How I Built a Foundation for Multiple Reinventions
For the longest time, I have been obsessed with how some of the highest and most consistent performers become that way and more importantly, how they stay that way.
As a teenager, the first person to pique this interest was Michael Jordan. Watching MJ win year after year, always getting better, always reinventing himself as needed to meet new and evolving challenges was inspiring!
As I grew older, I became interested in psychology and leadership, from there I started to learn about motivation, success, and high performance. I reflected on my own successes and failures, studying what happened and why it happened.
Since launching my first reinvention in 2008, I have studied this topic more deeply, with a trained eye and mind. As a result, I have learned a great deal more about consistent success.
Over the last 10 years, I read hundreds of papers, books, and articles on the subjects of success, high performance, and peak performance. In the process, I identified 4 building blocks of consistent and repeatable success. Almost everything I read fell into one of these categories.
These building blocks are so fundamental, that they can power our success in any area of life or career. Combined, they create the conditions for consistent and repeatable success as we move from one pursuit to the next.
I discovered that if I develop and improve these 4 building blocks, I would always have a strong foundation for consistent success, no matter what I was pursuing. With each reinvention, there were new risks, challenges, and skills to learn. I wanted to be sure I entered each reinvention with a strong foundation for achieving success.
These 4 building blocks always positioned me to succeed sooner rather than later in my multiple reinventions. And when I say succeed, that includes failing quickly, often, and constructively.
The four building blocks I discovered are:
- Mindset & Beliefs
- Clarity & Purpose
Building Block #1 – Mindset and Beliefs
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my journey is that mindset and beliefs are at the core of everything I think, decide, do, or don’t do. If I don’t believe it, then I won’t think about it. If I don’t even think about it, I’ll never decide to do it.
Reinvention was possible for me because I believed in it. I believed that people could fundamentally change in a significant way. Starting with Michael Jordan, I watched as he reinvented himself from an individual contributor to a leader. From the person who took the winning shot, to the person who assisted the winning shot. It was incredible to watch his multiple transformations. It showed me it was possible to reinvent yourself.
Believing in this possibility served me as I made the switch from commercial refrigeration sales to math teacher and every other reinvention since then. Along the way, I learned several strategies and lessons for strengthening my beliefs and mindsets.
I’m always working on identifying empowering and limiting beliefs so that I can decide which to strengthen and which to replace.
Our work here is never really done. As with all 4 building blocks, this one requires constant and never ending improvement.
Building Block #2 – Clarity and Purpose
“You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.”
Clarity drives focus.
So what does this mean? It means, make your goals airtight. Make your goals as clear, specific, and measurable as possible. This doesn’t mean that they won’t evolve or change. It means that at any given time, you are pursuing something so specific that you know what you shouldn’t be doing or to what you should say no. It allows you to focus only on what serves your goal.
If goals are destinations, clarity is not simply knowing whether to travel north, south, east, or west. Clarity is knowing the city, address, floor in the building, suite number, and office inside of the suite. That level of clarity will help you get right to where you want to go. As great as Google Maps is, it only takes us so far. It can take us to the front of the building. However, we still need more clarity if we want to find the person in the building we want to meet. Strive for that level of clarity.
Purpose is the Fuel for Your Journey
Why we pursue our goals are the only reasons we persist through the challenges of achieving them. The path to a goal, especially a bold one, is mostly unknown and unchartered to us. Our purpose provides us with the fuel to persist in finding the right solutions and recovering after each setback.
Think of a special goal that you were very proud to accomplish. What was that goal? I am 100% certain that you had powerful reasons for getting that done and that you had to get back up after getting knocked down many times. You persisted because you had more reasons for getting this done above all other goals of that time in your life.
Combined, clarity and purpose, provide us with the destination and fuel to get there, no matter what obstacles get in our way.
Building Block #3 – Peak Performance
How we get to our goals will always vary because success can be different for everyone, even in the same field. However, our ability to perform at our best, no matter what path we take to our goals is always critical to our success.
This building block is about practicing the strategies that will make us great performers, no matter what we pursue.
If clarity drives focus, then focus drives performance.
Perhaps the most important key to performance, above all else, is focus.
Without focus, I cannot tap into all of my abilities and potential. Without giving something my absolute best, I’ll never know if it stood a chance or not. And even if it fails, I’ll know that it won’t be because of a lack of focus but rather, I need to go learn something new or make an adjustment to my approach. Either way, focus is the underlying assumption and key to performing my best.
