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One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

To put this into perspective, first I’m going to tell you a story:

An aging farmer realized he was becoming too old to care for his farm, and was now ready to pass his farm down to one of his two sons. When he brought his sons together to discuss his decision, he told them: The farm will go to the younger son.

The older son was furious! “How could you not give the farm to me?! I have worked here longer!” he fumed.

The father sat patiently, thinking.

“Okay,” the father said to the older son, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”

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The older son shortly returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale.”

The father graciously thanked the older son for his work. He then turned to the younger son and said, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”

The younger son did as he was asked. A short while later, he returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale. Each cow will cost 2,000 rupees. If we are thinking about buying more than 6 cows, Cibi said he would be willing to reduce the price 100 rupees. Cibi also said they are getting special jersey cows next week if we aren’t in a hurry, it may be good to wait. However, if we need the cows urgently, Cibi said he could deliver the cows tomorrow.”

The father graciously thanked the younger son for his work. He then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your younger brother is getting the farm.”

The reason why the younger son got the farm is because he was willing to do more than just the bare minimum. This virtue can be translated to any aspect of effort, whether it be school, your career, a passion, or a hobby. Those who are willing to go above and beyond will reap the benefits of their hard work.

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What Separates the Ordinary from the Extraordinary?

• To be a good worker, you must know how to follow instructions. To be a great worker, you need to know how to anticipate the next step. Many people passively wait for direction instead of taking the initiative to do more without having to be asked.

• Think back to when you were at school: when you were assigned an essay, more than likely you made sure to meet the requirements, the word count, and the information that had to be covered. But did you really put your heart into it? Did you think of how you were really going to rock this concept, leaving your teacher with a new perception of the topic? Did you consider how to structure the essay for maximum impact? It’s okay if you didn’t. You probably still got a good grade. But that essay will never be remembered.

• At work when you are given an assignment, you’re sure to meet all of the necessary requirements to fulfill the task. But do you think ahead to what the next step could be? Do you consider which aspects of the assignment could be revised for better accuracy? If you just do the bare minimum and wonder why you aren’t recognized or promoted, perhaps it’s time for some reflection.

• Successful people don’t just complete the task at hand, they think of ways to improve the work. This is how you get noticed. This is how you get ahead.

• Successful people ensure that they can get ahead by strategically planning the steps that must be taken to get to their ultimate goal.

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• Anticipate challenges and changes. Things don’t always go as planned, and you can’t freeze up when things don’t go your way. Instead, embrace the challenges and think of ways to overcome the obstacles. You will be noticed for your quick and strategic thinking.

• The thing that most separates the successful from the mediocre is identifying your weaknesses and finding ways to improve them and turn them into strengths. Successful people are always actively trying to improve, knowing that they could always do better. Complacency is the enemy.

• There’s nothing wrong with being average. If you’re comfortable and don’t feel the need to strive for more, that’s okay. But just realize that you will always stay at your current level, passively following directions, without ever contributing personal thoughts or insights. Your opinion will never be asked, your expertise will never be called upon. In the work force we call these people “bodies.” People who fulfill their job, but never go the extra mile, and never move up in their career.

Being successful is a choice. Most people don’t achieve the extra-ordinary by luck. They proactively take an extra step in order to get ahead. Many of us don’t have mentors to point out our weaknesses and show us how to improve. We must take it upon ourselves to identify those factors, and learn how to strengthen those loose ends.

How About Doing More Than You Think You Can?

The most successful leaders constantly ask themselves these questions to improve upon themselves, their product, and their brand.

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Business masterminds such as Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple Inc.) and Elon Musk (CEO and product Architect of Tesla, SpaceX and a number of powerful, influential companies) never settled after achieving the success of one product or project. Instead, they continued to strive for more. Each milestone is really just a stepping stone for what’s next. That is how these men managed to become so successful and influential. Strategic planning, and hard work.

You Have to Stand Out in Order to be Noticed.

It’s not enough to just want something. Everyone wants to get ahead, but few do because they don’t take the initiative to excel.

When trying to climb the corporate ladder, there’s an overwhelming amount of competition. You really have to make an impression in order to be noticed. Following directions and doing a “good job” won’t do that for you. Corporations need worker bees in order to make the business work, so you will be left right where you are. You need to prove that you’re a valuable asset, a force to be reckoned with. That is how to transition from being the one who follows orders, to the one who gives them. You need to have ideas, and not be afraid to set them into motion.

I worked in food service for most of my life as a cook. My ultimate goal was always to achieve Michelin status, and work in one of those super strict glimmering kitchens that most cooks only dream about. Finally, I got my chance. I went in for my interview with my sharpened knives and ironed uniform. The incredibly intimidating Chef took me into the walk-in fridge and told me to make anything I wanted. I panicked and came up with a very ordinary dish that included caramelized orange segments. I sprinkled the segments with sugar, and placed them in the broiler to caramelize the sugar, but it wouldn’t turn on. One of the line cooks handed me a blow torch, saying that they lit the broiler with it because the pilot was out. I took the segments out, and instead used the blowtorch to candy the oranges. To be honest, my plate alone probably wouldn’t have gotten me the job. But the quick thinking and problem solving is what got me recognized.

To be successful, you can’t be stagnant. You need to embrace challenges and think of ways to overcome them. Most importantly, you need to have the courage to excel. Success can be scary, because you need to commit to it; people look up to you. But you can’t wish your way to success. You need to work for it.

Featured photo credit: Solar Tribune via google.com

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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