Learning and “becoming” are skills you can develop.
Whether you want to become world-class at something like an Olympic Athlete, or simply develop a new skill like learning a new language — there are key steps in the process.
Very few people are great learners. The public school system doesn’t teach you how to learn, it only provides topics of what to learn.
Your success in life is based on how well you learn. If you know how to learn, you’ll be focused on the future. If you struggle with learning, you’ll be stuck in the past.
This article will take you through the key steps of the learning process — and will show you how to become brilliant and successful at anything you do.
When you learn how to learn, you go from being a victim of circumstance to being responsible for every component of your life. You quickly realize that you are the designer — from your relationships to your income, to your health and fitness, to your environment. All of these things are under your control when you become a master-learner.
Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”Learning, by definition, is changing how you see and act in the world. Therefore, people who have embraced the learning process are constantly changing.
It is common for incredible learners to pick up new skills such as learning a new language or starting a new business. To most people, these endeavors seem daunting — like something you only do once or twice in your entire life. However, power-learners are doing new challenges regularly. They’re constantly experimenting with big ideas and often succeeding.
Here’s how it works:
1. You’ll Get “Hooked” At The Process Through Game-Based Learning
“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” — Larry Page
All world-class performers approach learning less like “drills” and more like “games.” For example, Warren Buffett became good at selling because as a child he would go door-to-door selling chewing gum. But he wasn’t focused on making money. Instead, he was fascinated trying to figure out which flavors sold best. Even back then, he was trying to make predictions. He’s still playing the same games.
According to the author, Daniel Coyle, “If it can be counted, you can turn it into a game.”Rather than “practicing” in a tedious and boring way, you’re far better-off turning your practice into a game. This is why CrossFit is so successful. There are objectives — where you start and complete new challenges.
You can quickly get hooked on the learning process if you can turn what you’re doing into a game. You need continuous positive feedback, increasing challenges, and a compelling REASON WHY for what you’re doing. When you have these three — you can purposefully addict yourself to whatever it is you want to master.
I recently had this experience learning Spanish on the app, Duolingo. I started seeing how manyobjectives I could complete in a single day, and how many days I could compete for challenges in a row.
If you’re not “hooked” on whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll always need to push yourself to do it through willpower. This is how you remain mediocre at what you do.
Which takes us to the next step:
2. You’ll Integrate What You’re Doing With Your Identity
“Talent begins with brief, powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world-shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind: I could be them…” — Daniel Coyle
You need to see what you want and experience the emotional shift where you believe you can be, do, and have that. By observing and closely staring at the destination you want to be, you’ll train your brain to want it. Believing you can be where you want to be is the first important shift. Seeing yourself AS that thing is the next shift.
Until you have this identity shift, you’ll always be going against yourself. You can’t fully learn something unless you fully identify with it. You must see yourself as that thing.
During my research as a graduate student, I studied the difference between wannabe entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs. None of the wannabes actually saw themselves as entrepreneurs. They hadn’t had the shift where they fully identified themselves as entrepreneurs. Conversely, successful entrepreneurs saw being an entrepreneur as who they were.
That identity shift happened as they began investing money into their entrepreneurial goals, and as they made the conscious decision — this is WHO I AM. Your identity follows your behavior. Therefore, this shift won’t happen until after you begin acting in the new role you plan to play. You don’t start with faith. You choose to have it. It’s a conscious choice, followed by behavior. Then identify and motivation follow.
3. You’ll Link What You’re Doing With Key Areas Of Your Life And Key Relationships
“Obsessive passion refers to a controlled internalization of an activity in one’s identity that creates an internal pressure to engage in the activity that the person likes. Harmonious passion refers to an autonomous internalization that leads individuals to choose to engage in the activity that they like. Harmonious Passion promotes healthy [lifestyle] whereas Obsessive Passion thwarts it by causing negative [emotions] and rigid persistence.” — Vallerand et al. 2003
Becoming brilliant at something requires honesty with yourself and others. This is WHO YOU ARE and what you want to do. Therefore, you don’t want to keep what you’re doing secret. According to addiction expert, Joe Polish, “People are as sick as their secrets.” Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
If you want to remain mediocre at something forever, keep it to yourself. If you want to become amazing at something, connect it with everything else in your life. Connect it with your key relationships. Connect it to how you eat, how you live, how you love.
