You have a dream. You are consumed by it. You dream of working for yourself, building a business and living a wonderful new life. You can’t wait and you’re looking for the fastest way to get there.
Well, keep reading. Don’t skim. Take your time. It could make all the difference, equipping you for success from the outset.
Then sleep on these words and come back to them again tomorrow. Keep coming back to them until they trickle deep into your psyche. You’ll understand why I’m asking you to do that in a moment.
You’re starting from a great place. The first thing to get out of the way is that you’re not obstructed by your past. Your ability to succeed is not inherited. Nor is it dependent on your start in life, your financial situation, the house you live in or the car you drive. Oprah Winfrey, J K Rowling and James Dyson all started from humble beginnings. Google them. You’ll be inspired.
Two key characteristics they share are a positive attitude and ‘grit’.
A positive attitude is a huge asset when taking on any new project, especially one that has the potential to change your life so dramatically. You might feel a bit nervous, but channel that energy. Believe in yourself and know that you can do whatever you aspire to if you put your mind to it.
Grit is the second important quality. Angela Duckworth gave a great TED talk on this. Yes, she talks about schoolchildren, but her observations apply to you and me too. Understanding how the brain works and how to turn failure to advantage are two of her key messages. Her book, Grit, is subtitled ‘The Power of Passion and Perseverance’.
Never fear failure. It’s incredibly valuable. It’s a natural part of the learning process but, in that context, it’s probably appropriate to use a word with more positive connotations – ‘struggle’ perhaps.
You will know that the more you struggle to achieve something, the more satisfying the outcome, the more you feel a sense of achievement and the more you remember about the process of getting there. It was a ‘struggle’ because you had to overcome obstacles and setbacks. And, as Oprah says ‘Where there is no struggle, there is no strength’.
The classic example is a child learning to walk. He or she will frequently fall over but will get up and try again. The intervals between falling over will increase until eventually, they are running all over the shop. The falling over is not ‘failure’ but just part of the learning process.
Another inspiring example is Edison’s experiments to find a material suitable for the filament of the first electric light bulb. He tested more than 6000 materials before finding the one that worked. Now that’s what is meant by ‘grit’.
Speaking of light bulbs, here’s the touchstone, the key that will genuinely unlock and light up your path to success. If you take away nothing else, take away this… training your brain is similar in many respects to training your body.
You have probably heard the comparison before, but it is no idle metaphor. The similarities are rooted in both physiology and neuroscience. They are the keys to learning, mastery and lasting success.
So here are six aspects of studying that draw out the key messages from these similarities:
Getting started on your first course is exciting but can also be challenging if you haven’t studied for a long time. This is perfectly normal. It just means you’re a bit out of shape. If you haven’t been to the gym for a year, you’ll find your first few sessions tougher than if you have been going regularly for a while. Like exercise, studying gets easier when you get into the routine.
Studying incorrectly is as detrimental as exercising incorrectly. Apart from not using your time efficiently, you won’t get the results you are hoping for and may even inflict some damage on yourself. Research good study techniques. Do what works for you, but never ignore the neuroscience. Here are 10 Science-Based Study Skills from Thomas Hills.
Sensible, regular, spaced gym sessions are more beneficial than frequent, overly-long, intense sessions. Just as you can overwork muscles, you can overwork and fatigue your brain. You need to give it time to recover between study sessions. This is incredibly important because not only will your brain recover; it will also consolidate your learning during this downtime. That’s why it’s much better to spread your study into small, short chunks over a longer time than trying to cram it all into a much shorter period. Check out the first item in this great whiteboard animation on scientific study tips.
When you reach a certain level of fitness, it will decline if you stop going to the gym. You need to maintain your fitness with a regular exercise regime. In the same way, after you qualify, you need to keep learning. You need to know what’s going on in your field and what the latest thinking is. We developed the ProZone so you can maintain your expertise after you graduate. Lifelong learning is as important as lifelong fitness.
The more you exercise, the more your muscles will grow and develop. Similarly, the more you learn, the more your brain will grow. And if you both exercise and study, your brain will get a double benefit. Regular exercise is one of the few proven ways to maintain brain size and functioning as you get older, as reported in this Harvard Medical School article.
Eat, sleep and exercise. You need all three to build muscle. Your brain needs all three to learn deeply and effectively, but sleep is more important than you may realise. At the beginning of this article, I asked you to read it and then sleep on it. There were several reasons for that. One was the amazing fact that sleep isn’t just a way of letting your brain and body rest but is vital for the consolidation of long-term memories. You will learn far better if you sleep well. (Why sleep should be every student’s priority)
Overnight success takes time! This is the big secret of everyone who has realised their big dream. The reason is simple. It’s the way the brain works. You just can’t get around that, but if you study and learn in a brain-friendly way, you’ll achieve your goals much more quickly than if you work against it.
Keller Williams drives home this message in his book, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results where he says ‘When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time.’
It’s why Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, refers with an ironic nod to his ’10-year overnight success’.
Don’t look for a quick, cheap deal. It won’t work. You may qualify, but your knowledge will be superficial and fade. It won’t go deep or last you a lifetime.
If you are serious about what you want to achieve, investigate our courses. They are longer and more in-depth than you may find elsewhere for a reason. They respect the way your brain works, will set you up for a transformational life-change and give you the solid foundation you need for a brilliant new future.
Author: John Rowe, Digital Education Manager at Future Fit Training.