Priming yourself for optimal performance prior to commencing a task is an essential component of success. (Yes I demolished the burger)
When you care about the task, and place value on the outcome you should take a moment to get yourself prepared.
Before beginning work on the task ensure that it falls into your 20% of tasks that are responsible for 80% of your results (following the Pareto principle).
Once you have confirmed this, make a quick plan for the tasks completion. Think about how to do the task efficiently. Review resource requirements and bottlenecks – see yourself completing the task in your mind, scanning through the necessary steps.
If you are motivated to complete the task, and have oriented yourself, you should now be primed. There is although one more crucial step; the mindset.
To improve your chances of success – approach your task with the following mindset.
- I will do this task with 100% effort. I won’t get distracted.
- I can only be defeated if I die or give up, and I will not give up.
- If you cant commit to #1 & #2, don’t even bother trying. You are wasting your time.
Summarise this simply to yourself as: Do, Die, Don’t even try. Say it before you commence. Say it when the task gets hard. Say it until you don’t even need to say it anymore but you just know it.
(Credit to the book “Sorted!: The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Bossing Your Life” by Andy McNab, Kevin Dutton)
Jack and Jill went up the hill.
Do you know why they went up the hill?
Do you know what they did when they got to the top of the hill?
There are many reasons for why they might have gone up the hill. Maybe they were on a treasure hunt. Perhaps there was a helicopter waiting to rescue them from a flash flood, and the top of the hill was the last safe place for evacuation.
It’s also possible that they just wanted some exercise, or to see the sunset in all it’s glory.
Any action you take is based on your values, which are derived from your philosophy. Philosophy refers to your system of thinking, making decisions and taking action in this world.
You can choose your philosophy, or you can adopt the dominant systems of thinking that permeate through your network and society. These are often flawed, and misaligned from your core values.
To develop your philosophy you need to decide what you are about.
- Are you an achiever?
- Are you driven towards self-mastery?
- Are you here to serve others?
- Are you here to heal?
- Are you here to dominate?
- Are you here to learn?
- Are you here to love?
- Are you here to destroy?
Pick one. Or write your own. That is your core purpose for being. You chose it. Now embrace it. Make everything else that you do serve that purpose. Congratulations, you have a philosophy.
I am driven towards self-actualization. Every day that I grow and learn, I become better equipped to help others achieve their goals. This means that in my capacity as a author, teacher & friend, I am able to make a greater contribution.
I’ll discuss some of the tools I use to support my core purpose in a future post.
Do you ever feel a little displaced?
Just a little odd in your own body. No, I’m not referring to the feeling that you get when you shelve 5 ecstacy pills and lose your concept of self for 3 days. I’m talking about the more subtle sense of ” not at home-ness”
How does it feel? Annoyed. Itchy skin. Restless. Neurotic. Uneasy. Mildly agitated. Cranky. Bored.
What does it signal? Some disharmony between your life and your dreams. Some unresolved conflict or situation. A dissatisfaction with the present moment.
What’s the solution? Accept the situation first. Find a quiet place to sit and try this meditative technique called a Body Scan.
Locate your attention. Where is it? Get a sense for whether it is focused or diffused.
Try to narrow it down into one laser beam and rest your attention on the top of your head.
Now imagine that your attention is a gentle wave and calmly allow it to sink downwards from the top of your head until it reaches your toes. Take 1-2 minutes to do this. Feel each body part fully.
Breathe slowly while you do this. Repeat as necessary.
If you are not fully at home now, you should at least have your feet in the door.
Now you can ask yourself:
“What’s the one thing that contributed most significantly towards this mood”.
Don’t obsess over it if you can’t determine a cause, life has unavoidable lows and this might just be one of them. If you can identify something, change if immediately. Home is essential. We need to feel comfort in our skin so that we can thrive despite the chaos outside of it.
Try this as an experiment:
Give someone in your life a compliment and see how they respond.
The person should just say “thank you” or something similar, and receive your compliment wholeheartedly. They shouldn’t feel obligated to pay the compliment back, getting rid of it so quickly, as if they were playing hot potato.
What I have noticed is that very few people can accept compliments. The majority tend to downplay them, ignore them or provide reasons for why the statements you have made are incorrect. When this occurs people grow further apart, instead of closer together.
When you tell someone that they look beautiful, you are speaking your truth. In your eyes they do look beautiful. You want them to know how you feel and what you see, so you tell them. But when they deflect your compliment away you feel deflated and confused.
Why has it become so hard for people to accept compliments? I have a few suggestions:
- False humility
- Low self-esteem
- Social norms
The next time someone gives you a compliment simply smile and say thank you. Enjoy it. Someone has noticed something wonderful about you. Out of all the things they could have noticed today – they noticed you. Be grateful for their care and attention and accept their kind words with grace.
If you are struggling with putting this together I’ve included a few Compliments and Responses below to get you started:
C “Excellent work with that project”
R “Thank you. I’m so happy with how it turned out”
C “You look beautiful today”
R “Thank you. That’s so sweet of you to say”
C “You handled that customer like a boss
R “Thanks for noticing”
Which of the following statements is always true?
- Every story has a villain
- Every story has a hero
- Every story has an ending
Most stories that we read or hear about have a hero and a villain. Some stories do not. Conversely all stories end at some stage.
Your life is a collection of stories. You first “read” them through experience, and then reflect upon them as memories (placed in your mental bookshelf).
When your capacity to reflect on your stories is taken away from you, your story ends. We call this death.
Since your life is a collection of stories that you either anticipate, experience of reflect upon, why not take a moment to write yourself into some exciting ones.
The end of your story is guaranteed.
- You can choose to be a hero in your story.
