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Why Top Performers Have Nothing to Do With Their Ages

Why Top Performers Have Nothing to Do With Their Ages
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I remember times when I was job searching, I’d see jobs that I knew I could do, and do well, yet I had no chance of getting it simply because I didn’t have the necessary years of “experience”. You might have seen the same thing.

Equally, when you turn eighteen, you are able to vote, at sixteen you are able to drive. Legally speaking, a mere 24 hours before your birthday, you weren’t equipped or experienced enough to vote or drive. We sometimes accept age equals experience.

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But I’d rather be driven by a sixteen year old who drives a long distance every day, than a forty year old who only drives occasionally. I’d trust an eighteen year old who has studied the policies of each politician on the ballot to vote more responsibly than a fifty year old who votes on a whim.

I think we all would, yet we are often still blinded by the false idea of the importance of experience over anything else.

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If it’s not about the years of experiences, what are the true indicators of ability?

Imagine you’re an employer, and in front of you are two prospective employees. One is relatively young, but in their time they have overcome a number of challenges, they show drive and determination, they demonstrate good knowledge and skill, yet they haven’t worked in this industry for very long; the other is about a decade older and they’ve spent a number of years in a similar job, they have experience for sure, but very little else.

I think most of us would go with the younger employee.

Age, ultimately is a measurement of time lived, not things achieved or difficulties overcome.

Let us consider Elon Musk,[1] he is a self made billionaire, the co-founder of Paypal, the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and numerous other companies. Were he to have joined a tech company and waited until he had the right amount of experience, then without a doubt, he would have achieved none of this.

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Though, as you’d imagine he was an computer prodigy (at twelve he designed, programmed, and sold a video game), his life wasn’t easy. His parents divorced at an early age, and at school was bullied remorselessly. Yet, after achieving two bachelor degrees in Canada, and dropping out of a Ph.D, his success was immediate and meteoric.

In short, he overcame a great deal of personal problems, but due to his drive, passion and talent, was able to achieve great success. Success ultimately achieved without years and years in the tech industry gaining experience (indeed, he studied physics and economics in university).

It’s about how many challenges you have gone through, not how many years you have lived through.

A good employer knows these things. When looking for new team members, a good employer takes drive, passion, talent, resilience far more into account than the number of years they’ve spent in a job and certainly not the amount of years they’ve been alive for, which again is really all that age really signifies.

At Lifehack, when we recruit new team members, we are not concerned about the number of years a candidate has in the field. During a job interview, we ask candidates about their concrete experiences over the past time. For example, what have they achieved and how did they do that? What obstacles have they come across and how did they get over them?

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We’ve seen plenty of candidates who have 10 years or more work experience in the field, yet they can’t really tell us their journey of growth.

Deep down, you don’t grow with years, you grow with challenges.

I believe we need to reconsider growth and experience. You grow with things faced and battles won (or lost).

Think of your greatest accomplishments, I imagine after accomplishing them you felt stronger and more effective than you did after working at a place for a year.

Because of this, I think deciding to wait for a few years, until you start working on your dreams is potentially disastrous. If you wait for a eureka moment where your brain tells you that you’ve gained enough experience, then I’m afraid you’ll be waiting forever.

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We should begin to consider growth as something that comes from developing skills, improving your intelligence, and mindset, and not something that just sort of…happens after being alive for a while.

If you want concrete proof of your growth, don’t wait, but seek out challenges and take risks. Even if you fail, you still had the strength to try, and have the strength to try again, this matters more than any amount of experience.

Reference

[1] Biography: Elon Musk

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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