Monthly Archives: March 2011

Confidence of a Master

Some people seem born with talent.  Things come easy to these seeming unusually gifted folks. Musicians, artists, innovators etc..

They seem so natural, acting effortlessly as they engage in their vocation.

How to get that level of Mastery?

I had heard of the rule of mastery, what it takes to become a master at something, an expert, a real pro!

A number of interesting studies have looked at this fasincating subject.  What becomes clear is these exceptional acheivers, ‘magically‘ acquired their talents thru a combo of opportunity and time.

In example after example every expert ‘practiced’ their craft for at least 10,000 hours, a marker virtually guaranteeing a level of expertise.

Examples

A so called geek, Bill Gates, ‘practised his nerdiness, ad nasuem, logging thousands of hours in front of a monitor, testing and tinkering.  He had the good fortune to go to college where the equipment was available and took full advantage of it, applying himself till he fell asleep on the keyboard!

Beatles – I thought they were overnight sensations but the fact was they did several months long stints in Hamburg strip clubs where the sets of music required them to play for 10 hours or more a day. Forced to play together for so many hours led to the honing of their craft and a cohesive unit of musicians.

Tiger Woods – Not a fan but his dedication, hitting gold balls from dawn to dusk shows what it takes to get to the top.

John Coltrane – The tales of his continual practicing, 12 -1 4 hours a day are legendary.  He would even practice even between sets on a gig!

What does this tell us?

That a single minded, obsessive like quality, combined with opportunity equals the promised land of expertise!

Here are two books that discuss the issue at

length :

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922

& one by the famous neurologist Oliver Sacks http://www.oliversacks.com/books/musicophilia/

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Confidence – Self Esteem contd.

Keys to happiness and success?

Its not a panacea, as over confidence and a feeling you are too good have brought down many.  But I believe building self esteem holds some of the keys to success and happiness.

Where do we get some?

Feeling comfortable, a sense of confidence in your approach to life, is developed over time and experience.  Being open to life’s challenges and opportunities, pursuing them unabashedly with a measure of success is where it comes from.  Building on the successes (partial or total) in challenges you engage in, create a foundation to build on.  Its contagious and has a ‘multiplier’ effect.

Break it down!

Any skill we seek or goal we want to achieve is made infinitely easier by recognizing it is a process and will take some time and dedication.

If we want to quit smoking we can go ‘cold turkey’, difficult for many, or use another approach.  Outright quitting creates a ton of pressure and elevates the ‘spotlight’ in your circle of acquaintances.

Why not try an approach of setting smaller goals, that are achievable.

Try a strict limitation – a cigarette an hour or no smoking before lunch or after dinner etc.  You get the idea! After you have sucessfully met that challenge move the ‘bar’ higher – a cigarette every two hours – no smoking till 2 pm – etc..

You have reduced the difficulty and can use the success achieved at lower barriers to reinforce your ability to do it.

Break it down!, this applies to everything, everything, everything !  (sports, academia, arts, physical fitness…) making progress is all that counts.  You measure and judge the success, NO ONE ELSE!

Enjoy the Journey!

An important lesson that I have learned, the hard way, is to enjoy the journey.  Focusing on your failures and distance to the goal is frankly exhausting and depressing.  Learn to be satisfied with the incremental progress you make, even if it leaves you far from the goal you have set.  It makes you happier, proud and keeps the fire burning to continue.

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Confidence – Self Esteem – How to get it.

Are we born with it?

It seems like some people have always been brimming with confidence.  This can be frustrating and especially intimidating for those who lack confidence.

How is it that possible?

There are many reasons why some have self esteem levels that help them socially and in their pursuits.  (maybe they were properly nurtured in something, excelled as a result and built on it or maybe they simply didn’t get crushed by some coach or teacher… or even parent).

Get Over it, we are where we are!

Everyone has the capacity to lead a ‘fearless’ life.  It is NEVER too late to change or learn, the fact is you have a simple choice – either sit in the background or do something about it.

Building confidence in life or an activity is similar to gaining any other skill, you gotta work at!

Being nervous is natural.

First off, a good dose of ‘false confidence’ is needed in your tool box.  What I mean by that is the ability to fake it, putting aside your fear/shyness/discomfort etc., temporarily suspending it!  I know you cannot just wish it away but you can acknowledge it and not let it cripple you.

As a quick experiment, observe your own thoughts.  ‘Separate’ yourself from your thoughts, sounds silly?  It is easy to do and can help you acknowledge your ‘fear’ but not be consumed by it.

