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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Jul 052012
 
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practice does not make perfect

Practice Does Not Make Perfect; Practice Makes Permanent.

I was at a soccer (“football” for most outside the United States) training session recently and heard this expression, which I hadn’t heard for a while:  Practice Does Not Make Perfect; Practice Makes Permanent.  It never made much of an impression on me in the past, but this time it really resonated, as I was watching players make the same technical errors over and over again.

The corollary expression is, of course:  Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!  But what is “perfect practice”?

In many cases, as I’ve written elsewhere, perfectionism can be very destructive and can impede you from reaching your goals, rather than helping you get there.  When it comes to practicing correctly though, seeking perfection, in my opinion, is a worthwhile goal.  I have always believed that you will compete the way you practice.  I have seen it time and again in my own athletic endeavors and those of the teams and players I have coached.

Does this same concept apply to business and other endeavors beyond sports?  I would argue that it does.  The most effective and successful business people I know are meticulous about how they “practice” and they are very deliberate in taking note of and adjusting to the feedback they receive from their markets and other constituencies.

The concept of the 10,000 hour rule for becoming an expert and the related idea of deliberate practice have been widely embraced in recent years.  They are often credited to Malcolm Gladwell, as he popularized the ideas in his book Outliers, but they were, in fact, originated by Ericsson and others, many years before.

An important element of “deliberate practice” is feedback.  The idea is that it is not sufficient to just practice for 10,000 hours; rather, in order to become an expert, you must practice deliberately, with feedback, always seeking to correct and improve upon errors you are making.  In other words, you are seeking perfect practice!

So, what is “perfect practice”?

First, notice that nowhere in these concepts is it expected that you will be perfect all the time, in practice or in the “game”.  This is where many athletes and other achievers become confused, I think.  They mistakenly believe that they must be perfect all the time, and if they’re not, they become frustrated and many quit.

As you are practicing and seeking to improve your performance in athletics, business or whatever other endeavor you may undertake, be careful to approach perfection correctly.  Understand that you will not be perfect all the time.  That’s OK!  The key is, rather than becoming frustrated and quitting because you are not perfect all the time, learn from your errors and continue to improve.  See every mistake and “failure” as an opportunity to improve.  That’s “perfect practice” in my opinion.  You put in your best effort.  You don’t slack off, but you also realize that you will make mistakes.  Rather than allowing those mistakes to demoralize you though, you use them as motivation to get better, always seeking “perfection,” but willing to acknowledge that it will always be (slightly, hopefully) out of reach.

Achievers are notoriously hard on themselves and those around them.  That’s OK too, as long as you don’t become so obsessed with perfection that your desire to be perfect ruins your attitude and your chances to become your best.  On the other side of the coin, don’t become lax and allow yourself to be too sloppy in your practice.  Remember, as you practice, so will you perform in competition!  If you’re serious about your sport, your business and your other endeavors, you owe it to yourself to take practice seriously and remember, if you continue to make the same mistakes without correcting them, you will never reach your full potential.

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 222012
 
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change is good

Do You Embrace Change?

I have found that it is quite useful to embrace change, to be a person who seeks out the new and different.

As the saying goes, “There is one constant in life, and that is change”.

Of comfort to those who dread change should be another saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

How do you approach change?  Many I’ve known try to avoid change at all costs.  They’re even willing to perpetuate policies and approaches that no longer make sense, just so they will not have to deal with change.  Logically, we know this does not make sense, but by and large, human behavior is not based on logic, it’s based on emotion.

So what’s so bad about change?  For most, the answer to this question is:  I’m comfortable with the current approach and I went to a lot of trouble to learn and understand it, so I do not want to have to learn something new.  In many cases, the truth is that they did not actually go “to a lot of trouble to learn and understand it”; rather, it just fell into their lap and it just “is”.  They’re lazy and afraid and they just don’t want to have to deal with yet another new thing.

Unfortunately for those who approach life this way, as the saying goes, change is the only constant.  Even if much of the change is just a repositioning or a repackaging of old ideas, concepts and approaches, as far as our minds go, it’s different.  So, deal with it.  Don’t try to avoid it.  Embrace it.  Seek ways to find and even encourage change.  This brings to mind the title of a book I once read, “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It,” by Robert Kriegel.  It was quite a while back, so I don’t recall all the details, but if I remember correctly, the main theme was to challenge “conventional wisdom”.  The mindset that “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way,” simply does not make sense, particularly in a world as dynamic as the one in which we live.

