19 of the ‘top highlighted’ ideas from millions of readers

If you want a new approach to continuous and rapid learning, this article could potentially change your life. To be clear, the principles and strategies discussed in this article aren’t commonly practiced.

What are you doing right now to change your life?

How much time do you think you really have?

In the incredible book, THE GOAL, authors Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox explain that making progress is all about bottlenecks.

If you don’t give the proper attention to the areas of your life that are slowing everything else down, you won’t make great progress.

Most people are completely inconsistent. They have a good day here followed by a few bad days there.

There’s something going on here. Yet, few people will figure out what’s truly going on.

If you want consistent and rapid growth in your life, you need better ideas and systems. You need to completely change up your approach.

According to Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, true learning means you now can produce a desired result. If you can’t produce new results, you haven’t learned.

Most people’s lives are continuous patterns. Some things they do well, but most of their life is kind of a mess.

If you want a new approach to continuous and rapid learning, this article could potentially change your life. To be clear, the principles and strategies discussed in this article aren’t commonly practiced.

Without question, if you apply even a few of these, your whole life will be different in 12 months.

You’ll be making more money.

You’ll have more freedom and autonomy to do what you love.

Your relationships will be more powerful.

You’ll be able to more fully experience the incredible world we live in.

Ready?

If you’re not motivated, you’re either not experiencing enough pain, or you’re not curious enough

“If you’re not feeling motivated — you’re either not experiencing enough pain to change, or you’re not curious enough about the power of possibility.” — Chris Smith

If you’re not making tangible progress, things can feel boring or not worth the time.

So you need to start making tangible progress.

You need a future vision that seems exciting. And you need to get back to feeling like what you want to achieve is a game.

In the book, MY LIFE IN ADVERTISING, Claude Hopkins says, “If a thing is useful they call it work, if useless they call it play. One is as hard as the other. One can be just as much a game as the other. In both there is rivalry. There’s a struggle to excel the rest. All the difference I see lies in attitude of mind.”

Your work needs to become “play” again.

Ordinary people seek entertainment; extraordinary people seek education

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. When you want to become the best at what you do, you never stop learning. You never stop improving and honing your skills and knowledge.

Nearly every second spent on social media is consumed time. You can’t have that time back. Rather than making your future better, it actually made your future worse. Just like eating bad food, every consumed moment leaves you worse off. Every invested moment leaves you better off.

When you learn something, you should get a return on that learning. Far too many people read books now just to say they’ve read lots of books. If you’re not applying what you’re learning, your consuming and wasting your time. Moreover, the quality of books you read matters. To quote Ryan Holiday, “If you read what everyone else reads, you’ll think like everyone else thinks.”

Entertainment is all well and good. But only when that entertainment is an investment in your relationships or yourself. You’ll know if it was an investment if that entertainment continues to yield returns over and over in your future. That may include positive memories, transformational learning, or deepened relationships.

Even still, life isn’t purely about being entertained. Education and learning is also key. And although both are essential, education will provide far greater returns in your future.

The world’s most successful people are intense learners. They are hard readers. They know that what they know determines how well they see the world. They know that what they know determines the quality of relationships they can have and the quality of work they can do.

If you are constantly consuming junk media, how can you possibly expect to create high value work? Your input directly translates to your output. Garbage in, garbage out.

Work on yourself, not on your job

“Work hard at your job and you can make a living. Work hard on yourself and you can make a fortune.” — Jim Rohn

Your work is a reflection of you. If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, stop looking for better strategies.

Instead, look inside.

Are you currently the person who would attract the level of success you seek? Your outer conditions are a reflection of your inner reality. As James Allen has said, Your circumstances reveal you to yourself.

Where you are right now: that’s you.

If you want something different: improve you.

Most people focus on their craft or their “job.” That’s all well and good. However, you’ll get far more bang-for-your-buck by focusing on yourself.

  • 20% of your energy should be devoted to your work.
  • 80% of your energy should be devoted to rest and self-improvement. This is what fuels your work and makes it better than anyone else’s. Self-improvement is more than books and true rest is renewal.

When you get an idea, take a second to pause and reflect

When you get a core insight, pause and reflect. Pull out your journal and begin connecting that idea with your most pressing goals and priorities and relationships. Quickly, another connection will be made. A deeper insight will present itself. Eventually, you’ll stumble upon something very practical. Something you’ll need to act on immediately.

That “something” may be a conversation you need to have. It may be an article you need to write that morning. It may be something you can do for someone to dramatically move the needle.

You need THAT insight. The one that leads to immediate action and makes immediate impact on what you’re trying to do.

This is how you make quantum leaps, day-by-day, in your progression. When you’re getting powerful insights that improve how you live, your life changes. That’s why learning every day is so important.

