In only a few hours I have to head to the hospital to have surgery. Don’t worry; it is a minor procedure hardly worth mentioning. I mention it only because I am mildly nervous about it. Despite its routine nature there is much about which to be concerned. There are the practical worries, such as the risks of infection or the certainty of physical discomfort. There are the irrational fears; in my case, this means an almost panic like reaction to needles, IVs, and other pokey medical instruments. Finally, and perhaps most profoundly, there is the creeping fear of the unknown. What will the surgery be like? How graceful will I be under pressure? What complications will arise? What will the recovery be like?
I mention my impending procedure—and the fears that surround it—as an entrée to discuss the topic of courage. When most people think of courage their minds jump to limited and (dare I say?) masculine archetypes. The word...
If you’re not pursuing what you say you want, then let me ask: do you really want what you say you want?
Let me begin by acknowledging that this article may hit hard. It may make you uncomfortable. It may challenge you to untangle topics you have, well, procrastinated addressing. Why? I believe most people (including you!) are capable of pursuing the goals and ideas their mind can conceive of. But not by procrastinating!
Researchers in Psychology define procrastination as voluntarily delaying an intended task despite expecting to be worse off for doing so. We procrastinate when we delay beginning or completing an intended course of action.(1) Procrastination exists in almost every culture, is found to affect 95% of the population, and 20% of individuals suffer from chronic procrastination.(2) Moreover, the effects of procrastination tend to be grim: showing negative impacts on stress, health, wealth and happiness.(34)
“On the other side of every fear is freedom.” – Allan Watts
Alyssa leaned on the table between us. Blond hair, tired from trying to tease a smile from her freshman face, hung unnoticed over her eyes. The efforts of her elbows to dent the wooden table surface appeared as fruitless as the problem she was currently describing. “I used to be an actress!” She told me with disbelief. “I loved performing. I don’t know where that person went. Now I just hate it out there.” Alyssa had come to see if I, a mental performance consultant who specializes in athletes, could help her.
Alyssa plays golf for her college team. She’s been experiencing severe anxiety on the golf course since arriving at school. “I used to love having people watch me,” she said. “Now, I just wish they wouldn’t. I’m terrified I’m going to make a mistake.” Alyssa’s performance has been steadily...
“I want to want to run,” he told me, dark eyes hard like the internal wall he felt he was up against. “Sometimes I drive to the track, and then I sit in the car, and I just don’t want to do it. I turn around and drive home again.” This is a familiar pattern for many of us. You might recognize it when you linger around the house before leaving for a jog, or in the sudden need to organize the kitchen cupboards before you can sit down to work. It’s in the best of our human nature to want to want to do many things that are good for us. However, often when our motivation is lacking these well-intended tasks do not occur. This article discusses the subject of motivation – the desire to act – and how to grow motivation even when you’re sure its seeds are irretrievable within the winds of your whims. I’m going to explain the key to breaking this pattern, which is simply that you don’t need motivation in...
“Do a huge volume of work.”
This is advice from Ira Glass (star of the hugely successful podcast, This American Life), for anyone seeking to master a craft, or produce works of creative genius. Indeed, history and research supports this assertion. Some of the most famous achievers have delivered their most celebrated ideas during times of high productivity. Yet, despite the apparent value of many hours invested and a high quantity of output, many of us shy away from choosing a lifestyle that involves a great volume of work. Or, we don’t make the most of circumstances where a high volume is imposed upon us. This article is designed to help you embrace the times in your life when high volume is forced or available. Read on for strategies to turn your chaos into creation.
1. Reconsider “chaos”
The labels we place on events, emotions, obligations, and opportunities greatly impact our subjective experience. As we set forth in a day...
Number of Times I Have Changed Someone’s Mind by Arguing With Them on Facebook: 0.
This joke popped up on my page a few years ago, but it’s still funny because it’s still true. Debates on Facebook rarely end with one side conceding that the other is correct. Rather, after spending hours (sometimes days) typing furiously at the screen, we dismiss our adversary, wondering why they can’t understand common sense.
One phenomenon that leads to this frustration is called switchtracking. In their book Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen state that switchtracking is what occurs when your response to someone else changes the subject. Soon, you’re talking about two different topics, neither of which addresses the other. For example:
Person 1: Do you see how blue this door is?
Person 2: Yes, but have you seen how it opens?
Here, person 2 immediately switches the subject...
The world’s best performers—in domains as varied as sport, art, and business—follow a common pathway to continual growth, at least that's what I learned in researching and reporting my new book, Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. They take on challenges and make themselves uncomfortable (stress) and then follow those challenges with recovery and reflection (rest). Then they rinse and repeat, with a slightly greater challenge. Too much stress, not enough rest and the result is injury, illness, or burnout. Not enough stress, too much rest and the result is complacency.
Seek Out Stress
Whether it is physical, intellectual, or emotional growth, research suggests that skills from struggle. If we wish to get better at anything, we need stress ourselves, pushing beyond our current limits. Studies show that both the body and...
It’s important to know how to put your head down and work hard. In an increasingly globalized economy—in which we are competing not just with each other, but also with human-replacing technologies—those who embody grit and grind will have an undeniable edge.
But that’s only half the battle. If we ceaselessly push ourselves without ever taking breaks, the quality of our work will suffer in the short term. And in the long term, we’ll be liable to burnout. For hard work to become valuable and sustainable, it must be followed by rest and recovery.
There is no shortage of products that promise to help us “hack” our way to sustainable peak performance. Unfortunately, every quick fix that I’ve ever evaluated has one thing in common: they all fade quickly. The vast majority of scientific evidence suggests that the best...
Over the past two years, I, along with a co-author who is a performance scientist and coach of Olympians, have been researching and reporting for a new book, Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive With the New Science of Success.
We set out to answer a simple question: What makes great? What are the principles that underlie mastery across fields and capabilities?
To find the answer, we spoke with world-class athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, and intellects, and we poured over literature from diverse fields including psychology, neuroscience, biology, physiology, and even philosophy. We learned enough to fill a book (that’s why we wrote one!), and what follows are some of the highlights. Each of the principles below is supported by both science and the experience of individuals who are on top of their respective fields. And best of all, each principle can be...
Wings of Dreams
As a young boy, Jeb Corliss would look at birds taking off from trees near his house in wonder as they flew. “I’m gonna do that one day,” he recalls declaring to his grandmother.
Years later, as a world class BASE jumper and wingsuit diver with massive sponsorships from the likes of Red Bull and GoPro, Jeb would live this dream so often that he forgot something.
“It all started when…” he trails off as he tries to recount his epic crash, one that almost killed him as he flew from Table Mountain in South Africa.
“No, we can go back before that,” he catches himself. “I made a massive mistake. My biggest mistake, for sure, was I’d lost the fear. I thought it wasn’t useful.”
In the 6 months it took him to learn to walk, jump and fly again, that fear came back with a fury - but he overcame it, and is still jumping to this day. Is it really possible to actively build up the...
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