I think it’s important to note up front that this blog is not a slam against technology. Today technology plays a vital role in all of our business and personal lives. Rather, it is an exploration of how important it is to ensure favorable communication thru face to face experiences in our businesses, schools and family life.
I began noticing the impact of technology on human interaction a number of years ago when my fellow employees started routinely communicating through emails, even though our offices were right next door.
One-day midway through crafting an email for a colleague I realized how ridiculous it was and got up and walked to his office for a face to face conversation. Today many of us bypass a phone conversation and even regular email to simply text brief messages with smiley faces and acronyms.
Little by little, Internet and mobile technology seems to be subtly destroying the meaningfulness of interactions we have with others, disconnecting us from the world around us, and leading to an imminent sense of isolation in today’s society. Instead of spending time in person with friends, we just call text or instant message them. It may seem simpler, but we ultimately end up seeing our friends face to face a lot less. Ten texts cannot even begin to equal an hour spent chatting with a friend over lunch. Moreover, a smiley-face emoticon is cute, but it could never replace the ear-splitting grin and smiling eyes of one of your best friends. Face time is important, people. We need to see each other.
This doesn’t just apply to our friends; it applies to the world around us. It should come as no surprise that face-to-face interaction is proven by studies to comfort us and provide us with some important sense of well-being, whether it’s with friends or friendly cashiers in the checkout line of Albertson’s. That is actually the motivation behind Albertson’s decision last year to take all of the self-checkout lanes out of its stores: because it was creating an eerie lack of human contact.
There’s something intangibly real and valuable about talking with someone face to face. This is significant for friends, partners, potential employers, and other recurring people that make up your everyday world. That person becomes an important existing human connection, not just someone whose disembodied text voice pops up on your cell phone, iPad or computer screen.
It seems we have more extended connections than ever in this digital world, which can be great for networking, if it’s used right. The sad fact of the matter is that most of us don’t. It’s too hard to keep up with 1000 friends, let alone 200. At that point, do we even remember their names? We need to start prizing the meaning of quality in our connections, not sheer quantity.
If you would like to investigate how technology might be impacting your life I highly recommend investing in a wonderful book written by Tod Novak that captures this societal challenge and provides a blueprint for managing technology. The book titled “Has Technology Left Us Speechless” outlines strategies for restoring the human connection.
Mr. Novak is a highly sought after communication expert who has worked with companies like Microsoft, Comcast, Ford, Liberty Mutual, USA Today and State Farm Insurance to help them strategically stand out from their competition. His method combines educating people about the importance of the human connection with strategies based on the idea that you can choose to communicate in a way that coincides with an individual’s personality style rather than your own.
(Note: You can order the book Has Technology Left Us Speechless on the link provided at the bottom of the Peak Performance landing page)
So what’s the solution—tossing your Smartphone into the street? Going on a digital fast won’t help and may even make you feel more anxious. The solution isn’t powering down completely; not only is that completely unrealistic, it’s also not the point. As with any addiction-like behavior, the trick is to reset your brain to control your compulsion to surf, text, or Tweet.
Try these four ways to keep technology from overtaking your life:
Set limits. Having smartphones at our fingertips acts as a stimulus to our brains that screams, ‘check me, which can up your anxiety. Put your mind at ease with scheduled “tech breaks.” For example, at dinner tonight, allow yourself to check your messages for one minute before dinner. Then place your phone face down on the table in silent mode until your meal is done. Knowing you’ll be checking it soon will help keep your brain from obsessing.
Go green. Our brains can handle only so many stimuli; being constantly distracted by technology negatively impacts everything from sleeping soundly to being productive at work. Keep your mind from becoming overloaded by taking a 15-minute walk outside or flipping through a book with photographs of natural environments, he says. Known as the attention restoration theory, the idea is that exposing yourself to nature helps restore your brain’s ability to focus on giving it a breather.
Find your pleasure point. Your iPhone can act as a stimulus to your brain, meaning you get a feel-good dopamine rush from checking it, which furthers your technology addiction. Retrain your brain by actively doing something else that makes you happy—instead of always reaching into your pocket.
Go on an immediate one-week media fast. Timothy Ferris author of the 4-Hour Work Week suggests severely limiting your use of technology to focused time periods during the day, people will adjust to knowing you respond to emails and return phone calls during specific time periods. He also suggests going cold turkey for a week to break free from our information overload habits. “The world doesn’t even hiccup, much less end, when you cut the information umbilical cord. To realize this, it’s best to use the Band-Aid approach and do it quickly: a one-week media fast – no newspapers or magazines, no news websites or web surfing and no television. Replace checking your emails or reading the newspaper at breakfast with speaking to your spouse and bonding with your children. During the day, focus on your daily goals and don’t be distracted.”
To quote Tod Novak, “The beautiful thing is, we’re in control. We can conduct our lives as a slave to technology, allowing it to leave us – and our children – speechless … or we can embrace the wonder and brilliance of technology in a way that is balanced, preserving the ideals and hope for the future, we hold dear to us.”
Which will it be for you?
Nothing impacts your ability to deliver Peak Performance than a lack of energy caused by poor sleep patterns. The modern conventional wisdom that says we should try to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a relatively new phenomenon. Personally I have slid into a sleeping pattern in which I sleep soundly for about 4 hours, wake up do a bit of reading (and yes check my email!) and then go back to sleep for about 3 hours. I was getting concerned about this habit until I started to investigate ancestral sleeping patterns and what is referred to as polyphasic sleep.
