All of us have the yearning to be the best at what we do. It’s just a matter of whether we acknowledge it or we deny it out of fear of failure.
But before we talk about it, I want to first clarify that when I said ‘be the best at what you do’, I meant be the best at what you do. Not be better than anyone else – be better than your past self.
In this article, I will break down phases we need to go through to be the best at what we do, how we go about doing that, and most importantly, the mindset aspects of making it happen.
Understanding how the mind works
First of all, we need to understand that we have two levels of work; Level 1 is the Inner Work and Level 2 is the Outer Work. Level 1 is where we learn the mindset mastery and Level 2 is where we go out and make things happen – writing, speaking, teaching, etc. In order for us to be the best at what we do, we can’t skip levels. We must master Level 1 first. Without mastering Level 1, we won’t pass in Level 2 – it will be a trial and error with so much time, money and effort wasted.
Now in Level 1, there are two types of mindset; Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset. Fixed Mindset is where we are ok with mediocrity; we make excuses, we play safe and we let ourselves be the biggest roadblock in the way.
However, in the Growth Mindset we’re driven, motivated and inspired from within. We choose the path that’s less travelled. We still experience fears but we do it anyway. This is the zone where we want to operate from and this is the only zone that will propel us to move forward. In this zone, we will still face the invisible blocks but we become consciously aware of them and learn how to harness the courage.
This is where I’ll breakdown the invisible obstacles or the mental barriers that hold us back in life.
Remember I said above that it’s not about being better than other people but being better than your past self? I believe that all of us have our own limitations and opportunities. All of us are here on earth for different reasons.
We fall into the trap of continuously comparing ourselves with others. Sure we’re being programmed to do that – I understand. Magazines, movies, advertisements – all telling us how we’re not good enough ‘when compared to the models in the advertisements’. But let’s not forget our intention here – to be the best at what we do – that means to not follow the rules that everyone else is following.
So why compare yourself and come from a place of ego when everyone else is doing?
I know, I know – you’ve heard of this cheesy line: “There’s no such thing as failure, only feedback”. It’s watered down now that so many people are saying it. But really though, what is failure?
Is it not seeing your creation on your first go, or is it not seeing it at all?
Many people quit before they even start. Many people start but they don’t follow through. That is failure. If you tried and things didn’t turn out the way you wanted, it’s gold. Because now you have the benchmark where you started and the creation that you can refine over time.
My favourite, of course. As someone who speaks up a lot about this and copped a lot of criticism from people driven by fear, I’ve learned the hard way myself in a humble way that the higher you go, the more you will receive it. People will judge either way. At the end of the day, that’s how we’re wired to understand between table and chair, white and black, good and bad, envy and jealousy.
But criticism itself isn’t bad. Some criticisms are opportunities inviting us to see parts of ourselves that we may be blinded by. And those criticising us may be doing us a great favour to go within and look at ourselves in a way that we’ve never done before.
Every master was once an amateur. Again, as a millennial who had little to no patience who want to get things done right now, I learned it first hand that the key to becoming the best at what I do is patience – not skipping steps, falling down a few times, getting back up, hiring help, getting education, doing the things that wasn’t very exciting but always keeping my eye on the result.
I have a practice of choosing one thing every few months to learn and improve. The last few months, I’ve been improving my patience. I understand implementation with speed is key in this day and age but injecting patience in the learning curve is king.
5. Passion and love
Confucius said “Do a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day”. I’ve taken it to heart since I was young. In other words, be ruthless about your alignment – alignment to doing only what lights you up. I have a list of things that I feel aligned to and not aligned to.
By doing that, I now have the clarity of what I will say yes to and what I will say no to. Never say YES to doing things out of fear. That way, I choose to do only what I love and that alone is enough to inspire me from within.
Phases of becoming the best at what you do
In each phase, there are steps that we need to follow.
1. Pick one
Obvious, yes? If you are a creative like me, you sit and meditate to calm your mind but instead, you come up with another 100 ideas of what you can do. Well, multitasking is a myth – unless you’re born part of the 2% of the world population who can actually do that.
But for the rest of us, when we multitask, the statistics show that our productivity goes down by 20% with each task. So pick one area that you want to become the best at and continue with the rest of the steps.
2. Fill your toolbox
Even plumbers and handymen have to keep adding new tools to their toolbox in order to do the job with efficiency and excellence. I’m a lifelong student who sits in the rooms of the experts who are teaching about wealth, health, productivity, spirituality, mindset, high performance… the list goes on. Why? In order for me to be the best at what I do, I need to continuously upgrade my knowledge and experience. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck with my limited knowledge or not being able to create the impact that I want to create.
3. Set a routine
Humans are routine creatures. That’s how our brain is wired. Wake up, brush teeth, wash face, go for a jog, drink almond cappuccino. When we get out of routine, we feel something is missing.
And not following a routine is also a routine itself – be lazy, watch Netflix, go to a bar and sleep.
So how can we set a routine that will start driving us towards the path of excellence? Pick a few things that will get you fired up and be in the zone. For me it’s playing high-vibe music and dancing to it, meditating, or jumping into the pool and swimming a few laps. Also scheduling every single that I have to do each day in my calendar. I’m ruthless with my calendar because if I don’t prioritise what’s important for me, others will prioritise it for me.
4. Be different
I’ve touched on this point a little bit above. In order for us to be the best at what we do, we need to do something that’s different from what everyone’s doing, and most importantly, from what we’ve been doing in the past. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got – right? So let’s not follow the rules that everyone’s following. Let’s not be programmed by the same mental barriers that everyone’s being held hostage of and let’s not follow the path that everyone’s going.
1. Done is better than perfect
Ohhh, when I heard that, it gave me permission not to get things perfect. Being a perfectionist, I used to wait till the stars were aligned, things were ready and until everything was polished. But really, done is better than perfect. Tweak as you go. If Apple waited till they have iPhone 7, they would never have even started – we would never have had this technology connecting us with ease.
Now you’ve done it, and you’ve put your work out there. But to be the best at what you do, consistency is key. Repetition is crucial. Dedication is a must.
From Okay to Excellent, it takes time and patience. How do you think Olympic champions became champions? How do you think Roger Federer became the greatest tennis player of all times? Hitting the same ball over and over. Consistency.
3. Strive for excellence
The definition of excellence is ’extremely good’. Not by someone else’s standards, or in comparison to someone else, but in the standard of striving for excellence with your own benchmark.
Done is definitely better than perfect, but it’s about upgrading that done to another level every time something is done. Otherwise it becomes complacency. Being complacent is being stagnant. Being stagnant is the definition of death!
This is the stage of review, feedback and refine. Watch what worked and what didn’t work. Repeat what worked and refine it until it gets better. When Henry Ford started Ford, he started with the Model T back in 1908, but today we have Fords that do all sorts of things that Model T couldn’t do in 1908 – what changed? Review, feedback and refine.
So to sum it up, you go through 3 phases; Planning, Doing and Repeating. In each phase, we have little steps that we need to take. In order to really get there, we must then combine these steps with the mindset mastery. Is it a lot? You judge for yourself. For me, if I really want to be the best at what I do, I choose nothing short of this. At the end of the day, it’s about choosing. What do you choose? Mediocrity, or being the best at what you do?
All the best implementing these and don’t forget to have fun too. If you want to get things done and become the best version of yourself, check out Be Charged.Life.