Warren Buffetkeeps me fascinated. First and foremost, he is self-made billionaire. If there are people inspiring you than it must be those great achievers.
Besides that Warren Buffet is witty and knows a lot. So I love to pull out his quotes and advice on success and life in general.One of Buffet’s tips that stick in my brain is to
“Become great in one single area.”
If passion and skill come together in one thing, say playing piano, chess or writing, you should stick to this. Strive to become one of the best in this one skill. Only this way wealth and happiness can pile up.
If you study your field of interest a bit, you may come to the conclusion that there are a lot of things to it.
Say for being a writer: You must write well, of course. But you should also have a lot of knowledge to have something to say. Then you should be good at marketing your books, connecting to publishers and readers.
If you love self-improvement like I do, you may want to improve in all these fields. Because isn’t success a chain? Say a great book, must go from a vision, to collect background knowledge, to write it, to polish the language, to market and sell it? And if one link in that chain is weak, the chain will break.
Warren Buffet however, challenges this way of thinking. You only have so much time. If you improve every part of this chain of skills, you will be half-assed mediocre in each of them. This leads nowhere. You won’t become famous. Your name wouldn’t stuck in people’s heads.
“The famous who? John Doe? Yes, I remember. It’s that guy who is OK in everything he does.”
But, when you are a real deal in, say, inventing stories, you will find the way through the whole chain of book publishing. And you don’t need to do it all alone. A great story teller will easily find an editor and a publisher. Letting other people master the other chain links will give you more time and energy to shine your true skill. A great story teller will eventually have the money to let the duty tasks be done by others.
Did you know that Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”, has a whole army of researchers? Experts in the field of medieval history and secret societies, who are paid to find out things that google is out of clue, is 404.
Dan Brown is the crafter who weaves those threads of knowledge to a fascinating story. But he doesn’t have the time and skill to do all this background work.
Think about it. Do you know the editor of Steven King?
Do you know George Clooney’s agent?
Both of them have their important share for the artist’s success. The artist cannot go without them.
But no one could really replace George Clooney.
And no one can replace Robin Williams. R.I.P. one of my all time favorite actors.
So, be OK in some areas. Suck in others. But be _great_ in your one special area.
If your passion and skill meet in one point, seize this and potentiate their company.
Let’s be honest. Everybody procrastinates. I do not know anyone who has not put off things in their life ever.
It’s not an issue when you do it occasionally. But it can grow into a serious problem when it gets a habit to put things off. When you do it often and it ties you for long stretches of your valuable time. This can lead to dramatic consequences in life, like loss of a job, a relationship or loss of money.
How do I know?
Because I have been there before. At least in part.
In their intention to overcome procrastination, people try a lot of things. Many approaches are ineffective because they are based on myths.
And know what, it can really hurt when others don’t understand you. When they think you only put things off for fun. For laziness. When you hear them say “I would not do this, it’s stupid”.
I’d say “F*** off! I know that!”
Now, don’t take the route of self-pity, self-blame and thinking you are too stupid.
Better let’s clear …
3 Myths About Procrastination
Myth No. 1 – You just have to grit your teeth and do your best
That is totally wrong. Only people who don’t suffer from real procrastination can claim this. Sure, from outside it seems people who put things off only have to get started. They must just move and do their things better. If it only were that simple, no one would have to suffer from chronic procrastination.
Truth is, there is rather an inner force that steals energy. That eats away motivation and drive. And it is beyond direct control. Shear willpower and discipline are not enough. You must understand the underlying causes of your drain of energy to tackle procrastination.
Myth No. 2 – Procrastination Stems From Poor Time Management
Well, no. It’s nothing to do with time management. I know people who organize and plan their day perfectly. They have thought through everything and have a clear to-do list. From seeing their plan you would think they are big achievers. However, they can not start or keep doing the tasks.
Procrastination rather has to do with poor self-management. It’s about knowing yourself and understanding your emotions, inner resources and abilities. And it is about knowing which triggers and levers to pull to switch your inner state.