There is some evidence that pre industrial revolution the most common pattern of sleep was two short 4 hour periods separated by an hour of wakefulness in the middle of the night. During this midnight hour of wakefulness, people read, wrote, prayed, had sex, did small household chores, talked to each other, or simply sat quietly and took the time to reflect. Records of this practice date all the way back to the ancient world: there are even references to it in the Odyssey.
Sleep is one of those areas that even the most health-conscious sometimes brush off with a guilty look and another cup of coffee. We all know we should sleep more; every other week there’s a new study connecting sleep deprivation to diabetes, or obesity, or heart attacks, or early death, or some other dire consequence. But realistically speaking, there just isn’t time!
That’s where polyphasic sleep comes in. Polyphasic sleep is any sleep schedule except the standard 8 hours in a row. This can help you fit more sleep into the time you actually have, by rearranging your sleeping schedule to maximize the benefits of your sleep. Alternately, it can help you improve the quality of your sleep: if you obediently bed down for 8 hours every night but still feel like a zombie in the mornings, it’s worth a try. Some people use it to drastically cut down on the time they spend asleep: this isn’t actually very healthy, but even without scaling back to 3 hours per night; you can still optimize your rest by experimenting with when you get it.
Another phenomenon that is being adapted and encouraged at companies such as Google and Nike is the use of sleep breaks. In the 1970s and 1980s, American sleep researcher David Dinges pioneered important research on humans and sleep, specifically the negative effects of sleep deprivation and the recovery potential of napping in giving people a chance to re-energize and ultimately be more productive. What we have now is commonly referred to as the power nap, almost in a half-joking sense, but its benefits are anything but a joke and industries are starting to see the advantages of naps for employees leading innovative companies to provide sleep pods and resting times and spaces.
Why Would Anyone Think that’s Healthy?
If you’ve ever watched a cat over the course of the day, you know that 8 continuous hours of sleep is by no means the only way to go. Cats don’t settle down for a third of the day to sleep straight through: they alternate much shorter periods of waking and sleeping as their biological cycles drive them. Many other animals sleep the same way – and human babies do it, too (as any sleep-deprived new parent could tell you). So the 8 straight hours of unconsciousness that adult humans insist on is comparatively pretty weird.
The ubiquitous glow of artificial light and the economic pressure to reduce “unproductive” time spent in quiet thought instead of making money brought a steady decline in this sleeping pattern starting in the late 17th century. But the surviving accounts make a solid case for the idea that before our circadian rhythms got thrown off track by electric lights, humans evolved to sleep, not in one long stretch, but in two shorter segments with a brief interval between.
From a less historical and more scientific perspective, there really aren’t a lot of studies on this – possibly because very few people in the modern world still sleep that way. But there is this study, which shows that when you take away artificial light from modern humans, the pre-industrial sleep pattern is exactly what we do.
We can also see a variation of polyphasic sleep in the “siesta” still common in Latin America. There’s plenty of evidence from brain wave studies suggesting that humans are biologically programmed for a dip in alertness around 3pm. In the productivity-obsessed United States, we handle this with another cup of coffee, but in many cultures around the Mediterranean Sea (especially Spain, Italy, and Greece) the solution is 5-6 hours of sleep at night supplemented with a midafternoon nap. This is another tradition that goes back as far as we can trace it: we have records of midday naps in the Middle Ages and even ancient Rome.
Napping as an alternative pattern of polyphasic sleep has been studied, and the evidence is positive: this review, for example, describes the benefits of everything from the shortest of catnaps to a longer snooze of half an hour or more. It’s obviously a benefit for alertness, but napping also improves memory and helps you consolidate information. And they even have benefits in people who feel well-rested.
How Can This Help You?
So far, so good: there’s a fair amount of evidence that humans may not be designed to sleep 8 hours at a stretch. But how can this actually carry over to real-world benefits?
You can make up for a (slightly) shorter night with an afternoon nap. If you’re struggling to get more than 5-6 hours a night but constantly feel groggy in the afternoon, consider the “siesta” pattern of a shorter night with a nap in the afternoon. Your body might be wired that way, or it might work better with your schedule than struggling to get 8 hours at a stretch.
You can improve the quality of your sleep. A lot of people get 8 hours, but they still wake up groggy and unrefreshed. If this sounds like your mornings, the problem might be that you’re just trying to fight your body’s natural inclinations to sleep in a different pattern. Consider experimenting with the pre-industrial schedule of 9 hours in bed with an hour of personal time in the middle of the night.
Especially considering that the modern approach to sleep isn’t exactly working well (at last count, 56% of Americans got less sleep than they needed on workdays, which caused 1,550 yearly car accident deaths among other problems), it’s worth taking a look at older patterns to see what they can teach us.
But I Have a Job!
It’s one thing if you work in a tiny village in Spain where everything shuts down from 2-5pm for siesta time. And students, workers with flexible schedules, or freelancers who work from home can sleep whenever they like. But for most office workers, a non-traditional sleep schedule sounds like an impossible pipe dream. The 9-to-5 workday just isn’t set up for it, and few bosses are interested in setting up a nap room at the office for employees to take advantage of.
One solution is to go for the pre-industrial schedule (two 4-hour chunks of sleep broken up by an hour in between). Yes, you’re sacrificing an hour of personal time in the evening by going to bed earlier, but you gain it back in the middle of the night, so the net result is neutral. And as for napping, in most of the studies on siestas, even a 20-minute nap was beneficial. So you don’t need 3 hours to lounge around in your pajamas. All you need is 20 minutes.
