The secrets of extraordinary people

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Have you ever wondered if there is something different about people who win Olympic gold medals? Or people who are able to become Hollywood stars, or entrepreneurs who turn into billionaires? What sets them apart?

After recently signing up for Mindvalley’s Consciousness Engineering course, I came across an interview by entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani (Founder of Mindvalley) and Marisa Peer. She is the UK’s number one therapist and consults for olympians, hollywood A listers and even the royal family.

During the interview, they discuss the mental qualities that separate ordinary people from the extraordinary. Marissa says that if you are able to learn and accept these models and apply them to your life, you can actually accelerate your growth and attain your dreams.

I’ve decided to summarise this lengthy interview into 5 concise points.

Model 1: Willing to do what they hate

Everyone seems to think successful people are always doing what they love. You have to love and be passionate about everything you do. This is not true. In fact, successful people often do what they hate, in order to get to where they want to be. Instead, ordinary people avoid what they hate, making them give up what they are doing.

Marisa retells a story where she once asked a person why he didn’t work out. He replied with ‘I hate working out. If I loved it I’d do it.’ She highlights that this is the mistake he is making, by waiting to “love” working out, shows that he is waiting for motivation to come by. Instead, she says:

‘People who are very successful never, ever, ever wait for motivation. They do it because when you do it, you become motivated.’

A common misconception is that people believe that they have to love what they do in order to excel in it. But in reality, you should be prepared to do things you hate so you can do what you want. Marisa says it makes perfect sense to power through things you’re more reluctant to do in order to get to where you want to be.

Model 2: They do the things they hate first

Successful people always do the things they hate first. They would make the uncomfortable decisions like ending a relationship or firing someone first rather than last. On the other hand, average people would try and delay their decisions – maybe do it after work? Whoops I forgot. I’ll do it tomorrow. In the end they are never able to complete that task and come up with excuses that delay things constantly.

Instead, successful people do something almost very obvious. They believe they need to do it first – the earlier the better, because they cannot have it hanging over their heads the whole day. Through this, they feel better once they’re done and can resume their work with a better mood and improved attitude.

Marisa uses an example of one of her successful clients saying:

‘When we had to read out an essay, I never understood the kids who went last. I put my hand up and went, ‘I’ll read the essay first because I want it done’

What’s amazing is when you do things you hate first enough times, it starts becoming natural to you. You begin to develop a habit of prioritising the things you hate.

Model 3: Successful people take action every single day

They never take a day off – especially at the beginning. When successful people first start out, they take action every single day towards their goals.

Marisa relates her personal journey to this model. She tells us when she first wanted to become UK’s best therapist, she desperately needed media attention. So Marisa forced herself to cold call a magazine or newspaper every single day. She made a phone call every day for 18 months and managed to land herself in the media everyday for 18 months.

She also tells us about one of her clients, an Olympic athlete. He read somewhere that the most successful athletes on Christmas day. So the athlete said to her:

‘I trained twice on New Year’s Eve, and I trained twice on New Year’s Day, because I want to be in that club’

‘I’m going to do more than they even do’

Marisa explains that these small things that keep you on track toward your goals give you a winning mentality. Your mind begins to identify that you’re doing what the elite achievers do. Eventually, you’ll start feeling really good about it.

People who make it don’t take a single day off when working towards their goals. It doesn’t mean you’re working seven days a week, but rather you’re taking action towards your goals seven days a week. That’s how you join the club of winners.

Model 4: Reacting to Rejection

It’s easy to think that successful people have never faced rejection. But, in reality they get rejected just as much as everyone else – but they come right back like a rubber ball. There are two ways to go about rejection:

  1. I got rejected, it was so painful so i’ll just shut myself away
  2. I got rejected, so I’m going to try again

Neale Donald, a successful author, once thought God told him a company will publish his book. He called them up asking why it wasn’t published and was told, ‘We don’t like it’. And he went, ‘Oh, no, you don’t understand, you’re going to publish it’’.

The next day he called them back again saying the same thing, only to get the response, ‘We’re not going to publish your book’. He replied with ‘No, you are going to publish my book’. They rejected him again and hung up.

He rang them 15 times every day and asked, ‘When are you going to publish my book?’. This went to the point where the secretary went to the boss and said, ‘I’ve got that nutter on the phone again saying that, “God said you’re going to publish my work.”’ Her boss said, ‘Get it out of the bin. Let’s have a look at it’. They published it.

They would never have published the book if he didn’t ring them everyday.

It’s your reaction to rejection that determines your success. It is an internal thing that only you can do to yourself. Rejection doesn’t really happen to you, rejection is how you choose to feel.

Model 5: Delay gratification

Successful people have a natural ability to delay gratification. They are able to push back the TV show to finish their emails or write that proposal, before rewarding themselves for doing what they hated earlier.

Many ordinary people will go watch that new episode and ‘deal with those emails later’, and never get around to them because they got the reward up front.

It’s important to train yourself to delay gratification. This is reflected by a very famous test where young children were put in a room with a marshmallow. They were told if they didn’t eat the marshmallow for five minutes, they would get a second marshmallow. Then, the instructor left the room.  

Most of them popped the marshmallow straight into their mouth, but some could resist the temptation and wait for the second marshmallow. After following the lives of these children, they discovered that these people were naturally more successful because they were able to delay their gratification.

The good news is that you don’t naturally have to be that way. It is possible to train yourself to delay gratification. When you do unnatural things often, it very quickly becomes natural.

You don’t have to be born with these capabilities to get the benefits out of them.  It has been proven time and time again that as humans we can adopt habits through consistent practice. The only thing left to do from here is to make an action plan for how you can start modifying your behavior and begin implementing these behaviors today!

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Victor Zhang has been actively involved in start-ups and the business community since late primary school. Having started his own businesses and by being involved in a number of various projects, he sees the opportunities that entrepreneurship provides and brings this to students throughout Australia through Generation Entrepreneur. "I want to make a change and take on a challenge, as a social entrepreneur to build a solution to the problems I see around me..."

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