because we are not sure of what our best skill set is.

Regardless of the reason, you may find yourself getting stressed out because you can’t seem to understand the things you are performing the best at – instead, you may be noticing your weaknesses. If you are tired of searching for your best strengths as an individual, note that there are ways you can easily find your strengths and weaknesses, without really putting out too much effort.

Below you will see the 4 ways that can help you identify your strengths when you can’t think of anything else to do:

1. Complete A Personality Test

A personality test will help you figure out up to five main personality traits, in addition to other skills you may possess, considering that you aren’t already aware of them. Even though this may not be the perfect solution in knowing what you’re great at, it will help you come closer to the different aspects of your personality.

Knowing what your personality is made up of is an essential element for figuring out the suitable career path you may want to take, the right people to hang out with, and the right objectives you should be following.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

2. Take An Aptitude Test

An aptitude test is essentially created to determine a person’s ability in a specific skill or field of knowledge. It will help you understand what skills you excel at by asking a series of questions and based on the answers you provide, it will evaluate which skills you are more fitted to outshine. Make sure to have a proper go at the test as it can positively help you decide which career path is more suitable for you.

3. Receive Feedback From Friends, Family And Colleagues

Receiving feedback from friends, family and colleagues is a great way to quickly and easily tap into the different strengths and skills you may have displayed around them in the past. This activity may include a series of questions around you passion, hobbies and previously shown successes.

First, start the conversation by telling them your passion and hobbies, or in other words, the task you can enthusiastically work on for many hours. Ask your friend to outline three to five of your strengths that are somehow related to what you just mentioned; this may include direct strengths but also transferable skills.

Following this, take a minute to device a fictional scenario where you can apply those skills getting you closer to your career goals. Let them know of your thoughts and how you can further employ these in the given setting.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

4. Use Numerology

This may be a bit of a controversial suggestion as you might not believe in the overall concept; and that’s absolutely fine. Nevertheless, it would be great to be aware of such an option in case you ever want to give it a try.

Numerology essentially refers to the mystical relationship between a number and specific events in someone’s life. You can check it out to understand more about yourself and maybe find new ways on how you can further grow as an individual.

Take Away Message

Finding new ways to improve our strengths and skills may indeed seem difficult sometimes, however, approaching this from multiple perspectives can prove to deliver great benefits to both our personal and career development.

Focus on always improving yourself in any way possible – that may be by employing traditional methods or even quickly applying a few or all of the above tips. The important thing is to make sure that you continuously use what works best for you and you will soon see the results of your efforts for yourself. You will come to realise that your strengths have greatly increased in both quantity and quality over time.

Which one of these ways will help you in identifying your best strength? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

Published

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project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. pedeveaux

    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Could it be possible that deliberate practice triggers a flow state? The ideas of goals, immediate feedback, and focus seem to be consistent in both deliberate practice and flow. With the action and adventure athletes, their use of flow may allow them to accelerate the 10,000 process.

  2. Koko

    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I LOVE this article. It explains it all and there is nothing I can add here. Perfect article Steven 10/10 from me 🙂

  3. Leslie

    Mar 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I seemed to have raised my daughters to connect their passion and flow together in a meaningful way. One teaches English in South Korea and she loves teaching her students to find their power and she loves travel. The younger one helps Alzehiemer patients embrace each new day and not worry about what they can’t remember. Which brings her a lot of joy helping them and their families. I help my husband run his dream company. But my husband and my girls always worry that I’ve never connect with my own passion and flow. Your article really got me thinking about how I need to have my own joy. Not just living the joy of others. I need to get busy figuring that out. I think my family would get a lot of pleasure seeing me work that out. I sure get a lot pleasure seeing them work on what they love.

  4. Elyssa

    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This is a great article – thanks for putting all this together! I worked with a violinist who had all the talent he needed to succeed and had definitely put in his “10,000” hours, but he was so intimidated by the idea of a certain major performance he was preparing for that he had psyched himself out and was unable to play without trembling. I walked him through some exercises, getting back in touch with, as you put it, the “flow.” He needed to remember why he had chosen this career path – because he loved the music and the instrument, and had a story to tell to his audience. Just in time for the day of the performance, he had a breakthrough! When he connected with his original passion for what he did, he was able to see past the scariness of the performance, and push through to connect with the music and his audience. Thanks again for the topic – it’s right on!

  5. Jeremy

    Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Interesting article! Thanks for writing this, worth pondering about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

Published

on

project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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5 Easy Ways to Apply the Law of Attraction in Your Business

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Are you a great fan of The Secret? Then you must absolutely be a great believer in the underlying principle of the Law of Attraction. We can attract all that we desire right into our lives. You may be familiar with applying these principles in your personal life, to your health, wealth and relationships. Have you ever wondered about applying this to your business as well? Can business success be a consequence of applying the law of attraction? We say Yes!

