Jan 272013
 
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more learning acceleration

14 More Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

Hopefully, the first seven ways to accelerate your learning and progress were helpful.  Here are fourteen more to help you build and maintain momentum in pursuit of your dreams and objectives.

1.     Conquer performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks.  If the anxiety is extreme, you may not be able to perform at all.  There are techniques for overcoming performance anxiety.  Figure out what works for you and use it religiously.  Seriously, relax!  You’re good.  You just need to believe in yourself and not worry what others think!  It’s easier said than done; I know.

2.     Push beyond.

Any weight lifter will tell you that they’ve achieved their most impressive gains when they’ve been willing to push beyond the point they thought they could handle.  That is, the point of pain, effort, belief, willpower, etc.  When you’re doing “easy repetitions,” whether in weightlifting, another sport, or most any endeavor, you are not making progress.  The progress is made at the margin, where you’re willing to push beyond the norm.

3.     Forget the critics.

Don’t worry about what the critics have to say.  If you want, you can take whatever is useful to you from their commentary.  If not, then ignore them altogether.  Their mission is not to make you successful; rather, it’s to tear you down, so you can be miserable like them.  Don’t buy into that game.  If you ever need inspiration in this regard, turn to one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Citizenship in a Republic, a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France (23 April 1910).

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

4.     Choose tougher opponents.

Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and take on tougher opponents.  Regardless of your endeavor, if you want to stay in the shallow end and play the weaker opponents, you may have fun and boost your ego, but you will never get better.  The way to get better is to choose tougher opponents and be willing to lose sometimes (or a lot in the beginning).  Then, learn from your mistakes and keep upping your game.  If you’re never (or rarely) losing, you’re not pushing yourself enough by playing against tough competition.

5.     Set goals correctly.

Not everyone believes in goal setting.  In my experience and observation, goal setting can work well, particularly if goals are set correctlyThis involves ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.  If you are going through the work of setting goals, do yourself a favor and don’t make them so general that they’re not meaningful.  Also, make sure you have a big enough “why” (why are you going after these goals?), so that when you run into challenges, you’ll be able to summon the energy and perseverance to press on.

6.     Make sure you’re committed.

If you’re not committed to achieving your goals and dreams, no one else is going to be committed for you!  The responsibility rests on your shoulders.  You must take the bull by the horns and make it happen.  Ask yourself the question:  Am I interested or committed?  If you find that you’re just interested, that’s acceptable for entertainment purposes, but not for serious goals.  In order to take on a big goal or task, you must be committed, or the likelihood you will make it happen decreases significantly.

7.     Be bold.

As the Latin proverb goes, “Fortune favors the bold”.  When you are trying to achieve something, especially something extraordinary or “great,” you do yourself no favors by being timid.  Be bold.  Be willing to stand out from the crowd.  This may be completely out of character for some, especially the introverts among us, but trust me, you’ll be shocked by how much more you can get accomplished by being bold.  When you are bold, it works not just to convince others, but also yourself, of your conviction.

8.     Overcome perfectionism.

The more I live, the more I realize that perfectionism truly is the enemy of most accomplishment!  Perfectionism can cause us to do nothing.  Perfectionism can cause us to sweat unimportant details and not see the forest through the trees.  Perfectionism can cause us to beat ourselves up needlessly and get into a negative state of mind for no good reason.  I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life and it has been more apparent in certain areas of life than others.  It’s only when I’ve been able to give myself “a break” that I’ve been able to perform at my best in a variety of endeavors.  Performing well without the pressure of being “perfect” (virtually impossible in almost all endeavors) is much easier.  Give yourself a break and give it a try!

9.     Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is caused, at least in part, by perfectionism.  We don’t get started because we don’t want to fail, with “failure” being defined as anything less than perfection.  With such unrealistic expectations, it’s no wonder that so many people procrastinate.  It is a source of frustration for many.  There are ways to overcome procrastination.  I suggest you study up on them and give yourself the knowledge and confidence to overcome your tendency to put things off, seemingly indefinitely sometimes.

10.  Overcome your fears.

Fears can immobilize us!  Fears, whether founded or not, can cause us to perform poorly in a whole host of situations.  It’s important to learn how to overcome your fears, so you can perform at your best as much as possible.  There are proven techniques for overcoming your fears, or at least lessening the impact of the “fear response” in key situations.  We all have fears, whether or not we’re willing to admit them.  If we want to accelerate our learning and our ability to make progress in our endeavors, we must understand how to conquer our fears.