20 minutes can fit into most people’s lunch breaks (if you have a quiet office or break room to sleep in). Another solution is to simply ask for permission: present your boss with the documented evidence that napping helps increase productivity, and see what response you get. Some bosses, unfortunately, are still stuck on the idea that productivity is measured in face time at your desk, but an increasing number are willing to take a chance and try it out – especially if they can see the results.
Polyphasic Sleep for Minimizing Sleep Time
By now, you’re hopefully convinced to at least give the idea of polyphasic sleep some consideration. But not all “polyphasic sleep” is the same. There’s another approach that isn’t based on ancestral sleep patterns or evolution; it’s designed to hack your body into needing less sleep in total, through various clever sleep schedules that promise “greater efficiency.”
These alternative schedules are based on a theory about the two stages of sleep: REM and non-REM. REM (which stands for Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you dream; it’s the most important stage for feeling “rested,” and it may be particularly crucial for memory and health. In an 8-hour night, most people get about 80-100 minutes of REM sleep, with the rest being non-REM sleep.
The idea behind the “efficient” polyphasic sleep schedules is that REM sleep is necessary and non-REM sleep is just wasting time. By switching to multiple short naps (sometimes as many as 6 naps in a day), you can train your body to fall right into REM sleep and get the good stuff without “wasting time” on the non-REM phases.
It’s true that you can train your body to get straight to the REM stage. But there’s one huge problem with this, though: who says non-REM sleep is wasted sleep? We barely even know what goes on when we’re asleep; we can’t assume that non-REM sleep is “wasted” just because we don’t understand how it works or what it does!
Because they’re based on such a potentially dangerous assumption, these schedules leave a lot up in the air. They also tend to be socially challenging (6 naps in the day means a nap every 3-4 hours; try fitting that into a normal social life!), and many people who try them forget about it when they realize that it’s extremely difficult to do something as simple as spending a day outside their own home.
If you do want to experiment, go for it – but don’t get tied up in the idea that skimping on sleep is healthier if you do it in specially-timed intervals. Plenty of studies (especially from the military) have shown that multiple short naps are better than no sleep at all, but “better than nothing” does not mean “ideal!”
How would you answer the question “Are you successful in life?”
I know many people who would say that they are not successful; at least they have not reached success in the areas that feel important to them.
This website is about Peak Performance not mediocrity. So let’s prepare to commit to a New Year with a winner’s attitude and consider what it means and what it takes for each of us to lead a successful life.
Most identify a fear of failure as the reason they are not successful. The fear of failure is perhaps the strongest force holding people below their potential. In a world full of uncertainty, a delicate economy, and countless misfortunes that could happen to anyone, it’s easy to see why most people are inclined to play it safe.
But playing it safe has risk as well. If you never dare to fail, your success will have a low ceiling. Most people underestimate their merit and ability to recover from failure, leading them to pass up valuable opportunities. The ability to fail big and fail often has been a mark of the spectacularly successful throughout history
However this blog is focused on those of us that are striving for Peak Performance and have started on the road to success, overcome several failures and are suddenly overcome with another fear, the fear of success. The fear of success is a common issue that arises when you are genuinely creating change and moving forward in your life. Not giving up when you start getting somewhere is often the biggest challenge we have to success. To let the Peak Performer in you out you need to stop resisting. If it’s your fate to be great then do it!
All fears of success would be greatly reduced if we took our power back. It’s important to note that change comes from choice and we have always had that power. In fact often our deepest fear is that when we really reclaim our power and succeed, we have to face the knowledge that we have always been powerful enough to change all along and that we could have changed a year or five or 10 years ago.
Your friends and family will either support you or they won’t. The ones who resist you (the majority) are saboteurs out to stop you from real success. If you can do it and they can’t, well, sometimes that’s an uncomfortable thought for them to wrap their mind around.
Often we let the opinions of friends and families justify a mediocre existence. So how do you convince your friends and family that you will succeed and be a big success and that they should believe in you?
You don’t convince them of anything. You should never conspire with saboteurs and you should never seek approval from people who are irrelevant to your success.
Your friends and family may not be on the same wavelength as you and they are not the real enemy to success. It is not them that need to be convinced.
It is you who needs to convince yourself. You need to avoid self-sabotage, don’t be a traitor to yourself.
As Buddha once said “He is able who thinks he is able.”
The good news is, no matter how old you are and no matter how many times you have turned your back on success it is never too late. When you make the change you will only have one regret: “I should have done this sooner. My god, why did I wait so long? “. After you’re done feeling sorry for yourself from this realization, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and say these words: I can do it, I will do it and no one will stop me.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
· Everyone's scared.
· No one's paying attention to you.
· You have to know where you want to go.
· Do what makes you happy, and don't worry about others.
· Success is a Creative Dynamic
Keep Everything in Perspective
It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how important success might seem to you, it is still important to embrace it with balance; otherwise your journey towards success will turn into an obsession that will ruin everything that you truly love in life.
I’d like to end with noting that success is not a destination, it’s a journey, and it’s important that we take each step feeling grounded and balanced. Do not forget to spend time with your loved ones, enjoy your hobby or follow your passion, take care of your health and grow spiritually. This is the meaning of true success, the one that you can achieve only in balance.