Here are 5 easy ways to apply the Law of Attraction to your business:

1. Imagine how you want your day to go down to the last detail

This is the most critical step. You know what is lined up for the day, now it is up to you to imagine with great detail and enormous positivity how you want to see each element playing out. Say, you have 3 meetings lined up for today. The first one is a morning meeting to negotiate the pricing terms of a contract. It is not enough if you have only visualized the how’s and what’s of the contract. Think and plan to excruciating levels of detailing.

Imagine yourself, what you are wearing, how you will arrive at the meeting, the time when you will be going, how your body language will be during the discussion. Preempt their moves and visualize your responses well ahead. Then imagine how you will commute to the next meeting and carry forward your victorious attitude from this one.

“Greater self-esteem produces greater success, and greater success produces more high self-esteem, so it keeps on spiralling up.” – Jack Canfield

2. Visualize clinching the deal

Once you have planned down to the last detail, visualize your victory. Try to imagine beforehand the moments just before finalizing the deal. How do you imagine it? What are your words going to be? What is the spirit of your counterpart’s response then? Imagine the actual deal signing. Think of this like a wedding rehearsal and plan accordingly.

3. Conjure the ideal client

It is not enough to just visualize the business transactions and negotiations, you have to conjure the client you want as well. All clients are not the same. There is no one who is a perfect client. You have to convert all clients into the ideal client. Think of each client listing their positives and ending with what you would like to change about them. For example, say to yourself that I love this client for their clear briefs and great team spirit, however, it would be much better if only they would pay on time.

Now visualize them paying you on time. What is happening that is making them pay on time? Perhaps you have visualized sending invoices earlier or sending a friendly reminder their way by way of a personal chat or a quick call. Visualizing the ideal client and then your own set of actions that can help convert every client into the ideal client is the way of applying the law of attraction principle to client relationships.

4. Dream up the perfect team

Great business ideas, amazing discussions and the ideal client still do not make for great success. The dream team is what creates success. We all know this. Just like perfect clients, there are no perfect employees, however, the good news is that you can shape your team into the ideal team.

Say you have a great team with skills in Strategy, Distributor relationships, Retail merchandising but lacking in Marketing skills. Visualize as having a great team with all skills except an acquirable skill of Marketing. Visualize every smaller team being equipped with Marketing skills.

How do you see this happening? Are you going to be employing a marketing skill set equipped person in each team? Are you going to train team members who have the aptitude for it to perform marketing tasks as well? It could also be a mix of both approaches. Whatever it is, you need to visualize it to the last detail, even to the degree of what kind of training you would be providing to them.  

“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” – Mark Cuban

5. Count your highs at the end of the day

This is the only part where future oriented visualization has no place. You have to go over the entire business day and religiously note down all the positives. Sometimes the positives may not be tangible acquisitions such as a contract or a payment or project completion. There would be intangible acquisitions such as the realization of what was needed to improve your team, or the first steps taken towards visualizing your negotiation.

It doesn’t matter, you have to count the positives that today has brought. Celebrate the key notes of the day with your team and verbalize why you are celebrating. This brings the entire team to apply the law of attraction in their own business days as well.

Successful entrepreneurs apply these skills with great mastery. Follow these easy ways and apply the Law of Attraction to your business as well. Your success is certain and imminent. Are you ready for it?

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Braggart, Blowhard, and Annoyingly Successful: How to Promote Yourself and Your Ideas

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Most of us don’t want to look like a braggart, which is good. However, sometimes it makes us stay in the shadow without showing our positive sides. We remain silent about our achievements. The thing is, sometimes politeness can play a bad joke on you. This great feature of your character can become one of those things that prevent you from succeeding.

If you don’t show your positive side in meetings and interviews, there will always be somebody else to do it. When such people get a promotion, your politeness doesn’t seem so useful.

Self-confidence turns out to be a very important quality because confident people who are not afraid to speak of their achievements are usually seen as more competent. However, modesty is still considered a virtue in most cultures. The reason is obvious: Most blowhards just don’t understand how annoying their bragging can be.

Braggart, Blowhard, and Annoyingly Successful

The definition of a braggart is a very talkative person who turns any conversation into an opportunity to talk about his or her personal achievements and goals, constantly glorifying himself or herself. A blowhard is, in general, the same sort of person: too loud, talkative, and boastful.

There’s nothing bad about enjoying your success, in fact, what is the point of success if we cannot be proud of ourselves? The thing is, everyone must understand where to stop.

For example, when you talk to your friends at dinner there’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences so others can celebrate your success with you. Don’t turn each conversation into a monologue and don’t forget that other people also have interesting stories to tell.

“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” – Dale Carnegie

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Promote Yourself

Excessive modesty makes a bad impression. People who talk themselves down all the time shouldn’t be surprised if others also don’t find them likable. Some people are so afraid of being a blowhard that they get anxious about describing their good sides. As a result, they miss many opportunities.

If you’re afraid of talking about your own achievements, it means that you don’t believe that your work is valuable. Such an approach is unlikely to create an attractive image.

You need to understand that your work has little to do with your personality. Braggarts love themselves more than anything, and their point is to convince others that they are the best.