11.  Understand the key requirements.

In order to accelerate your learning and progress, you must make an effort to understand the key requirements for success in your chosen endeavor!  There is almost never a good reason to reinvent the wheel.  In all likelihood, unless you’re doing something extremely cutting edge, there are other successful people in whose path you may follow.  Work with a coach, other subject matter expert, or mentor to first understand what you will need to have and do in order to be successful.  Only then can you take the most efficient route to success in your endeavor.

12.  Believe.

Strong belief can overcome shortcomings in many key areas.  No matter how difficult the road becomes, your job as an achiever is to continue to believe that you can be successful!  Such belief will give you energy where you thought you had none and it will allow you to tap the enormous reserve of willpower that we all have as human beings.  Without belief, little is possible.  With belief, almost anything is possible.

13.  Tap your will to succeed.

Find ways to tap your will to succeed.  We’re all different, so not all things that work for you may work for the next person.  But there are techniques you can find and develop on your own that will allow you to tap your willpower as needed.  In my experience, it’s helpful to have an inventory of inspirational people and stories in your mind, so that when the going gets tough, you’re able to call on those memories in order to get yourself to push on.  They can be memories from your past, or inspirational stories you’ve read or heard about.  I have used this technique to push far beyond where I thought I could go, both mentally and physically, in a number of very challenging situations.

14.  Plan, even if just a little.

Some of us have a tendency to “wing it” a bit more than we should.  I know that there was a time that I fell into that category.  It tends to come with the territory when you’re not suffering from a shortage of confidence – you believe that whatever challenge may arise, you’ll overcome it and attain your objectives.  With age and maturity, I have learned that even if you do just a little planning, often times the outcome far exceeds what you likely could have pulled off by “winging it”.  Don’t plan to the point of analysis paralysis, but put in some time to lay out the steps you expect will be necessary to achieve your objectives.  Don’t be surprised if you have to course-correct several times on the fly, but that’s OK!  As one of my mentors liked to say, “you should have a powerful plan that can change”.  Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it provide you with at least a rough road map to where you’re trying to go.

I hope you will put these ideas to use and they will help you to accelerate your learning and progress in your endeavors!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 252013
 
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accelerate your learning

7 Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

If you are looking to accelerate your learning and progress more rapidly, here are seven ideas to help make it happen in any endeavor.

1.     Create a sense of urgency.

Without a sense of urgency, often times it’s hard to get started and stay focused.  This step may include creating “unrealistic deadlines”.  Such deadlines, while tough to meet, by definition, force you to focus and to employ all available resources, with a strong sense of urgency.

2.     Don’t worry about failing.

As long as you learn from “failure,” it can help you rather than hinder you (the magnitude of the failure is a factor, obviously).  You will need to fail a certain amount to improve to the next level in almost any endeavor.  If you are unwilling to fail, therefore, you cannot make it to the next level.

3.     Focus.

Lack of focus affects almost all of us, at one point or another in our lives.  Study after study has now shown that multi-tasking does not work.  Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can multi-task and be as effective as you are when you focus on one thing at a time.

4.     Have a why.

If you have a compelling (to you) reason for doing something, you are far more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  Many refer to this as “having a why”.  The most important characteristic of a good “why” is that it matters deeply to you; do not worry about what others think.

5.     Stop whining.

Whining in our society runs rampant.  The key is not to be a whiner; rather, put on your big boy pants and step up to the plate.  If you are truly committed to what you’re trying to accomplish, instead of whining when things go wrong, you’ll stay focused on the prize.

6.     Practice correctly, with feedback.

By now most everyone is familiar with the concept of “deliberate practice”.  It is a form of practice wherein you don’t just show up and practice indiscriminately, without paying attention to potential areas for improvement.  If you are going to practice deliberately, you will pay attention to the results you achieve, then use that feedback to continually adjust your approach.  If you practice in this manner, you will likely achieve better results, faster.  You can provide feedback to yourself, but often times it easier, even essential, to have a knowledgeable coach working with you to accelerate your learning.

7.     Don’t overthink everything.

Even if you are a left-brain, analytical type, learn not to overthink everything.  Be willing to do a certain amount of trial and error.  This way you can avoid analysis paralysis, which can be a real progress inhibitor for the person who tends to want to explore every last potential detail and problem before getting started on an endeavor.  For complex endeavors, which include most that are worth achieving, such an approach usually is not realistic.

