“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” ~ Jim Rohn
Let’s be honest.
How many times do you hear about stories of people putting in efforts?
How often do you hear news about an Olympian striving hard day-in-day-out to win the next gold medal?
Did you hear a breaking news about a bright young student burning the midnight oil, until media highlighted , because he or she topped the competition chart?
Media is only interested to spread sensation news only, because that’s what sells.
That’s how the system works!
Someone winning gold medal is an “Event” and is glorified, but the arduous journey to earn that medal is a “process” which is highly underrated.
Highlighting glory of success is surely a good media business, but sadly, underrating the significance of ‘process’ cripples most people.
People tend to think winner as some different and unique alien creature, bestowed with unique endowments by birth. They never come to know the recipe behind winning strategies.
High achievers know and implement these strategies very well. Let’s understand these rules.
Principle #1: Crossing the Plateau of Latent Potential
Most people, while trying some new endeavor, or learning any new skill, end up quitting way sooner. Then they complain that they tried everything to get the success but couldn’t achieve it. But they miss out the principle of crossing the plateau of latent potential.
James clear in his book Atomic Habits explains the gap between efforts and results as the “plateau of Latent potential”
Let’s understand this by way of an example, if you try to melt an ice cube and you start from 25 degrees Fahrenheit and continue till 31 degrees, the cube doesn’t melt. But it starts melting when you increase the temperature to 32 degrees.
The point here is that the efforts you made to generate the heat from 25 degrees to 31 degrees has not gone waste, rather these efforts were just getting stored. But the real action happens only at 32 degrees.
When you hit 32 degree, you cross the plateau of latent potential, and then people will call it overnight success.
Therefore James tells further that “It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.”
In Chemistry, They call it the Law of Activation Energy.
Activation energy means: “the minimum quantity of energy that the reacting species must possess in order to undergo a specified reaction.”
The activation point when water starts boiling is 212-degree Fahrenheit or 100 degree Celsius — water will never boil below that temperature. Even if you go to 210 degrees or say 211 degrees, it will not boil. It will start boiling only at 212 degrees.
But you can’t immediately go the 212 degrees, you have to start from zero and then keep building up till you reach to the level of activation energy and that’s where the magic happens.
All the efforts made till the point of activation energy are never wasted, rather it was the necessary process to reach to the point of activating the specific reaction.
And that’s the difference between the people who quit too soon, and waste all the efforts made till that time, and a limited few, who use those efforts to build upon their efforts and cross the plateau of their latent potential.
Jacob Riis, a Social reformer very well said:
When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it — but all that had gone before.’”
Principle #2: The 1% Rule
Every event requires a process to follow. A long term goal is divided into short term goals. Every short term goal is divided into smaller projects. And every small project is divided into daily actionable items.
You need to work on your goals daily. There is an universal question, “How to eat elephant?” and the answer is “bite by bite”.
Daily action brings improvement in your work or craft. Here 1% rule comes into play.
1% rule states that if you continue to improve 1% everyday without fail, in a one year period, you will become 37 times better than you are today.
The progress in 1% rule is not linear, rather it is exponential — they work on the principle of compound effect. The way your money multiplies based on the principles of compound interest, your improvements compound over a long period of time.
Jeff Olsen in his book “Slight Edge” explains the importance of doing little things consistently well over a period of time. He says:
“Plant, cultivate, harvest. And that second comma, the one between cultivate and harvest, often represents a loooong period of time.”
Warren Buffett applies the formula to building knowledge about any subject. While asked about how to build a successful investing career, he pointed towards a stack of manual and books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
That’s why Robert Collier once rightly said: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”
Therefore learn the art of keeping yourself engaged in the process, reap the benefits of compound interest, success is bound to touch your feet. And the below quote from Martin Luther King Jr. tells the ultimate mantra:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
If you want to look at more good stuff, check out The Science of High Performance
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(This Article was first published on medium.com)