Only talk about what you actually did, and what is important about your achievements. This is not bragging. All you need to do is show others that you can contribute to your team or organization.

If you want to succeed in the world of business, you need to gain the attention and respect of your colleagues. The very fact that you’re afraid of being annoying means that you’re likely not that sort of person who will turn self-promotion into bragging. It’s time to face the other side of the coin and push yourself through your fears towards success.

Now that you’re ready to get out of your shell, let us help you with a few tips below:

1. Talk about your work and challenges

If you don’t want to sound arrogant, don’t say “It was so easy.” Great accomplishments don’t come easily, and everybody knows it. Tell others how hard you needed to work to achieve these great results. Everybody respects those who work hard and put a lot of effort into their work.

2. Don’t downplay other people’s achievements

Even if you’ve made more sales than anyone else, it’s not a reason to emphasize it. You don’t need to compare yourself to others, instead, compare yourself to your own past. Remember how you started and compare it to what you have now — this is a good sort of comparison that also motivates others.

3. Be thankful

Listen to any Oscar winner’s speeches, and you’ll notice that all these people don’t consider this success as their own. Don’t forget to mention how your team helped and supported you. Thank your company for the opportunity to become who you are.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

4. Stick to the facts

It’s easy to say “I’m a brilliant leader,” but the only message you deliver this way is that you love yourself. Let others judge you based on facts. Describe how your team managed to double sales after you took it over.

5. Avoid humble-bragging

Some people try to disguise their bragging as a complaint. The truth is, this method doesn’t work. If you say “I’m so embarrassed I scratched my Bugatti Veyron,” this remark will only show how insincere you are.

It’s important to get comfortable with yourself and your success. Don’t be afraid to share your achievements, just make sure you deliver the right message. Show others that you can make a valuable contribution, and you’ll promote yourself without being arrogant.

How do you make other people feel important and valued when they are talking? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Unusual Ways to Identify Your Strengths When You’ve Tried Everything Else

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Did you ever find it difficult to identify your strengths in life? Many people identify their strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of their lives however, successful leaders can argue that this may need to be the other way around. In other words, we tend to forget about our strengths and how we can effectively use them; and instead, we desperately try to further improve our weaknesses.

We sometimes tend to focus on the negative things we see around us and in turn, miss out on all the positive energy that other people and nature produce for to us enjoy. This is to be expected – not all days are the same and we are human after all. In some cases though, it may simply be because we are not sure of what our best skill set is.

Regardless of the reason, you may find yourself getting stressed out because you can’t seem to understand the things you are performing the best at – instead, you may be noticing your weaknesses. If you are tired of searching for your best strengths as an individual, note that there are ways you can easily find your strengths and weaknesses, without really putting out too much effort.

Below you will see the 4 ways that can help you identify your strengths when you can’t think of anything else to do:

1. Complete A Personality Test

A personality test will help you figure out up to five main personality traits, in addition to other skills you may possess, considering that you aren’t already aware of them. Even though this may not be the perfect solution in knowing what you’re great at, it will help you come closer to the different aspects of your personality.

Knowing what your personality is made up of is an essential element for figuring out the suitable career path you may want to take, the right people to hang out with, and the right objectives you should be following.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

2. Take An Aptitude Test

An aptitude test is essentially created to determine a person’s ability in a specific skill or field of knowledge. It will help you understand what skills you excel at by asking a series of questions and based on the answers you provide, it will evaluate which skills you are more fitted to outshine. Make sure to have a proper go at the test as it can positively help you decide which career path is more suitable for you.

3. Receive Feedback From Friends, Family And Colleagues

Receiving feedback from friends, family and colleagues is a great way to quickly and easily tap into the different strengths and skills you may have displayed around them in the past. This activity may include a series of questions around you passion, hobbies and previously shown successes.

First, start the conversation by telling them your passion and hobbies, or in other words, the task you can enthusiastically work on for many hours. Ask your friend to outline three to five of your strengths that are somehow related to what you just mentioned; this may include direct strengths but also transferable skills.

Following this, take a minute to device a fictional scenario where you can apply those skills getting you closer to your career goals. Let them know of your thoughts and how you can further employ these in the given setting.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

4. Use Numerology

This may be a bit of a controversial suggestion as you might not believe in the overall concept; and that’s absolutely fine. Nevertheless, it would be great to be aware of such an option in case you ever want to give it a try.

Numerology essentially refers to the mystical relationship between a number and specific events in someone’s life. You can check it out to understand more about yourself and maybe find new ways on how you can further grow as an individual.

Take Away Message

Finding new ways to improve our strengths and skills may indeed seem difficult sometimes, however, approaching this from multiple perspectives can prove to deliver great benefits to both our personal and career development.

Focus on always improving yourself in any way possible – that may be by employing traditional methods or even quickly applying a few or all of the above tips. The important thing is to make sure that you continuously use what works best for you and you will soon see the results of your efforts for yourself. You will come to realise that your strengths have greatly increased in both quantity and quality over time.

Which one of these ways will help you in identifying your best strength? Let us know in the comments below!

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