Monday, July 15, 2024

The path to riches is paved with boredom. Here’s how to get there

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In basketball, there are two types of 3-point shooters. There are those who, unable to penetrate the defense, “huck” the ball in the direction of the net, hoping luck will drop it into the basket. And there are those, like Steph Curry, who, after thousands of hours of practice from every point on the court, unleash the ball with pinpoint accuracy that, with astonishing regularity, splashes through the net.

The difference is simple: practice.

While there is no denying that innate skill plays a part in the success of an elite athlete, all who succeed at a high level have one key fundamental in common regardless of the sport: hours and hours spent finetuning the basics so that come game time, their bodies instinctively respond in every situation they encounter.

There are no shortcuts, no easy routes to victory. Although a weekend golfer may occasionally land a hole-in-one, the consistency of the professionals in dropping the ball on the green time after time with a minimal number of strokes is what separates the lucky from the pro.

Ironically, most of us, regardless of our endeavor, will do anything except what is needed to succeed. The reason is simple: at its core, the pathway to success is extremely boring.

Here are three keys I believe are critical to success:

1. Work consistently

Day in, and day out, successful people are ruthlessly consistent. They have a daily regimen, and they stick to it regardless of how they feel.

They time-block, do the fundamentals first and then, after their routine is done, they move on to other things.

A small book, The Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles Hummel, illustrates the principle that life’s many interruptions, many of which may seem urgent at the time, actually derail us from doing the few key things that truly matter.

By allowing distractions to interrupt our routine, we systematically derail our chances of success.

Additionally, the book explains that work expands to fill the available time. If we do not consistently prioritize and systematize our time, our hours will be consumed doing the unimportant at the cost of the critical.

The book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is also a great resource for learning to develop consistency.

2. Work privately

Although the game is played in public and the adrenaline levels are high, the practicing happens in private, with countless, boring hours spent repeating the fundamentals over and over again until they are automatic.

It might seem that victory, with all of its excitement and adulation, is achieved in the competition, but in reality, the success is sown in the countless hours of mundane repetition where the skills required to win are sharpened and honed with the relentless pursuit of perfection.

Avoid the practice, and the victory will never come.

3. Work smart

Learn the fundamentals you need to excel at your craft, focus on them, and ignore the rest. There is a universe out there with incredible distractions and rabbit holes that you can wander down for hours on end if you choose.

If you doubt this, just go to Facebook to look up someone and see if you can only do what you set out to do. Inevitably, something on the first page will capture your attention, and once you pursue it, Facebook’s algorithm kicks in to keep feeding you more distractions and lead you further astray.

This is why practicing in private is so important. You want to be able to hone your skills in an environment with no distractions. Although there are many “good” things you can do on any given day, there are usually only one or two “critical” things that, once done, justify climbing out of bed that day.

There is an important truth here that can only be learned by consistent practice: It’s the practice itself that reveals what separates the “good” activities from the “critical.” Without that foundation in place, it’s easy to get distracted and led astray.

Working smart can be very boring because it focuses on the fundamentals and avoids the scintillating distractions that keep many occupied for hours on end.

In college, I had a friend whose father had worked his way up through the ranks of a Canadian airline to land the prestigious job of captaining the 747 flights from Vancouver to Tokyo. When I asked what it was like flying a jumbo jet on a long flight, my friend stated, joking, “My dad tells me it is hours of boredom punctuated by two short moments of terror, takeoff and landing.”

I followed up with a second question, “How did your dad work up to the position of being one of the lead pilots in the airline?”

He replied, “By flying the countless routine short hop flights with consistency followed by untold hours in a simulator going through every possible scenario until he had the fundamentals so dialed in they began to trust him with larger and larger planes.”

In real estate, it’s the same. It’s the hours doing the mundane, repetitive activities that lead to the success: hours practicing scripts, knocking on doors, making cold calls, writing hundreds of cards — the list is long, and the jobs are tedious and — boring.

The irony is this, however: The boring can lead to the exciting and a lifestyle that is anything but mundane.

Like the countless hours spent practicing on a basketball court, swimming, working on a swing, returning serves or finetuning the fundamentals of any sport, those willing to put in the time doing the boring things day in and out can earn an income that can lead to a lifestyle of excitement and promise. It can open the doors to achieving your dreams and help bring meaning to the lives of those you choose to bless.

Work consistently, privately, and smartly: What will your tomorrow look like?

Carl Medford is CEO of The Medford Team.

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