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This False Belief Maybe The Reason Why You Aren’t Successful Yet

This False Belief Maybe The Reason Why You Aren’t Successful Yet

We very often call successful people ‘talented’. We somehow believe that they are good at what they do because they have the talent for it, and that some people were simply born with talent that guarantees success.

Some even go so far as to say that if you’re not talented enough, you should just give up: maybe you’re just not cut out to be a tennis player/pianist/painter—stop wasting your time!

But this is a very toxic idea.

While it’s true that talent maybe an advantage for some people, successful people don’t rely on talent alone. They have done lots of other things that you don’t know of to achieve success.

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So, before you blame your mediocrity on your lack of talent, realize what’s actually getting in your way may be you yourself.

What we think of as natural talent is just the result of having started practice early.

Talent doesn’t automagically make you good at something, whether it is playing tennis or solving maths problems. Even if you do have the talent, if you don’t use it properly, it will only be wasted.

And since talent alone does not determine success, there are ways you can succeed even if you think you’re not talented. Indeed, you can become talented—if ‘talented’ means better than many others at what you do.

The reason why successful people seem to be naturally good at something is often simple: they have started practicing much earlier than you even notice them.[1] They have been putting in effort continuously for a long enough time.

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It’s an illusion that they were born to be successful, which is why you should start practicing whatever you think you don’t have the talent for, and keep practicing it if you want to be very very good at it.

Most of us are just impatient; we’re not untalented.

Keep in mind that when you say you’re not talented to do something, what you actually mean is that it’s really hard—at the beginning. You have to be patient, and trust that practice will bring progress over time. Don’t give up.

Federer never gave up. Nor did Lang Lang.

Having picked up a racket at 4, Federer is surely talented. But he didn’t win 18 Grand Slam trophies without having practiced hard for years: he began serious training at a tennis club at the tender age of 8, and have continued to do so till this day.[2]

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It’s pretty much the same story for the talented pianist Lang Lang, who started learning to play the piano at 3.[3] He, ironically, was actually rejected by a piano teacher for his ‘lack of talent’ when he was 9.[4] Luckily, he was able to get over the heartbreak and kept playing.

World champion surfer Nic Lamb once said,

“Pushing through is courage. Pulling back is regret.”[5]

What he means is that you have to be brave in face of challenges. If you come across difficulties when practicing, instead of giving up, you should keep going, or you will never succeed.

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Success, now it seems, depends more on a combination of practice and patience than talent itself. But practice isn’t simply the repetition of the same skill. You also have to learn the how-to of practice.

Successful people don’t just practice more; they practice smart.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that how much improvement you can make by practicing a skill does not only depend on how many times you practice, but also on whether the way you practice is effective.[6]

Results from the study suggest that trying out different ways of practicing, compared to repeating the same practice routine, helps your brain learn more efficiently, leading to more improvement within a given period of time. This is because small changes in practice can speed up the learning process.

That is to say, you should structure your practice sessions when you’re trying to develop better skills for a certain activity.

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For example, if you’re learning the piano, instead of playing the same list of songs many times, you can try to split your time and focus on a different area (technique) each time you practice. You can practice scales, slower/faster pieces, etc. on different days of the week. Besides improving learning efficiency, this also prevents practice sessions from getting boring, giving you extra incentive to keep practicing.

Now that you know practice is the real cause behind success, as well as how you should practice, it’s time to forget about (your lack of) talent and start practicing whatever you’ve always dreamed of doing!

Reference

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Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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