Why does reaching a goal so often leave us with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction, as if it wasn’t enough? It seems far too easy to nitpick the amazing success we achieve.
There’s a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the human brain is wired for negativity because it wants to keep us safe from threats and help us avoid being eaten by predators. That’s a good thing, but this neurological wiring has not evolved much since the caveman days. So, when the car in front cuts us off, a waiter acts in a rude way or we are forced to deal with the daily tribulations of digital life, our brains think we are being chased by wild bears and react defensively.
The second reason is that there is no such thing as the perfect experience. Every positive comes with a downside. My favorite place in the whole world is Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. However, to get there requires an hour and a half drive to the airport, a three-hour wait in the terminal, then a five-hour...
Achieving success is a bit like calibrating a constantly evolving machine. This machine is the complexities of human behavior and understanding them can drastically improve your chances of success. If you want to do more, go with the flow rather than against it. After all, it’s much easier to swim downstream than struggle upstream.
Let’s explore some of these natural tendencies.
Habits are so much more than just repeated actions. That’s only the start. Habits are the brain’s way of conserving and optimizing energy brain energy so you can focus on critical tasks. Normally, the thousands of cues and special routines performed by our unconscious aren’t a problem – in fact, we rely on them to get us through the day. But forming a new habit is more about your environment than the diminishing resources of discipline or willpower. For instance, if you switch the silverware in your kitchen even one drawer over, you will almost...
After a dismal 2020 NFL season due to Covid-19 restrictions, fans are eagerly preparing for a return to normal for the season. And the drama behind the scenes has already started.
Veteran players Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Russell Wilson of my Seahawks said they both want more input on their teams’ decision making. Working with supremely talented people like Rodgers and Wilson can be a wonderful experience and any team should relish the opportunity to find a place for them in their strategy room.
But the two have been treated very differently over recent months. Rodgers wasn’t even consulted about plans to draft a new quarterback, dismiss his quarterback coach and a host of other significant moves last year. No franchise quarterback should ever be surprised like this.
On the other hand, Wilson’s concerns about decisions to add multiple players to Seahawks were addressed and they even hired a new offensive coordinator to ensure a smooth...
Every successful group got that way by following a set of basic values and rules. Individual success is wonderful. But there is no such thing as a lonely gunslinger. Everyone’s success is largely predicated on aligning with the norms of the wider society, professional circles or companies – not to mention the values of one’s family and friend groups.
Human groups can’t live together without a set of basic values and rules. For instance, we’ve generally decided that a red light means stops and a green light means go (an orange light is more debatable). This agreement helps humans coordinate their actions when driving cars. Traffic lights are a simple but effective method for social cooperation and avoiding crashes.
This system has worked well for nearly a century. Yet as technology advances and complicates our lives, our society is having trouble getting on the same page about its values and rules. COVID-19 tested if we could quickly come up with a plan...
Any goal can be reached by following a good methodology. It means defining the goal, planning out the steps to achieve it and then doing the work. Hoping for the best is part of the process, but success only comes from taking the correct steps.
For years, I wanted to grow my presence on social media. I read books about it and watched dozens of tutorial YouTube videos. Sure, I already posted on social media and often engaged with others on those platforms, but it wasn’t growing. I tried hiring an assistant to take over but could never find the right person. And any time I put in a little effort, it felt like such a time-sucking chore. It was only when I deployed a methodology that I accomplished my goal of creating a decent social media presence.
Whether your goal is to write a book, save money or even become an entrepreneur, focus is important – and thankfully it can be learned. Here are some pointers:
Confirmation bias is when we look for evidence to validate a position. But admitting when you are wrong can be liberating. No amount of belief will get you to your destination if your car is on the wrong road. The only option is to admit fault, check your ego and pull out a map.
Twenty years ago this month, I graduated from the University of Southern California. Three years before that, I hit one of the biggest challenges in my life. My disability felt like an anchor and sometimes I worried that the only people who would help me were my parents. These thoughts regularly crept into my mind when I thought about the future, however by the time I reached the age of 20, I was pretty good at dismissing them.
But then one day I could no longer suppress these feelings. I had chosen a school that was in driving distance of my house, yet I became haunted by whispers that if I were not disabled, I could attend a bigger college.
After about eleven months of fretting, I revealed this worry to my...
When life isn’t going our way, it is easy to blame our challenges on anything and anyone but ourselves.
If we are to achieve our goals, we must accurately diagnose what is wrong and, more importantly, how we can do better rather than playing the blame game.
Don’t get me wrong, unless you are totally delusional the total blame won’t ever solely be yours. But there is a nuanced way to play the blame game which requires going beyond the obvious. The only way to diagnose your problems is to understand how hidden factors can affect your life.
My disability can feel like an anchor. Everything I do takes extra effort and energy. And while it would be easy to blame everything on my disability (even when my favorite sports’ team loses), this narrative doesn’t help me achieve my goals. Instead, I look for the things I can control like my routines, processes, habits or attitude – even if it is sometimes hard to remember to do this.
The reality is, many of...
Just because something is true does not make it honest. While it is true that parts of life can get in the way of achieving success and happiness, an honest perspective can show us how to minimize those challenges and exploit the opportunities.
It would be easy for me to paint a depressing picture of living with a disability. I could show you how many activities I simply can’t do on my own or that might take more effort to finish. I used to worry about not being there for my kids in the ways I wanted. After all, I cannot help them get dressed, or play sports with them or even whip up a quick lunch for them.
This is all technically 100% true, but if I’m being honest, I have an amazing and fulfilling life. I laugh a lot. Many of my friendships have lasted for decades. I have incredible parents. The honest truth is, I am blessed.
Of course, obstacles will always exist. For instance, it’s harder to make money in a bad economy; growing up in a low socioeconomic...
Your parents or the people who raised us had a major influence on your adult mindset. People can achieve amazing success by drawing from the great lessons passed between generations like mental heirlooms. That’s the upside. Unfortunately, the downside can be that most people never think to challenge their childhood narrative. Indeed, a surprising number of folks never move beyond fifteen miles of the town in which they were born.
Of course, none of this would be a problem if the people who raised you had the perfect mindset, but that is a fantasy. The law of inertia means your ancestors were probably just following the same pattern as their parents without giving much thought to how their mindset could change. The inertia means they will likely raise their kids too with the same mindset.
Parents aren’t the only ones with influence on a person. A peer network also has plenty to do with shaping one’s mindset. After all, we are social creatures that...
Wanting success is the first step, but it’s not enough. You must be willing to put in consistent, daily effort. "Hard work" won’t cut it, either. Every effort must focus on the right goal. After all, the right effort in the wrong direction will get you no closer to where you want to go.
It’s not about trying some tactics a few times and then giving up, saying: “it is what it is.” If a business idea does not pan out or the new employee is lazy, try something else. Change your approach. Come up with new ideas, hire someone else or navigate around whatever obstacle gets in the way.
Study great businesses and people to see what it takes to succeed. For instance, it is extremely tough to win a Super Bowl by paying top dollar for a quarterback. The formula to win means paying a reasonable price for a quarterback and spreading the funds to surround that star player with a decent team. Think about it: every dollar spent on a good QB above a reasonable price is...