How do you make sure you succeed in the important things in your life?
Up until my late teens I showed no sign of any aptitude or talent for anything. At school I never stood out or got noticed academically or in sports. I was happy about that because I was chronically shy and avoided attention at all costs. At the same time My teachers weren’t concerned because I was always polite and helpful. I always place near the middle of the bottom half of the class where you can get by unnoticed.
One day late at night I overheard a conversation between mum and dad. My dad seemed worried that I was showing any potential academically and was at a loss at what I would do in life. He worked 7 days a week, 16 hours a day for 365 days a year in his business. My dad’s disappointment hit me like a bolt of lightening. He was my hero and I wanted him to be proud of me. I was disgusted at myself for not being the kind of son that my dad could be proud and happy. My parents friends and my friends all thought that I would spend my life working in my dad’s shop or get a small market stall or work in a knitwear factory.
Over the coming months and years, I kept asking myself the following question. What can I do to make my dad proud? I was frustrated because I could not think of anything I could do that would delight my dad. I felt I was average at everything and even felt depressed at the time. However, I love martial arts and practiced every day and trained like a maniac. Everyday I would practice my techniques, kicks, punches and blocks. I practiced each technique a 1000 x a day. I had made quick progress and became skilled because I practiced for pure joy and excitement. I could think of a better way to spend my time. My academic life took a turn for the better when I seriously injured my from which I would never fully recover.
I started to think about ways to improve my performance academically. I applied the same principles that I had applied to martial arts to my studies. I decided that I would do everything 10 x straight after class the same evening. My mantra became
“Do it now, 10 times”
Initially I did not notice any improvements but I knew that if I kept it up then I would eventually improve. I loved my Maths teacher and wanted to do well in the subject. A test was coming up on Monday and we were told about it on Friday. In a previous test I only got 26% so I was not expecting to score really high but wanted to improve on my previous score. I started straight away and went through all the questions and formulas 10 times before the test. I worked throughout the weekend.
On Monday morning I felt relaxed about the test and decided to the best I could and try to make sure I had left 5-10 minutes to check my answers. I finished the test in 30 minutes (half the lesson) and then spent time checking and rechecking my working out and answers. A few day later in the next lesson we got our papers back and marks from the test. I got the shock of my life. I got 100%. My confidence soured. My belief about ability changed from:
“I am an average student at Maths”
to my new belief system which is
“I can be excellent at Maths if I do it now 10 times”
I applied the same principle to all the subjects I was studying and then everything that was important to me. It always works. Even though I can do it with fewer repetition I still have 10 times number in my head.
As a University Professor having supervised dozens of PhD students and worked on numerous projects I have found that almost everyone initially underestimates the effort and time required to achieve a goal. For example, If a student wanted to write a research paper, it takes much longer than initially planned. If you think it will take a week then give yourself at least two weeks. It takes time to check, edit, proof read and make sure everything is as perfect as possible. if start a business and think it will take £100K and 1 year to hit a target income figure. Allocate £200K and give yourself 3 years to do it.
To be on the safe side and guarantee success put in 10 x the effort, time or resource into it. You need 10 x more action. However, you also need to change your psychology and mentality, you must think 10 x bigger or better.
Making sure that you take 10 x more action and upgrade your mentality 10 x then you will have the ingredients for guarantee success in everything you want to achieve.
Five steps for moving from mediocrity to competence.
1. Set a goal or target you want to achieve.
2. Think 10 x bigger or better.
3. Take 10 x more action.
4. For each effort, appreciate and learn from everything you are doing and then apply it next time to make things even better.
5. Enjoy yourself 10 x more whilst you are moving forward towards your goal.
[If you have a way of doing things better share your story in the comments.]