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35 steps to a Personal Best

September 22, 2011

The most important single quality of an individual pursuing a standout level of performance that can be considered ‘Personal Best’ is self-discipline. Self-discipline is having the ability within yourself, based on your strength of character and willpower, to do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. How much do you want it?. Perhaps the greatest display of self-discipline is to keep going and sustain momentum and pursuit when the going gets tough –  persistence is self-discipline in action, the attitude is right. Your persistence is in fact the true measure of your belief in yourself and your ability to succeed. Each time that you persist in the face of adversity and disappointment, you build the habit of not letting go. You build pride, power, and self-esteem into your daily plan, you become stronger and more resolute. By maintaining the momentum and focus, you become more self-disciplined. You develop within yourself the iron quality of determination, not letting go when others fall back. Striving for success is one quality that will carry you forward and over any obstacles thrown in your path, it’s ultimately one of the things which separates winners from losers.

Orison Swett Marsden noted There are two essential requirements for success. The first is ‘go-at-it-iveness’ and the second is ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. I like that! Referring to the quality of persistence he wrote, There is no failure for the man who realises his power, who never knows when he is beaten; there is no failure for the determined endeavor, the conquerable will. There is no failure for the man who gets up every time he falls, who rebounds like a rubber ball, who persists when everyone else gives up, who pushes on when everyone else turns back. Persistence is one of your greatest assets. In pursuing a ’Personal Best’, perhaps your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay at a task longer than anyone else. B.C. Forbes, who founded Forbes magazine and built it into a major publication during the darkest days of the 1930s Depression, wrote, History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeat.

Adversity is what tests us. Throughout history, great thinkers have reflected on this paradox and have concluded that adversity is the test that you must pass on the path to accomplishing anything worthwhile. The very best qualities of strength, courage, character, and persistence are brought out in you when you face your greatest challenges and when you respond to them positively and constructively.

So, fine words from some fine people, but what’s the dna people mindset, and what is our journey and experience been like for working with start-up business or entrepreneurial  folk who want to make a difference? What does self-discipline, persistence and the attitude to overcoming adversity look like? Here’s my take on how it goes.

1. Start. This is memorable. It will make a difference. Great innovation.

2. Keep going. 
20% thinking, 80% doing, it’s starting to work.

3. You think you’re starting to get the hang of it.

4. You see someone else’s work and feel undeniable misery. 
Blown away.

5. Keep going. 
A blindman on a galloping donkey can see the opportunity. Grab it.

6. Keep going. 
Customers are coming, customers are coming.

7. You feel like maybe, possibly, you may just be onto something, I’ve got it now.

8. You don’t. 
Big sighs. Sulk. Reboot. Life’s a pitch.

9. Keep going. 
What do you want to be famous for?

10. A pitch for business – their response is standoffish, though polite. 
You go negative, glass is half-empty or half full? Doesn’t matter, it looks the same.

11. Depression. 
Those Joy Division songs make the soundtrack of where you’re at.

12. Keep going. 
Reluctantly.

13. Keep going. 
Got your spark back, shrug of the shoulders, dig in.

14. You ask someone else’s opinion – their response is favourable.

15. But not really. They have no idea what they’re talking about.

16. Keep going. 
Nothing else to do is there? Head up, head up.

17. You feel semi-positive, some small wins and progress, favorable feedback and maybe even a little proud of what you can do now. 
Singing in the car driving home.

18. Hysteria and hallucination, there’s nothing there. Get it sorted. Thinking too much.

19. Depression after a setback you just didn’t see coming. This feels like hard work.

20. Keep going. 
Put a man on the moon? If they can, I can.

21. You ask someone else’s opinion – they respond quite favorably but see the gaps. Analysis, paralysis.

22. Emperor’s new clothes. Steve Jobs would pack it in now.

23. Three times no. Depression. Final straw, there must be easier ways of earning a living. Check out career guidance for ‘international playboy’.

24. Keep going though you can’t possibly imagine why. 
Read the obituaries in The Independent. Other succeeded and made their mark. Roger Bannister. Dick Fosbury. Jonny Wilkinson. Carl Lewis. Steve Redgrave.

25. Become restless. 
Energised and energy sapping at the same time.

26. Receive some measure of encouragement from a trustworthy opinion.

27. Robert Stevenson. Ernst Shackleton. Joe Strummer. All made a difference. I want to be in their gang.

28. Keep going. You can hear yourself saying this in your sleep, now, even the dog is starting to look at you with concern.

29. Wake up, your dreamed the dog was saying Keep going.… Mastery arrives, you mistake it for a gust of wind.

30. Keep. Fucking. Going.

31. Manic levels of activity. Feels like a breakthrough. Haze clearing.

32. Blue Oceans rather than Red Ocean, weather forecast favourable too

33. Repeat business, scope and pricing agreed without arm-wrestling negotiation.

34. Glowing testimony from client, word of mouth and referrals too.

35. Get in there!

35 steps up and back down and sometimes sidewards, a bit like a game of snakes and ladders. However, achieving a standout performance, a Personal-Best, is what counts to us all. Some people fail to see the opportunity because it looks like hard work, but no excuses, get yourself in the right mindset and make it count, where it matters, Inner-Vation ©

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