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Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Your boss has asked you to speak at your company’s annual employee conference. In fact, he’s penciled you in to talk for 15 minutes in front of an expected crowd of 800 people. There’s just one problem… you’re terrified of public speaking!

Instead of relishing the chance to shine in front of your colleagues – you’re consumed by trying to find a way to get out of doing the speech.

Fear of public speaking is common. However, instead of allowing fears such as this to hold you hostage, you can turn them into powerful springboards to success.

Before I reveal how to do this, let’s first take a look at some common threats, and our typical responses to them.

Are You Struggling to Cope with Threatening Situations?

Imagine for a moment that time travel is real.

You decide to go back thousands of years to see how our early ancestors lived. Once you arrive at your chosen destination, you quickly discover that life at that time was riddled with dangers. There’s physical fighting between different communities, animal predators to avoid, and a constant threat of starvation.

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It was during these tough and treacherous times that early humans developed something called the ‘fight or flight’ response. This response can be described as a physiological reaction to a threat or attack that causes the body to immediately release a hormonal cascade. This hormonal release shifts the body into extreme physical alertness, allowing either a defense to be mounted, or alternatively – a quick getaway! (Spend some time watching cats and dogs, and you’ll frequently see this fight or flight response in action.)

While the fight or flight response is obviously helpful in life-or-death situations, it can be a negative thing when triggered by less serious events. For example, you may feel that a subordinate colleague is plotting to take your job. If you allow this situation to trigger a fight or flight response, you’re likely to either engage in a physical confrontation with your colleague – or if you choose to flee, then you may end up handing in your notice.

Neither of the above reactions are rational. In truth, either one of them will leave you out of a job. Instead, you’d be much better off thinking of positive ways to deal with the situation. For example, you could develop your skills and experience to keep you ahead of your colleague, or you could speak directly to them to ascertain what their specific career goals were.

It’s vital that you’re able to clearly distinguish between life-threatening or highly-dangerous situations, and everyday threats such as family arguments and work pressures. The latter situations should not trigger a fight or flight response in you. As we’ve seen, this is likely to cause these situations to become even more negative. Instead, seek for non-aggressive and harmonious resolutions to your conflicts.

These 2 Simple Insights Will Help Boost Your Personal Growth

Is self-improvement important to you?

If yes, then you’re in the right place, as I’m going to give you two powerful insights that could definitely change your life for the better.

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1. Everyday threats offer you the chance to push and develop yourself.

Picture for a moment that you’ve just graduated from university. You’re excited by what you’ve learned and by the high grades you’ve achieved. However, after a few weeks of applying for relevant jobs, you discover that you’re not even making it to the interview stage.

As a new graduate, you may have anticipated that finding a job would be plain sailing. However, this expectation hasn’t been matched by reality. You now feel stressed and despondent.

What’s the problem? Is there a solution? Or should you just give up?

The answer to this dilemma is to find out where you’re going wrong. To do this, you should perform a personal SWOT analysis (SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).[1] You can complete this analysis by spending time thinking about your personal strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities are open to you, and what external threats you may face.

Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, you should be able to clearly identify key positives and negatives. To come back to the job-seeking example above, your SWOT analysis will most likely indicate that a principal weakness of yours is a lack of work experience. To counter this, you could offer to work for free for a few weeks, or perhaps accept an entry-level role to help get your career started.

Everyday threats should be seen for what they are: opportunities for you to advance in life.

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2. Your comfort zone can be defeated when you embrace threats.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term comfort zone. However, in case you’re not, I’ll give you a brief explanation.

Your comfort zone is the place where you feel mentally and emotionally at ease and free from pain.

For instance, if you’re single, you may have difficulty asking people out on a date. However much you like a prospective partner – something inside holds you back. You’re embarrassed to ask them out, and you’d feel much more comfortable with them asking YOU out.

The problem with comfort zones is that we have a tendency to get stuck within them.

Once this happens, our ambition and drive wanes, and our thought processes start to deteriorate. For these reasons, the term comfort zone can also be rendered as mindless zone!

Fortunately, you can use threats to help you break out of your mindless zone.

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As an example for you, think of a time when you’ve had a problem with a neighbor. It might have been that they were constantly making noise late at night, or their car was regularly blocking your driveway. For most of us, our comfort zone would prevent us from speaking directly to our neighbor about these problems. However, by embracing the issue, you could choose to use it as an opportunity to increase your confidence and boldness. By doing this, you would be stepping outside of your mindless zone – and at the same time, you’d hopefully be resolving the issue with your neighbor.

Other ways to smash through your mindless zone include:

  • Facing your fears.
  • Trying something new.
  • Moving towards a goal.
  • Changing your mindset.
  • Doing everyday things differently.

The secret to all these techniques is to start with small things – and then work your way up to bigger things. By doing this, you’ll also build a habit of continually stretching your beliefs and goals.

Threats are everywhere. But that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. By embracing threats, and learning from them, you can fast-track your personal development.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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