“Part of my evolution as an entrepreneur has been to realise the importance of not losing focus. I have a list of 13 key things that I’m focusing on this year. Every day I look at that list and remind myself that these are the most important things for 2017. Everything, unless it’s an urgent operational issue, must link back to one of the 13 things on my list, or I don’t do it. That’s how you push the needle.” — Jonathan Liebmann, founder, Propertuity, which has a property portfolio in excess of R1 billion.
What’s the secret to success? Some would argue that insanely successful people possess traits like having a vision, showing gratitude, being honest, learning from failure and having a high emotional intelligence.
While these traits definitely play a role, the real secret to success comes down to science, particularly advancements in neuroscience, and how you can condition your brain to achieve your dreams and goals.
The neuroscience of success can get complicated, but it’s really about how your brain functions in three different areas: Reticular activating system (RAS), the release of dopamine and your memory. If you’re not a science person, I’ll try to make this all as painless as possible.
The Reticular Activating System
Located at the base of the brain where it connects with the spinal cord, there’s one of most important parts of the brain: The reticular activating system.
RAS influences cognition and is basically a filter for the roughly eight million bits of information (subconsciously) flowing through our brain. In other words, it eliminates the white noise. When a message gets past the RAS filter it enters the cerebrum and is then converted into conscious thoughts, emotions or both.
As Ruben Gonzalez, author of The Courage to Succeed, explains, “Even though the cerebrum is the centre of thought, it will not respond to a message unless the RAS allows it. The RAS is like Google. There are millions of websites out there, but you filter out the ones you are not interested in simply by typing a keyword.”
So, what messages get through? Pretty much just the ones that are currently important to you. For example, if you’re focused on preparing for a speaking engagement, your RAS is going to filter in the thoughts that are going to make your presentation a success, such as the tools and resources you’ll need to deliver a memorable speech.
As Gonzalez adds, “This means the more you keep your goals ‘top of mind,’ the more your subconscious mind will work to reach them. That’s why writing your goals down every day, visualising your intended outcome and regularly saying affirmations is so important. Doing those things truly does help you to focus your subconscious mind on what’s important to you.”
Dopamine feedback loops
While RAS can help you focus on your desired outcome, the release of dopamine is what makes success feel good.
Mark Lukens, founding partner of Method3, wrote, “When we succeed at something, our brains release chemical rewards; the most important of which is the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical best known for the role it plays in addiction and drug use.”
Dopamine, despite this negative association, “is a natural part of how our brains function, producing the sensation of pleasure whenever you taste coffee or chocolate, or when you achieve a big win.”
Thus, it makes sense that “dopamine is strongly connected to motivation, driving us to repeat the behaviours that create that rush, even when we aren’t experiencing it.” The dopamine response is short-term but since our brains remember how awesome it was before, we strive to seek it out over and over again.
That’s when dopamine loops enter the picture. After you’ve experienced repeated success, your pleasure reduces.
“This can drive us to seek out ever-greater thrills,” adds Lukens. It’s why video game players are constantly engaged, it’s the reason why you check your phone every minute after updating your Facebook status, and it’s what motivates us to accomplish more.
For instance, if your goal was to acquire three new clients within two weeks, your next goal would be to acquire six new clients in one week. Everything else is the same, except the more challenging, and rewarding task of doubling your clients. As an added perk, this helps you weed out the work and goals that aren’t motivating you or your team.
Neuroscientists who have studied the way the brain retrieves memories can also determine success.
Think about that for a second. That time you went mountain biking and had a nasty spill? That was a bad experience that might discourage you from mountain biking again, at least for the foreseeable future. The same is true of business failure. You are more hesitant about taking that risk again.
Scientists have found that we can edit those bad memories to remove the negative associations. In fact, this memory therapy is used to treat PTSD sufferers. You can also edit good memories to propel you towards success.
To weaken bad memories, bring that memory back and then let it get smaller and dimmer, like you’re watching a small black-and-white TV fade out. Then insert new details that scramble the memory. For instance, think about the time you bombed during an investor pitch. Now imagine that your audience was dressed in something that made you laugh. Do that five or ten times and that memory will make you chuckle.
To strengthen memories, recall the good memories as bright and loud as possible, like watching a movie in an IMAX theatre. Keep reminding yourself how that experience made you feel. Use that to motivate you.
Related: The 5 Secrets Of Business Success
Hacks to rewire your brain for success
You can rewire your brain to become more successful. In fact, according to neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, it takes just 30 hours of training based on specific neuroscience techniques to improve your memory and cognition, speech patterns and reading comprehension.
I know. That may sound like a lot. But, that’s just an hour a day for a month to achieve life-long success. I think that’s totally worth it. And, most of this training involves simple daily tasks.
Implement these eight simple hacks to achieve life-long success.
1. Exercise and meditation
Exercising releases endorphins, which can help with problem solving and boost creativity. Meditation can help you achieve inner calm and break down any mental barriers or limitations.
2. Consume a diet rich in omega-3s and healthy fats
These can help keep dopamine levels in your brain active, as well as increase cerebral circulation.
3. Precision affirmations
“We’ve all heard of affirmations: Repeating positive statements to ourselves in order to believe them,” writes John Assaraf, the CEO of NeuroGym.
“While that may sound good in theory, there is often a severe lack of specificity that can hinder results.” Instead, “make a clear, definitive statement about yourself as if it is already true, your subconscious mind takes over and will act in accordance with that belief.” This “will imprint these beliefs into new neural pathways.”
4. Say your ‘Chief Aim’ every morning and evening
Based on Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, “A definite ‘Chief Aim’ is a specific, clearly-defined statement of purpose,” writes Dr. Julie Connor. “It has the power to guide your subconscious mind. It transforms your attitude from pessimism into positive expectation.” Write down your own ‘Chief Aim’ and say it out loud every morning and evening. When I started my invoice company, I started every day by saying that I would become the best at this. Not quite there but getting there.
5. Get plenty of sleep
Get between 6,5 and eight hours of quality sleep every night so that you’re more attentive and focused.
6. 15 minutes a day
Carve out 15 minutes of your day to learn something new or master a skill you already have. It will have a positive impact on your brain.
7. Remove yourself from negative and stressful environments
According to Robert Sapolsky, a neuroendocrinology professor at Stanford University, “Stress can not only be stopped, but reversed once the source, psychological or physical, is removed or sufficiently reduced.” In other words, the physical environment around us plays a very important role in the health of our brains.
“Visualisation is a powerful tool to retrain your subconscious mind, because it allows you to feel and experience a situation that hasn’t happened yet — as if it were real,” writes Assaraf. In short, “If you are able to genuinely ‘see’ yourself as financially successful in your mind, your subconscious will process that as reality.”
Why Your Professional Persona Matters
You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.
For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.
Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.
How do I develop a professional persona?
It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.
Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.
Create a self fulfilling prophecy
Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.
But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.
Focus on what’s important
When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.
Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.
Make yourself indispensable
One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.
For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.
Be taken more seriously
A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.
Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.
You’ll get more followers
More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.
When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.
Develop a thicker skin
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.
Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset
What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.
A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.
1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results
The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.
A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.
2. Press the reset button for the new year
The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.
Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.
3. Take small incremental steps
The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.
4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself
Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.
Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.
5. Remember that no goal is static
One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.
6. Your top tool is in your head
It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.
Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?
ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit www.accaglobal.com for more information.
Taking Care Of Mental Health Is Powerful, Not Weak
Charlamagne Tha God talks success, anxiety and mental health.
It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.
There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR – you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.
New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.
Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.
Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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