If it doesn’t suck, it’s not worth doing

“The pain is a kind of challenge your mind presents — will you learn how to focus and move past boredom, or like a child will you succumb to the need for immediate pleasure and distraction?” — Robert Greene

In his book, Living with a SEAL, Jesse Itzler tells the story of being inspired by a certain Navy SEAL and consequently inviting him to live at Itzler’s home for a month. Itzler admitted being in a personal rut and wanted to shake himself out of his routine.

  • Day 1: “SEAL” asked Itzler, “How many pull-ups can you do?” Itzler squeaked out eight shaky pull-ups.
  • “Take 30 seconds and do it again,” SEAL said. 30 seconds later, Itzler got on the bar and did six, struggling.
  • “Take 30 seconds and do it one more time,” SEAL said. 30 seconds later, Itzler got on the bar and did three, at which point his arms were exhausted.
  • “Alright, we’re not leaving here until you do 100 more,” SEAL stated. Itzler was puzzled. “Alright, we’re gonna be here a long-time. Cause there’s no way I could do 100.” However, Itzler ended-up completing the challenge, doing one pull-up at a time. Thus, SEAL convinced Itzler that he could do way more than he thought he could.

The principle SEAL taught is what he calls the 40% rule — which essentially means people feel maxed-out mentally and physically, and thus stop, when they are at only 40% of their actual capacity. Going past this 40% capacity is when it becomes uncomfortable. Thus, SEAL’s mantra, “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.”

Like Itzler who shattered a mental barrier by completing 100 pull-ups, you too can get out of your rut by pursuing tangible objectives.

The concept is: Do something and don’t stop until it’s complete, no matter how long it takes.

Commitment is external more than internal

“If you’re interested, you come up with stories, excuses, reasons, and circumstances about why you can’t or why you won’t. If you’re committed, those go out the window. You just do whatever it takes.” — John Assaraf

What is commitment?

How do you know if you’re truly committed to something?

When it comes to achieving goals, commitment involves:

  • Investing upfront
  • Making it public
  • Setting a timeline
  • Installing several forms of feedback/accountability
  • Removing or altering everything in your environment that opposes your commitment

If you’re truly committed to something, in your mind, it’s as though you’ve already succeeded. All doubt and disbelief are gone.

If you’re committed to running a marathon, you’re going to put everything in place to make sure it happens. You’re not going to leave it up to chance.

You’re going to start by signing up for a race (investment). You’re going to make it public (phase one of accountability). You’re going to get a running partner who holds you accountable. You’re going to track your progress (feedback) and account your progress to your accountability partner. Lastly, you’re going to remove things in your life that keep you from running.

Commitment means you build external defense systems around your goals. Your internal resolve, naked to an undefended and opposing environment is not commitment.

No matter how much internal resolve you have, you will fail to change your life if you don’t change your environment.

This is where the willpower approach fails. The willpower approach doesn’t focus on changing the environment, but instead, on increasing personal efforts to overcome the current environment. What ends up happening?Eventually you succumb to your environment despite your greatest efforts to resist.

The environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. As a human-being, you always take on the form of the environments you continually place yourself.

You aren’t stopped by obstacles, but by easier paths to “lesser goals”

“We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” — Robert Brault

You want clarity so bad that you’re willing to settle for lesser goals, simply because the path to getting your true goal is less obvious.

When you’re trying to accomplish something big, you have the why but rarely the how. The path to achieving your goals is far from obvious.

You have no clue how you’re going to do what you want to do.

According to some scholars, fear of the unknown may be the foundation of all other fears. In order to avoid the unknown, most people bail on their dreams.

You’re the average of the 5 people around you

What stands in nearest proximity to you has enormous implications. As Jim Rohn has wisely said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Similarly, Tim Sanders, former Yahoo! director, said, “Your network is your net worth.”

If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to make the progress you want, take a look around you.

If you want to improve and succeed in your life, you need to surround yourself with people who have higher standards than you do. As Tony Robbins has said, your life is a reflection of your standards, or what you’re willing to tolerate. Most people are willing to tolerate unhealthy relationships, poor finances, and jobs they hate. If not so, those things wouldn’t be in their lives.

Most people are a direct reflection of those around them. If the people around them have lower standards, they drop theirs’ as well. If the people around them have higher standards, they raise their game.

You’ve been around people who, simply by being around them, elevated your thinking and energy. Those are the kinds of people you need to surround yourself with. Those are the kinds of people you need to be like yourself, so that others are better simply by being around you.

The quality of your life and the quality of your work is determined by the standards you have for yourself, and the standards of those around you. If you’re fine doing mediocre work, than those around you are as well.

If you genuinely want to become better, you must surround yourself with people who will hold you to a higher standard than you currently hold yourself. You want to be around people with a higher and better vantage-point than you have, so that you can quickly learn from them.

