1. There’s No Perfect Time To Start
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
With increasing disruption and oversaturated markets, the fear of scarcity inhibits us from starting anything. It’s always a lack of; a lack of time, money, resources, knowledge or market conditions. However those who achieve success in their business, careers or projects all have one thing in common: they act. They pursue imperfection over perfection without the need to have everything or knowing all the answers.
→ Late Mover Disadvantage
A second progress-blocker is “If I was there from the early days of ‘X, Y, Z'”. People who start in the early days of anything disruptive are paraded with the benefits of first-mover advantage, but this is only half the picture. According to the HRB, industry dynamics and the pace of change are vital in determining success. Simply, just because you’re first, it doesn’t always mean you’re going to hit gold.
→ Antilogs and Analogs
Many revolutionary products and ideas are analogs of something prior. The classic Apple iPod revolutionised the music industry with fitting “1000 songs in your pocket”. However Apple weren’t the first to create mp3 technology or digitise the music process. The innovation that led Apple to lead the market was iTunes because Apple thought broader than the iPod itself.
2. Think and Act 10x
“Until you become completely obsessed with your mission, no one will take you seriously. Until the world understands that you’re not going away—that you are 100 percent committed and have complete and utter conviction and will persist in pursuing your project—you will not get the attention you need and the support you want.” – Grant Crdone,
Many people seek improvements in 10% increments; in conversions, profit, salary or growth. Supercharging your career requires a radical stretch of your mindset. This shift places you to establish out of the box creativity because emphasis is on, “What will I need to do to get there?”
A 10X mindset requires a degree of unimagined lunacy, drive and dedication. Goals should be in a ‘state of discomfort‘; a place between comfortable and delusion. Questioning what you’ve done so far means testing and scaling up what works. It involves regular progress and constant evolvement.
Getting to 10X must come from commitment not novelty. If your goal is losing 10kg, you wouldn’t do the same things as you were if trying to lose 1kg. Furthermore 10xing requires an understanding of where you are now. As Leadership Mentor Michael Hyatt said, “Progress only happens when you are clear where you are now”.
3. Motivation Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Cultivated
Motivation often strikes as a esoteric phenomenon achieved consistently by a select few. Turning demotivation into motivation involves understanding two principles:
- To be successful at something, you have to be willing to fail at it
- Motivation doesn’t just ‘happen’, rather it’s cultivated through continuous action
Fearing failure, past experiences or overwhelm by choice are three dominant reasons why we procrastinate, avoid and deflect. Instead remaining motivated requires:
- Embracing the process of failure. For every ten no’s, you might get one yes. But that’s the only yes that matters
- Overrule by doing because motivation isn’t a cause, it’s an effect:
Action → Inspiration → Motivation → Inspiration → Action…
- Establish a decision making funnel that goes beyond pros and cons but weighs up value and consequences. Have a sounding board; whether it’s a team, mentor or trusted advisor allows you to compare choices and keep accountability.
4. Seek to Learn Everyday
Continual learning is central to building core confidence that fosters meaningful and impact driven work. Growth becomes experience and collective experiences form wisdom. Cultivating wisdom requires relentless fertilisation of your greatest asset; you.
→ Invest in Yourself and your Personal Development
Always too busy? Never have the time? These are just excuses. Extraordinary people have the same 24 hours in the day as you do. Instead of jumping into the deep end, begin with small increments. Our brains accumulate knowledge through a sift process rather than collection in a bucket, hence we learn best through repetition. A small change that I employed was to wake up 30 minutes earlier everyday to do morning mediation and reflection. Sometimes I listen to an additional podcast. The key is not to merely plan or consume, but to do.
→ Study the Top Performers
Catapult your learning by standing on the shoulders of giants. Just as it is with the antilogs and analogs, a lot of what you’re exploring has been done by someone else. Build off what other’s have learned and avoid the same mistakes.
→ Don’t Let Ego Overtake – Always Be Hungry
As Einstein said, “As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists.” We only become complacent when we stop feeling the need to improve. Be grateful but be hungry. The difference between contentment and complacency is whether your hunger pushes you down a dangerous spiral or whether advances you positively forward.
