Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Concordia Community about optimal performance in a seminar called Tiny Tweaks, transformative results. The material is based on research from the fields of Athletics, Management, and Neuroscience and explores what it takes to become world class, and the practices employed by people who achieve radical success.

It therefore seems only fitting to write about Canada’s, Bianca Andreescu, the 19-year-old female and first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title over the weekend. What is fascinating and empowering about Andreescu is her transformation from ranking as No. 152 in the world at the end of 2018, to 5th place in 2019.

The best athletes know that to be world class one has to practice, practice and then practice some more! Over 30 years of research indicate that talent alone is not sufficient. A commitment to practice is one of the cornerstones of success.

But practice is not easy whether it is practicing tennis, piano or calculus!

So how do people who achieve radical success motivate themselves to commit to practice?

Science tells us that whether it’s practicing your tennis game, motivating yourself to workout 3 days a week, or finish that report a week in advance of its actual deadline, requires that we automate behaviour.

Let’s explore this concept called automaticity in a little more detail.

Essentially, what we want to do is automate behaviours that we find difficult to practice or complete. Meaning, we want to ritualize them as we do – brushing our teeth.

You don’t, I hope, wake up in the morning and wonder if you should brush your teeth – you just do it. It’s a habit.

Practice, world class athletes tell us, isn’t necessarily something they like doing. In fact, many will tell you that it’s the hardest part of their day and the least enjoyable. But it’s a must if they want to stand on the world stage.

And the same is true for the rest of us. If you want to excel at anything make practice a ritual.

For example, if you want to start going to the gym regularly decide what days and times work best. Don’t leave it to chance, or to when you’re going to feel motivated to workout (the latter never, if ever, comes!). Then follow through on your plan.

The first few weeks you may be fighting yourself to actually go. But, if you stick with the plan, it will eventually become habit and believe it or not you will actually miss going if you have to skip a day.

This also translate to our work lives.

Many of us have work to do that we don’t necessarily want to do, or find exciting to complete.

For me, right now, it’s writing a book. I don’t wake up enthusiastic about having to sit at a computer for hours each day. But I have ritualized the practice of writing. Meaning, I know that every weekday morning from 8:00am to 11:00am I write.

I don’t think about whether or not I want to do it – I just (like Nike) do it!

Success is not easy (and I don’t think it should be).

Accomplishing what we set out to achieve takes hard work, commitment and grit. But, if there is a goal that is important for you to achieve, then focussing on the final destination and how you are going to get there is a worthwhile endeavour.

So, what behaviour can you automate?

To your success!

Dr. Gill

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I am passionate about translating social science research into practical actions and concrete strategies. I focus on soft skills development for those entering the workforce, and deal with the emotional challenges of career exit. Reach out to learn more at gill@lifeskillstoolbox.ca