Harmonious passion is about living an integrated, rather than a compartmentalized, life. The more aligned you become on who you are — the more congruent all areas of your life will be. Moreover, the more honest you are with the person you intend to be, the more support and love you’ll get from friends and family. They’ll also hold you accountable to your dreams and goals if they see you not making progress.
How can you involve key people in this quest?
How can you connect this passion with other areas in your life?
4. You’ll Keep Your Biggest And Deepest Goals Private, While Increasingly Sharing Your Passion Publicly
“When other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.” —Gollwitzer et al., 2009
Although you want your life to be honest and transparent, there are certain things you should absolutely keep to yourself — such as your biggest and most personal goals. The goals that actually scare you to think about, because you wonder if you shouldn’t want it.
Research at New York University has found that when people share their big picture goals with other people, their performance drops over time. The reason is simple: by sharing their goals, they psychologically believed they made progress.
Your mind can seduce you so much so that the idea of something becomes more satisfying than the thing itself, so you stop at the idea and never make it real. Thus, in his book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday explains that a primary obstacle to success is the idea of success.
Goals that have shorter or more immediate timelines, on the other hand, are benefited by making a “public commitment.” For example, if you want to run a half marathon in the next 6 months, by all means, post it on Facebook. Get an accountability partner. Invest upfront by signing up for the race. Block out your calendar for when you’re going to run. All of these strategies work exceptionally for short-term goals.
5. You’ll Be Less Concerned About What Your “Vision” *Is* And More Concerned About What It *Does*
“It doesn’t matter what your vision is. It matters what your vision does.” — Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Disciple
What’s your vision?
More interestingly, what does your vision cause you to do?
A vision isn’t a list of values. It’s not a bunch of pictures on your all. And it’s not a list of goals. Your vision is the DRIVING FORCE behind what you’re doing. It’s what compels you to action — allowing you to attempt and experiment and fail and be a rainmaker and magic worker.
Rather than worrying so much about what your vision IS, you should be thinking about what your vision IS DOING. What is it doing to you? What is it doing to your environment? Your behavior? Your relationships? Your aspirations? Your income? Your impact?
Are you and your external world transforming in powerful and inspired ways Then your vision is working. That’s the most important consideration — IS YOUR VISION WORKING?
If you’re struggling to maintain motivation, then the vision isn’t working and needs to be adjusted.
6. You’ll Geek-Out About The Process And Key Outcomes
“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
In psychology, there are two types of motivation — push and pull. If you have to force yourself to do something (push), then you burn yourself out fast. Rather than doing everything you can, you usually try to do as little as possible. If you have push motivation, you’re usually doing something only for what you can get in return.
Conversely, pull motivation is when an activity excites you and pulls you forward. You’re intrinsically motivated and see the activity as an integral part of your identity. You want where it is taking you. It excites you. It’s a game. It’s fun.
That’s what you want.
You want to engage in an activity that HOOKS you. Where the means is also the end. Where the journey is the destination. Where you’re less focused on time and more focused on performance — for the sake of performance.
A powerful metric on your ability to become brilliant at something really is time. When you engage in that activity, are you focused on time? Are you simply trying to “get it done” so you can distract yourself on something else?
Or, could you engage in this activity for hours on end?
7. You’ll Practice Privately 5–10X Than You Perform Publicly
“Technique is everything. If you begin playing without technique it is big mistake.” — Larisa Preobrazhenskaya, from Daniel Coyle’s The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
“Private victory always precedes public victory.” — Stephen Covey
Kobe Bryant was always the first person in the gym and the last to leave. He worked harder than anyone else. He had more coaches and trainers. He was always pushing his own limits and perfecting even the smallest facets of his skillsets.
