Have you ever felt that sinking feeling when you can’t get to grips with something? You wonder what the secrets are to achieving greater success? Will you ever accomplish x, y or z, learn a new language or become proficient with the new software at work? What about working out how to use that new watch that does everything, except make you a cup of coffee!
Learning and understanding new things takes time and often feels challenging. However, we all know that with patience, time, and practice, we can become proficient at most things. We only have to remember learning to drive a manual car. At first, it was challenging and tiring. Three pedals, two feet, a gear stick, indicators, rear vision mirrors and an instructor guiding and speaking to you. Now, we can drive with little conscious awareness; magically finding ourselves arrive safely at our destination.
Achieving Greater Success Takes Practice and Time
In sports, it’s easy to watch seemingly flawless performances by athletes and teams. Consequently, we often think they have super powers or talents we don’t. We tend to attribute natural physical gifts to sporting greats such as Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, Ash Barty or Cadel Evans. However, while they may have a more suitable physique, greater passion and desire, there is way more beneath the surface than just talent.
In the book, ‘Bounce’, Matthew Syed discusses the findings of Herbert Simon, a cognitive scientist. What we see as talent is a consequence of years of practice and a commitment to cultivate a Mindset for Success.
Talent or determination?
As brain imaging technology and research evolves, neuroscientists delve deeper into areas of the brain. They can see what happens when we undertake specific activities. Moreover, it has allowed us to ask deeper questions about talent, success and what is required to become a champion. Indeed, Carol Dweck, a well known professor of psychology shows that having a growth mindset and belief is more important. Natural talent alone does not necessarily create winners.
‘Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.” )Taken from ‘What having a Growth Mindset Actually Means’. Harvard Business Review January 13, 2016
In addition to time, effort and practice, here are five additional keys that are the backbone of achieving greater success.
If you have no desire to exercise, learn how to use your new computer or software, you probably won’t! Your chances of success are slim. Finding your why is the first key. However, failing to do this is why many people never reach their goals. While you may not wish to be a champion athlete, finding desire and passion for your chosen area, job or vocation is essential. Without desire it’s hard or impossible to put up with the sacrifices, effort and setbacks that occur along the road to success. Along with desire, having a mindset of expectation is also essential. Our expectations can and do influence our outcomes and produces real neurophysiological outcomes in our bodies. They can potentially affect the outcome of any given situation. When you believe you will be successful, you can change your brain and body in a positive way, increasing the chance that what you hope will happen actually happens.
2. Consistency and Determination
Showing up is a large part of success. We all know Olympians train in rain, wind, cold and snow, consistently getting out of bed before the sun rises, day in day out, for years at a time. However, while we like to read about or watch their success, we forget there is a story behind their success. Overcoming injuries, managing weeks or months away from their normal training, failing on the big day and getting back to the training ring to start once again. Ultimately, consistency is key and this takes an attitude of determination and grit.
At the recent Tokyo Olympics there were numerous stories of athletes overcoming incredible adversity to show up. Sarah Carli, for example, had a freak accident in training months before the Olympics. She tore the artery in her neck that supplies blood to the brain and nearly died. An emergency operation was necessary to remove a vein from her thigh which was planted into her neck to prevent a stroke. Despite this near death experience and many months of rehabilitation and restricted training, she qualified for the games. Grit and determination are essential keys to her recovery.
- How much determination do you have?
- What are you willing to sacrifice in the quest for achieving greater success in your life?
- When the going gets tough, do you persist, or quit?
3. Purposeful Practice is essential for achieving greater success
In the world of Performance Psychology there is a saying called ‘Deliberate Purposeful Practice’. It’s not just practice but having a specific goal and strategy for the practice. Furthermore, with this mode of deliberate and intentional practice, super stars emerge on the scene.
In the great autobiography ‘OPEN’, by Andre Agassi he writes that he hated tennis, despite his incredible level of success. Given a tennis racket before he could walk, it was a natural fit and path to pursue.Tiger Woods started playing golf at the age of one. Both had long introductions to their respective sports which started with years of practice from a young age.
Practice helps automise your movements
Purposeful practice literally attunes your muscles and reactions so they become automated. A great example of this is shown in a tennis experiment. Measuring standard tests of reaction, top tennis players were found to be no faster on average than non tennis players. What they did possess, however, was superior anticipation rather than a superior reaction. They can ‘read’ the movement of the opponent and then move into position earlier than non-elite players.
This complex skill has been encoded into the brain through years of practice. Moreover, this level of deliberate purposeful practice transforms the neural architecture of the brain. Exactly what was found when using imaging and technology to observe the brains of London cab drivers. London black cab drivers have a larger hippocampus area in their brain; the part involved in spatial navigation. The hours spent learning and studying the streets of London increased this part of the brain. It also explains why they are such masters of navigating the complex road systems in London.
‘Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.’ Malcolm Gladwell
4. Creating Habits and Routines
Repetition is a vital key to create positive life habits. Our habits shape our life and influence our results. For achieving greater success, it is essential to develop winning habits. Furthermore, we spend anything from forty-five to ninety-five percent of our day on auto-pilot, or habit mode. In relation to a habit:
‘ will push you onward or drag you down to failure.’ Anon
Your habits make or break your success. Furthermore, as your habits are stored in your subconscious mind, you are programming this powerful part of your mind to work with you not against you when you fall into autopilot.
There is a saying in the sporting world, ‘Focus, Feedback Fix.‘ Great athletes value feedback as they see it as a way to improve. They review their training session, game or tournament, discuss ways to improve and adapt techniques or plans. Finally, they return to practice with the intention of making incremental improvements.
5. Self Belief is the last yet probably most important key for achieving greater success in life
Believing in yourself is essential for all success. The more you believe in yourself the greater your confidence and resolve. In the famous words of Henry Ford:
‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,’
You must do whatever it takes to build your belief and self-worth to push beyond your comfort zone. Ultimately, to feel solid and firm in what you want to achieve, what you can and will accomplish. Furthermore, to adopt a never give up attitude. Sometimes, it’s necessary to let go of negative people and those who don’t support you and surround yourself with those who do.
Every decision comes at a price
Remember, there is always a cost for every decision you make; so be willing to pay the price. If, like me, you realise your motivation for becoming awesome at technology is at the lower end of the scale, well, luckily, there is always a choice. I can choose to delegate or outsource. Doing this means I can spend more time on other aspects of my business that I enjoy and desire to master. Continuing learning about human behaviour, neuroscience and helping my clients achieve transformational results is my passion. Coupled with my desire to continually improve I strive to be the very best I can. Choosing not do the things that you don’t love frees up energy, time and space to focus on mastering what you love.
In conclusion, achieving greater success is there for you if you want it. You don’t necessarily need natural talent, just desire and determination along with the above keys. Just remember, there is no short-cut to success. Success takes hard work, is time consuming, frustrating, tiring, challenging and rewarding. Finally, remember, you have the power to change your circumstances. To become adept at a new skill and with consistent, deliberate and purposeful practice, you can literally re-wire your brain to achieve whatever you desire.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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