As I come to grips with adjusting to life post breast cancer trauma, I find myself struggling with what it is I really want to do. I realize that I have developed skills over the years through my experiences as a woman business leader, but I also acknowledge that I have been juggling too may balls in the air. I have always talked about focus and understanding what it is that you are really good at and honing your skills.
Now, as I look at my options ahead, I realize that whatever I choose to do has to be something that makes a difference in others’ lives. Cultivating the focus means surpassing failures and setbacks, and spending my time working toward that goal, never allowing failure to be an option.
Tony Schwartz outlines some worthwhile ways to achieve excellence below:
- Pursue what you love
Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
- Do the hardest work first
We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
- Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break
Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
- Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses
The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.
- Take regular renewal breaks
Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.
- Ritualize practice
The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.
Tony wrote the list above after realizing he could achieve things he never thought possible. But, to do that takes much effort and deliberate actions. Is there anything you’d add to the list?