Do what successful people do
If you want to do something really well, one of the best things you can do is find someone who does that thing really well and do what they do.
Say for example you wanted to be a brilliant athlete, you could ask your friends how they think you could go about it or you could ask your family members for ideas, but unless they are great athletes themselves, they’ll be giving you information purely from a theoretical viewpoint. In contrast, if you spoke to a great athlete and found out how they trained, what they ate and what mental techniques they used, you could start applying those same strategies in your training and feel confident of seeing great improvements in your performance as a result, as those are proven strategies for success in that area. If you then took that idea further and spoke to a number of great athletes, you’d find out a larger range of strategies being used, and also patterns with those strategies which would allow you to learn which strategies are likely to be crucial to success in comparison to those which are idiosyncratic to that particular athlete.
During the 1980s, when the American springboard and platform diver Greg Luganis was at his best, winning world championships and Olympic gold medals, the Chinese decided they wanted to be able to compete with the best divers in the world internationally. This was at a point where they barely even had training facilities for diving, however they set about choosing people they thought had the potential to be great divers, then studied Greg Luganis. They looked at every piece of video footage they could get, read articles about him, listened to interviews with him, and taught their divers to do what he did. This meant walking the way he did, warming up the way he did, training the way he did, and following what he did in great detail. Within a short amount of time, the Chinese had learned enough about how to be great divers that they too were competing with the best.
A great deal of the knowledge you need for modeling excellence can be gathered from observation, by reading articles and autobiographies, or by listening to interviews. It’s also useful where possible to speak to the person, as that way you can ask all the questions you want and really get into what that person does, what they believe about what they do, and how they think about what they do, as getting into those internal strategies is just as important as what you can see externally. It was here that caused some inconsistency in the performance of the Chinese divers – they did everything they could see Greg Luganis doing, but had not found out about his thought patterns and other strategies he was using internally.
Finding successful people and doing what they do is an important concept for whatever it is you want to achieve in life. If you want to be happy, hanging out with people who are depressed will not help. Instead you need to do what happy people do – walk tall with a spring in your step, smile lots and do things you enjoy. If you want to be thin, eat like a thin person. Thin people do eat chocolate and cake and they don’t feel guilty about it or berate themselves for it. They maintain a balance, where the majority of food is healthy and the less healthy foods are eaten only occasionally.
Whatever it is you want to be good at, there are people out there who are already really good at that thing. Learning how they do what they do and adopting those same strategies gives you a recipe for success in that area. What is it that you want to be really good at?