I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I'm at your command.
Half the tasks at you do you might as well turn over to me, and I will do the quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed. You must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done.
After a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people and alas of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, but I work with all the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a person.
Now you may run me for a profit or you may run me for ruin,
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will lay the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
I am called HABIT.
- Author unknown
Keys to Success (Pt III): Beneficial Habits
Last week, consistently, I was sleeping in for one to two hours extra each morning. My days felt longer and more draining, despite the fact that I was getting extra sleep! I asked myself, "why was this happening?" The answer? Quite simply put, based on my BMR, the amount of food i was consuming and the energy I was using during the day, I just didn't need that much sleep. I was being lazy and I knew it was a bad habit. Other bad habits generally include regular procrastination on things we don't want to do, or delaying proper action.
Habits constitute powerful constraints, both good and bad. They represent past solutions that worked well enough to become entrenched in the system. Worked well enough in the sense that you saw it pleasing enough to keep it in your life. One example could be starting bikram's yoga out of curiosity and then consistently getting up at 5:00am every morning because the pain of getting up that early is replaced by the pleasure of peaceful meditation and stretching. Why not use habits to constrain yourself to good practices in your daily life? Fitness routines, proper diets, dedicated working hours and routine reading schedules are all part of beneficial habits.
Habits also represent social learning about what is right/wrong. We inherently know which of our habits are beneficial to our life and which ones aren't. It's not difficult to see what is needed to be changed.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not AN act, but a habit." - Aristotle
The quote above highlights the idea that excellence and success is not a single act, but more a continuous repetition of deliberate practice. Malcolm Gladwell's concept of Outliers, anyone?
If I recall correctly, I think it was Stephen Covey who proposed that it takes 21 consecutive days to form a habit. Luckily for you, today can be Day One to start a new one.
Are you outcome dependent?
Tuesday, December 5th.
Michelle sat in her desk, waiting for the final to start. She had managed to get in 2 solid days of studying and felt fairly prepared for the finance exam. Still, even in her 3rd year of university, she strongly disliked taking tests. A decent student, Michelle had a solid B average throughout each semester and worked fairly hard for it. Yet, at the end of each semester, final exams came and dropped her mark anywhere from 5-10 percent because she froze.
The timer on the classroom projector hit 12:00 noon. The 2 hour countdown for finance had begun. Michelle looked at her paper and blinked. It was happening again. She didn’t understand the first question. Nervousness spread across her body as she started tapping the desk, trying to read the questions again.
Thoughts of her current mark going into the final seeped into her mind. If I’m at a 75%...and I get 50% on the final… that would mean I would end up with a 65%! Oh my gosh!
What do you think happened? I'm not too sure, but chances are she didn't do too well.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot about top performers. In high pressure situations, they don’t crumble. Why?
Because they take away the pressure on themselves.
They do so by not even focusing on the future, but focusing on the present. They are not outcome-dependent, but instead focused on the task at hand.
They are performance-dependent. What this does is it allows the individual to activate the logical, problem-solving part of the brain, bypassing the emotional part that tells you "OH NO!"
I noticed the following video about Brandon Roy, an NBA player, on Lilly’s Facebook feed. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but watching this made it so obviously clear. For somebody to perform excellently under pressure, you’d have to not be thinking about anything but right now.
By removing the dependency on a good outcome, you are able to focus with decisiveness in your actions and thoughts, providing a certain sense of clarity. As such, you begin to act on the world around you, instead of being strained by it. What this requires is a sense that your past performance should lead up to a sense of confidence that you are prepared.
For instance, you studied 2-3 days, at an average of 7 hours per day, with a decent 75% as a class grade. This should be the foundation upon which you base your emotions in a final. You then are able to tell yourself, "Hey, based on what I've done in the past 3 months, I should know enough to take care of these questions in front of me." This leads to a neutral pacification of your negative emotions of nervousness, lack of confidence, stress, pressure, freaking out, etc.
Just some food for thought ;)
Are you outcome dependent?
Check out the video below! http://www.nba.com/blazers/tbtv/video.html?videoID=2525
Keys (to Success) Pt II: The Intensity of Attention
Gratefulness is greatness.
This key is a character trait i have noticed in every successful person I have met. What do all successful people do? They exhibit the key of gratefulness. However, this type of gratefulness is different.
Josh was a businessman. He had it all - he was CEO of a huge corporation, a frequent traveller for business, an angel investor in new ventures, and on multiple boards carrying numerous prestigious titles.
I met Josh in university in a course that he was teaching. Despite the huge balancing act of scheduling everything in, amidst the long days and minimal sleep, he made sure that he had time for every single student who came up to him. The first thing I noticed about Josh was the Intensity of Attention. The intensity of attention is an mental measurement of how present you are with the person in front of you. Whenever somebody asked Josh a question, you could tell that a couple things. Mainly, to Josh, the world at that point in time was the student, the questions/statements he was making, and Josh's personal thoughts about the subject - nothing else. I could be standing right next to Josh and the student, and he would not even notice me until the student was done with that conversation.
What were the key physical points? For one, he didn't have his phone out. At ALL times, it is extremely rude to be talking to somebody while simultaneously looking down at your phone texting. This even applies to taking a call while present with somebody unless it is a life-or-death situation, which it normally isn't. Why? By doing so, this shows that you don't value the other person's time that they are present with you. Of course, here’s me simply stating the opposite: If you show that you truly value another person’s time, they will appreciate it.