Remember it is your right and purpose in life to be successful in whatever you are doing. If you believe in that then nothing will ever stop you from living a balanced and joyous life.
When we look for examples of how we can live Peak Lives there is one individual who has set the standard throughout history – Leonardo Da Vinci.
Leonardo da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man: an accomplished scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and writer. He along with contemporaries Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus were considered Polymaths.
The concept of Polymath embodied a basic tenet of Renaissance humanism that humans are empowered and limitless in their capacity for development, and it led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. In other words these individuals were consummate generalists.
In our rapidly changing world the importance of adaptability is paramount and we can learn some important lessons from our Renaissance ancestors. Despite the corporate world’s insistence on specialization, the workers most likely to come out on top are generalists – but not just because of their innate ability to adapt to new workplaces, job descriptions or cultural shifts. Instead, according to writer Carter Phipps, author of Evolutionaries, generalists will thrive in a culture where it’s becoming increasingly valuable to know a little bit about a lot. Meaning that where you fall on the spectrum of specialist to generalist could be one of the most important aspects of your personality – and your survival in an ever changing world. Developing your generalist capabilities will give you context. Only by understanding the work within fields to the right and left of your own can you understand the bigger picture, whether you are talking about a corporation (i.e. - Sales analyst understanding the supply chain as well as internal operations) or the world as a whole.
A great example of generalism or the ability to weave ideas into the broader fabric of life is the 2011 TedTalk of historian David Christian which presented a “Big History” of the entire universe from the Big Bang to present in 18 minutes, using principles of physics, chemistry, biology, information architecture and human psychology. Generalism at work.
7 Habits of the Renaissance Mind
Human beings are gifted with an almost unlimited potential for learning and creativity. You can uncover your own hidden abilities, sharpen your senses, and liberate your unique intelligence by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.
1. Develop Curiosity
Curiosity is an "insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning". Great minds have one characteristic in common: they continuously ask questions throughout their lives. Leonardo's endless quest for truth and beauty clearly demonstrates this. What makes great minds different is the quality of their questions. You can increase your ability to solve problems by increasing your ability to ask good questions. Like da Vinci, you should cultivate an open mind that allows you to broaden your universe and increase your ability to explore it. Here are some ways to apply Curiosity.
Keep a journal. Bring a journal wherever you go and use it often. Write your ideas and thoughts there. Try to write several statements a day that start with "I wonder why/how..."
Observe according to a theme. Choose a theme and observe things according to the theme for a day. For example, let's say you choose "communication". For the entire day, observe every type and instance of communication you come across. You can then record your observations in your journal.
Stream of consciousness exercise - Pick a question and write the thoughts and associations that occur to you as they are. Don't edit them. The important thing is to keep writing. This is also referred to as freewriting.
2. Apply the Principle of Demonstration
Demonstration is "a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistake". Wisdom comes from experience and the principle of Demonstration helps you get the most out of your experience. Here are some ways to apply Demonstration:
Check your beliefs. Do you hold any beliefs that you haven't verified through experience?
Three points of view - First, make a strong argument against your belief. Next, take a distant view of your belief (for example, as if you live in a different culture) and review it. Finally, find friends who can give you different perspectives.
Analyze the advertisements that affect you. Look at the advertisements in your favorite magazine and analyze the strategy and tactics they use. Find the advertisements that affect you most and find out why.
Find “anti-role models” to learn from. List the names of some people whose mistakes you want to avoid. Learn from them so that you won't encounter the same pitfalls.
3. Use Your Senses
Work on the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience. One of Leonardo's mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) upon which he built his work in arts and science. Here are some ways to apply your senses.
Write detailed description of an experience. For instance, describe your experience of watching a sunrise in your journal.
Learn how to describe a smell.
Learn to draw.
Listen to different sounds around you. Learn to listen to different intensity of sounds from the softest (e.g. your breathing) to the loudest (e.g. traffic).
Live in the moment. Practice mindfulness.
4. Embrace Ambiguity, Paradox and Uncertainty
An essential characteristic of da Vinci's genius is his ability to handle a sense of mystery. Here are two ways to apply Cryptic:
Befriend ambiguity. Not knowing something does not make it ambiguous! It is when you DO know something but its meaning is indeterminate.
Ask yourself questions that relate two opposites. For example, ask yourself how your happiest and saddest moments are related.
Practice the Socratic Method. The goal with the Socratic Method is to examine possibilities, and that is done by asking questions, not by giving answers. Socrates was known (and criticized) for asking questions to which he didn't have answers. The key to using the Socratic method is to be humble. Don't assume that you or anyone knows anything for sure. Question every premise.
5. Learn how to think with the Whole Brain
Thinking with the “whole brain” is the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination". Mind mapping is a powerful method that can help you combine logic and imagination in your work and life. The end result of mapping should be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are somehow related in the writer's mind
6. Cultivate Grace, Ambidexterity, Fitness, and Poise
Leonardo had amazing physical ability that complemented his genius in science and arts. Here are some ways to develop your mind/body connection:
Develop a program for physical fitness. Your program should include three things: flexibility exercises, strength training, and aerobic conditioning.
Develop body awareness. Study anatomy. Try yoga. Dance. Do some contact juggling. Whatever strengthens the connection between body and mind, go for it.
Cultivate ambidexterity. Leonardo could work with both his right and left hand and regularly switched between them. You can cultivate ambidexterity by using your nondominant hand for relatively simple tasks like brushing your teeth or eating your breakfast. Later you can use your nondominant hand for writing.