When practice BECOMES the game for you, that’s when you’re about to explode in your progress.
Because practice is all about perfecting skills. True practice and learning force you to deeply examine the chinks in your armor. You are only as strong as your weakest link. In a world that tells you to ignore your weaknesses, true practitioners do the opposite.
This doesn’t mean you don’t compete in public. You do. Your work is on display. You enjoy the heat of the moment. You’re often stepping onto bigger stages and navigating through more complex challenges. Yet, the reason you seem to so CONSISTENTLY seek at higher stages is that NO ONE trains like you do. In the privacy of your own mind and training chamber — you’re pushing yourself further and deeper than anyone else. Because for you, it’s not about the spotlight. It’s about the learning, growth, and service.
8. You’ll Seek “Soft” And “Hard” Skills
“Prioritize the hard skills because in the long run they’re more important to your talent.” — Daniel Coyle
Hard skills are technical and physiological.
Soft skills are creative and intuitive.
You need both.
Josh Waitzkin is considered by many to be one of the leading authorities in the world on the topics of learning and high performance. As a child, he was a chess prodigy. He then became a world champion in Tai Chi and then became a world champion is Jiu-Jitsu.
In an interview with fellow Chess master and educator, Adam Robinson, Waitzkin was asked how he could master two radically different domains — chess which is highly mental, and Tai Chi, which is highly physical. Waitzkin explained that at the highest level, mental ability is enhanced through deep somatic awareness. Your body and mind are highly connected. Moreover, if you learn the principles of learning and embrace the learning process — which is highly emotional — you can learn things which seem highly counter-intuitive to your “innate” abilities.
In our information world which highly emphasizes cognitive and creative abilities, you can get a huge leg-up on the competition by becoming highly aware of your body, and how your body influences your mind. This is where “hard” skills come in. Perfecting small movements and technicalities will set you apart as a true expert, while most people try for the flash-in-the-pan and ignore the fundamentals.
8. You’ll Have A Notebook On You Constantly — Where You Take Notes, Set Goals, And Report Progress
“I take notes like some people take drugs. There is an eight-foot stretch of shelves in my house containing nothing but full notebooks. Some would call this hypergraphia (Dostoevsky was a member of this club), but I trust the weakest pen more than the strongest memory, and note taking is — in my experience — one of the most important skills for converting excessive information into precise action and follow-up.” — Tim Ferriss, in the blogpost, How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek
Are you a student of life?
How connected to your mind are you?
Your mind can be like a well. It takes pumping the well for a while to get the ideas and creativity flowing. However, if you get the well pumping, then all of you have to do is keep it going. You can get to the point where the ideas and insights keep coming coming coming.
Your responsibility at that point is to take notes. If you ignore those subconscious promptings, they will stop coming. Taking note, adjusting your mindset, and shifting your behavior is HOW you pump the well. It’s how you keep the ideas flowing. You must continually be shifting the connections and model.
Your goal is to become a deep student to life — wherein you basically live in a constantly meditative and learning state. You can pull deep and powerful insights from even the seemingly mundane. Every component of life becomes your teacher. Hence, the words of Dan Sullivan:
“Continual learning is essential for lifetime growth. You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action. Look at all of life as a school and every experience as a lesson, and your learning will always be greater than your experience.”
10. You’ll Continuously Seek “Prediction Errors”
“It is tempting to think that just because one understands certain principles one has “learned” about the discipline. This is the familiar trap of confusing intellectual understanding with learning. Learning always involves new understandings and new behaviors, ‘thinking’ and ‘doing.’” — Peter M. Senge
Lessons are repeated until learned.
According to Brain-scan studies, if you do not address a problem in 0.25 after a mistake is made, then you probably won’t do anything about it. You’ll shrug your shoulders and keep going. This is really bad for learning. You’re just more deeply engraining the negative behavioral cycle into your brain.
Performance experts have found that if you address your mistakes immediately, you can learn more in 5 minutes than most people do in 30 days. If you simply address your problems and the spot, correct them, and learn better ways, then you don’t have to continuously repeat the problem.
