Reading over 70 business and self-help books, traveling all around Europe teaching people soft skills like storytelling and self-awareness, has shown me certain patterns on how to become great at anything. These things sometimes hide in plain sight but we are too distracted to see them. So we skip them, day-in and day-out we keep plowing through, not knowing if the things we are doing are making us any better.
That’s why I will share the patterns I learned on the ground through personal experience and from the best business and self-help books out there. If you follow these tips, success will take care of itself.
1. The Score will take care of itself
John Wooden is one of the most decorated trainers in the history of NCAA. He won 10 national championships in the span of 12 years, including seven in a row. The one thing he never mentioned was the score. He was all about the process.
Of course, everyone who played for him knew that they were playing basketball and that they wanted to win. But the focus was always on the process of playing the game as best as possible. He would often say that the score takes care of itself (a phrase which later described Bill Walsh, another great trainer).
When you create your goal, put it aside and focus on the process that will get you there. If you work the process, the score will literally take care of itself. You can do this through daily habits.
If there’s anything you could point out where I was a little different, it was the fact that I never mentioned winning.” – John Wooden
2. Be, don’t do
The change in your life doesn’t start with you doing something, it starts with your mindset. You first need to become that to be able to do that. Here is an example. If you are a smoker and you want to quit smoking, you will fail if you take the approach of “I am quitting cigars.”
This doesn’t make a fundamental shift in your personality. The actions that we do stem from the perception of who we are. So for us to change our actions, we need to first change our beliefs about that or we will inherently self-sabotage ourselves.
The proper way to deal with this is to say “I’m a non-smoker.” This changes your entire belief about yourself as a person. “I’m a healthy person” vs. “I am going to the gym”. “I’m a reader” vs “I read books”. The examples are endless.
3. You will not rise to the level of your expectations, but fall to the level of your practice
You know in action movies when the main character suddenly gets a power-up through yelling and screaming and comes through with an impossible action? Well, that’s a Hollywood movie. In real life, we do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our practice. So the more (and better) you practice, the better you will perform.
Break down the skill which you want to learn into small sub-sets of skills and learn each and every one of those. If you focus on those small parts and improve them, you will become better in the overall skill. This is called deliberate practice.
4. Play the long game
There is a quote by Charlie Munger which goes “No matter what you do, a woman still needs nine months to give birth to a child.” What this means is that sometimes things just need time to catch momentum and start working.
I ran a blog for two years already and it took me a year and a half to cross even 20,000 readers. But in the last six months, I did three times that. Most great things take time to start functioning properly. So prepare for the long game because the biggest returns come at the end of the line.
“I’m not concerned with noise because I’m playing the long game.” – Jay Z
5. Learn daily
If you want to make better decisions, live a more fulfilled life and stay relevant with your skills, you need to learn daily. What better way to do this than to read books and borrow the wisdom (and skills) of the masters that came before us.
There are plenty of mistakes I avoided because of books and plenty of great decisions that I made because of them. All of this comes from the habit of learning daily, a mere reading of 20 pages of a book a day. If you stay hungry for knowledge, you will become (and stay) great at anything you do.