Focus is much easier said than done, especially with all of the distractions available today. Technology has brought us a lot of good, however, there is also some bad that comes with it. Distraction for me, is the number one negative side effect of technology.
That said, technology is not the only distraction. Our minds can wander without a single piece of technology around. We can dwell on problems or missed opportunities, we can overanalyze current opportunities and our strategies.
The good news is that there is a science to focus and performance. While this is beyond the scope of this article, I will highlight a few important books on the science of peak performance that can help you improve this critical building block for success.
Flow by psychologist, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is defined as that state where we are so engrossed in an activity that we lose all sense of time, space, hunger, etc. Some people call it being “in the zone.” This book teaches us about the science of happiness and in the process, we learn that focus drives happiness and performance. Focus and other conditions shared in the book drive our performance and also produce high levels of happiness. This book will help you understand and learn how to create the best state of mind for peak performance and happiness.
Peak by Anders Ericsson.
There’s a difference between hitting 100 tennis serves over the net per day and hitting 100 in the diagonal box to your position on the court. The latter is more deliberate than the former. In other words, the target is more specific. While hitting 100 tennis serves per day will help you improve your serve, your success will plateau quickly. In order to keep my success growing, you must get deliberate and intentional about your practice and consistently make it more specific and challenging. In his book, Peak – Secrets from the Science of Expertise, Ericsson shares what it takes to become an expert in any field.
Focus by Daniel Goleman
In his book, Focus, Goleman shares different studies about focus from different areas, different people, and different circumstances. However, each chapter comes together to create a comprehensive analysis of focus and how we can practice it more effectively.
Deep work by Cal Newport
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport takes the work of Ericsson and Csikszentmihalyi further by providing the strategies to create the conditions for everyday flow in our jobs and careers. Newport distinguishes between two types of work, shallow and deep work. Shallow work is the type that doesn’t require our best performance or focused attention. For instance, responding to short emails, data entry, and other tasks that don’t require our skills to be at their best.
Deep work on the other hand is where “earn our pay.” It’s the work that makes your role necessary and important. This is usually the creative, innovative, and challenging tasks and work in our roles. In this book, you will learn the practical strategies for creating the conditions for flow and peak performance in your daily life.
Building Block #4 – Recovery
Did you know that lions sleep 16-20 hours each day? Those hours replenish the energy necessary for running, fighting, pouncing, and stalking prey.
When you are performing at your best, you can expect you will run out of fuel and need to replenish your tank. In many places including school and work, we celebrate those that don’t sleep or rest for committing so many hours to their goals. However, there is more than enough research to show that they are not succeeding because they commit so much time, they are succeeding in spite of not resting enough. In other words, they could have achieved more success and didn’t because of insufficient rest.
Learning to rest our minds and body is key to consistent and repeatable success.
Here are just some of the ways we can improve this building block over time.
- Eating nutritious and brain-healthy food
- Reading daily
- Walking or Jogging
- Connecting with dear friends
- Periodic sessions with a therapist or counselor
- Drinking water
- Power naps
- Capping your working hours
The list goes on and on.
Any of these take time to learn and make part of our regular practice. There may be times where some or more of these are being practiced. So long as you are mindful and intentional of rest and recovery, you will be ready to go back and perform at your best the next day.
Creating Sustainable and Growing Success in Your Life
There are countless strategies for achieving success in any field or endeavor. My experience and research has taught me that most of these fall into the 4 building blocks: mindset and beliefs; clarity and purpose; performance; and recovery. Focusing on these 4 building blocks will help you build a strong foundation for consistent success.
Combined, these 4 building blocks empower us to:
- See and find opportunities in the world
- Decide on which ones we want to pursue more than anything
- Perform at the highest level in order to stand the best chance of success
- And recover our minds and bodies so that we can do it again.
Perhaps you’ve read the quote, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” As I get older, that takes on more meaning as I am coming to realize that the journey never really ends. When we reach a destination, we tend to identify a new goal and begin its pursuit. This seems to go on and on. At times, those new opportunities require us to reinvent ourselves to pursue them. Other times, we simply need to level up our existing skills. No matter what, it seems we keep finding new destinations and thus require a strong foundation to launch successful pursuits.