What mistakes do you keep making in your life?
What lessons are you simply not learning?
How much longer are you going to keep this cycle going?
What “weaknesses” have you just decided are an “innate” part of WHO YOU ARE… and that you’re fine with it? In other words, which weaknesses in either skill or belief have you consigned to take with you to the grave?
Why live with such limitations?
Why not just address the problem and be open to a whole new world of possibilities?
11. You’ll Have Short “Refractory Periods”
“If you don’t know how to control your emotional reactions and there’s a refractory period, and you let that emotional reaction linger for hours or days, it turns into a mood. So you say to someone, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ The person says, ‘I’m in a mood.’ Then you say, ‘Why are you in a mood?’ They say, ‘Well, this thing happened to me five days ago and I’m having one long emotional reaction.’ If you keep that refractory period going for weeks and months, you’ve developed a temperament. If you keep that same refractory period going on for years, it’s called a personality trait.” — Dr. Joe Dispenza
Learning and growing are emotional and often painful experiences. Sometimes, things happen in life that you didn’t plan for nor were you responsible for — traumatic experiences.
Whether caused by you or someone else, when you go through a painful experience, that experience can only become one of two things to you. It’s either going to become a long-term problem, or it’s going to become a core strength.
When you experience a powerfully emotional experience, you experience what is known as a “refractory period” — which is your physiological response to an experience. That period should ideally be short, but often people don’t cope well with experiences. Sometimes. the refractory period of a certain experience can last YEARS.
For example, you have a really intense experience and that experience changes you. Until you directly face and walk-through that issue, it will always be a part of you. In fact, you will remain the same person emotionally until you learn that lesson. I know people who had rough experiences as teenagers who are still subconsciously playing out the same emotional experiences FROM THAT EPISODE. They haven’t learned or changed since that event.
This is a painful and very ineffective way to live. This is not to diminish the pain and suffering that people have gone through or the negative ripple effects that have since been created. It’s simply speaking to the truth of the matter — the only way OUT is THROUGH. You can’t avoid it. You must face your deepest fears or you’ll always be a slave to them.
In the interview referenced previously, Josh Waitzkin described an experience he had where he almost died. He was doing some underwater breathing techniques and accidentally passed-out. He almost died. However, rather than allowing a long refractory period to occur, he said that he was back in the water 2 days later.
He didn’t want that traumatic experience to become a lifelong weakness. He didn’t want to train his body to live in the trauma. He walked straight into the trauma and pain and fear and quickly re-established his relationship and control over the situation. Therefore, that experience became an incredible blessing and learning and experience.
12. You’ll Create Relevant And Fun Milestones
“With every job I’ve gotten, I’ve bought myself something. When ‘Glee’ was picked up, I rented a piano for the year. For smaller victories, I’ll go to dinner with a friend, or go for a walk and think about it all. It’s important to say to yourself, Today was a good day.” — Dianna Agron
“Look for small victories and build on that. Each small victory, even if it is just getting up five minutes earlier, gives you confidence. You realize that these little victories make you feel great, and you keep going.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Celebrate small victories often. Mourn failures quickly. Do what’s necessary without fanfare.” — Chris Brogan
A key component of mastering anything is creating fun, engaging, and relevant milestones throughout the learning process.
For example, if you’re trying to learn a new language, buy a plane ticket for 3 months in advance so you can test your new language skills in an immersive way. Plan to eat at fun restaurants and to see interesting things. Reward yourself in a way that links directly to what you’re trying to master.
13. You’ll Invest Quickly And Often Through Mentoring, Education, And Transformational Experiences
“Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.” — Franz Kafka
Related to the last point, you want to invest money as soon as possible into a skill you’re trying to develop or relationship you’re trying to build.
You are what you invest your money into. This is one of the key differences between dreamers and doers — dreamers invest their money and time into distractions while doers invest their time and money into their dreams.