7. Develop a Recognition of and Appreciation for the Interconnectedness of all Things and Phenomena
This, in other words, is systems thinking. One main source of Leonardo's creativity is his ability to form new patterns through connections and combinations of different elements. Here are some examples:
Find ways to link things that seem unrelated. For example, you can try to find connections between a bear and the World Wide Web, or geology and the Mona Lisa.
Imagine dialogues. Imagine talking with a role model to gain new perspective and insight. Or you can imagine how some role models would discuss your problem.
Think about how things originate. Take an object and think about what elements are involved in its creation and how.
How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day Paperback
By Michael J. Gelb
By Carter Phipps
Ted: Ideas Worth Spreading - ted.com
Over reaching and falling short reduces your ability to change in the future, instead develop tiny habits to build success momentum.
It is often said that big success requires big goals and grand visions. Many of us who seek Peak Performance have sparks of inspiration, set big goals and eagerly begin a journey we hope will lead to success. Sadly most of us fail to reach these goals because we fail to stay motivated and succumb to established human behavior patterns that keep us locked in our status quo.
As I began to research methods of changing human behaviors it seemed daunting, but I was determined to find a blueprint that I might try. Recently, some internet research led me to work done by Professor BJ Fogg at Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab.
Professor BJ Fogg, Ph.D., has spent close to two decades directing the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, studying how human behavior works. His expertise is in creating systems that change human behavior—as he calls his work, Behavior Design. In exploring a few shortcuts to creating positive behavior, Fogg found a particular method that worked extremely well. He called it Tiny Habits. “I started doing it on my own, and decided to share it with friends and had no idea it would keep going and going,” Fogg says. “It is a way to change your behavior without relying on willpower.”
Eventually, Fogg launched a weeklong Tiny Habits test program online, asking participants only to stick to the methods, and offer constructive feedback. The results have been groundbreaking. Perform a quick search on Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of #tinyhabits testimonials, an underground stir that earned Fogg a platform at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin this year, to present his “life hack.”
Three Tiny Steps
Fogg’s research has taught him that human behavior is systematic. Each of our actions and decisions is fueled by three components—motivation, ability and triggers. Our behavior, particularly our habits, comes from an underlying motivation, the ability to complete the particular action and a stimulus that provokes the action.
For example, your morning alarm blares and you immediately turn it off and get out of bed—or you do after a couple rounds of hitting the snooze button. Getting up to start the day is your motivation, locating your alarm clock within arm’s reach creates your ability to fulfill it, and the loud, incessant beeps are the triggers, reminders to your instincts that the next action is to turn off the alarm.
The road to any desired behavior—say, increasing productivity on the weekends, making more sales calls or eating healthier—can be jump-started with three baby steps:
· Start Small
· Find an Anchor
· Celebrate Immediately
Format for Tiny Habits
After I ____ (existing habit) ____
I will ______ (new tiny behavior) ____
Examples of Tiny Habits
Tiny Habits build Success Momentum
Perhaps more helpful than the tiny habits themselves is the success momentum they build. When participants in Fogg’s Tiny Habits online program were asked whether the strategies affected their confidence in creating good habits in the future, a whopping 91 percent said it increased or greatly increased. When participants were polled on whether the Tiny Habits had rippled out to create other positive changes in their lives during the week of the program, 65 percent said yes. There’s a snowball effect: When you achieve a goal by integrating simple daily habits into your life, no matter how small, you gain a confidence that helps pave the way to reach bigger goals. The success momentum you gain from creating positive habits is the method’s secret sauce. “Every time a company convinces you to try its new health platform and you don’t succeed, I believe your ability to change in the future decreases. In other words, they are stealing away from you the ability to change,” Fogg says. “We’ve all been there and experienced it. If you set somebody up on a path where they’re likely not to succeed, or you set yourself up to ‘run two hours every day, no matter what,’ when you stop, it’s not a neutral event—you come back worse. That’s one of the problems in our culture—we overreach.” Overreaching and falling short is the antithesis of Fogg’s Tiny Habits method. Unless your environment or social circle drastically changes, it’s almost impossible to implement radical changes or big leaps. The only way to make behavior changes that actually work is through tiny steps, performed patiently and methodically. “One thing we have to move away from is this idea of big and brittle—I’m going to do this big thing and if I fail once, it’s over,” Fogg says. “It’s not that [high achievers] are necessarily in better condition, it’s their routine that makes the behavior easier to follow. This is true of virtually all behaviors that are simple. They’re easier the more you do them.”
Take a few moments and watch Dr. Fogg’s excellent TedX presentation as he describes how to incorporate Tiny Habits into your life.
9/29/2013 2 Comments
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. But the game plan can be simple. It has existed for 400,000 years. And time after time it’s lead to survival and success.
What is this holy grail of entrepreneurial success? This evolutionary plan of the human species.
Think about it. Our Paleolithic ancestors lived in a world rife with entrepreneurial challenges. In fact, life itself was one big startup venture – much was unknown, resources were limited, instructions didn’t exist, there were no guarantees, dangers lurked everywhere, and many failed. Sounds like startup life to me!
And yet, here we are 400,000 years later. Why?
Because our Paleolithic ancestors survived (and thrived) by using a natural instinct for entrepreneurial gameplan. Their triumphant success against all odds gave rise to us – the modern human. This illustrates a simple truth – human existence is history’s greatest entrepreneurial success story.