Second, his eye contact could have killed somebody - it was as strong as a laser beam, bearing down into your eyes. I remember looking at him and appreciating the face-to-face engagement, as opposed to the numerous times I observed people glancing around their surroundings during a conversation, obviously not engaged in the topic at hand.
Lastly was the body language. Josh's body was always positioned facing towards the person he was talking to. There was a psychology study done a couple years ago measuring lies, truth/honesty, and openness. Results found that people who were hiding something always unintentionally turned their body away from the interviewer. The aftermath? Welcome to something that I call the Belly Button Rule (also used in Public Speaking basics). The BB Rule is to keep your belly button (your core) facing the people you are talking to as much as possible. This conveys earnestness and shows the your companion that you are being honest.
This key is essentially one of mutual respect.
If you're reading this, and you have a roof over your heads, food for the next week, gas in your car, and money in your bank account, go ahead and take that moment to think about how blessed you are. You've probably heard this before and done it plenty times, as a good reminder. Now while being grateful for what you have is a good thing, I want to pose the idea that it is not just what we have that is a blessing, but that being grateful for people and for time is huge. Each person that spends time with you is giving up minutes of their own life, something that they will never get back, and that should be taken with a measure of appreciation, no matter the situation.
Key II: Intensity of Attention: Treat the person that you are present with as if they are the most important person in your life.
Daily Invitation Challenge: Keep your phone on silent and try to focus solely on the person in front of you.
I've realized, that with diverse individual strengths and weaknesses, success is hard to quantify on an individual basis. While some may label me successful, I would beg to differ and instead comment that I've got a long way to go. That being said, with so many people asking for advice and wisdom, I have decided to write a epochal blog segment on my keys to success. Each Key will end in a daily invitational challenge for you to implement right away.
Key 1: Add Value to Others.
I run my own business selling educational products to families during the summer, and on one particularly slow day (no sales lol), I ran into a family who was open to seeing what i had. When the dad let me in, I came across the mom on the couch with a cast on her legs, and two kids running around, cracked up on that little kid energy that we used to have. These kids loved the books I had. When i say loved, i mean that I've never had a kid this excited about what i selling - she was even more excited than i was, and I doing the presentation! When i finished up my
demo and gave them the price, I made my way into my bag to grab the order pad. As I looked back up, the dad became unusually soft, and said, 'Jay, I love the books, and my kids do too, but we just can't afford it. I'm not even sure if I'll have my job in September, as they've been laying a lot of people off due to budget cuts." Unbeknownst to me until that point, it turns out that the dad was a teacher, who taught in the area i was selling. Now, a part of me was extremely bummed out about this - I was about to have a day where I made exactly zero dollars and I was really banking on having this sale. At first, mentally, I became really frustrated because I needed to make this or I wasn't going to hit my target for the week (you sales people know how it is =P). At that point in time, the kids came running back around and jumped on their dads lap,asking him to buy the books. "please daddy, could we pretty please get them? You can use the money from our piggy banks, we don't mind! Pleasseeee!" ...and they dumped out the contents
of the piggy bank onto the floor.
I stopped packing up, and I realized at that point that it wasn't all about the money, money always comes and goes - but I could have a part in helping these kids learn. I turned to the kids, and very seriously asked, "will you read these?" to which they replied, "Yes! Yes! Of course!" I got up, told them to wait, and i went to my car and grabbed a set of books that would make my day go from a zero day to a negative day (this is where you know I'm a really bad salesperson). I handed that set of books over to them, refused to take any money, and told the father that i was thankful that he is a teacher, that he was doing a good thing helping our future generations. Not gonna lie, this guy was confused. He didn't get why I would give him a set that he knew would cost me money. He kept on asking me, "whats the catch? There's no such thing as a free lunch. I don't want it, I'll feel bad." I eventually convinced him that i was honestly just doing it because of his kids - I think anybody who can be more excited about my product than
me is somebody who truly loves it. It was a gift.
I ended that day, broke poor and in the negative, and that night I questioned my actions, asking myself, "Dude, what about your recognition this week? You prevented yourself from hitting your goals!"
Quite the contrary, actually. No, I didn't hit my goals that week.
But guess what? Two weeks later, i was still working that area, and I run into a principal of one of the high schools.. It turns out he grew up with Dave, and was close friends with him. Dave had told him about this weird college student (me) who dropped by and gave his kids this set of amazing educational books. He ended up buying from me, giving me a personal, written, high value testimonial, and referring me to other teachers that were close friends who he knew
would want to take a look at what I had. Within the next couple days, i hit them all up, and broke my weekly career record.
You've all heard the term that things happen when you least expect it, and it's true. But I don't think it would have happened if I hadn't been looking to simply add value to others in the first place.
This is the one key that I have found to be the most important, and thus the first. The majority of people go through life always looking to gain from externalities (people, events). To take advantage of said externalities is by no means a bad thing, but I find that the opposite is less frequently practiced - the giving. While we may often measure the costs and benefits of a transaction (whether it be a relationship or business deal), we tend to maximize our gains and minimize our energy input into the transaction. The question is always 'what can i get from this
person or this thing?' instead of how can I add as much value as possible to this person.
The more that people realize you care for their wellbeing and are acting on selfless purposes as opposed to sucking them dry of their knowledge or resources, the more open they are to helping you out. By practicing adding value selflessly, we allow ourselves to avoid disappointment (from expecting a return that may not have come) and also open ourselves to unexpected surprises.
Daily Invitational Challenge: Ask yourself - "How can I add value to others?"
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.