You can make the learning process FUN by INVESTING in amazing experiences and milestones that get you motivated here-and-now and give you something to anticipate in the future. Anticipation is one of the most powerful tools you can and should use. Psychologically, the anticipation of an event is almost always more powerful emotionally than the experience itself. So get yourself PUMPED — visualize deeply the experience you’re seeking to create.
The financial investment will MAKE IT REAL to you. This is a huge part of “ignition” (see #2 above). When you start acting in ways that excite you, and in ways that reflect the future identity you’re trying to create — then you begin identifying with that future self here-and-now. You signal to yourself who you are by the actions you take. Your behavior shapes your personality and identity.
This is one of the most important moments you can have. That moment where you say, “Whoa, I’m actually doing this!”
That moment is deeply connected with the moment where you say inside of yourself, “I can be one of those.”
14. You’ll Ignore Everyone Except The Few People Who Reflect Your Aspirations
“For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.” — Ira Glass
Keep your eyes only on the people who INSPIRE YOU. Those few people who reflect your GOOD TASTE. You have good taste. You’ve been transformed and mesmerized by the performances, products, or work of certain individuals. Keep your eyes on THEM and IGNORE everyone else.
The worst thing you could do is worry about what your peers think. When people begin worrying about what their peers think, their motivation becomes clouded and confused. They stop doing their work for the internal reasons that got them excited and they begin trying to fit in, or to be impressive to the wrong people.
15. You’ll Practice Based On Reps, Not Time
“Deep practice is not measured in minutes or hours, but in the number of high-quality reaches and repetitions you make — basically, how many new connections you form in your brain.” — Daniel Coyle
In his book, Living with a SEAL, Jesse Itzler tells the story of being inspired by a certain Navy SEAL and consequently inviting him to live at Itzler’s home for a month. Itzler admitted being in a personal rut and wanted to shake himself out of his routine.
Day 1: “SEAL” asked Itzler, “How many pull-ups can you do?” Itzler squeaked out eight shaky pull-ups.
“Take 30 seconds and do it again,” SEAL said.30 seconds later, Itzler got on the bar and did six, struggling.
“Take 30 seconds and do it one more time,” SEAL said. 30 seconds later, Itzler got on the bar and did three, at which point his arms were exhausted.
“Alright, we’re not leaving here until you do 100 more,” SEAL stated. Itzler was puzzled. “Alright, we’re gonna be here a long-time. Cause there’s no way I could do 100.” However, Itzler ended-up completing the challenge, doing one pull-up at a time. Thus, SEAL convinced Itzler that he could do way more than he thought he could.
The principle SEAL taught is what he calls the 40% rule — which essentially means people feel maxed-out mentally and physically, and thus stop when they are at only 40% of their actual capacity. Going past this 40% capacity is when it becomes uncomfortable. Thus, SEAL’s mantra, “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.”
Like Itzler who shattered a mental barrier by completing 100 pull-ups, you too can get out of your rut by pursuing tangible objectives.
The concept is: Do something and don’t stop until it’s complete, no matter how long it takes.
Your goal is to learn how to accomplish hard things without continuously distracting yourself. You want to develop what Greene calls “A perverse pleasure”in experiencing internal conflict, and sitting with it.
This concept is embedded in Crossfit. Unlike most people, who check their smartphones between exercise “sets,” at Crossfit, you have a specific objective and you kill yourself until it’s done.
If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.
You can apply this principle to anything and everything. You can do a homework assignment and just do it until it’s complete. You can write an article and stick-to-it until it’s published. You can do 100 pull-ups, or run 5 miles, and go until you’re done. Who cares how long it takes?
The best practice is objective-based. Not time-based. In fact, you want to eliminate your sense of time as much as you possibly can.
Living in the dimensions of time is a 9–5 mindset. Living in FLOW is about dissolving into timelessness. It’s about enjoying what you’re doing for the sake of it. One of the fastest ways to flow is by pushing yourself to achieve certain things, daily. If you’re weightlifting, your “reps” or “objectives” could be to do a certain lift perfectly a number of times. If you’re a musician, it could be playing a certain song or part of a song 5–10 times perfectly in a row.