So, you want to survive and succeed at your entrepreneurial venture? Then use your instincts! And here’s how…
The 5 Elements of the Entrepreneurial success
1. Only the strong survive
Our Paleolithic ancestors lived in a brutal world. Each day was a fight for survival – for food, for shelter, for rest, for procreation, for protection. Failure was a constant threat. Our inner-personal strength is our only true weapon against the elements. Only those courageous and strong enough survived.
A start-up life (especially an untemplated one) is equally brutal. Competition exists everywhere. Resources are rare and precious. Danger is a shapeless beast that can strike from any angle. What are the primal dangers of entrepreneurship? Mismanagement, poor prioritization, de-motivation, epidemic risk-ad version, apathy, conformist thinking, lack of resolve, and on and on.
The weak don’t survive. They can’t. It’s evolution, period. Only the strong survive. Such courage isn’t painful, but it isn’t optional either. So, are you strong enough? Do you have the courage to be a entrepreneur?
2. Only alphas earn the right to mate
Yup, we’re talking about sex. Procreation (the spreading of our genes) is vital to the survival and extension of any species. Hence, mating is an obsessive hormonal urge in all creatures. Humans are no different. For most species, only alphas earn the right to mate. They’re the strongest, bravest, and most creative. This primal law ensures that the superior genes of a species survive and get passed forward.
Today’s primal entrepreneurial world has a similar law, albeit without the hanky panky. We’re talking about intimate relationships. The courageous, primal entrepreneurs have the best chance of scoring the best “mates” – in this case investors, advisors, partners, employees, networks, etc. And such relationships often ensure the successful procreation (marketing) of one’s “genes” – their ideas, pitches, asks, etc.
As in nature, there are no guarantees – only probabilities. And the primal entrepreneur has the highest probability of fertilizing the world with his genes. So go get busy!
3. Generalists defeat specialists, every time
Is it better to be a generalist or a specialist?
Many think this is a modern era debate. It’s not. It’s an imperative evolutionary choice. Paleolithic humans faced many struggles – hunting food, gathering resources, building shelter, learning weather patterns, sensing danger, inventing tools, and much more. So think about it. Which primal man stood a greater chance of survival – those who specialized in only one of these areas or who mastered many (or all) of them?
Don’t get confused. “Specialization” and “mastery” are not the same. Hence the fallacy of “jack of all trades, master of none.” It is very probable (in fact essential) to become a “jack of all trades, master of MANY.” The former’s falsehood stems from the inappropriate assumption that to “master” a given skill takes all 100% of a person. Not true. You simply need to master the proper 20% of a competency to harness 80% of its benefits. Ah, the good ol’ 80/20 rule!
Enter the primal entrepreneur. They know a lot about a lot – business formation principles, cash-flow management, persuasion tactics, public speaking/presentation skills, operations, recruiting, strategic thinking. You get the idea. A business development “specialist” can be easily marginalized and has a far lower probability of success. The entrepreneurial switch-hitter, however, easily adjusts to changing conditions and has the abilities to diversify his ventures.
4. Storytelling is the language of survival and success
Wisdom is a currency that increases in value over time. To paleolithic humans, the preservation of learned wisdom was often the deciding factor between death and survival. So how did primal humans convey such wisdom to others? Through oral stories.
A wise, modern primal entrepreneur utilizes the same simple yet powerful tactic. One-way marketing blasts are ineffective. Two-way engaging stories are successful. Hence, the rise of social media (there, I said it). But social media isn’t the point. The point is stories captivate your audience – potential investors, target customers, internal staff, etc. Why are stories so effective? Because stories (good ones) trigger imagination. Stories are memorable. Stories appeal to our (very much alive) inner child. And stories are a profound means of inciting action. All VERY good things to a modern-day primal entrepreneur.
But storytelling comes with a warning – you must be clear. You are empowered to tell your story however you desire. It’s yours, own it! But you must make your story understandable. Take master storyteller Tim Ferriss’s view – “It’s fine (oftentimes good) if some people dislike you or disagree with you, but no one should misunderstand you. Everything you say should be clear.”
5. Only vibrant tribes survive
Monolithic societies didn’t exist in the Paleolithic age like they do today. Instead, the world was speckled with unique tribes – small gatherings of people with a singular and common goal, survival. The tribe was everything, the very means of existence. It provided protection, belonging, wisdom, nutrition, and an evolutionary chance. Rarely did one survive without a tribe.
Although the genuine spirit of tribal society is largely lost to history, it remains alive within the hearts of primal entrepreneurs. Such introspective visionaries instinctively know that when the tribe thrives everyone thrives. The tribe solidifies commitment and resolve. The tribe magnifies the potential of everybody’s collective efforts. The tribe yields a unique and irrefutable identity. Simply put – the tribe matters most.
A primal entrepreneur’s tribe is his team – perhaps co-founders, advisors, partners, etc. They complement each other and challenge each other. It’s the real-life incarnation of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” A tribe forged with genuine trust, respect, devotion, passion, and constructiveness stands a far greater probability of survival over tribes forged with weak or disingenuous bonds.
So what does all this primal allegory really mean?
It means that the secrets to entrepreneurial survival and success are, well, not secrets at all. Entrepreneurship is as simple as the human species’ evolutionary instinct for survival – individual courage, superior mating, general mastery of skills, storytelling, and tribal cohesion. That’s it.