The idea of challenging “conventional wisdom” appeals to me viscerally.  It describes who I am and who I’ve always aspired to be:  someone who doesn’t just take “that’s how it is” as an answer.  This can lead to its challenges, of course, particularly in environments where the “powers that be” make major efforts to indoctrinate their subordinates.  I’m sure you can think of a few environments like that.

So what does this mean to the entrepreneur and the high achiever?  In my experience, those who embrace change, or at a minimum, are willing and able to deal with it head-on, rather than doing all they can to avoid it, tend to have better outcomes in the world of achievement and entrepreneurship.  They are introspective in all that they do and even though they don’t just do whatever “the man” says, they are coachable.  They will challenge most everything they hear, but they do so with an open mind.  They embrace change, but do not fall victim to “shiny object syndrome”.  They approach all problems and issues as opportunities and they understand that change is an unavoidable element of progress.  They are not intellectually (or otherwise) lazy; rather, they are intellectually curious and have a strong desire to continually improve and tweak wherever they can.  They do so without succumbing to the circularity and paralyzing nature of perfectionism.

How do you approach change?  Would you say you embrace the opportunity to find better solutions, or do you stonewall every suggested change that comes your way?  Are you a change agent, or are you a staunch protector of the status quo?

I encourage you to open your mind to change.  Challenge everything, of course, but do it in the spirit of confronting the dynamic nature of our world and business operating environment, rather than burying your head in the sand, or worse yet, actively trying to impede every potentially beneficial change that comes your way.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  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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Aug 012011
 
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Why Perfectionism Is The Enemy

In the early stages of starting a business, or starting anything, for that matter, almost nothing goes according to plan.  For those of you who’ve ever started anything even a little bit complex, you understand where I’m coming from.  You can plan and prepare to your heart’s content, but there are always glitches and stumbling blocks that you have to overcome.  As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

This is where perfectionism and perfectionist tendencies come in.  What does a perfectionist do when everything is not perfect?  Do they have a meltdown?  Do they get discouraged and quit?  Do they never start in the first place, fearing that something may go wrong?  Any of the above can be expected of a perfectionist, of someone who has a strong need to control everything and to have it come out “perfectly”.

You can see where I’m going with this.  If you are a perfectionist, you will have a hard time starting things.  You will have a hard time making them run and watching them go sideways from time to time.  You will have a hard time finishing things, as you know they will never come out as perfectly as you want them to.  You will probably also have ulcers and many other negative side effects of requiring perfection of yourself and likely, of those around you as well.

Here’s what I’m NOT saying:  you should have low standards, then you’ll never be disappointed.  That is not even close to the point I am making.  I think you should have extremely HIGH standards for yourself and those around you.  I think you should do everything in your power to live up to those high standards and achieve more than the vast majority of the population.  But I DON’T think you should be a perfectionist.  Life does not have to be binary.  It does not have to be black and white.  There is a middle ground.

It is also extremely important to pick your battles wisely.  If you are starting or growing a business, or trying to achieve greatness in sports or any other endeavor, it is likely that you’ll confront dozens of different decisions and challenges each day.   These decisions and challenges are not “one size fits all” – they do not have equal importance and implications.  It is extremely important to look at each decision and challenge you face in context.  You must consider its potential impact on a micro and macro level, before you react.

Some issues and challenges you face WILL be extremely important.  Depending what your area of endeavor is, it’s not likely that they’ll be “life or death”, but in some cases they may be.  Whatever the case, you need to learn to maintain your poise and stay calm.  That is the only way that you can perform at your best.  When you run into stressful situations or those that invoke fear, use the G.A.M.E.S. Approach, which I’ve covered elsewhere and is based on techniques taught to the Navy SEALs to master extraordinarily challenging and stress-inducing scenarios.  It focuses on effective Goal-setting, Arousal Control, Mental Rehearsal, Endurance, and Self-talk.

Whatever approach you employ to overcome perfectionism, the first step is to recognize that you have an issue. From there, you can take a deep breath and each successive step should get a little easier.  Fear of failure should be less of an issue for you going forward.  You should become better at managing difficult situations and finishing what you start.  You should be less likely to let your perfectionist tendencies keep you from achieving all you’re capable of and from leading the less-stressful, happier existence you deserve.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

paul@CompanyFounder.com

www.CompanyFounder.com.

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