Make it a game. But more than anything, focus it on successfully completing a certain objective. Don’t build your practice around time and effort. We live in the results economy — where results are what matter more than anything now.
16. Your In-Between Time Will Not Be Wasted By Distractions
“If you waste five minutes of time a day, over the course of a year that adds up to one full work day.” — Douglas Coupland
Where does your free time go?
When you have five minutes, how do you spend that time?
You’ll know you’re on the path to success and brilliance in a certain skill or domain when you use those 5-minute intervals doing something related. Rather than jumping on the Facebook, pull out Duolingo and rock out five more minutes of Spanish.
The way you look at and use your time is highly reflective of the depth of your WHY. If your WHY isn’t powerful, you’ll be fine wasting lots of time. As a result, time will move very quickly for you.
17. You’ll Spend Your Days Seeing How Much, Rather Than How Little, You Can Do
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T. S. Eliot
Ezra Taft Benson was a religious leader who simultaneously served as the 15th United States Secretary of Agriculture during both presidential terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Benson grew up on a farm in Whitney, Idaho. One day in 1915 at the age of 16, he was hired by a neighboring farmer to thin a field of sugar beets. He took his short-handled hoe in hand and looked out over the sugar beet field. Here was the thought that came into his mind:
“If I work as hard as I can, I wonder how much I can do in a day?”
He started just as the sun came up and worked almost without stopping until Sunday. Then he realized how much he could do. He had thinned a full acre of beets in just one day! Which was an insane amount for one person. When the farmer saw what Benson had done, he was shocked. He dropped two silver dollars and two five-dollar gold coins into Benson’s hand. Benson could hardly believe his eyes! 12 dollars at that time, and for a 16-year-old farm boy, was a small fortune.
As he walked home he was walking on air and he felt like the richest man in town.
The question Benson asked himself is a question YOU need to ask yourself.
How much can you get done in a single day?
How much can you get done TODAY?
This isn’t about being busy, but rather, about being productive. It’s also about pushing your own limits, and seeing how far you can actually go. Most people are trying to see how LITTLE they can do. If you’re one of those people who can see HOW MUCH you can do, yeah. You’re going to crush it. Your confidence will soar. Opportunities left and right will open for you.
Sleep is never sweeter than after you’ve really pushed yourself to your limits. It’s also really fun to see how much you can accomplish. You can do far more than you think. Live your life to surprise both yourself and others in a pleasant and positive way. Surprise yourself over and over with what you can do.
18. You’ll Spend Your Life Seeing How Much You Can Give, Rather Than How Much You Can Get
“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” — President John F. Kennedy
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar
Most people are transaction-minded and calculating in everything they do. They will only be in a relationship if they can clearly justify why they benefit at least as much or more than the other person. According to Dr. Adam Grant, these are “takers” or “matchers.”
The world of abundance doesn’t operate this way. When you make your focus on what you can give — and when you give more generously than others could possibly expect — then the world responds to you in incredible ways.
How much can you give?
Who can you really help?
How can you help them achieve their goals?
When you’re driven to give and to serve, then your work becomes deeper, richer, and more powerful. It connects with the right audience. You have more empathy and relevance. Because it’s about THEM and NOT YOU, you can actually LISTEN and discern what they need. You’re not calculating your next move. You’re not thinking about what you’re going to say next. Instead, you’re actually listening. You’re actually discovering what other people need.
This works on an individual level. It also works on societal levels. You need to be an exceptional listener and observer to spot trends and needs in society. If you’re only focused on what you can get, then you’ll always be a few steps behind those who can actually see what’s needed.
19. You’ll Go Through Intense Periods Of Focused Learning And Then Periods Of Reflection
“I think of the learning process of an undulation of deep learning and periods of surfacing and reflection.” — Josh Waitzkin
Success is not a marathon. Instead, success is a series of sprints. You push yourself beyond your limits and then you rest/recover.