Yes, there’s nuance. Yes, there’s further decomposition of desirable skill sets and characteristics. Yes, there’s situational variance. Yes, there’s even luck. All of this held true in primal life as well. But don’t confuse the forest for the trees.
Lastly (and most importantly), the primal entrepreneur archetype is a beacon of hope for all aspiring entrepreneurs. Everyone possesses these instinctive qualities. Everyone is encoded with this survival instincts. It’s human genetics – thanks to the Paleolithic ancestors we all shall.
So go out and get in touch with your instincts!
Hey there peak performers! Are you ready to focus your energies and go “All In” on your latest project or goal? Do you want to be not just good but great? There are a ton of topics to write about when it comes to peak performance, drive, perseverance, and focus. But what separates the “good” from the “great,” the ones who eventually make it to the top of their game? They have the ability to go “ALL IN!” Leave nothing on the table and just do it! “All in”…let’s take a look.
Do what it takes
So when I write the words “ALL-IN,” what comes to mind? For me it’s someone who makes a decision that they want something and does what it takes to get it. Most people will passionately say they want something in their life, but they have certain limitations to how far they will go to get it. Now, I am not saying that you give up your integrity to get it; NOPE, that’s not worth the ride. But what I mean by having limitations is that most people will not go the extra mile to get their dream. They won’t make the extra call, run the extra mile, lift the next level of weight, not cheat on their diet, or just even make that move they know will get them the momentum they need to reach their goal. Going all in is just the opposite – you do what it takes to get ‘er done! Give it some thought and decide if you are really “ALL-IN” on your goals.
Here’s the beauty of going ‘ALL-IN!” – YOU GET LASER FOCUS! Why is this important you ask? I heard you ;) …hang on. Getting laser focus puts your goals on speed dial! Its octane fuel for your dreams to come to fruition! When you decide to go all-in, you lose the excuses and the roadblocks seem to disappear. It’s been said that roadblocks are what you see when you take your eye, and attention off your goal. And you only take your eye and attention off the goal when you mentally, emotionally, and physically didn’t decide to go all-in and do whatever is necessary to get to the promise land. There’s magic in commitment, and frustration in fence sitting. Make the decision to go all-in and watch how things start to align for you. AMAZING!
Have you ever decided on a goal but met upon a ton of roadblocks along the route? I’m making a guess that the answer is a 100% response of YES! By this time of the year, I’m sure many of us are in that position where we’re struggling with some particular goal. Here’s the problem and the solution: the problem – when you struggle with a goal, most times it’s because when you decided on the goal, you didn’t back it up with an attitude of commitment and 100% buy-in. Would you agree that when you made the goal, behind it was some wimpy and weak commitment to getting it done? Hey, come on, we’ve all been there. Why do you think I know this? ☺ Solution: make a commitment on a DEEP level that you will do whatever it takes and go through any roadblocks and pitfalls to get it done! GO DEEP – GO ALL-IN! Can you? Will you? It’s worth the effort to realize a dream. Sweet!
Don’t sit on the fence
So my peak performers…this week was all about committing to something you set out to do and going “all-in!” Whether that is in your business, your passions, your relationships, or your goals, whatever! You just need to know that good things happen to those who are fully committed to the things they choose to do. Sitting on the fence just a waste of time and energy, and who’s got either one to lose? Make that commitment that if you found your way to choosing a certain goal, then lets wholeheartedly see it all the way to fruition. Listen, if it’s big enough and you’re passionate enough about it, it will take all you got, so go ALL-IN!
Give up the excuses and GO ALL IN!
“Get’r done! Whatever you gotta do, don’t bitch about it, don’t complain, give a 110% and just get’r done” - Larry the Cable Guy
I am sure you have heard it repeated many times - Vision, goal setting and strategic planning all have been pointed to as the primary keys to success. Fortunes have been made and millions have been inspired by those proclaiming the secret to success and “having it all”.
Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret, which speaks to the law of attraction (visualize what you want, believe you can do it, take action and the universe will provide it), was in essence a modernized rebranding of Napoleon Hill’s statement that “Whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, the mind can achieve” from his famous book Think and Grow Rich. The common thread in the guidance provided from all of the self-help and success gurus can be traced back to Andrew Carnegie’s statement that “Whatever your mind feeds upon, your mind attracts to you” and “You will only be successful when you take possession of your own mind and direct it to ends of your own choice”.
I believe these statements are all true and that you will not have success until you have put in place these foundational principles. It is also true that an equally important component of success is your ability to execute the strategy required to reach your vision and goals.
In other words it’s you or your team’s ability to get’r done.
There are many great visionaries that have conceived wonderful ideas that can change the world. The critical factor that separates those who are successful from those that just dream is their ability to follow through and inspire others to take action.
The late Steve Jobs was an incredible visionary who changed how the world views and uses technology. His key to success at Apple was his ability to not only visualize a product but to make them a reality, to not accept excuses, but find solutions and to inspire and at times demand that his employees push perceived boundaries, bend reality, defy conventional wisdom and “make it happen”.
How many times have you, someone you know or your company come up with a great idea, developed a strategic vision, set goals and ended up not accomplishing what you set out to do. If you have encountered this challenge you are not alone, a recent survey revealed that over 70% of strategic initiatives are never implemented.
Whether you are working for yourself or are a leader, coach, manager or CEO of a team, organization or business, you can grab hold of performance by following the 4 Disciplines of Execution.
