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currated by Glen Brink
HOW TO GET BETTER AT ANYTHING YOU WANT
Some of these are obvious. Some I've written about before. But all are actually incredibly difficult.
A) LOVE WHAT YOU DO
This seems like BS. Of course you should love what you do.
But it's not that easy. It's hard to love something when you are losing money and people are hating you for it... you're losing friends... you're feeling like a failure. And everything is going wrong.
The other day I wrote a post where I mentioned my 12 year old daughter. She didn't like it and she felt really bad about it and about me.
Then I felt worse. It's the worst thing in the world to make your 12 year old feel bad. At that moment I didn't love what I did. I felt like giving up forever.
But I deleted that post and then got back like a crack addict who has gone 15 minutes without a dose.
B) CONNECT WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE THE SAME THING YOU DO
I love talking to other people who write. I love to see how they think about words, about their business, about how they succeeded and how they failed and what they are working on now.
I love hearing their ideas. I love to see how I would do things differently, or what I could learn.
More important, these are your comrades in your own private army. Will you conquer? Will you all succeed together and save each other's lives in the middle of battle?
Help the wounded, protect the unprotected? Time will tell. But I have met great friends through this process and continue to do so.
I'm a shy introvert from birth and other people who do what I do tend to be as well. It's great to be extroverted with a bunch of introverts.
C) LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE WHAT YOU DO
I always listen to the advice of other writers and other people trying to build their careers on writing, self-improvement, business, or entertaining.
I've learned so much in the past year from people who can constructively look at my stuff and tell me what they would do and how they've succeeded at getting the word out. I'm really thankful for all of these people.
Most people offer destructive criticism. Criticism so bad and meaningless that they are automatically not in my "scene" even though on paper it would appear they were. Find the people in your scene and learn from them. Completely ignore the people who look good on paper but are useless to you and your improvement.
And every chance you get, listen to the people in your scene; the ones that truly have your back. Let them do the talking. That's how you learn.
D) READ THE HISTORY OF WHAT YOU DO
I read novels every day from every decade. I've read self-help books dating back to the 1890s. I've watched every YouTube comedy clip I could find from the past 60 years.
I don't really know what I do. It's sort of somewhere in the middle of all these things (the best ideas are combinations of other ideas).
But reading the history of what you do is the surest way to come up with something unique, something old that people have forgotten, and new twists on various combinations that nobody ever thought of.
You only get that with reading and knowledge.
E) BE KIND TO PEOPLE WHO LOVE WHAT YOU DO
When I first moved to New York City, my sister warned me, "Everyone will only want to meet you if they think you can do something for them".
I don't know if this is true. But the first thing I think when I'm excited about meeting someone is what can I do for them. How can I promote them? Who can I introduce them to? What can I offer them that will deliver immediate value into their lives without being pushy?
I don't do this in a selfish way but the reality is that the more value you deliver to others, you get 10 times back in return.
It's very depressing on the path to improvement because so much of it is filled with failure.
And failure stinks. No matter what the "cult of failure" tells you. It's no fun and I feel suicidal often when I fail.
And most of the time people fail. Being kind to people who are depressed is often the best way to deliver the value that is needed most.
F) PRACTICE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE
It doesn't matter what you do. Do it every day. It doesn't matter what you do, do things related to it as much as possible.
In a few weeks I have to give a talk. I don't feel I am a naturally gifted public speaker, but once again I've given myself the challenge of speaking to an entirely different sort of audience than I have ever spoken to before.
This presents a puzzle. Now I have to spend the next month working hard to solve that puzzle. I hope I learn many things along the way.
In the meantime, I have a new book (co-written with the lovely Claudia Azula Altucher) called The Power of No coming out on July 15.
We just did the audiobook with some fun outtakes. Everything I do I try to add my "Oomph" to it.
I hope it's good. I keep practicing. When I'm 80 years old I'll still be practicing. Practice makes... I don't know. It doesn't make perfect. Practice makes practice. You just do it to do it.
G) WATCH VIDEOS OF PEOPLE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE
At this point, this and "reading the history" probably take up four or five hours of my day.
Where do you find the time if you have a job, kids, etc.? Well, I have business stuff I deal with, I have kids, I have other responsibilities, and I have meetings and appointments and travel and so on.
You make the time. I have to go on a plane later to Dallas. I'll read and watch videos on the plane. I woke up early and read. I skipped dinner last night and watched.
When I worked a corporate job I'd skip lunch and then leave an hour early. Or I'd wake up early and not take the breaks everyone else took.
Not that I was so great. I dropped the ball for quite a while and for years at a time.
That happens also. But then you get back on track. Because when you fall in unconditional love, well, it's unconditional. You can beat me and I'll still come back (get it... Jesus... Easter).
