Tackling 3 success blockers
99% of success is built on failure
I was 17 when I overheard my mum and grandmother talking about me. They were discussing my prospects of studying at university as my elder brother had done. He does not have it, my mum said. I knew I was not the brightest, but it was hard to hear. I could have allowed this to define me, but decided otherwise. The following year, I set off to the University of Bath to study Maths with Computing.
While success means something different to each of us, there are common blockers. I try to tackle these three:
Staying in my comfort zone
Taking the path of least resistance
1. Staying in my comfort zone
We are comfortable sticking with what we do now. Familiar feels safe. Around 80% of the population find reasons not to change, even though it will probably be beneficial. We avoid the unknown, lack confidence and fear failure.
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso
When I started publishing this weekly A Bit Gamey blog in August 2021, I felt exposed. Did I have anything interesting to say? Were my writing skills up to it? Would I be judged harshly? Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work convinced me to put myself out there.
2. Learned helplessness
We tell ourselves, I can’t do it, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Learned helplessness is a psychological condition where we believe that we have no control over our outcomes. This belief leads us to a cycle of inaction, lack of achievement and despair. An Indian Elephant tethered by a simple rope to a stick in the ground could easily break free, but has learned not to.
I found the following steps helpful in overcoming my learned helplessness:
Recognising triggers which caused me to feel somewhat helpless. Once I acknowledged these triggers, I was able to develop strategies to address them. Up to age 30, I knew my limited reading and writing skills were holding me back.
Improving my internal dialog. The way I saw myself had the biggest impact on my attitude and actions. As a child I labelled myself as a poor communicator so I avoided books and writing when I could. Maths was my thing. Over time, I deliberately replaced my negative self-talk. Now I enjoy writing.
Taking small positive steps. I started with small, achievable goals and built on them over time. I bought and worked through an English grammar book. I read small fiction books. And two years ago, I started this blog.
3. Taking the path of least resistance
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain
I’m not alone in taking the easiest path, to avoid discomfort, in search of short term gratification. Another 30 minutes playing a game. An extra cake. Scrolling Twitter. This tendency leads me to procrastinate, find excuses and lower my longer term aspirations.
In recent years, I became convinced that positive habits would have long term benefits and we can Help Luck Find Us. Most days I have a good breakfast, drink water, walk for an hour, learn something new, note down 10 ideas and sleep for 8 hours. Much of my motivation is routed in my family and I take action with their benefit in mind.
Adapt talk by Tim Harford
Pick Ourselves post by Phil Martin
My 5 Step Idea Generating Process post by Phil Martin
Many of us grow up seeking the approval of our parents. I know my mum and dad were delighted when I graduated in 1984. I had surpassed their expectations.