Do You Want To Change Your Life For The Better?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

1938. Karoly Takacs was writhing in pain. The 1936 world class pistol shooter had just shot his right hand. His right hand by which he would hold his pistol.

The pain of the extinguished hopes was more than the physical pain. Everyone looking at him said “A great career which could have been has just ended” Or did it?

By 1939 i.e. in a year’s time, he won the National Shooting Championship. Olympics was cancelled in 1940 and 1944 due to World War 2. Finally in 1948 Olympics, after waiting for nine years, he wold the Gold medal and also in the next Helsinki Olympics in 1952.

He won all these championships by his LEFT Hand.

Back in 1938, He could have easily moaned in grief and led a victim’s life which everyone would have shown sympathy to. Instead he rose above his physical and mental challenges and achieved the impossible.

You may say “I am not an Olympic Athlete. How is this relevant to me?”

Let me ask you: “Do You want today to be better than yesterday?” If yes, then this is for you.

Because if you focus on the very core aspects of your life then your today is going to be better than yesterday.

What are these core elements?

Purpose

Focus

Deliberate practice

Habits

Gratitude

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Purpose

Purpose Trumps Passion.

This is one of the foundations of Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Why so?

Lets look at what these terms mean:

Purpose: The reason for which something exists, a person’s sense of resolve or determination

Passion: strong and barely controllable emotion, an outburst of emotion, an intense desire or enthusiasm for something

Do you see the difference? Where would you hitch your ride to?

Having a purpose becomes a guiding beacon in our life.

Does that mean Passion has no place? We all are energized by our passion. But would it last for long?

If you asked Steve Jobs in his 20s about his passion, he would have said “Eastern Mysticism”

Too often what we think is passion, is actually a keen interest. When we are done satisfying it, we move to another “passion” and then after some time we find ourselves rudderless.

Purpose is that rudder in our life.

Why do athletes and sportspeople achieve so much? They live every day in service of that purpose.

Often people say “I don’t know what my purpose is?”

Look back in your life. Find out when you have been most joyous or felt most fulfilled or energized.

It could be as far back as your childhood or college days. There lie the seeds of your purpose. Maybe there was something about discovery or about organizing things or about achieving something.

Relate those incidents to your other significant life experiences and you will find a pattern.

If you cant find anything, then ask yourself “Whom can I serve? What can I do which can help someone?”

Don’t be limited by time or money. You can help people by just being there.

Volunteer for some cause. Often, People discover their purpose when they do volunteer work.

I believe that at our very core, we all want to serve others because this interconnectedness is what keeps this world moving. We just are waiting to discover it.

Whatever the purpose, there is a power which comes to it when you Focus on that one single purpose

Focus

What separates a Purpose from a To-Do list is SKILL.

Why skill?

Like all skills, it needs to be developed and nurtured.

Once Focus is developed, you bring the power of concentration in your life.

Focus helps in excluding the non-essential and concentrating on the most essential things.

No wonder Daniel Goleman, the pioneer of Emotional Intelligence, in his book calls Focus as the Driver of Excellence.

Focus narrows your attention to the most important part of your life.

With Purpose as your beacon, you ask yourself “what is the single most important thing in my life which will deliver my purpose? What is the one thing which will make the most important impact this year and this month?”

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their book The One Thing brings this point out repeatedly as how focus on the one thing has a transformational effect.

The flip side of focus is you stay away from multi-tasking. While multi-tasking looks and sounds exciting, it does not generate the results.

A study done by Clifford Nass, a Psychology Professor in Stanford University, found out “Multitaskers were just lousy at everything”. [Link Here]

As Gary Keller and Jay Papasan vividly point out “People can actually do two or more things at once, such as walk and talk; but what we can’t do is focus on two things at once”

Notice the word Focus again. That is the key.

Bring Focus in your life and unlock the powers of concentration. This key is not easy to find and needs practice.

Deliberate Practice

It is only when we undertake deliberate practice around building a particular skill, we become a force to reckon with.

We have all heard about the 10,000 hour rule for experts.

Anders Ericsson (Link here) who first came up with this rule, had one more critical element along with it.

10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

You need to not only practice but also bring in deliberate practice.

Angela Duckworth of GRIT fame mentions how she asked Anders Ericsson how deliberate practice works. It is not just repeating something over and over again. It is about setting up the entire skill into small chunks, seeing the linkages between them and then, setting up a feedback system.

How does this work?

Suppose you want to become fitter and have decided to run every day.

Just running every day 1 hour and clocking 10,000 hour is not going to make the world’s fittest person.

You need to start with a goal: what do you want to achieve in that one hour? Certain distance or calories burned or both?

Next, you will break down the run into prep, actual run and post run.

You will break the run into equal units.

Now you will monitor each of these every day with the aim to get better every day.