H) OUTSOURCE THE THINGS YOU DON'T LOVE
It's hard to have the time to do everything in the field you love. For instance, if you're a chef, you don't just cook. You have to network with other chefs. You have to find places to cook and show off. Maybe you want to do media appearances. Or write about cooking.
There's an entire business to being a chef. It's not about making the best dish ever. It's about building an entire business around yourself.
And you can't do everything. Maybe you don't have 20 minutes to run to the post office to mail your cookbook to the Food Channel executive who asked for it.
Assistants cost money. But make a list of things this month that you'd rather not be doing for yourself. See if there's a way you can outsource it as cheaply as possible.
Even if at first it's too much for you, eventually it won't be and you'll be well prepared to outsource.
I) ANALYZE MISTAKES
My 12 year old gets all As in school. But when we play tennis, sometimes she misses. She gets disappointed.
"This is the real world. People make mistakes." And we try to figure out what she was doing wrong.
Every game of chess I play, if I lose I go back through the game using a computer and see what directions the computer ("Her") thought that I completely missed. I try to get better.
I re-read my old posts from three or four years ago and see what I do differently now. Sometimes I rewrite them and even repost them.
Sometimes mistakes are really painful. When I would lose in a tournament as a kid I would be so upset I'd have nightmares and would skip school the next day. It was too painful. I couldn't even look at my mistakes for months afterwards.
But when you get better at analyzing your mistakes (a skill unto itself) you get better at doing what you love to do. FACT!
You can't do one thing all day, all week, all month, for the rest of your life. You have to mix it up.
Meet new people, read books about other things, spend time with family and friends. Maybe travel. Have new experiences.
Not just so that you can rest. Who cares about rest!
Neuron A, meet Neuron B. Oh! You never met before. Now I just introduced you.
In the background your brain is always combining the new experiences with the old experiences and if you are mastering your craft your brain will be combining ideas without you even thinking about it.
When you get back to doing whatever it is you do, you do it better.
K) DON'T HOLD GRUDGES
Not everyone is going to help you out today. Not everyone is going to like you today. I had an experience where someone made some nasty (brutal) comments about me three or four years ago.
Now she (claims) loves my stuff. She writes gushing letters about my latest book. She asks me to write for her (large) media publication.
I'm glad I never really argued with her when she made her initial comments. I followed my own advice which is: totally ignore the people who say destructive things to you. Why turn a small candle into a raging fire?
I've had many experiences like that. The professor who threw me out of graduate school is now one of my closest friends for over 20 years. A man who fired me is now a friend and we work together on occasional projects.
An investor who once pulled money from me is now someone I regularly co-invest and make money with.
Grudges and lashing back will only hurt your long-term chances of success. Success is hard enough without you cutting yourself off all your escape exits.
L) THE PUSH
Every day, think of what else you can do with the work you are most proud of.
Maybe you publish on Facebook. Maybe you can also take a post and put it on other sites. Or maybe you can push it for a TV idea. Or a book proposal. Or a new business. Or a new client. Or a speaking engagement. Or a new service you can offer.
"The Push" is every day packaging the magic you have inside of you to help more and more people.
You aren't just your writing, or your cooking skills, or your ability to pick stocks. You're a person who can use your skills to help and teach and provide value in dozens of ways you probably haven't even thought about yet.
When "the push" works, entire new worlds open up to you – new people and new experiences. And finally it feeds right back into the very basics of doing what you love. It adds value right back to the source... You.
M) THE SEASON OF FAILURE IS WHEN YOU SOW THE SEEDS OF SUCCESS
Always view down time, or failure, or mistakes, or periods where you feel everything is over or getting worse, as the perfect opportunity to learn, to read, to get wiser, to produce more, to network more, to connect more with the people who love what you do and so on.
This is letter "M". Letters "A-L" are the seeds of success. Whenever you are in the season of failure, repeat "A-L".
Persistence is the repeat.
Sometimes I really beat myself up. "Why am I not..." and there are a million ways that sentence can end.
OR... "Why did he or she just do..." or "Why am I still so stupid..." It hurts to beat yourself up.
Self-doubt is the little stabs that will ultimately hit an artery and you will lose too much blood and there's no recovery.
I'm not saying be overconfident, even when you suck.
Just stop overthinking it. Go back to A-L. Fall in love. And in the entire universe, you will never find someone more worthy of love than yourself.
Be in love with yourself, with the process, with the seeds, and the universe will respond with love back to you.
Crux note: James Altucher is a wild card... and hosts one of the most popular shows on iTunes. To listen to him interview the most interesting people in the world – for FREE – subscribe to Stansberry Radio. To find out more click here.
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