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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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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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