While speed is not always a major point of focus when we are trying to accomplish a goal or just getting started in an endeavor, often it is.  Given the pace at which our world is changing, many times if we’re not moving at a reasonable speed in our endeavors, particularly in competitive areas such as business and sports, we’re being left behind.  Hopefully, the ideas above will help you with accelerating your learning and making more rapid progress toward the accomplishment of your goals!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 122013
 
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sense of purpose

A Sense Of Purpose Is So Important, Especially During Tough Times

How important is it to have a sense of purpose in all that you do?  I would argue that it’s extremely important, especially during tough times.

What is a sense of purpose?  If you take a look at the definition of “purpose,” (see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/purpose) you realize that it is a loaded word, with many potential meanings.  For the purposes of our discussion here, I’ll focus on the fifth definition:

         5.  The reason for which something is done, or the reason it is done in a particular way.

Other definitions and synonyms include such concepts as goals, intentions, and targets.  Here, I’d like to go for a higher sense of purpose.  While goals may be part of the picture, as we’re looking at it here, a sense of purpose takes it to a higher level.

Let’s look at an example of the difference between goals and a sense of purpose.

Example.  My wife and I decided we wanted to run a Tough Mudder (www.toughmudder.com) race together.  The race is usually a run somewhere between 11 and 12 miles, interrupted by roughly 25 military-style obstacles.

Our goals included:

1.)   Training sufficiently, so we would reduce the likelihood that we’d get injured during the race.

2.)   Finishing the race.  Finishing the race together.  Finishing the race in a certain amount of time.

3.)   Doing all the obstacles – not skipping any.

4.)   Helping others during the race.

5.)   Doing as well as the younger people in the race (other than the military folks and the top athletes).

Our corresponding sense of purpose included:

1.)   Staying in shape, in order to maintain a high overall level of health and fitness, in an effort to increase our longevity and our quality of life.

2.)   Enhancing our relationship and sharing an experience that we could always have in common.

3.)   Overcoming any fears we may have had, which would make us more confident in overcoming challenges in all areas of our lives.

4.)   Taking part in the camaraderie of the race, reinforcing our own contribution and our positive sense of the nature of human beings.

5.)   Showing our kids and ourselves that, to a large extent, age is a state of mind, and it is possible to be active and competitive throughout your life.

My wife and I have done several Tough Mudder and other challenging mud and endurance races together.  It’s been a great series of experiences, from which we’ve benefited in numerous ways.  I can assure you that if we did not have a sense of purpose, we would have been lucky to complete one such race.  In fact, we likely would have had a hard time even making it through the several months of intensive training that preceded each race.

I could say the same thing about many challenging experiences we’ve had in our lives.  I’ll bet that you can think of examples in your own life, where if you hadn’t had a sense of purpose, it’s likely that you would have quit somewhere along the way.

A clear sense of purpose gives us the ability to access our willpower on a level that simply is not available to most people who have no such sense of purpose.

I think there is a close connection between the idea of a sense of purpose and the common question, “what it your why”?  It gets closer to the core reason you do what you do, than do simple goals or ideas.  The real power comes when you are able to find your “why,” and back it up with goals that are specific and measurable.  Without a “why” or sense of purpose, it’s likely that, regardless of how precise and well-thought-out your goals may be, you will find it hard to persevere toward achieving them, especially when the inevitable tough times come along.

Set goals and monitor your progress toward achieving them.  But before you do so, make sure you have a sense of purpose for what you’re doing.  It’s not necessary that you fully understand that purpose(s), but at least have a sense of your “why”.  In my experience and observation, such an approach will greatly increase the likelihood that you will achieve your goals, and perhaps more importantly, that you will enjoy both the journey and destination.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Dec 152012
 
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you are not your past

You Are Not Your Past

This may be good news for some and bad news for others:  You are not your past.

If you’ve had a great past, with many successes, perhaps this is not good news.

If you’ve had a tough time in the past, with few positive experiences, this may be great news.

The reality for most people probably lies somewhere in between.

Regardless, it is important that you understand that you can start fresh today.  In fact, you can start fresh right now.  All you have to do is give yourself permission to do so!  This is the toughest part for most people.  Don’t dwell on your failures; don’t rest on your laurels.  Rather, decide that the future begins fresh right now.

