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Let High-Achievers Tell You How These 10 Rituals Shorten Your Distance To Success

Let High-Achievers Tell You How These 10 Rituals Shorten Your Distance To Success
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Success doesn’t just come to anyone. It has to be attained through hard work, dedication, and relentless drive. The most successful people in the world are often more than happy to share the methods to their madness, and it’s no coincidence that many of them practice the same methods on a daily basis. Staying disciplined and regimented is a large part of why certain people are able to transcend the masses, and rise to the level of success they’ve attained throughout their lives. The most successful people in the world:

1. Make a daily to-do list

Many people make a to-do list; that’s nothing new. However, the way in which successful people approach their to-do lists is much different than the way others do. While many people (myself included) make a to-do list that is relatively underwhelming, successful people tend to overload their to-do list, giving them too much to do. This doesn’t mean they actually finish everything on their list; it just means they always have something to do. The most successful people always have something productive to do, and make it so they are always improving upon their former self. CEO of Omada Health Sean Duffy actually utilizes a “running” to-do list which spans not just the following day, but lists goals he wants to tackle within the next couple of weeks.

2. Schedule their time

Benjamin Franklin was famous for not only creating a daily to-do list, but also for scheduling his time by the hour. Doing so helps in a variety of ways. First of all, it gives you an idea of how much time you’ll have to spend on specific activities or projects. Secondly, while scheduling your day, you’ll actively visualize yourself completing the tasks, and finishing them becomes much more likely. To-do lists can be incredibly intimidating, as you run the risk of thinking “there’s just not enough time in the day.” When you schedule your day out completely, you’ll realize you have all the time you need. Furthermore, you won’t waste time scrolling through your phone or watching TV if you’ve set deadlines for yourself.

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3. Quantify their time

It may sound unbelievable, but Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok, claims he knows “exactly how many (hours) I have spent working, with family, exercising, or on community activities.”

Along with making a to-do list and scheduling their time, successful people add up time spent on various projects, analyze them, and manage their schedule accordingly. For example, if you gave yourself two hours to complete a task, but it actually took three, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when a similar project comes along in the future, you’ll know better how to schedule your time. Conversely, if you schedule two hours of your day to do a task that only takes one, you’ll have an hour of time left over that isn’t being utilized to your advantage. Not only that, but successful people understand that if they check their phone 10 times a day “just for 5 minutes,” they’ve wasted almost an hour of their day.

4. Wake up earlier

Ben Franklin was also never short on words of wisdom, such as the famous proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Successful people wake up much earlier in the morning than most others. While some of us hit the snooze button at least twice every morning, most wealthy people wake up at least two or three hours before they need to get down to business. Doing so allows them to take advantage of the body’s natural energy cycle. The mind is most productive a couple hours after waking. This explains why many of us need that cup of coffee every morning to jolt ourselves awake, and why others seem to be ready and raring to go by 8:30 a.m. every day. We might see early birds as “morning people,” but the reason they’re up and moving so early is because they’ve been awake for more than fifteen minutes, and wiped the sleep from their eyes hours ago.

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5. Prepare for their day before working

Successful people don’t just wake up early and stare at the wall until their body and mind is ready to work. Neha Sampat, CEO of Built.io, says she always gets one major task out of the way before 8 a.m., even on weekends. By waking up early (around 5 a.m.) on a daily basis, she’s ready to get moving by 7 a.m. at the latest. Early morning is also a good time to get other things done, such as exercise that you won’t want to do after a long day’s work, or reading up on news that you won’t have time for throughout the day. Most people (especially college-aged) use the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” as an excuse to stay up late partying with friends; successful people use it as an excuse to forgo sleeping in late in favor of getting things done.

6. Avoid getting in ruts

Rodney Williams, co-founder and CEO of LISNR, reports that he avoids habits that eventually lead to ruts. This advice might seem like it gibes with the previous sections discussing to-do lists and schedules, but since you’re in control of your own schedule, don’t be afraid to change it up. Think of high school: How boring was it to go through the same progression of classes day after day? It made everything so monotonous, and by the end of the day you were completely fried. Take control of your life! If you find yourself getting bored with your schedule, start going to the gym before work instead of after, or take a different route to work. Even the smallest changes can refresh your perspective, and make the rest of your day just a bit more exciting.

7. Pay attention to relationships

Novelist George A. Moore once said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” Being successful isn’t all about money, fame, and fortune. It’s about what you can do for your loved ones after attaining those three things. When putting your daily schedule together, make sure you include time to spend with your family. And don’t schedule this in pencil; make sure you never cancel on a date with your daughter, and always find time to pick your son up from soccer practice. After all, your family is the reason you work so hard in the first place. Don’t lose sight of that while you’re busy checking business-related tasks off your list.

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8. Communicate with colleagues

Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, believes it’s incredibly important to be transparent with your employees, colleagues, and bosses. You should never find yourself being “just a colleague,” but should work to forge a relationship that goes beyond the walls of your office building. Be a teammate and a friend, and treat your co-workers as family. Doing so will open doors of communication when working on difficult projects that require input from a variety of specialists, and will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a common goal. When your team succeeds, you can feel a sense of accomplishment knowing you helped them get there.

9. Exercise

Jason van den Brand, co-founder and CEO of Lenda, finds time to exercise his body at least five times a week. By now it should go without saying that this time is usually before he gets to the office, around 6 a.m. on a daily basis. And he switches it up, too: Sometimes he’ll hit the gym, and other times he’ll take his bike out for an hour spin. Not only does exercising early in the morning start your day with an adrenaline rush, but it also starts your day with another task checked off your list. With one less thing to do before you even start your work day, your head will be clear to focus on other obligations.

10. Meditate

Ernie Capobianco, CEO of Sq1, meditates on daily basis, sometimes twice a day. You might be thinking “I thought successful people didn’t spend any time sitting around.” This is a complete misunderstanding of what goes on in the mind when meditating. Sitting quietly and preparing for the day in the morning or reflecting on the day’s events in the evening helps you gain perspective and insight that you can’t possibly have when you’re engrossed in a project. Spending time meditating is the best way to come to realizations that will lead to breakthroughs in your work, especially if you’ve recently hit a roadblock. If you’re going to spend your time doing nothing, do so mindfully.

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Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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