It is also about knowing what holds you back. And this is often not obvious. The lack of drive often stems from being overwhelmed for example by the amount of work or the difficulty. Overwhelm is the perceived gap between own resources and the demand of a task. With emphasis on “perceived”. Imagination barely matches reality. There are people working till they collapse. And there are people who are paralyzed and can not get going.
Myth No. 3. – It’s In Your Genes, You Cannot Do Anything About It
Current science realizes that many traits are in part genetically and in part caused by circumstances. While the case for procrastination is not 100% resolved, it is clear that your conditions play a major role.
If you have cold and demanding parents, chances are that you are a procrastinator. This makes a genetic component rather unlikely.
You don’t believe me? At first glance it looks when, say, your father demands a lot of you, you should tend to give a lot and therefore develop diligence and discipline. The problem is, this demand can lead to the feeling of overwhelm.
When at the same time your father is emotionally cold and spares praise, you may have learned that you never did enough. That you must work even harder. With time you feel you never work good enough. Then instead of getting it done quickly and taking on the next to-do, you feel you are not finished.
When having the courage to close a task you received no positive feedback. This may have trained your inner belief that you are too bad and most tasks are just too difficult. On top of that, without you taking notice, you avoid doing a task because you “learned” that it has negative consequences most of the time.
You see, this root cause of procrastination is a highly emotional and socially trained adaptation. No genes or hereditary fate involved.
The good news is, while you cannot change your genes you can change your habits and inner beliefs. But you can not take the route of the common myths.
… Despite an Excess of Tasks, Obligations and Noise
Some years ago I was captivated by a book called “Getting Things Done“.
The title by David Allen caught my attention, because in those days I used to put things off and despite doing some work each day, I did not seem to get the needle moving. I had a lot of great ideas what I could do. And a long list of things I had to do. Writing my diploma thesis was one of them.
The title “Getting Things Done” sounded right for me. It promised that with the right system I could become a mover and shaker.
What’s in it?
The system consists of 5 steps.
Our day is an endless stream of ideas, to-dos, information etc. They constantly scream for our attention, thereby stealing time, focus and energy to get important things done.
David Allen proposes to always have a system handy where you can throw those screaming snippets inside. This can be a mobile app, an online document tool or a physical file folder.
The key is that you get rid of the attention grabbing snippets to alleviate your brain and re-focus on the task at hand. When this information is stored safely, it stops to worry and bother you. You regain your mental and time resources.
In this step you go through your pile of snippets, sift and think through them the first time. First you decide if it is worth doing the snippet. If not, delete is.
If it can be done in 2-5 minutes, do it immediately. Filing those small tasks for later is too ineffective. It’s not worth the mental energy a second time.
If it is a bigger task, file it for steps 3 to 5 of the Allen system. If possible delegate the task, thereby moving your precious time to more valuable duties.
If it can not be “done” but it is information, store it in a well-organized reference system for later.
All the bigger chunks that are left from step 2 are broken down and structured in the “organize” step.
Make a list of small tasks that lead to the whole. Order the tasks by importance and dependencies.
As Brian Tracy said, I paraphrase here, we do not have time to do all the things that come up in life. So it’s a wise strategy to do the most important stuff first.
Regularly go through your lists. Delete, replace or re-order items if something changed. View pursuing big goals rather as a process than just as a rigid series of actions. That is, things can change. In the same way your plans and list must change.
This is the part where you get your hands dirty and get the things done. You work through your to-do lists. As they are well organized small chunks, you have energy to get them done quickly. Check off the items ✔
The order ensures you do important stuff first, which gives a feeling of accomplishment. This can make you become addicted to getting them done and checking them off. ✔
When the day is done, there may be items left on the list. But you stay relaxed, because they are not that important.
My 2 Cents
I have to disclaim that I don’t use the system as Allen describes it. But parts of them found their way into my daily routines. And I can say that they indeed make me more productive.
