You’ve heard it before I’m sure: “We only use 10 percent of our brains and our potential.” Now, I’m pretty sure this is a myth, because if you lost part of your brain to a stroke, you’d have some serious issues.
However, the premise clearly indicates a societal recognition that most people don’t maximize their potential. It also identifies a societal need or desire for people to feel like they’re using their brain and potential to the fullest.
The question then arises: “How does one maximize potential?”
I’m going to get to my own thoughts and theories on this in a moment.
If I had a superpower that could be anything, it would be harnessing my brain fully like in the movie "Limitless."
I would want to sit down and crank out a novel in four days (like in the movie). I would execute FAST on ideas and concepts that will progress me. I would learn at lightning fast rates so I can adopt new skills and habits quickly to the point where you’d be questioning if I was a super human.
AND I would conduct all these activities with such mental clarity that thinking and performing would be easy.
Now, superhuman or not—I’ve been working on this. You can call it a little life mission that I have (to be superhuman, lol). Kidding… not kidding.
I’ve always been kind of obsessed with neural science. While friends were going to the mall, and playing loads of sports in high school, I was hanging out at the library reading about how to hack my brain, the effects of stimuli, and how eating habits can fuel or inhibit brain activity. Just a hobby, I guess.
I love learning and applying the things I learned immediately. I have a laundry list of things that I would like to master in my lifetime (and it’s not short).
For example, I want to master surfing (at least to the intermediate level), become proficient at jazz piano, learn French and Italian fluently, heli-snowboard, do some solid parkour, learn to pop and lock like the best hip hop dancers, write nonfiction books on business mastery and branding, write a captivating fiction novel, create a boho-themed lifestyle home decor and apparel line, write a book on meditation practices in America…the list goes on.
These projects and aspirations all have to do with mastery. I believe in excellence and being excellent. Thus, I won’t be just “dipping my toe in the water.” I’ll be mastering the list, and every activity on it, and more.
The reason why I brought all this up is to show that I have so much that I desire to accomplish to a high degree (the goal is before I’m 35). I’ll be doing all this in addition to running an incredibly successful online business that occupies the vast majority of my time.
I could spend years mastering surfing. I don’t want to spend years. I want to plug in and download the ability like in "The Matrix." Being that we aren’t cyborgs yet, that means that I’m going to have to find a way to optimize my brain to learn faster.
I’m going to have to find a way to totally immerse myself in my desires and be much more effective in my approach.
Brain and body optimization
I have been optimizing my output and brain and body function over the last year or so (at least). The real masters of this are the Tim Ferriss’ out there. Check out his books: "The 4-Hour Work Week," and "The 4-Hour Body."
No matter what I decide to do, I demand excellence from myself consistently. That’s something that doesn’t come without its price.
The price is hard work and consistency.
The price is not giving in to temptation for things that I know are not going to assist me.
Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t done tons of research. I really just monitor how my body feels when I do certain things. My body is my metric.
When I eat something, and 10 minutes later I feel tired, I remember what I ate and will probably not consume it next time (because that tired feeling has a massive impact on how clear my brain is functioning).
When I eat something and feel happy and elated—I take that into account too. And I’ll consume more of it because it helps my brain and body function harmoniously.
Most of the effectiveness comes down to learning how to focus.
Decreasing resistance and learning how to focus
I am always looking to decrease resistance. When you have less resistance to something, it’s easier to accomplish. Resistance could come in the form of mental chatter, or thoughts like,“This is going to be rough.” That would hype your brain up to create mental roadblocks to your goals.
It’s about putting yourself in the way of success by removing any potential hazards to attaining your goal. It’s also having the mental discipline needed to stay on task.
To have a highly productive mind, you must learn how to focus and decrease any resistance to focus.
There are a few ways to focus (that I know of from experience).
This helps keep my mind clear and inspired.
Become a master of ignoring all distractions
This requires a tremendous amount of dedication and willpower to ignore things that are bidding for your attention. In this scenario, you are generally in an environment with heavy distractions and you learn (or train yourself) to tune it all out.
This is a tremendously competitive mindset and warrior mentality where you will focus—no matter what.
