The myth of Milo, a popular wrestler from the 6th Century B.C., is a great story that illustrates the importance of physical endurance, perseverance and a simple habit that led him to many victories in key athletic events of the ancient Greece. Milo had always admired the great wrestlers of the Magna Graecian city of Croton, the present-day Southern Italy. He was determined to be as strong and powerful as them. So one day, he started his practice with carrying a new-born calf on his shoulder and walking. He repeated this every day as the calf grew. He was mocked and laughed at, but he did not give up this routine.
As the calf grew, so did Milo’s strength and one day, he was carrying a full-grown bull on his shoulder! Later, Milo went on to achieve his childhood dream and became a six-time Olympic victor in wrestling. This story demonstrates what is needed for achieving excellence,i.e., Perseverance.
This has been identified as one of the top hacks for attaining high-performance in No Limits, a book written by cure.fit’s co-founder, Mukesh Bansal. The following are some of the performance hacks from the book that could help you achieve perseverance, which in turn will help you build powerful habits to realize your full potential:
#1 Create a Ritual
Why did some of the finest artists in history had some of the strangest rituals? Beethoven, for example, would begin his day of work only after a breakfast of coffee made with exactly 60 coffee beans. As strange as it may sound, the significance of rituals like this one is high. When you do the same thing every single day, down to the minutest detail, your mind and body respond with the same behaviour each time. So, developing rituals around your tasks, however quirky or simple, such as wearing an accessory before a walk/run, can help you perform the task with the same focus and intensity every time.
#2 Same task, same time, every day
It is important to prime your mind or prepare yourself to perform well every day. One way to do this is to allocate a specific time to work on a particular task, and then repeat it at the same time, every day. You will discover that you automatically gravitate towards that task at the same time daily. If you work-out at 7 am every morning, then you will put on your shoes and head to your gym without thinking about it. Before you know it, your habit will set the tone for the rest of the day and you will feel lethargic and disoriented if you skip the workout.
#3 Aim for streaks
One of the best ways to develop a habit is to aim for streaks. However small that commitment is, start today and make sure that you don’t go a single day without that activity. It might help to have a calendar so that your streak becomes more visible to motivate you to cross the task out every-day.
#4 Eat your frog first
Don’t worry, this is just a metaphor of saying that do the most important and the toughest task as the first thing when you start work. If you can make sure that this task is the very first thing you tackle, you will notice that it is rather doable. Once you finish this task, you will have a sense of accomplishment to carry you through the rest of the day.
#5 Take Ten
Even on days when you feel you can’t afford a break, it is important to schedule small breaks throughout. One way to do this is to set a timer for an hour and don’t let anything distract you. When the hour is up, set the timer to 10 minutes and give yourself a break. Walk around, go outside to get some fresh air or check your emails and social media notifications so that you aren’t distracted for the next hour when you again get back to the task. You will find that this will make you more productive.
#6 Summarize your day
Wrapping up your workday is not something a lot of us pay attention to, but it is always beneficial to jot down a summary of your day in a diary. This could include the key tasks that you achieved that day. Besides, you should also write down the next day’s tasks, which will clear your mind of all the pending and incomplete tasks. This helps you relax as you know that you have had a productive day and are clear about your next day’s schedule.
Habits are powerful mechanisms that gives you a sense of control over your life and how you utilise your time. You can visualise what habits constitute the person you are today, and what would you need to be a different version of yourself in the future. If you have a sense of what you want to be or where you want to be, it is perhaps important to visualise what habits would get you there in the long run and start by carefully engineering this till that habit becomes automated and enhances your performance on the path to your desired goals.
Bansal, Mukesh (2019). Excellence is a Habit. In No Limits: The art and science of high performance (pp. 157–182).Chennai: Westland Publications Pvt. Ltd.