People are awesome. Just a few seconds into watching this video, and you realize that we are capable of some pretty incredible feats. Are the individuals who perform these ridiculous stunts really that different than you or I? They don’t look that different, and it’s obvious that those talented people aren’t working with an extra limb or any other apparent super power. So where’s the big difference? How can one person ride a bike on his stomach and pass several other people who are peddling at full speed? In this blog post, I’m also going to argue that whether you want to do any of those crazy stunts, or even something much less dangerous, you are certainly capable.
The main difference between you, and that person you see doing the cool trick stems from between the ears. In part, it’s the brain that allows these people to acquire such interesting skills. In other words, the first step to achieving anything starts with your mindset. You do inherently have the potential to do the cool things in that video. You have the necessary components that those same individuals have, but you may not have the same courage, desire, persistence, dedication, or ambition. Anything that you see that amazes you takes incredible amounts of practice, and so an important question that arises is related to motivation. Is the skill you want to learn really worth pursuing, so much so that you are willing to spend the countless hours necessary to even begin to make progress? Determining the why will help you stay focused when the task gets increasingly difficult. For example, someone who starts working out to look good for an imaginary girlfriend has an inferior motivation than the person who goes to the gym to stay healthy in order to live a longer and healthier life for oneself and one’s family. Make sure that your goal is something that you really want to do, and then believe in yourself. If you do not limit yourself before you even start, you’ve won the first battle.
After deciding that you can do whatever it is that you set your mind to, you have to put in the work. Hours and hours of work. There are no shortcuts, no magic formulas, and no amount of butter in your coffee will take you there. However, there are a few things that you can do to help you along the way. The first step is changing from a “big goal” to a system. So often, people have lofty goals but fail to accomplish them because they aren’t practical systems which are conducive to achieving the goal. Losing 20 pounds sounds nice and is a fine goal for some, but it doesn’t involve a system which will help you get there. Here’s a personal example: a few months ago, I found out that I had spent over $300 at my job with little purchases here and there. This was way over budget and an unnecessary expense, and was a small issue that my wife and I had discussed several times. In the past, I set goals like only using a gift card for the month or not buying anything at all, but each time fell short. Frustrated and annoyed, I came up with a system which has since been beneficial. Once a week, on Sundays, I allow myself to buy a snack of my choosing. Using this system, I now look forward to the occasional purchase and am able to stay under budget. It’s no longer a broad goal that I fail to accomplish, but rather a tangible system that is easy to stick to. This principle can be applied to the goal of your choosing. One might say: “I want to be a better person.” That’s great. But, you can’t just set a goal and hope it comes. Instead you have to implement a reasonable and specific system that brings you closer each day.
Along these lines, breaking a big goal down into smaller building blocks can be helpful. You can’t just learn to backflip onto a skateboard if you are unable to skateboard or do a backflip in the first place. Instead, you must learn the smaller, more technical details. You need to be able to balance on a skateboard at high speeds. You need proper form on your backflip. After years of practice, you may have developed enough courage, coordination, skill and technique to begin piecing the two together. Working on the smaller, more attainable steps will eventually allow you to accomplish the bigger goal. Think: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”…(and is made up of many, many small steps in-between). Focusing on the “in-between” is what will really help you with the finished product.
Another way to achieve what you set your mind to is to eliminate any barriers that stand in your way. To illustrate this point, take a look at how often we use our smartphones. If you find yourself checking your device as you run to the bathroom, are at a stop light, in the waiting room, and during commercials on TV, you understand my point already. What I mean is that phone is so convenient that there is virtually no barrier to stop you from using it. Thus, to accomplish a goal that is truly important, eliminating barriers will make the goal easier to achieve. If you want to learn guitar, but every time before you go to practice, you have to go to the messy closet, move things, set it up, tune it, you are using tons of energy before practicing at all. However, if you set the guitar next to the couch (like a TV remote), you will likely pick it up and practice more often, because it is easier and more convenient. If a book is tucked away, you may forget about it, but if it’s on your coffee table or night stand, chances are it’ll be in your hands more often. Setting things up so that it is as easy as possible to practice your goal will have tremendous carryover. The convenience factor will play a major role in bringing you closer to your goal.
Whether or not you choose to apply any of these principles is up to you. Whether or not you can do some incredible display of strength, defy the laws of gravity, or nearly escape death says nothing about you as a person. As a human, you are intrinsically beautiful, and you don’t need to do anything “amazing” to prove your worth. However, the point is that you can do anything that you set your mind to, big or small, especially when a few key principles are applied.