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

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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

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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