- You can choose to conquer the villain that disguises itself as your obstacles.
- You can walk out of an uninteresting story and into a better one.
Finish this sentence: To make tomorrow more exciting I will….
Let’s start with a question.
From the 7.5 billion people on this planet how many share your dreams and are thus pursuing similar goals?
In a connected world those people are your competition.
Consider the goal of becoming a famous actor in blockbuster movies. The competition will be fierce. It will either push you to practice more or crush your spirit.
Now consider the goal of losing weight. There doesn’t seem to be any competition here. If your friend loses weight it doesn’t shrink the total amount of weight loss available to all people with that goal.
When working towards goals where competition is abundant – you must promote yourself by taking a step forward each day. If you fail to promote yourself; you demote yourself. This gives your competitors room to overtake you. I encourage you to be paranoid about this.
Where there is no external competition you still get to make a choice. In the spirit of promotion you can choose to proceed. You can decide that you in competition with yourself – then find a way to do it faster, better and smarter.
You can also choose to concede.
One my favourite quotes comes from Abraham Maslow:
“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety”
I’ve been reading about rumination lately and it is simply fascinating.
A cow will chew then swallow its food, only to regurgitate it then swallow it again. Upon reentry the food is able to be properly absorbed by the cows stomach. This the process of rumination.
Rumination in humans is a little bit different. When we make a mistake we should simply look for the appropriate lesson, integrate it and move on. Instead we replay the scenarios in our heads and often experience the accompanying shame and guilt. We continue to eat these negative emotions repeatedly even though they have no nutritional value.
To remedy this fault you could stop playing the “If-only” game and start playing the “If-then” game. Compare the following statements that you could make to yourself after failing an exam:
A) “If only I had studied harder for my exam I would have gotten a better result”
B)”If I try a prepare more thoroughly for the next exam then I will get a better result”
“If-only” is past focused, while “If-then” is present and future focused. This subtle shift in language can yield positive results. Stop ruminating.
If the food you are eating is no good for you, spit that shit out and move on to your next meal.
Working as a teacher I get to make decisions regarding student performance on a daily basis. I assign grades to work, and then rank students in order of academic excellence.
- A students are the cream of the crop – intellectually superior to their peers.
- C students grasp the coursework to a satisfactory level and do enough to pass.
- E students are either incapable of completing the work or haven’t tried their hardest yet.
I am most interested in the thought process of those who haven’t tried yet. My E students. I ask them a number of questions to learn about their thinking. Often times hidden behind the “I don’t give a damn” attitude is a lack of confidence combined with a fear of failure.
Even though our attitudes as adults are generally pretty positive, this doesn’t mean we are immune from self sabotage.
Spend a moment taking inventory of all the skills you hope to develop and haven’t started working on yet. Specifically your skills that sit at an E level that you hope to improve.
Consider the upside of starting the work: you have the greatest room to grow. You can move from an E to a D with little effort, and you only might need to develop the skill to a C standard to accomplish your goal.
Remove (or accept) the obstacle to trying, and put a plan in place to learn something useful. You may be surprised at just how easy the task was once you get started.
How long is the list of tasks on your To Do List today?
If you read my review of the “The One Thing” your list might be incredibly short already.
But is it short enough?
Are there any tasks that you are racing to complete that needn’t be done at all?
Just as bad, are you ignoring the 80:20 principle and working on low level tasks.
Consider the parable of Nick. Nick was employed as a sales consultant for an insurance company. He would receive inbound calls from customers and try to sell them home, car & life insurance. I worked with Nick and he did some things really well:
- Established rapport with customers
- Asked good questions
- Demonstrated enthusiasm for the job
The one thing that he didn’t focus on was closing the sale. Nick would spend 45 minutes on the phone with a potential customer and learn all about their family, work history, philosophy, views on religion etc. but never asked the customer to pay for the product.
He would close his sales calls with “It was lovely to talk to you today. Have a ring around and compare and if you want to go with us give us a call back and we will help you out”.
His sales results were always low and he was eventually fired for poor sales.
I’m not advocating that you ignore the basics of customer service – these are important. But remember that Nick was hired to sell a product. This was essential. Most of the other things he did were unnecessary.
Make your motto for the day simple:
Identify the essential and eliminate the rest.
This weekend I took a walk down to my local shopping centre for the weekly groceries.
I had prepared a shopping list and mapped out a logical route that would allow me to make all of my purchases efficiently.
My usual shopping survival strategy is to keep my head down and just walk quickly. As I got off the escalator and turned left I noticed an elderly woman standing to the side. I only looked at her for a second but it was clear to me that she was upset.
I walked a little further past her then just came to a stop. I ran through the possible problems that she might have in her life and how I might be able to help. She might have lost her daughter in the shops, or be going through a rough patch with life or work. Maybe I could help.
As I approached her, I started to perceive the situation more clearly. Her hair and clothes were dirty & she had a terrible smell. Facial hair almost on par with mine. Torn shoes.
I greeted her with a subdued smile and started a conversation. A rough life indeed; husband died, kids gone, no job, living on the streets. Her pale blue eyes were filled with such sadness. I can’t recall the last time I saw hopelessness like that. I walked her down to the coffee shop and gave her some money for lunch.
I wonder how many other people walked past her that day and didn’t notice. Or did notice, and rationalized her sadness away with mental commentary such as “she’ll be alright”. I think about the many things I miss out on perceiving each day because my attention is elsewhere.
Where you put your attention is a choice. But this choice places limits on your experience. These limits are essential for sanity, but left to solidify, they can harden our ego until the only concern we have is for ourselves. What a wasteful way to live. Open your eyes and look around.