Your level of talent and “potential” are irrelevant if you’re surrounded by people who don’t help you realize it. We all know many people who have unfulfilled potential. Don’t let that be you.

Successful people initiate, they don’t wait (they are agents, not objects)

Most people only do what they are asked, doing only the minimum requirement. They need specific instructions on most things they do.

Conversely, those who become successful are anxiously engaged in a good cause. They don’t need to be managed in all things. They don’t just do the job, they do it right and complete. They also influence the direction for how certain ideas and projects go.

Most importantly, those who become successful initiate. They reach out to people, ask questions, make recommendations, offer to help, and pitch their ideas.

RIGHT NOW… there are brilliant opportunities around you. But it doesn’t matter how many resources you have. What matters is how resourceful you are with those assets.

Right now, the most influential and successful people in your industry are available to you. You could learn from them. You could be mentored by them. You could collaborate with them. But you have to initiate. You have to be a giver, first. You have to come up with ideas and use those ideas to help other people solve their problems and achieve their goals.

This is how you accomplish MULTIPLE goals at one time.

  • You work to learn, not to earn
  • You give you time and energy to the RIGHT PEOPLE’s goals, not your own at first
  • You learn from the right people and promote their work, or help them grow their business
  • All the while, you’re learning and developing deep connections that will take you 10X or 100X further than you could ever go on your own
  • Win-win-win-win relationships are the best. Where there are multiple parties all going further than they could go without each other

Initiation always involves some degree of risk. You’re putting yourself out there and there is a chance you could fail.

Every next level of life will demand a “different” you

“Every next level of life will demand a different you.” — Leonardo DiCaprio

According to meta-analytic data, confidence isn’t what leads to success. Instead, successful behavior is what creates confidence.

Unlike dopamine which only lasts short-term, confidence is something you own, once you’ve earned it. Short-term pleasure and long-term joy are two fundamentally different outcomes.

Once you’ve begun succeeding at any endeavor, you’ll reach a threshold where you must decide if you’re ready to go to the next level. Most people get comfortable at a certain stage because they don’t want to deal with the emotional purging involved in up-leveling.

When you decide to up-level and go bigger, your life becomes very difficult for a short period of time. You may have mastered algebra, but now you’re in a calculus class and feel completely disoriented. As bestselling author, Shane Snow has said, “If you’re freaked-out, that means you’re a professional.”

Lobsters are soft squishy creates that house themselves within hard shells with rigid and spiky insides. As a lobster grows, its shell becomes constraining, even suffocating and painful.

Once the lobster becomes too uncomfortable: it hides from predators under a rock, jettisons its old shell, and fashions a new one. This process repeats throughout the lobster’s life.

Each of the lobster’s shells may look drastically different from the previous one. Indeed, in its new shell, the lobster may be unrecognizable to its closest friends and even to itself.

Likewise, the various scenes in your life may demand you to be someone you never intended to be. Although you may have been timid and quiet in the previous scenes, your new situation may require you to lead and speak boldly.

Each situation is different.

Don’t plant a tree, plant an orchard

Before writing the first chapter of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling planned for seven years at Hogwarts. Harry Potter is one of the most read books of all-time.

Before creating the first Stars Wars movie in the 1970’s, George Lucas planned for at least six films and started at episode four, rather than episode one. Almost 40 years later, the entire world continues to be excited with the release of a new Star Wars film. This would not be possible if Lucas hadn’t thoughtfully and largely planned ahead.

The principle is simple: Don’t just plant a tree, plant an orchard.

How different might Harry Potter have been if Rowling started the book without any intentions or plans beyond the first book? It may have just been a book about a boy who went to school and killed a bad guy. Perhaps, at the conclusion of that story, Rowling might or might not have decided to write a sequel.

Yet, by “beginning with the end in mind,” Rowling was able to direct and position the first book much differently. The first book, although amazing in itself, was a means to an end, clearly leading the reader to the next book.

Not only that, but by having a long-term objective, Rowling was able to create a much bigger story. She was able to foreshadow to things the reader wouldn’t learn about for sometimes several years!

But she planted those seeds early and thoughtfully, and as a result, each book was a continuation of the next, rather than several disconnected and random stories.

6 other life-changing ideas

  • Success is taking 20 steps in one direction rather than one step in 20 directions. Take one step in the right direction. Then do it again. Productivity and success are not complicated.
  • “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” — Richard Whately
  • Success is continuously improving who you are, how you live, how you serve, and how you relate.
  • Every area of your life affects every other area of your life. Hence the saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
  • If you measure your current-self against your previous-self — where you were when you set your goals (and even before) — you’ll experience happiness, satisfaction, and confidence.

Ready to upgrade?

I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.

Get the cheat sheet here!

This article was originally published on Medium.

Benjamin P. Hardy|is a husband & father of 3