I put the bleeps into my mobile phone. I write to-do lists and place them in front of me on my desk. I prioritize items. And, as per my own system, I procrastinate occasionally and do easy tasks first 😉
“Getting Things Done” is indeed a good read if you feel drowned in tasks and seem to make poor progress. It’s OK to just pick out some parts of the system. As long as you actually implement them as daily routines you can get done more things with less distraction.
What do you think? Shoot me a message on Instagram. And follow me there to get more knowledge nuggets. ✔
In this post I’ll show you how you can bend the odds and get more of it.
It’s got to do with Colombian magic spells, horseshoes in the right size and yellow frog’s eyes.
Well, or may be not…
In the early 60s Harrison Ford moved to Hollywood to become an actor. He had unfavorable conditions (a word I prefer over bad luck) and got many fruitless casting calls. He turned to carpentry to survive and even worked for The Doors as stagehand.
Lucky Harrison, met George Lucas who hired him to install some cabinets for his private house. Lucas invited him for audition for his next film. Ford got a role in 1973s “American Graffiti”.
After this, Ford still made few money of acting and had to stay in carpentry business. A while later with some more luck again, Ford met Francis Ford Coppola and later appeared in his movie “The Conversation”. And 1977 his career finally kicked off with his famous role as Han Solo in “Star Wars”.
This is a nice anecdote. It seems as Harrison Ford got into acting business only because he was lucky.
There are many such stories of successful and famous people. And if we look at their biography it seems they all were lucky to have great opportunities. And they were lucky to be gifted.
However, what people oversee is, that the real foundation of those people’s success is a lot of hard work.
Do you think Harrison Ford got invited ONLY because he was there at the right time?
Maybe. But do you believe he could have made the second film without being a good actor in the first one? And getting the role of “Han Solo” for sure was not by pure chance.
Harrison Ford may have occurred at the right time at some times in his career. His hard practice of acting the years before actually laid the foundation for this. Without laying the exceptional groundwork, all the occasions he got by chance would not had meant anything. Ford broadcasted his voice on the radio station of his high school. He was also a sportscaster in his senior year. And he took drama class at his senior year.
There are typical constant thoughts we have: That other people are so lucky. We think “I’m just screwing up”. But you have to be aware, this is just conceptional bias. We focus on success of others. Contrarily, when looking at ourselves we only see our effort. We focus on 99% of times when it did not work. And we were not “lucky”.
There is no luck. There is no chance to truly bend the universe to our wishes. Not even celebrities and genius people can do this. It’s mere coincidence.
Others can’t change the random occurrence of their experience. They are not the ones that throw the dice and trick mathematics. We cannot change random chance. On average over a long period of time we all have the same amount of strikes AND fails. So to make our own luck, we can do two things:
We have to do thorough groundwork, like Harrison Ford did. That means, we have to practice. Put in effort into yourself or the thing you want to build, for example a business or a relationship.
2. Multiply opportunities
Increase their number by taking action and evaluating, if you should stick to a plan or change the direction. We can build and make our own luck.
Another thing you have to do is to evaluate. You have to measure independently and don’t lie to your self. Don’t fall into wishful thinking. One of the best examples for this is, when you’re looking for a spouse and you searched for very long your desire to find someone is really huge. When you finally found anyone, you quickly believe this is the only person you can be happy with. You will be blind to his / her negative sides. Despite of lot of mismatches in your wishful thinking tells your, that you fit perfectly. You think you were very lucky to have found the other person.
On the other hand, you must be aware when luck strikes you. You have to believe that you merit luck. You are worth it. Sadly, many parents and teachers tell children, that they are incapable, worthless and ugly. Doing this once, won’t make damage. Doing this over and over again, children start to believe it. When finally faced with success or an opportunity, we tend to be very shy. Too shy to grab the luck. Or you are afraid of success.
There is an intriguing story about Grigory Perelman, a Russian mathematician.The Poincaré conjuncture had been proposed by Henry Poincaré in 1904. Simply put, it’s a very hard mathematical problem. After many mathematicians got stuck in solving it, a prize of 1 Million USD was put to the one who solves the problem.
