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How to Be the Top 10% No Matter What You Do

How to Be the Top 10% No Matter What You Do

90% of people look for instant formulae to success, not realizing that when it comes to the path of success, there are no shortcuts. Hard work, a dedicated perseverance towards a goal and regular skill practice is what would get you there. You may be intensely talented but to actually reach the peaks, you need to hone that talent by sheer practice, and by deliberate practice. [1]

Be you a sports fan or golf aficionado or not, you must have heard of Ben Hogan’s impeccable record and his surgeon-like precision of a golf swing, and he did this by breaking down the game of gold into small parts – each of which he analyzed and repeatedly practiced till he achieved ultimate mastery. That is the art of deliberate practice.

As Ben Hogan so rightly remarked, “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” We all must ensure we make it a good round…

Deliberate Practice: Identify Your Weaknesses First

The key to deliberate practice is simple and follows the same pattern, till the time success is reached. The first step is to break the overall process down into parts, the second is to identify your weaknesses, the third is to test new strategies for each section, and finally the fourth step is to integrate your learning into the overall process. The fifth step is to repeat! [2]

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Most people look for immediate results based on nothing more than the human process of natural growth. But for our growth to be deliberate, our practice has to be equally deliberate too! So the key to how to be successful, is a mastering of your skill set.

Think about it this way, if you ever started out by following your heart, and learning a new skill, say dancing – were you able to master it by merely assuming you would? No, right? You’d have to practice your moves, consult a teacher, get to know and then work on correcting your mistakes in theory as well as in practice and then probably do it all over again till you are able to master the moves, the posture, the expression and finally, the body language!

How Deliberate Practice Leads to Great Achievements

Remember that deliberate practice is not putting in some extra time at work or working 60-80 hours weeks. Deliberate practice is when you focus on just one aspect of your work and then start to improve upon that – deliberately and repeatedly, no matter how much time it takes, and that is the most important aspect to how to be successful. Here are a few examples of deliberate practice that famous, and successful people have employed to make themselves better at what they do.

Mozart’s 10 Years of Silence

John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wanted to know that how much practice it took, in terms of time, before you could produce a masterpiece. So he studied over 500 music pieces composed by 76 different composers and discovered that it took all at least ten years of solid practice before they were able to churn out a masterpiece in music – including Mozart. [3]

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Kobe Bryant’s 800 Shoots

A story pretty well known in sports circle is that of Kobe Bryant’s deliberate practice. As team trainer Robert recalls it after seeing it firsthand, “Kobe Bryant started his conditioning work around 4:30 am, continued to run and sprint until 6 am, lifted weights from 6 am to 7 am, and finally proceeded to make 800 jump shots between 7 am and 11 am. And then Team USA had practice!” For Kobe, his goal was 800 baskets, the time spent doing it was immaterial… For Kobe, his route to how to be successful was simple – to keep practicing.

A Decade of Practice Under The Masterchef

Jiro Ono is a chef and the owner of an award-winning sushi restaurant in Tokyo and his technique has been the subject of a documentary too. Jiro is no ordinary chef for he has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of making sushi. And he expects the same of his apprentices too if they want to work with him. In fact, each apprentice must master one tiny part of the sushi-making process at a time like how to wring a towel, how to use a knife, how to cut the fish! So much so that one apprentice trained under Jiro for ten years before being allowed to cook the eggs! [4]

As a professor of psychology at The Florida State University Anders Ericsson puts it, “the sole reason you aren’t a virtuoso violinist, or an Olympic athlete, or another kind of world-class performer, is that you haven’t engaged in a process called “deliberate practice”.”

Tips To Keep In Mind For Deliberate Practice

Stay Just A Little Above Your Abilities

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Think about it this way, you may know how to write a good page or an essay. To go a little above and beyond your current skills, try writing a short story or even a long-from article. Don’t try to go from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds – deliberate practice is not a race – it’s a journey that makes you reach your goal, the perfectionist’s way.

Stay Goal Oriented

Before you try to get better at something, you have to know what it is that you are trying to do. One good way to watch a master or an expert at work – then you have a goal in mind that this is the level of expertise you too want to reach.

Break It Down

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Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your mastery in a skill. Whenever you attempt something new or even try to get better at what you already “know” – break it down into smaller parts. Attempt it part by part and master the basics before you attempt the more convoluted parts.

Find A Good Teacher

We cannot be objective about ourselves so if we want to improve ourselves, we need a teacher, guide or friend who can point out our flaws, or missing gaps so that we can improve everywhere we lack. Get someone, be it your teacher or mentor to keep giving you feedback and remember to take criticism constructively. This is very important in you search in how to be successful.

Remember that if you truly want to better yourself and reach 100% proficiency in something, you have to keep trying and keep practicing without bothering about the time or the effort spent. And you have to be patient and persevering about it if you do want to rise above the average and truly master what you so desire to! [5]

Featured photo credit: Heisenberg Media via flickr.com

Reference

[1] James Clear: Beginners Guide To Deliberate Practice
[2] Mel Robbins : 5 Deliberate Steps To Master A Skill
[3] James Clear: Deliberate Practice
[4] A Learning A Day: Some Reflections On Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
[5] Mission To Learn: Deliberate Practice

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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