This is probably the most important post I have written recently. Read it twice :)
When you look at the Forbes list of the wealthiest people on the planet, the vast majority of them made their fortune in one big chunk.
They didn’t work hard over a period of several years, making money, making money, and saving up to that big bank balance.
In a lot of cases, they built their business, and sold it for a big wad of cash.
Most fortunes are made through quick, massive windfalls.
Most cases of massive success in any field, whether business or in dating or in your personal development, or in your unicycling skills... or in any other area of life... are created through a series of quantum leaps, not gradual improvement.
There was a study among competitive swimmers where they wanted to find out what made the difference between the various classes of swimmers. Those who competed in their local area... those who competed across states and nationally... and those who competed internationally and in the Olympic Games.
The common-sense, surface-level obvious answer to getting better at something is practice. Practice more, train harder.
But the real answer to getting to an Olympic level of skill is something entirely different.
One thing, among many, that the study found was that the angle at which the hand entered the water made a huge difference.
There is a definite limit to how quickly you can move your arms. So no matter how hard you practice moving faster, you can only reach a certain level...
... and you might get to be the best WITHIN your class of swimmer.
If you want to move to the next level, you need to focus on the exact right thing. It might be the angle of your hand, or it might be how you execute your turns, or it might be something completely different.
If you ask an Olympian “what’s the big secret to making it to the Olympics?”, then he will likely answer with whatever was the right thing for HIM. But it might not be the exact right thing for YOU.
Massive success is achieved through a series of earth-shattering breakthroughs that will ratchet you up by 10X almost overnight.
There is something to be said for “Kaizen” improvement, but more often than not, it only helps you get better within your existing class. If you want to get to the NEXT level, you probably need to think about completely different things... and you probably need to think in a completely different way from what you do now.
Last night I was doing some introspective journaling work, and it was very difficult. Eventually I arrived at something that I had never even thought of, and I removed a huge “clog” in my inner system that will probably make a massive impact in my near future.
It was a breakthrough.
You don’t gradually improve your way to breakthroughs.
The way I see it, the main purpose of consistent daily practice is to do a lot of things, get a lot of reference experiences so you have improved chances of hitting a tipping point that leads to your next big breakthrough.
I don’t always find things that are blocking me when I journal, but whatever work I do during those sessions may pave the way for the massive breakthroughs that will come later.
And so it is with all things.
If you practice writing every day, you won’t really get better at writing every day... but you are setting yourself up to become much better at one point in the future. As long as you follow the four principles of rapid mastery (immersion, challenge, momentum and reflective externalization) then hitting that tipping point breakthrough is almost inevitable.
You will be quietly trucking along when you suddenly do something that makes everything click. The pieces will fall into place and you will know precisely what to do to 10X your results practically overnight.
Now get to it!
Today’s writing music: Euphoria - Loreen (Sweden’s entry last year in the Eurovision Song Contest - the largest entertainment event in the world. We won, and actually received more 12pt votes than any other song in the history of Eurovision. It is also the only song from the competition - ever - that I have actually liked. Hah.)
Photo via Shantideva on flickr