Only in 2002, Grigori Perelman, a genius, solved the Poincare conjuncture. It needed a committee of several experts, for several days, to understand an confirm the proof of Perelman. He was offered the 1 Million USD prize. Later offers of several professorships of prestigious Universities followed. And finally, the Fields Medal of outstanding work in Mathematics.
You won’t believe what happened!
Perelman declined all of it. The financial freedom he could have… The fame and prestige! One possible explanation for this is, that Perelman had Asperger’s syndrome. Another part of the reason may be his aversion to socializing, especially when it results in public attention.
Putting a long story short. Gregori Perelman was not prepared for success. He could not and did not want to handle it.
What does it mean for you?
You have to be prepared for success. You have to accept it when it comes. It can happen to everyone. You have to believe this.
Another way to build your luck, is to change directions. And to know when and how to do it. If you have a plan A and it does not work, choose plan B. Be aware the alphabet has over 20 more letters for a plan. Let go of plan A. No mourning for the great idea you had.
There is a typical feeling you may know. If not, better get aware of it. Because it will make you stick to a failing plan. And never become successful, because there was huge time and effort you put into plan A. For sentimentality, or whatever it is, you have a hard time to leave this sinking ship. Many people rather stick to a failing or bad working plan just because it felt so logical in the first place. So much emotion sticks to it.
This is also a sign of the fear, if at all you could find an alternative plan.
It’s also the avoidance of stress when admitting that plan A just sucks. It may feel like admitting that you just suck. But it’s not you, it was just the idea. It’s hard to throw it over-board. I’ve been there several times before ;-(
Imagine yourself on your own deathbed. Actually a great motivation technique. What do you think, will you wish to have stuck to a failing plan for your entire life? Or will you rather wish to had taken risk and effort to get things right eventually. To become successful.
You have to get aware, there are always new ways to your goals. You won’t run out of ideas and opportunities. Ideas and solutions may come to you when you least expect them. But when you don’t watch out for them because you cling to old ideas, you are assured to miss them.
Cindy Lauper is known for the famous pop song “Girls just want to have fun“. After some success as singer, she had to file for bankruptcy in 1981 because her record contract with Blue Angel music failed. She had to work in retail to make a living.
However, she did not throw in the towel and kept following her singing career. She just repeated throwing dice or coins to get lucky eventually. Finally, success proved her right. She came back with the 2 big albums “She’s So Unusual” and “True Colors”.
What I want to convince you of this:
lucky people have different mind sets and behavior
you are lucky as well, because
you can learn and train these behavior and mind sets to make your own luck
Another important trait to become lucky is to be social.
Get in contact with many people, especially people who are new to you.
Unlucky people always talk to the ones they know, that are often similar to themselves
don’t only stick to your old pals and environment.
In worst case, this is the same as clinging to plan A that does not work for years.
Listen to what others people do, get inspired about their job and spare time activities
Opportunitiesthat you find when socializing can be for example
a good offer for a service around your house
meeting someone who is willing to buy your old car that you just would have given away for a knocked-down price
meet someone who knows the boss of the company you always dreamed to work for
or simply meeting friends who resonate more with your personality
finally find a boy-friend or girl-friend
find a “plan B sweetheart” when “plan A sweetheart” just sucked, or left you
Connecting to new people could even mean to finally step out of detrimental environment. To leave gloomy, uninspiring circumstances and forming a habit of new activities. Also, turn to people outside your comfort zone. Chance is much higher to get exceptional opportunities or solutions, just a step afar from what’s usually comfortable to you.
Here is a metaphor to crumble old believe:
Do you feel like not having received the lucky dice?
You threw the dice and only see a 1 or 2?
Then, is the solution to give up the game, game over for your life?
Of course not!
Just throw the dice as often as you wish.
Mathematics tells us,
The more often we throw the dice the higher are the chances to get a six.
Don’t throw in the towel – throw the dice instead!
Or when throwing a coin, did you bet on head and the number showed up?
Just throw again.
Last but not least..
And life is not always fair. But life is not a game with fixed rules either. You can change an unfair coin in your life. Be creative and fin…our plan B, C, D, … or simply invent an