This theme is front and center for me right now, as I’m involved in the very difficult process of writing my father’s eulogy.  As I’m doing so, I’m realizing that many of the constraints that he lived with during his life were self-imposed.

He was a brilliant guy, with a great education, a competitive spirit, and an exceptional ability to get along with others. Yet I think he always held back quite a bit, particularly on an emotional level, due to constraints he felt that resulted from the difficult childhood he lived as an orphan during the Great Depression.

As I’m writing and preparing to deliver his eulogy, I’m realizing how much he did in his life, but I’m doubting if anyone ever said to him, or he ever said to himself:  You are not your past.

Give yourself this simple gift.  Give yourself permission to start fresh and to overcome whatever challenges and deficiencies you may have faced in the past.  You don’t have to look far to find examples of people who have overcome massive challenges to achieve extraordinary success in their lives.  You also don’t need to look far to see people who have enjoyed success, then ended up losing it all.

Remember that you are not your past and that wherever you are today, and whatever you may have done or faced in the past, you have the option to start fresh today.

If you find it difficult to do so on your own, look to those who’ve already taken the path you’re looking to follow.  You don’t need to start from scratch.  Success leaves clues, as the saying goes.  Seek the sage counsel of those who’ve gone before you.

Remember, you are not your past, but you are your present, and you will be your future.  Give yourself the gift of putting the past behind you.  Take advantage of the present.  Every moment is a chance to start fresh and go after your goals and dreams.  Don’t waste that opportunity.  Life’s too short!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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Apr 262012
 
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push beyond

Want Extraordinary Results?  Push Beyond.

Achieving extraordinary results is not the domain of those who are not willing to leave their comfort zone; it is the territory of those who are willing to push beyond.

This means that just at the moment you feel like you cannot take any more, you need to reach deep inside and push beyond the pain you are feeling, assuming you can do so without causing any permanent damage.  Let me emphasize that qualification:  assuming you can do so without causing any permanent damage.

What does this mean in practicality?  Well, I do a lot of consulting and coaching in both business and in the sports world (particularly soccer), so I need to differentiate between those two worlds.  In the business world, pushing beyond typically means doing things that you’re not necessarily comfortable with, for example, making sales calls.  In the sports world, it usually means that just when you think that you cannot do any more (reps, distance, practice, etc.), you’ve usually arrived at the point where you’re in a position to learn and make true gains.  In both worlds, this must be done in the context of preserving both your physical and mental health.  Furthermore, you must learn to take responsibility for knowing yourself and recognizing when “a push beyond” may actually cause you serious and potentially permanent damage.  There’s often a fine line between making extraordinary gains and causing irreparable damage.  Top achievers learn to walk that line very carefully.

So why do I bring up this concept of pushing beyond?  In my own experience and in my observation of those whom I train and advise, it is only those who are willing to push the limits that truly accomplish extraordinary things.  Think about it.  If you are someone who is comfortable with just doing the minimum or doing what everyone else is willing to do, how can you expect to achieve extraordinary results?  By definition, anything that is extraordinary is not ordinary!  It cannot be achieved by ordinary means, except with a big dose of luck.  If you’re a high achiever, or aspire to be one, you cannot be content to let luck play too big a part in your success.  Rather, you must learn to take control of your own destiny, commit yourself to achieving the challenging goals you set, then be willing to push beyond when pain, fatigue and other issues such as fear of failure get in your way.  You have to commit to yourself that you will do whatever it takes, within reason, to make your goals a reality.

In soccer there’s a term you hear used frequently called “work rate”.  You’ll hear coaches and announcers say, “Her (or his) work rate is excellent”.  This means that the player is putting in a significant effort.  He or she is not standing around hoping that good things will happen.  Rather, they are being proactive and working hard to create opportunities for themselves and for their teammates and limit opportunities for the opposing team.  In other words, they are doing what they can to take control of their own destiny, in that game or practice, and by extension, in their career and their lives.  The same holds true in business.  A person’s work rate can have a profound effect on the ultimate success they achieve.  Granted, luck will always play some part, but the achiever does everything they can, in their power, to achieve the goals and results they are seeking.  This includes pushing beyond when things get tough.

How is your work rate?  Do you push beyond when the going gets tough?  Take an honest look at how you approach the endeavors that are important to you.  Make adjustments as necessary and I’m confident that you will begin to see results that are more in line with what you are hoping to achieve.

I look forward to your thoughts.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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