Video transcript 🗣
The following is the full transcript of this video. Please note that to connect as much as possible with you and my broader audience, my videos are filmed unscripted and in one take. Enjoy!
This is my fourth video in my series on my pivotal learnings from the last decade. We finished the last video with me discovering my passion for practice and in deciding to leave a much loved startup that I’d started with a friend in the babywear space. In this video, I want to cover three main learnings that all center around a practice.
The first is the practice of excellence – something I felt was my Achilles heel for much of my life. The second is learning how to use practice to tap into much more of the mind’s capabilities. And the third is in the creation of a daily practice, as a means by which to create quite effortlessly, all the change we desire in ourselves and in our lives!
So starting first with excellence. This was my Achilles heel because although from an outsider’s perspective, I’d demonstrated a lot of excellence and achievement in my life up this point, I’d always felt personally that I was a little bit lazy, that I was holding back in different regards, that I was doing things well within myself and my capabilities. This was something that caused me a lot of pain, anxiety and hurt over the years.
A good example was in athletics. While I was a very good runner at school, at the higher levels of competition, where people are pushing their capabilities and there isn’t much room for anything less than excellence, I achieved much less than I felt that I could have because of the way I was doing things. For example, I used to hold back a lot in the early parts of middle distance running races, so that I could finish really strongly and wouldn’t risk coming to the end of my capabilities.
At a particular inter-school competition, I was in a race, a 1500 meter race, and I was coming second after a relatively slow start. I could see that I was going to catch the guy ahead of me before we got to the line. So about 50 meters from the finish line, while overtaking him (and I take my hat off to him today for his intuition and his creativeness), he stepped out in front of me which caused me to stumble a bit and lose a few meters. I lost to him in a photo finish in that race. And while I cried foul and blamed everybody else except myself on the day, I’ve since realised that the real failure was in not doing my best from the start.
If I had done my best from the start in that race, I’d probably have won by a good margin. And I can say the same thing about many different aspects of my life. And I found the same to be true, not just in athletics, in my personal life, in the way that I manage my values, whether I manage them with excellence and also in the way that I do do my work.
Les Brown, a famous motivational speaker who I admire put this another way when he said:
‘Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will become easy.’
For example, in the context of work, there’s often important hard things that need to be done to achieve the success or impact that we want. However, most shy towards the easy things instead. The enjoyable tasks, the time-wasters, all of these sorts of things. Eventually the undone hard things, become gnarly problems that can seriously negatively impact individuals and lots of other people in different parts of the organisation. And the thing is, we eventually end up having to deal with these problems anyway!
So what I’ve found is that excellence is not only the best way to realise the impact we want in our lives, it’s also the easiest way.
If we do things with excellence, if we do them slowly, properly, smoothly with due care and attention, they get done. And in the case of practice, if we practice things with excellence they become skills, habits, and intuitions, that we can benefit from for the rest of our lives. So the first key learning was to start doing everything that I do in my life with excellence!
The second key learning through this phase was that as my daily practice evolved and deepened, I came to trust that practice is the tried and tested way to train and utilise more of our minds capabilities.
You’ve likely experienced this for yourself learning to ride a bicycle. To begin with, you had to think a lot when learning to ride. You had to use what scientists call your rational mind. You had to think, to focus. You had to ask questions like where do I put my hands and how do I avoid falling over. All of these sorts of things.
Riding is therefore quite a mentally draining activity to begin with, but as we practice it riding becomes subconscious, intuitive, automatic. And, eventually we can be riding down a road, avoiding obstacles, all while having a conversation with somebody!
That’s the power of these subconscious intuitive capabilities of ours. In fact, research by the University of Pennsylvania shows that these intuitive minds of ours work at over 200,000 times the speed of our conscious rational minds, of thought.
Therefore, there are these wonderful capabilities within our minds, that you can observe being demonstrated in areas where people do use practice well. In sport, in any sort of performance or creative art, in which there are people doing some pretty amazing things that a lot of people that don’t practice those things really can’t imagine how they’re actually doing them! So there’s this wonderful power in practice to train and utilise more of our capabilities.
In the workplace, there’s a study by McKinsey & Co., one of the world’s leading global consultancies, whereby they looked at 10,000 top executives worldwide and found that executives are five times more productive when in an intuitive ‘flow’ state. Which means one could potentially get all their work done for the week on Monday!
It’s my own experience practicing diligently every day for over two years at this point, that these sorts of productivity gains can be achieved and maintained. And that this sort of performance increase is really just the beginning as we begin to tap into these intuitive capabilities of ours. As we use practice to sustain our intuition and our intuitive capabilities over the course of entire days even!