Every day in some small way. Maybe you will run 10m more or 100m more every day. May be your speed will increase 0.5% every day. Keep the increase very small because cumulatively they will generate a massive impact.

Gain feedback from each of this stage. What is working? Do more of it. What is not working? Do less of it.

You will hate this but no music while running. Why? The best of runners bring awareness into every moment to be with the experience and learn from it.

Building the Awareness muscle is the key to Deliberate Practice Click To Tweet

Can you see the elements of deliberate practice now?

This process helps in entrenching what is working. It creates new neural networks which not only retain memory of what you are doing but also add to your self image that “It is like me to make measurable progress every day”. This discipline of doing it every day will eventually translate into a healthy habit

Habit

One of the most powerful forces in your life is the force of Habit.

Once entrenched, they become unshakeable. What is important is you need to have habits which create a transformative effect.

In their book, The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan give the example of Michael Phelps the Olympic Swimming Legend. In kindergarten, his mother was told “He’s not gifted, Your son will never be able to focus on anything”.

When the latest Olympic Games got over, his gold medal count was 23 making him the most decorated in the Olympian history. What changed?

Somewhere at age 12, Phelps decided to swim every day: seven days a week, 365 days a year. He did that from age 12 till those Olympics.

He focused all his energy into one task – swimming daily such that at some point it became a habit and not something he had to push himself to.

Think about a daily habit most of us have? Brushing our teeth.

Initially, your parents had to use all their persuasion to get you to brush every morning but over time, this has become a habit for you.

There is another effect of habits. They act as levers. Not only do you change one thing, you setoff a ripple effect which changes everything around us.

Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit  gives several examples of this. He gives the example of how lady shifted from chain smoking to jogging and it changed how she ate, slept, worked and saved money. Areas where you won’t normally associate that it would have an effect on but they do. He calls it as the Keystone Habit.

Keystone Habits have a ripple effect across our life and touch all aspects Click To Tweet

This is the power of habits. There are many functional habits which you can work at but one habit which will have a transformational effect is expressing Gratitude.

Gratitude

The Youth Gratitude Project Research convincingly shows that grateful youth are happier, more satisfied with their lives, friends, family, neighborhood, and selves. (Link here)

They also report more hope, engagement with their hobbies, higher GPAs, and less envy, depression, and materialism.

Does this mean you have to say “Praise the Lord” everyday? Not necessarily.

If you look around, there are millions of things happening right now to make sure you are successful in whatever you are setting yourself out for.

The sun has risen giving us the warmth we need and the nourishment that the plants need to start the food cycle.

People have reached their place of work early or are working to keep the electricity going, the traffic signals working, trains and buses running, your office is lit up and charged for your presentations and your computers, the hot coffee, the lovely chairs and the table of your meeting room: you get the picture.

Yes you might be paying money for it but everyone is doing their part so that you can do your part.

Patricia Ryan Madson, Emerita Stanford University, in her book, Improv Wisdom calls it the Silent Gifts.

Everyday is Christmas if you are thankful for the silent gifts which have come your way Click To Tweet

Harvard Medical School reports (link here) that people who thank more frequently or better still, maintain a Gratitude Journal report lesser diseases, are more healthier and happier than average.

Whom will you thank today?

One of the techniques which has helped me is the POST technique: People, Opportunities, Situations, Things.

We are quick to thank when we get things but there are people who make impact on our life, opportunities which open new directions to our life and situations which help us learn about ourselves and others, which are more powerful.

 

So the Core elements of change are:

Purpose

Focus

Deliberate practice

Habits

Gratitude

Finally, these are only tools to create a positive force in our life. How and how much we apply it in our life will decide whether how big will the transformation be in your life.

Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia who spent several years caring for dying people in their homes. In her fascinating book The Top Five Regrets Of the Dying, she says that the one of the highest regrets, dying people have is

“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”

No matter what experiences you had in the past, today is the chance to make the change.

Live your life so that your epitaph boldly states, ‘No regrets. H Jackson Brown Click To Tweet

Will You bring about change in Your Life?

 

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14 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People

Reading Time: 9 minutes

 

Most days, your day starts with tumbling out of the bed to shut off the alarm, a quick shower, then, coffee while running out of the door. A long ride in the traffic to the office, a long to-do list is made with your head in the hand, a day which goes by in a blur and before you know it, you are back in the bed staring at the ceiling, wondering “One more day gone!”

How is it that some people seem to do so much within one day while you are just about ticking the 6th item on the task list?

If you study the habits of the successful people, you can unlock the keys for a joyful and highly productive day. Want to know more? Read on.