No, they’re not super-human!

You are not alone, I was struck by what the great Luciano Pavarotti said when questioned about performing for decades and how natural and happy he seemed being on stage, the great Pavarotti said anyone who says they are not nervous when performing is lying.  Or how about Michael Caine, who inspite of acting for over 60 years, said he still vomits before going on stage!

Do something!  Now!

Acknowledge you have some work to do in an area you want to improve upon or participate in,  then commit to doing it, these are the first steps in a journey to get where you want to be.

I will have a follow up on this.

Please give me your thoughts and comments, if prefer not to be public just state so and they will not be published.

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Children at risk!

The length and depth of the current recession, its NOT over yet, is creating a level of homelessness for children that is unprecedented.  Persistent high unemployment, much higher than the government claims (but thats another subject) has put millions, yes millions of children in danger.

It’s been reliably estimated that 2 million children have been thrown into poverty as providers have lost their jobs during the economic downturn.   The  long term effects of this terrible consequence will be felt for at least a generation.

A 60 Minutes segment (dated 3/6/11) was a heart tugging warning of the danger children who become homeless are in.  The segment touched the issue of insecurity I have written about in previous blogs and in my latest book Ambition Cliff.  Insecurity is one of the ills (malnutrition, poor education are just two others)  these children will carry during their lifetimes.  Insecurity will permeate every decision they make, inhibiting their ability to reach their full potential.

This may seem a distant problem to those unaffected but the consequences are not limited to these poor kids, the reality is we all will be negatively impacted by it.

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Ethics? Morality? It’s withering…

How far would you go to get what you want?

I hope to hear from you on this, as the lack of a ‘line’ we won’t cross seems to be snowballing these days.  We seem to have no hard line we won’t cross.  If there is one we just erase it, like a line in sand and move it further out to suit our needs.

Like raising a child, boundaries are necessary for healthy development!  We seem to have lost our backbone on where to draw the line in our lives.  This lack of discipline is causing deeply rooted problems in our institutions, families and culture.

The current financial crisis is a symptom of this lack of discipline while pursuing  success,  a me first attitude, in spite of the consequences.  People borrowing way too much, sometimes lying to get the loan.  Institutions dishing out loans without an eye towards responsible lending as long as they make the commission. The dumping of loans on others with the knowledge they would blow up.  The political class – ultimate self servers- making deals with business and skimming off the top. Using their power and access to enrich themselves.  Regulators looking the other way.  Schemers abusing the trust of friends.

Men and women, unable to check their physical desire, violate the covenant with their spouses and family.

The clowns in Hollywood, oh geez where to start?

Folks prostrating themselves to get a reality show…

I could go on and on with other examples…

These behaviors damage and weaken our collective culture, causing us to spiral downwards without an internal compass.  It also confuses the children who see it as a normal way to act as long as you get what you want.  The ultimate ends justify the means.

LET ME HEAR YOU.


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Balancing Act?

A bit more on the importance of maintaining a certain balance in life.

First off, while its not the same for everyone, its vital to submerse yourself in different activities/pursuits in order to lead a happy, healthy productive life.

Lets put together a possible list of six ‘buckets’ to draw on that can enhance your life:

Family/Friends, Faith/God, Work/Profession,

Art/Music, Hobbies/Pursuits, Exercise/Sport.

This seems so elementary, and it is but we all somehow struggle to strike a balance that handles our responsibilities and allows for our growth, relief and pleasure.  There have been tons of studies that confirm the basics; happy, well grounded people have a circle of trusted family and friends, a belief in God, hobbies that keep them interested and growing and engage in some physical activity that not only keeps them in good health but blows off some of the stress they experience.

Seems like a lot of things to ‘cram’ into a day already filled with a job and commute!  We’re all pressed for time and thus must ‘force‘ ourselves and schedules to accommodate much needed relief from a life consumed with work.

You’ve got to draft a plan and implement it!

GET SELFISH!

Set aside time for your hobby and stick to it, get God back in your life, get outside and exercise! Start by doing something you enjoy and make it a habit no matter what is happening.

Its not being selfish (with reason) to engage in an activity that gives you joy or health (physical or spiritual), as it makes you better suited to handle your responsibilities.

A quick word on those who think their job is their hobby or outlet, 99 percent of the time its just an excuse! (unless you are an artist and even those talented folks need an outlet)  Getting balanced or centered as the new age folk call it, demands you do something different!  START NOW, its easier than you believe!

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