I’ve read lots of books devoted to skill acquisition. There’s some useful info, backed by impressive data revealing habits, practices, and routines of world-class performers.
One of the most important commonalities is that most world-class performers had a coach/teacher who made the activity fun early on.
Interest precedes talent development, and even if Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory is correct, most of us won’t devote the second hour to something that doesn’t seem fun.
Exposing children (or adults for that matter) to someone who can make an activity interesting or fun may be the most important first step. That goes for tennis, violin, or coding.
I stopped making specific resolutions, and started doing an 80/20 analysis of my year instead. There is a much more sophisticated version of this, but here is the practice from 10,000 feet:
- Evaluate the last 12 months on your calendar thru the lens of: the 20% of people and activities that produced 80% of your positive / negative emotions
- Commit to scheduling activities and appointments with people that bring you the positive 20%. This involves planning and paying for trips, planning meetings, get-togethers, and events now – or as early as possible.
- Create a NOT-to-do list which includes people and activities you’ll avoid, as they represent the negative side of the list.
Since most people who read this (and the person writing this) are glued to their smartphones, it seems sensible to optimize them to serve us.
Ever notice a difference between what we know we “should” do what we actually do? One way to overcome this is to create systems using the device you’re probably holding right now.
Here are a few personal examples:
1) I should incorporate mindfulness –> use the Breathe app that reminds me 5x/day to “Take a few mindful breaths”
2) I should take more “me” time –> actually schedule time with/for myself, rather than hoping I’ll have time left over when everything I “have to” do is done
3) I shouldn’t sit for 8 hours straight (“Sitting is our generation’s smoking”) –> Set an hourly reminder in my phone to stand up, stretch, and do short anti-sitting exercises
What should you do that you could use systems to start doing?
Our two million year old brain is designed to keep us safe – a useful default mental state for cavemen/women.
But at this point in our evolution there are more positive alternatives than a software that incessantly scans our environment asking “what could go wrong?”
We grow and thrive when it becomes a habit to incorporate alternatives like “what most excites me?” or “how can I do work that matters?”
Yes, you’re a realist to notice that the glass of water is both half empty and half full. The functional difference between optimism and pessimism is nothing more than the story we tell ourselves.
If we’re convinced that failure is inevitable, it’s only rational to give up. I’ve always considered myself delusionally optimistic. Apparently delusion doesn’t always work against us. Science now confirms what we’ve probably guessed all along: the story we tell ourselves matters. And if we tell ourselves optimistic stories, some form of success is almost unavoidable.
People perceive you as being confident, trustworthy, happy, or otherwise mostly because of how you carry yourself. As a first impression, your body language and mannerisms matter even more than substance.
To make it more interesting, here’s what we know from science about straightening up, smiling, avoiding fidgeting, and other basic body language patterns:
- Testosterone, a confidence-enhancing hormone for both genders, increases 20%
- Cortisol, a stress hormone that impedes performance, decreases 25%.
Cool reasons to straighten up and act the part.
Practice these three things and your happiness level goes up:
These are not mere words to display in a quote on top of an inspirational, rainbow-filled background. “Practice” them. Look for opportunities to DO these things.
You’ll notice in your own experience that it’s impossible to be simultaneously grateful and feel lack, to forgive and clench the poison of a grudge, and to devote some of your resources to someone in need, and still feel scarcity.