For example, let’s say you work at an office. You’ve committed to cutting out sugar and carbs to be a healthier more fit version of yourself. A coworker comes into your office and places a cupcake on your desk. What now? Do you let the cupcake sit there or do you throw it out?
To emphasize the point above, this is a scenario where you would leave the cupcake on your desk and resist the urge to eat it. You would create the mental discipline required to stare at something you want (that you’ve committed to removing from your lifestyle), and ignore the distraction entirely.
This creates a mental will power that can’t be stopped. That is, if you can achieve it.
Or you eat the cupcake and sabotage your results.
If you’re looking for long-term success, you would remove the distraction entirely. This leads us to the next mastery below.
Become a master of removing all distractions
The other side to the coin is not just mastering focus, but also knowing when to remove distractions entirely.
For example, in the cupcake scenario, you would throw out the cupcake or give it to a friend, immediately.
That way you’re never tempted. If you were tempted, well you already gave it up to someone and you probably aren’t going to ask them to regurgitate it for you. Yuck.
Problem solved. Distraction annihilated.
Here are a couple more examples to entertain:
I love my friends. They’re awesome people. If I am trying to get work done, and they run into me at a coffee shop or we go out for lunch (and I think it’s going to be quick), my focus is kaput.
I know this—so now when friends text me spontaneously, I usually say something like “Sounds awesome, I’d love to but I’m working through this project.” Then I’ll give an alternative date that I’ve already set aside to be “off” so I can give them my full attention—AND give my work my full attention right now. The rest of the text will say something like, “I have Saturday off, wanna hang then?”
Another example is I get seasonal depression over the winter in New York. Nothing major, it’s pretty par for the course if you live in a state with blizzards, snowmageddons, and -30-degree cold snaps. However, it really puts a damper on my mood, my levels of motivation, and my output. I just can’t seem to get everything done that I want to.
This is the first year that I moved to Southern California for the winter. Seasonal depression just doesn’t happen when you have bright blue skies every day and the Pacific ocean is 173 steps from your door. I’ve found that simply changing my location (albeit temporarily) has increased my motivation, productivity, and ability to focus tremendously.
You must know what works for your own personal productivity to be successful removing distractions.
I know that I get almost nothing done with friends around and that the weather has a huge effect on my mood. The specifics are going to be a little different for everyone, but the premise is the same.
Become a master of productivity
Don’t go out of your way to “tune out” distractions if they can easily be removed. Prepare for your focus days. Think ahead and figure out what would be distracting. Then plan around your day and remove the distractions.
Remember to “kick up” your ability to “tune out” and to be laser focused. This is a recipe for unshakable, focused success.
The best productivity hacks come from using a combination of the two aforementioned mastery techniques.
Become a master at building habits
Another little piece to this puzzle is if you can “put it on autopilot,” you should.
The more that you can make a habit, the more that your brain will be free to think of new ideas, concepts, and plan world domination.
For example, I don’t have to “think about” being grateful very often, but I did at first.
When I started, I had to be on top of myself and constantly think of what I was grateful for to keep myself in a humble, accepting state of mind. Every morning and every evening, I would write a list of 100 things that I was grateful for. I would then take a few minutes and feel it, and accept the awesomeness that is present in my life.
After doing this for a few months, it’s on autopilot.
I haven’t focused on it in quite a while, but every evening before I fall asleep I feel grateful, and automatically think of the awesome-sauce that transpired throughout my day. Every morning I feel grateful and smile (without having to work at it or think about it), and think of everything that I am grateful for. It’s on autopilot.
Anyone that is truly successful has placed the success on autopilot.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
Back to feeling like a superhuman…
Accomplishing all your aspirations and desires takes hard work and consistency.
You must know what you’re looking to achieve by setting specific and measurable goals. Then you must learn to turn on your high-focus-mentality without much effort.
It takes time and dedication, but the reward is you’re focused. You get to learn at a rapid rate, execute even faster and really live life to what you deem as the fullest. I appreciate the full mental clarity that I get access to on a regular basis, and I believe it helps me do more, and faster.
Bring on the heli-snowboarding and the parkour!
This article was written by Emelina Spinelli from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.