If there were a way for you to multiply your odds of being successful, would you do it?
Experts tell us that if we want to be in the best position to succeed, we need to come at it from all angles: mentally, physically, and emotionally. One will not work without the others, and with all three in conjunction, there is a high probability of success.
I used to believe that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, I needed to work exhaustingly long hours to “out-work” the rest.
The problem with this approach was that it wore down my physical and emotional state. While I managed to build a 7-figure company by age 22, I had grinded my health to the ground and completely neglected my relationships. In the end, my business ended up crumbling and I had to backtrack everything so that I could rebuild my foundation.
Today, my approach to entrepreneurship might seem counterintuitive. I regularly take salt baths, take two hours of “me time” to read, sip chai, and move my body every morning and work a maximum of six hours each day. Ironically, it hasn’t slowed me down—it’s helped me get to the peak of my career.
I talked to one man who’s studied some of the top performers in the world, and he says the same thing. Those at the top practice surprising daily rituals, some of which are the opposite of what we think we should do to be successful.
Meet Dana Cavalea, the former Director of Strength and Conditioning for the New York Yankees. Cavalea worked with the Yankees for 12 seasons and was an integral player in helping them win many World Series. He’s a recipient of the prestigious Nolan Ryan Top Strength Coach Award and now runs his own practice as a high-performance consultant for professional athletes and C-level executives.
This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, Cavalea shares the daily habits he observed from some of those who are performing at the top tier, and busts the myths about a success that don’t actually work. Adopt some of these practices into your own life to enhance your performance.
1. They Work Smarter, Not Harder. Many of us believe that the hustle is the optimal pathway to success. We are willing to put in long hours of sweat and toil each day to achieve what we want. But Cavalea says this isn’t the way the pros work. “When I was a kid, I was told ‘while you’re being lazy, someone else in the Dominican Republic is practicing,’ so I thought I had to practice all the time. But that’s not true. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the last guys to the field and the first to leave. And they’re the best of the best.”
Working long hours is actually less effective because it puts a strain on your body and causes you to burn out. Rest and recovery are essential to success, so go ahead and reduce your workload each day to increase your long-term output. Success is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. They Work At Their Peak. “What are your prime work hours?” says Cavalea. “I function at my best between 5am and 2pm, so I work during those hours. But after that, there’s no high-level thinking or work for me.” Become self-aware of when you feel the most focused, energized, and creative, and structure your work schedule within that time window. “It requires a little bit of boundaries and knowing your own tendencies. Too many times we run a reactive schedule and always say yes,” Cavalea says.
3. They’re Consistent. “Jeter was an introvert from the Midwest who lived a very simple life. The best players, they keep it so simple. They’re very consistent people. They’re not looking for the new flavor of the week. They know their talent and they become consistent in their training and habits. That’s it,” Cavalea says. If you want to be successful, focus on one discipline and be consistent in developing your proficiency. Show up every single day, for a few hours a day, and you will invariably progress over time.
4. They Have A Support Network. Those at the top know that success is much harder when you’re trying to do it alone. The greater the feat that you’re trying to accomplish, the more difficult the obstacles you encounter will be. You can better equip yourself for the road ahead by enrolling a support team around you. “At the pro level, you have a strength coach, a training coach, a manager, an infield coach, an outfield coach…” Cavalea says. Choose your inner circle wisely, and consider hiring specialized professionals, from coaches to massage therapists, who will be able to pick you up when you are down. “People succeed more when they have someone to hold them accountable to that day-to-day,” says Cavalea.
5. They Believe They Can. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘You have to believe it before you can achieve it.’ Science tells us that the belief and conviction that we are capable of achieving something increases our chances of bringing it to fruition in reality. Cavalea recommends the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, as a resource for upgrading your mindset in support of your goals.
6. They Train Physically, Too. Mindset is only one piece of the puzzle—for optimum performance, you must also care for your body. Cavalea says a winning daily habit is to sweat every day. “Sweat will change your state. It will change the way you’re feeling. When you sweat it actually creates more motivation for you. A sweat a day will keep you moving in the direction you want to go,” he says. In addition to physical exercise, relaxation therapies are also key. Cavalea recommends Epsom salt baths, acupuncture, ice baths, and heat to relieve stress and tension.
7. They Make Time For Play. Working optimally is all about balance. Creating space in your schedule for recreation and leisure will help replenish your creativity and problem-solving skills and support your emotional well-being. Work during your work hours, and afterward reward yourself with activities you enjoy doing most—it’ll help you stay motivated.
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