Some sprints may be a week. Other sprints may be a few years. Whatever the case, you need periods where you surface from the intensity and reflect on what the heck just happened. You get feedback. You open yourself up to trusted friends and mentors. You re-adjust your path if you need to based on what you’ve learned and based on the post-reflection process.
Recovery, resting, and reflection is essential to becoming brilliant at what you do. If you’re not prioritizing these, then you’re on a path to burnout. Moreover, if you’re not taking time to reflect and recover, there’s a good chance you’re going the wrong direction without even knowing it.
20. You’ll Continually Come Back To Your Vision And Measure It Against The Ever-Changing Reality
“Vision, by itself, is not the key to releasing the energy of the creative process. The key is “creative tension,” the tension between vision and reality. The most effective people are those who can “hold” their vision while remaining committed to seeing current reality clearly.” — Peter M. Senge
While most people shrink their vision to match their present reality, in order for you to become brilliant, you must honestly and accurately assess the gap between your current reality and the vision you seek.
If you don’t have an accurate perspective of reality, then you have no clue where you actually are. Ignorance isn’t bliss. Wisdom and learning are bliss. Honesty is bliss. Reality is bliss — because you have the power to transform your reality.
21. You’ll Keep Failing, Long After You’ve Developed Mastery
“Don’t believe your own press.” — Joe Polish
Wayne Gretzky is considered the greatest hockey player to ever live. Yet, he was known by his teammates to continually look like a fool. He was always trying new things in practice and falling all over the ice. He failed a lot more than his teammates.
The problem with success is dull your motivational edge and drive. In order to keep yourself sharp, you need to NEVER STOP pushing your boundaries, no matter how good you become.
The moment you stop learning, testing, and trying is the moment you start going backward. If you don’t use it, you’ll quickly lose it.
22. You’ll Remain Humble And Avoid Luxury, Long After You’ve Made Big Cash
“We love comfort. We love state-of-the-art practice facilities, oak-paneled corner offices, spotless locker rooms, and fluffy towels. Which is a shame, because luxury is a motivational narcotic: It signals our unconscious minds to give less effort. It whispers, Relax, you’ve made it.
The talent hotbeds are not luxurious. In fact, they are so much the opposite that they are sometimes called chicken-wire Harvards. Top music camps — especially ones that can afford better — consist mainly of rundown cabins. The North Baltimore Aquatic Club, which produced Michael Phelps and four other Olympic medalists, could pass for an underfunded YMCA. The world’s highest-performing schools — those in Finland and South Korea, which perennially score at the top of the Program for International Student Assessment rankings — feature austere classrooms that look as if they haven’t changed since the 1950s.” — Daniel Coyle
This point is extremely important because it gets right at the heart of what matters most to you. For most people, expertise and “success” is not really about the work itself, but about the luxuries, success can give you.
World-class performers keep things simple. They aren’t afraid to enjoy luxuries and make good money. However, when it comes to their work, they are very simplistic. They maintain the scrappiness and drive as they had when they were first starting out.
According to bestselling author, Jeff Goins, there’s a huge difference between people who try to look sophisticated and people who remain scrappy. As he said:
“Sophisticated” people are highly concerned about their image. They care about accolades, recognition, and appearance. In reality, these people look better than they actually are. Sophisticated people really care what others think and tend to compare and compete. They don’t have a sense of their own work and are willing to do whatever has worked for others.
Conversely, scrappy people are far more concerned about the work. They let their work speak for itself. These people are better than they look. Scrappy people stay in their lane. They’re confident in who they are and don’t compare themselves to others.
Are you going to become brilliant and successful at what you do?
What does success actually look like to you?
Who are you comparing yourself and competing against?
How much are you investing in your dreams?
Can you see yourself where you want to be?
Are you going to get there?
Are you already there in your mind and heart?
Why are you really doing this?
Are you more interested in your image or are you more interested in practice and process?
Are you hooked?
Are you geeking-out?
Do you have interesting and fun milestones you’re currently working toward?