1. Focus on the Wildly Important
What is so important for your business, team or organization that if it doesn’t happen there is no reason for you to be doing what you are doing? – Identify and focus with laser clarity on what you are trying to achieve.
2. Act on the Lead Measure
What are the lead measures or action steps that if you do them consistently you will achieve the Wildly Important Goal? They have to be measureable and you must find a way to track them fanatically.
3. Develop a compelling Scoreboard
Whether it’s in business or in sports we all know that we play differently when the team knows what the score is. Are you winning or losing against the action steps and the Wildly Important Goal. Are your strategies and action plans working or not? Keep the scoreboard available for all to see and up-dated at least on a monthly basis.
4. Create a Cadence of Accountability
Create accountability throughout your whole team, organization or business so you do what you say you are going to do. Hold weekly meetings with assigned groups to review the scoreboard and make sure everyone is on track. Celebrate wins or change course if necessary and challenge each other to succeed.
How to Schedule Your Day for Peak Performance
People often choose to work for themselves because of the freedom and flexibility that results form owning their own schedule and the space to bring their ideas to life. One of the biggest challenges will be structuring your time so that you fully experience the benefits of working for yourself while also being as creative and productive as possible. Eventually, organization and effectiveness challenges will pile up and you will need to give structure a try in order to get things accomplished.
Some good questions to ponder are - how can I achieve personal Peak Performance, get stuff done, take care of myself, make time from for play, and actively push myself outside my comfort zone?
To help you in this process I highly recommend the following organizing and planning format that I recently adapted.
1. Set priorities on Sunday.
Every Sunday, I sit down and map out my week. Instead of defining the hour-by-hour of each day, I outline my weekly priorities and what I want to have accomplished by the following Sunday.
2. Map out work, play, fit, and push.
3. Batch your days.
I wrote this blog to hopefully inspire you and provide you with some ideas that will help you achieve Peak Performance in your life, team, business or organization.
When it comes to reaching peak performance, it's about experimenting to figure out what works best for you.
Feel free to try out these ideas and share your experience or let us know what has worked for you in the comment section below.
And remember to develop a Get’r Done attitude!
· 4 Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling
· Amber Rae – Founder and CEO of The Bold Academy - www.boldacademy.com
8/6/2013 2 Comments
In my on-going search for factors that contribute to peak performance and success I’ve been fortunate to have met a number of remarkably successful people, many of these fascinating people will be sharing their insights in our Podcasts over the coming weeks.
We are always looking for key factors that we can share that will help propel you from good to great in whatever profession or cause you choose.
My research has revealed that the really successful peak performers share a number of habits:
They totally commit - don’t create back-up plans.
Back-up plans can help you sleep easier at night. Back-up plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.
But you will work a lot harder and a lot longer if your primary plan simply has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment–without a safety net–will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.
If somehow the worst does happen (and the “worst” is never as bad as you think) trust that you will find a way to rebound. As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.
They do the work…
You can be good with a little effort. You can be really good with a little more effort.
But you can’t be great–at anything–unless you put in an incredible amount of focused effort.
Scratch the surface of any person with rare skills and you’ll find a person who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing those skills.
There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight successes. Everyone has heard about the 10,000 hours principle but no one follows it… except remarkably successful people.
The best advice I’ve received from these successful people…Don’t procrastinate, start doing the work now. Time is wasting.
…and they work a lot more.
Every extremely successful person I know works more hours than the average person–a lot more. They have long lists of things they want to get done. So they have to put in lots of time.
Better yet, they want to put in lots of time because they love what they are doing.
Find something you are passionate about and set some significant goals and if you can’t embrace a workload others would consider crazy then your goal doesn’t mean that much to you–or it’s not particularly difficult to achieve. Either way you won’t be remarkably successful.
They avoid the crowds.
Conventional wisdom yields conventional results. Joining the crowd–no matter how trendy the crowd or “hot” the opportunity–is a recipe for mediocrity.
Remarkably successful people habitually do what other people won’t do. They go where others won’t go because there’s a lot less competition and a much greater chance for success.
They start at the end…
Average success is often based on setting average goals.
Decide what you really want: to be the best, the fastest, the cheapest, the biggest, whatever. Aim for the ultimate. Decide where you want to end up. That is your goal.
Then you can work backwards and lay out every step along the way.
Never start small where goals are concerned. You’ll make better decisions–and find it much easier to work a lot harder–when your ultimate goal is ultimate success.
…and they don’t stop there.
Achieving a goal–no matter how huge–isn’t the finish line for highly successful people. Achieving one huge goal just creates a launching pad for achieving another huge goal.
Maybe you want to create a $100 million business; once you do you can leverage your contacts and influence to create a charitable foundation for a cause you believe in. Then your business and humanitarian success can create a platform for speaking, writing, and thought leadership. The options become unlimited.
The process of becoming remarkably successful in one field will give you the skills and network to be remarkably successful in many other fields.
Remarkably successful people don’t try to win just one race. They expect and plan to win a number of subsequent races.
I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell.
Keep in mind selling isn’t manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks.
Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with “no,” to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships…
When you truly believe in your idea, or your company, or yourself then you don’t need to have a huge ego or a huge personality. You don’t need to “sell.”
You just need to communicate.
They are never too proud…
To admit they made a mistake
To say they are sorry
To have big dreams
To admit they owe their success to others.
To poke fun at themselves
To ask for help
And to try again