5. Flow is Your Friend Not Your Foe
Flow is best described as moments of elatedness where you’re in the “zone” or feeling “buzzed”. Creative juices are flowing and productivity is as smooth as clockwork. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Me-High Chick-Sent-Me-High) first coined the term as an an optimal state of consciousness.
Here, your conscious mind meets your subconscious mind, and both act in balance to allow you to get sh!t done. In flow, you’re at a peak with laser focus on something that’s both challenging and rewarding. According to McKinsey, executives in flow are 5x more effective then when shrouded with distractions, interruptions and working reactively. Seems like common sense…
So how do you activate flow?
- Be clear, focused and seek immediate feedback. Work should be difficult enough to challenge yourself, but not impossible. Steven Kotler suggests a 4% skills/challenge ratio
- Risk/reward and an exciting environment that engages you
- Shared goals, teamwork or collaboration is a good flow inducer
6. Money Doesn’t Fulfil, Purpose Does
It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. – Jim Collins, From Good to Great
Whether it’s money, status, fame or validation, you can only supercharge your career if you’re positioned to do so. Ultimately, you might get what you want, but what did it cost you to get there? Doing something that doesn’t speak to you is exhaustingly difficult (circle back to point 3).
What do I mean by positioning?
- Are you driven by the right motivators?
- Are you driven intrinsically for the collective good, or because you want to achieve ‘X’?
- What are you trying to achieve?
As Peter Diamandis likes to say, “Find something you would die for, and live for it.”
7. Don’t Grow Your Career in Isolation
French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said that “Isolation is a blind alley….Nothing on the planet grows except by convergence.”
Life’s interrelatedness doesn’t just apply to just the laws of the universe but through how we conduct our life. Want an awesome career? You also need an awesome life. I’ve watched a mentor build a successful start-up, sustain great fitness and have assets you could only envy… While all of this made up part of who they were, they were also outward layers compensating for something much deeper.
Likewise, my own pursuits to grow Reintention and establish a career that speaks to me has been hindered by distractions and other personal struggles. Your life works as an ecosystem, not a set of compartmentalised units. As Susan Jeffers states in ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway‘ our lives are made up of many factors in a matrix:
Problem is people tend to have an over-dominate or single area of their life; which is often their career. When that area isn’t successful or suffers, the rest of their world comes crashing down.
8. Ride Change, Don’t React Because of It
As the gap between stimuli and response is where emotions lie, the space between change and action determines success and failure. Capitalising on opportunities is only possible if we are open to change and don’t react in spite of it. Change occurs as the rule, not an exception.
A prime example is Kodak, who filed bankruptcy in 2012, where the rise of the digital era famously crushed Kodak and film photography. Kodak is famously known as being unaware resisting change in the market. In a more detailed review by MIT, Kodak wasn’t oblivious or resistant to change, but rather didn’t chose the right change fast enough. In the end, technological complexity and not shifting their core business is what resulted in Kodak becoming former shadow of what it once was.
9. Let Challenge and Pressure Fuel You
Success is continuously improving who you are, how you live, how you serve, and how you relate. If you strive to be the best version of yourself, by default, your career reflects this.
Known for his unyielding self control, Abraham Lincoln used to write letters to his enemies and not send them, but store them away his draws. Furthermore, he suffered poverty as a child and endured over 10 losses, including 8 elections and 2 failed businesses before becoming the president that changed the course of American history.
Mastering the pressure of challenge isn’t just about tenacity, but owning and becoming friends with it. Allowing challenge to inspire you to do better and work harder. As Robert Horry said, “Pressure can bust pipes, but it also can make diamonds.”
10. Understand the Implications of Exceptions
Tell me how you do anything, and I’ll tell you that’s how you do everything.
For the last career lesson of 2017, I wanted to talk about exceptions. More so, how exceptions breed habits that are unsupportive of the career growth we want. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit everyday not because he has poor fashion sense (maybe) but because he chooses focus his decision making on the most important matters.
Similarly, our approach towards everything in life, is our attitude towards everything. Making short term, profit driven decisions today at the cost of the long haul is likely not going to be a one off. Staying in bed for an extra hour seems harmless today, but when it happens every day afterwards it’s not. There is always a reason to not do something or to do it poorly. But as the Stoic’s understood thousands of years ago, it’s about discipline. Have trouble getting out of bed?
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” – Marcus Aurelius