The habits that I have studied are:

  1. Successful people get up early and start early
  2. Create a Positive Mindset for the day
  3. Have a Ritual to start the day
  4. Clear about the Big Picture and how the day serves that
  5. Seek to Serve people around them
  6. Eat properly and the right foods
  7. Seek Feedback throughout the day
  8. Aware of the Impact on others
  9. Fully Present in meetings
  10. Create time instead of managing it
  11. Bring Clarity to their life and their teams
  12. They take Time Out
  13. Grateful for the day has offered
  14. Wind down the day at the right time

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Successful people get up early and start early

The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years - Thomas Jefferson Click To Tweet

A landmark research by Christoph Randler shows people whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success. Here is a list of Successful CEOs and Entrepreneurs start their day early. While most would start by 6 am or even 7 am, they begin the day by 4:30 – 5 am. The early start has multiple advantages: the quiet time allows for setting the right direction for the day. Starting early means you have a head start on everyone. You are also using the extra time available for doing the most important things of the day. Imagine having that valuable time in the morning to connect with your deepest resources and creating a state which brings out the best? What would you do?

Create a Positive Mindset for the day

Every morning you have two choices - continue to sleep with dreams or wake up and chase your… Click To Tweet

Albert Einstein said this was “The most important decision” Ask yourself. Would you want to start the day grumpy and hopeless or would you want to feel optimistic and raring to meet the day with all its glorious opportunities? I am sure you chose the latter. How would you do it? By having a routine for it which sets you in the right frame of mind. It starts as Einstein suggested by putting the thought in your mind that the world is positive, and there are good things to look forward to it.

My personal mantra is “Thank you God for giving me this gift of life for another day. I look forward to the world which is full of opportunities” We are blessed every day with the act of waking up. Ask all those families whose loved ones don’t. It is true that the world has many opportunities which we need to recognize and harness. If nothing else, the day is full of opportunities to improve yourself. What would you want to say to yourself first thing in the morning?

Have a Ritual to start the day

Yoga is a light: The better your practice, the brighter the flame - B.K.S. Iyengar Click To Tweet

The thought is only the beginning. Successful people build a ritual which they adhere to day after day. The ritual could be meditation, yoga, a gym routine or even a 5 mile run in the morning. Research shows that even ten mins of meditation helps in combating anxiety, stress, cardiovascular diseases and chronic pains. It releases important hormones which put you immediately in a highly productive state. A proper mind and body routine in the morning preps the mind for a high-performance state which lasts longer than just having coffee and making a dash for the office.

The key is also consistency. Whatever the routine, stick to it. If you do 15 mins Yoga, make sure you do it every day. If you do ten mins of CrossFit, make sure you do it every day. This consistency builds the neural networks which create a positive self-image. You create a self-image which says “I keep the promises which I make to myself.” Ove time and especially in times of crunch, when you want to draw on your reserves for facing challenges, this one statement will ride you out of the challenges ahead.

Clear about the Big Picture and how the day serves that

What is The One Thing I can Do, such that by doing everything else will be easier or… Click To Tweet

Successful people are Purpose Driven. Cal Newport in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You makes a persuasive case for why Purpose-driven work trumps Passion. This focus on purpose and its fulfillment help in creating the positive wave which they ride through the day. Purpose driven individuals also feel less or no fatigue compared to task based ones. They are clear about the What and the Why before the How. Gary Keller in The One Thing encourages you to ask the question “What’s the One thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Successful people are clear about how this one day helps the week which in turn serves the month and hence, the year ahead. This helps them serve not only their agenda but also serve others.

Seek to Serve people around them

Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living - Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

Successful people are clear about what they want. More importantly, they are clear how about how they want to serve and enhance other people’s lives. They always ask the question “How can I help?” By relentlessly focusing on the serving others, their family, their teams and their community are always getting the best from them. This emphasis also creates a deep sense of fulfillment which powers their day ahead. Have you experienced that fulfillment when you spent a day in the charity of your choice? Do you remember how your mood was at the end of the day? Now Imagine if every day you went out with the concept of serving your team, your family, and your community. How would that be?

Eat properly and the right foods

Eat less from the box and more from the earth. Click To Tweet

This might seem an odd habit, but it is an important routine for highly productive people. We know that the best in the field of sports and high-performance areas make sure that they eat correctly. Why should it be different for anyone else in the business? The critical idea is to have a no fuss routine. Successful people know what foods keep them in productive conditions and more importantly, what foods will make them sluggish. They know that having a heavy steak night, before an important client meeting next day, is not an option. We derive our energy through breath and the foods we eat. We have a limited way to control what we breathe; we can surely exercise judgment and build awareness around what foods bring out the best in us.

Seek Feedback throughout the day

Successful people use failures to sharpen their intuition - Gordana Biernat Click To Tweet

We expend a lot of energy speaking and also learn very less compared to listening. Successful people listen more. They know what they know and also, what they do not know. They are always listening because that way they are continuously getting new perspectives to what they know and rapidly reducing the items, they do not know. Listening also helps them understand what the other person’s needs and desires are. By helping other people reach their needs and desires, successful people create impact for themselves and others.

