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How to Be the Top 10% Smartest People in the World

How to Be the Top 10% Smartest People in the World

There must have been times when you have felt less than others. Felt less intelligent, less of an achiever, less witty, less goal-oriented and frankly, dumber! We all have been there, and it’s a really depressing feeling, all in all, not being able to truly be all that we want to be. In case you too are spiraling down into a sad, small place as you read this – wait, for there is always hope when you are on the road to how to succeed.

Only Hard Work and Motivation Can’t Make You Successful. You Need to Know Self-Coaching.

Frankly, a lot of us are hard-working and willing to put in all that is needed for us to achieve our goals and ideals. The problem is that many of us lose the way of how to succeed. Being motivated and willing to work hard wins you the battle half way, but there is still a lot to be done if you really want to be the best that you can be.

The smartest people, who are also the most successful understand that there is a different approach to be used on how to succeed, more than just hard work and being motivated. In case you are wondering what their secret to success is, and if you too can join the bandwagon – there isn’t just one formula to use. The point is, you have to figure out how you can be smarter yourself , no one will tell you how to be that. [1]

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As children, we struggle in school, and often our parents and teachers become our guides, helping us see the better way. But as adults, once we enter the office realm, no boss is here to truly guide us onto an enlightened path – very often, we have to become our own coaches.[2] And since we already know the truth of all that we lack in, who better than us, ourselves, to guide us into being someone better? No one knows us better than ourselves, so we can, with enough introspection, find out the best way on how to succeed.

Why Self Improvement Is Difficult for Many of Us

That depends entirely on you. For some, their lot in life in enough – even if their counterparts overtake them and reach a lot further. But if you are pained by the lack of progress in your life, then yes, you do need to fix it… Some common obstacles on how to succeed in life are:

  • Not knowing where or what to improve in the first place
  • Confused on how to improve yourself
  • Having a laid back or carefree attitude where you are easily satisfied by your progress
  • Often give up easily when you feel that there hasn’t been any improvement in what you are trying to do – even if a minimal effort was put in
  • Comparing yourself with others and wanting things that the others have achieved
  • Feeling demotivated and depressed when success proves elusive

6 Steps To Become Smarter and Succeed In Life

Now that we know the whys and the why not’s of trying to be smarter, here are the steps we can take if we want to be smarter and know the secret to how to succeed, every time.

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Ask Yourself 5 Whys to Figure Out What to Improve

Think of a child and how he reaches the root of a problem – by asking incessant whys. So do that to yourself. Every time you are faced with a problem, like why you aren’t improving at something or succeeding in life – ask yourself why, 5 times, as a rule of thumb.[3]

This will help you identify the root cause of the problem as well as the relationship between the various causes. A simple example is: I didn’t get a promotion this year, but my junior did. So ask yourself: why did your junior get the promotion? Answer: Because my boss likes him. Again: Why does your boss like him, and not you? Answer: Because he turns in his work much ahead of time… Then: Why don’t you turn in your work in time? Answer: Because I put off things way until the last minute and then need extra time to complete it… So there you have it, in three whys you have your answer.

Never Aim to Kill the Giant Monster in One Attempt, Try Attacking Its Sore Spots One By One

Sometimes the problem or struggle we face in front of us is so big and insurmountable that we often get discouraged and give up at the start. So the best thing to do is to break down the problem into steps: each step needs to have a deadline so that the solution stays on course, with some extra time left over to review the problem and its eventual solution in entirety. [4] Say you are unhappy about your weight. The problem is your weight and the solution is to lose some. Now break it down: add 20 minutes of a brisk walk the first week, drop all desserts the second week, clear out your kitchen of junk in the third week, join a gym or aerobics or yoga the fourth week on. You should be seeing results by the end of the month.

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Learning New Skills Is Not Enough — You Need to Learn Them Fast

In nowadays fast moving and competitive world, learning new skills is not enough if takes you a lot of time to learn them. You need to up your ante and learn new thing much faster than the average Joe.[5] Instead of taking a month to learn something, cut it down to a week. Grasp the concept on day 1, master the complicated aspects on day 2 and 3, apply it to real life on day 4, work on it in a slightly different day on day 5, revise everything on day 6 and on day 7 – clear any lingering doubts or confusion.

Keep Challenging Yourself at Every Step

If you were able to do something in say six hours, challenge yourself to do it in five hours or less the next time. Similarly, challenge your old beliefs. Think of new ways to solve the same problems, and you might end up reaching a time-saving solution. [6]

Consider Yourself to be Your Biggest Critic & Competitor

No one else is your enemy or competitor as you are to yourself. In today’s socially showing-off world, there’ll be plenty of success belonging to other people that you wished were yours. Someone is buying a luxury car, someone else is off to the Caribbean or ha your dream job or got that husband and child you so wanted… Thing is, there’ll always be someone else doing better in life than you, or being better at skills than you. So? Run your own race – be your own competitor. You cannot compare yourself to the whole world, so how about you compare yourself to only, yourself. [7]

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Turn Negative Emotions into Positive Triggers

However much we try, we are likely to be faced with some or the other disappointments in the journey called life especially when are figuring out how to succeed. The trick is not to let these negative emotions bog you down and instead use these emotions as positive triggers. For instance, if you are angry about a situation, you are likely to be charged up – use this anger creatively into solving a problem that has been irking you for long. And in case you are being enveloped in green, read envy, at someone else’s success – use this to fuel your need and efforts to reach never before heights. [8]

If you are still wondering how to succeed- get up and get direction, and then put in all that hard work and effort into achieving that dream of yours. Wishes don’t move mountains, but hard work and ambition do. [9]

Reference

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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