So that was the second key learning, learning just how powerful and just how wonderful practice is in terms of its ability to help us use more of our mind to get what we want out of life. And the third key learning again, again around practice, was the concept of developing one’s own daily practice.
And by a daily practice, I mean that throughout the day, like you’d have a task list, you’ve got a practice list, Perhaps you’re doing some practices around exercise, meditation, going to sleep on a regular schedule, saving money, earning money, confidence, happiness even, these things are all skills, skills for life! And the more we practice them, the better we get at them!
And so depending on who we are, where we want to go and the lives that we want to create, we can create a set of practices that we do each day and that we sustain so that we develop through practice, skills, habits, and intuitions that become a permanent part of who we are.
When we practice the right things, when we do something today which gives us more energy, more skill, more intuition, more habits for tomorrow, we actually increase our capacity, the capacity of our minds to create the impact we desire in life. I found, as I mentioned in one of the earlier videos, that knowledge is only an early stage of the growth process. Unless we actually put knowledge into practice, it doesn’t really increase our capacity for life. It doesn’t really increase our output, because it’s actually the intuitive part of our minds that’s responsible for our behaviours, for our actions. So unless we practice, we’re not tapping into that. We’re not increasing our output, our performance, our impact, and as I’ve come to learn our enjoyment each day as well.
So there’s this idea of creating one’s own daily practice. And I started doing this really just as I mentioned in the earlier videos as a way to practice excellence towards growing my values, to improving in the important areas of my life. But, I fortunately came to discover that creating a sustained daily practice, and thereby creating the habit for daily practice, is like building a permanent bridge to our awesome intuitive capabilities!
When we develop this habit through the practice of tapping into our intuitive capabilities, of using our intuitive mind more each day, we can then walk all of the different practices that we may have in life over this bridge. Practices like around meditation, breathing, sleeping, health and fitness. We can walk those different practices over that bridge and therefore sustain them long enough to make them skills, habits and intuitions that we can benefit from for life, that increase our capacity for life!
This ability to sustain practice is really important, because as a study by Strava, the social fitness application with over 30 million users worldwide, found, it’s actually very hard to sustain new practices. We’ve all felt this when we’ve tried to exercise more or eat better. We typically get distracted and end up dropping new practices and don’t see any real permanent change for our efforts.
Strava showed that their 30 million users worldwide typically stay with new practices for about 12 days, which is a real problem because the latest research shows that it takes somewhere between 66 days and 240 days to build permanent habit that will last!
Therefore, there’s a big chasm between the practice that we’re able to achieve and sustain, and the practice that we need to sustain to increase our capacity for life by gaining permanent new skills, habits, and intuitions for it!
A daily practice, permanently bridges this chasm because through it you develop the habit for daily practice. If you then want to add new practices to the list that you’re habituated to working through each day, it’s easy to do so. It’s much easier to sustain those practices for the 66-240 days it takes to make permanent change.
So what does all this mean? What is the big learning here? Well, it’s that we can learn to effortlessly change most aspects of ourselves and our lives, those aspects that can be changed through skill and human activity.
For me, what was most wonderful about all this, what talks back to the point around excellence, is I always had these ideals for who I could become, I always knew I could become more excellent in what I could do, but I couldn’t bridge the chasm, the gap between who I was and who I thought I could be.
I was what I was, I wasn’t performing excellently. I was a bit lazy. I was kind of plodding through things. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life. All of these things. But through practice, specifically through creating a daily practice of the important things in my life, I’ve finally been able to become physically, socially, intellectually, professionally and spiritually, the man I always knew I could become!
From this journey, comes a deep passion for wanting to share what I’ve learned with others, so that they too can experience the joys and wonders of practice, and of becoming their ideal self and realising their ideal life!
So those were the three key learnings of this period as I embarked on my own personal journey with practice and eventually my journey into solo entrepreneurship. I’ll just talk further on solopreneurship quickly because I think without discovering practice and without really achieving excellence in what I do, I don’t think I’d be able to do all I’m doing as a solo entrepreneur.
As a solopreneur, I need to do excellently, the accounting, the financing, the trademarking, the branding, the technology the product development, the customer service, the leadership, everything! There’s really a lot to do!
Steve jobs alluded to this when, after he’d got ousted from Apple, he started a new company called Nexus. There’s a video of him where he says how he’d forgotten how much work there is to do with starting a new business. And, he had a team with him as well!
So, if you have designs to become your own boss in life and maybe to create an organisation that authentically shares who you are and your gifts, the personal journey that underpins your ability to do this is one that’s driven by practice, and getting better at all the skills you need to be successful in business and life.
So that’s all for now. I look forward to seeing you back here for the final video of this little series which will focus on the biggest learnings I’ve gained from coaching other people to create and develop their own practices in business and life!