Aware of the Impact on others

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened - Lao Tsu Click To Tweet

This is a point which I cover in my book Stop Reset Start under the leadership section. Successful people are sensitive to others and the impact they are having on others. By tuning into how other people are receiving and processing information and more importantly, what emotional states the team is passing through, they harness the productivity of the teams.

At present, there is a disconnect between what the C-suite thinks is important and what Teams want. Research done by The Economist amongst 4000 professionals shows that Teams expect their Leaders to demonstrate more Emotional Intelligence. Successful leaders know that because they operate from that mindset i.e. human beings are rational and emotional beings. What gives meaning to their actions is Emotions. Successful leaders are in tune with the emotions of those around them. How would you think they would behave in meetings?

Fully Present in meetings

Future depends on what you do Today - Mahatma Gandhi Click To Tweet

Productive people are fully present in the moment. When they attend meetings, they either put their cellphones and watch alerts on off or keep it with their assistant. Their focus is on the person speaking and the team in the room. Since they are always working at improving their sensitivity, they keep away the distractions and tune into what the person is saying. More importantly, the ability to tune into person helps them understand what the person is not saying – his fears, his desires, his ambition. This ability to be fully present is aided by the morning routine of meditation or yoga. This ability brings the much-needed clarity and confidence when successful people make decisions as they know where everyone would be on any decision he or she take. It also helps them in knowing which work is best done by others hence creating time for them.

Create time instead of managing it

We lose time by not knowing where we're going - Rory Vaden Click To Tweet

Rory Vaden in his book Procrastinate on Purpose talks about how successful people create time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2X7c9TUQJ8

In a very persuasive manner, he brings out this important distinction between those who manage time (the usual time management techniques which fail) and the effective practice of Creating time.

You may wonder how is that possible? Successful people have a clear system of delegating and automating tasks. They always ask the question “Where do I add the maximum impact? Which are the tasks which I can automate? Which tasks can I delegate?” This makes sure that the work they focus on, generates the highest impact. At the same time, by automating the repetitive tasks and delegating tasks which can do it better than them, they free time for themselves which they can use for creating the maximum impact. This focus on creating time also brings clarity on what is important.

Bring clarity to their life and their teams

Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant Click To Tweet

Successful people bring clarity in their life and for their teams. While they accept ambiguity and uncertainty as aspects of life, they also recognize that the people around them would want them to be clear. They bring clarity on their purpose and for those around them. They bring clarity on the direction which they and their teams are headed to. They bring out the best in their teams and themselves by being focused on the items which bring the maximum impact – for their teams, their business, their family and themselves.

They take Time Out

When in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work - Anna… Click To Tweet

In the evening, they could be present with their friends, family or community. This may or may not happen every day, but it is important for successful people to be in tune with those close to them. It is part of their heart-centered leadership. It is part of their fulfillment. It is an integral part of who they are. Their life is not compartmentalized but integrated. They know being with their loved ones, their friends and the community builds the positive virtuous cycle of fulfillment for them. This engagement with the personal goals helps them aware of the silent gifts received by them through the day for which they are grateful.

Grateful for the day has offered

Gratitude is the Parent of all other Virtues - Marcus Cicero Click To Tweet

Successful people, regardless of their faith, are grateful for the gifts received during the day. They acknowledge that there many factors which create the success which they desire and achieve. They are grateful for the help and support received by them throughout the day. Some may end the day with a prayer. The net result is the same. Being grateful is an acknowledgment of all the silent gifts we received through the day. The universe has played its part during the day, and the least we can do is thank it. Gratitude is the only currency in the Universe.

Is there anything left just before you go to sleep?

Wind down the day at the right time

Sleep is the best form of meditation - Dalai Lama Click To Tweet

A crucial part of their routine is to wind down at the right time. Research shows the Gratitude leads to great sleep. A great liftoff for the next day starts with closing the night at the right time. Good sleep is a priority for successful people. In her book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington talks about how sleep has a direct impact on decision making, our health, our work and personal lives. Before the end the day, Successful people mark out what needs to be accomplished the next day. It is an important part of the sleep ritual and makes sure that there is a closure to the day. Research shows how we need to have a digital sunset the blue light emitted by our smartphones and other digital devices disrupt our sleep cycle. It is important we pay attention to our sleep just as the successful people do.

In summary:

Successful people get up early and start early

Create a Positive Mindset for the day

Have a Ritual to start the day

Clear about the Big Picture and how the day serves that

Seek to Serve people around them

Eat properly and the right foods

Seek Feedback throughout the day

Aware of the Impact on others

Fully Present in meetings

Create time instead of managing it

Bring Clarity to their life and their teams

They take Time Out

Grateful for the day has offered

Wind down the day at the right time

Do you have a habit which makes you productive? Please share in the comments below.

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