A mindset manifesto from an unqualified growth hacker and high performing corporate executive.
This is a book on mindset, particularly the kind of mindset crucial to career advancement or entrepreneurial success.
An admission, in the past few years I’ve experienced great growth in a few areas, my health, my relationships (I got married), my mindfulness, my mindfulness practice, managing my vices, and my self-education (I’ve become a serious reader) along with my creative endeavors and writing (I finally wrote a book). But my career has grown a little stagnant; my income has increased marginally, I’ve grown cynical about and demotivated by the apparent anti-meritocratic nature of the internet as a medium to reach an audience.
My brand is Limitless Mindset, I’m ostensibly an expert on mindset, but perhaps what was holding my career back from really flowering is the opposite of imposter syndrome. This book has prompted me to take a harder look at my mindset in regards to business.
Are you unqualified?
The truth is that all of us are unqualified. No, really! You are not alone. If you don’t feel unqualified in some major aspects of your life, then you are either living way below your potential in a way that doesn’t require you to stretch and grow, or you have so much innate confidence and bold ego that there is clearly no need to continue reading.
The point is, he said, no matter where you are in your career or in the path of your life, you will always feel unqualified. This does not mean you are unqualified.
Certainty is the enemy of growth.
The chief value in being unqualified is the lack of pompous, closed-minded certainty.
I recall a talk I listened to that meticulously contrasted the cultural values of the Australian Aboriginals (a culture that remained virtually unchanged for 40,000 years) and the technologically advanced Britsh who colonized them. One of the greatest values of Aboriginals was certainty; certainty about their metaphysical view of the natural world and certainty about their strict collective view of human interactions. The British in stark contrast had a boundless curiosity about the world, they were open to being wrong, they were open to innovation and new ways of doing things.
Nearly every public or private institution of society is rife with “qualified”, credentialed individuals too drunk on certainty to innovate or keep their organizations competitive. The unqualified, yet hard-working and persistent often outperform those who have just grown far too comfortable after acquiring enviable titles or letters after their names.
not knowing may be the key to finding success.
You might be thinking…
Ok, so this is another book about overcoming imposter syndrome and faking it till you make it. I’m not sure about all that. I believe in mastery and expertise. I’m not sure about this culture where seemingly everybody is a self-styled expert…
I totally understand. This book is not about inspiring you to be the next Frank Abagnale (the Catch Me If You Can guy). It’s about the mindset that is crucial the staying on the pathway to mastery.
Unqualified Success is NOT the Author’s Theory on Mindset
In the past, I’ve been critical of self-help books that appeared to merely be the author’s perspective (based upon a spattering of personal experiences) on personal growth — what worked for one guy might not work for you. That’s not what Unqualified Success is, I found it to be an empirical mindset manifesto, it contains a number of footnotes, interpretation of clinical research and a meaningful multiplicity of anecdotal evidence.
About the Author
Years ago Rachel M. Stewart got a job (that she didn’t really have much formal education for) as an office manager of a small restoration company, applying the mindset principles in this book, she played an important role in growing the business from $1.3 million in revenue to $22 million.
But what’s even more challenging is the change that happens when an organization scales quickly. Our company went from a $7M company to a $22M company in the space of three years.
Titan ended the last quarter of 2018 with $ 22M in revenue, with record-breaking profits, high levels of excellence and customer service, a strong company culture, and impressive employee retention.
The book contains a number of mindset exercises that prompt you to more deeply examine your beliefs and attitudes and reframe them for greater success.
A 5-step exercise for reframing limiting mindset and internal dialog.
Write down your answers for the following questions.
Think about one of your goals that you aren’t achieving. What is your current unhelpful belief about your ability to achieve that goal?
What is the exact opposite of this thought?
Imagine what it would be like to believe this new thought. What would you feel and how would you act if you completely believed this new thought? What would you do differently?
Find 5 pieces of evidence for why this new thought is true.
Every morning and every night write this new thought down and say it out loud to yourself. Scan your day looking for more evidence that it is true.
Note: If you get stuck on #5 and can’t believe the new thought, create a ladder by using words like “yet” “possible” “I’d like to believe the thought…” etc. Work your way methodically towards the new thought, doing the exercises above with each consecutive ladder thought.
My wife and I did this exercise for a few of our limiting beliefs…
“Laddering” or “Bridging” Your Limiting Beliefs
But, imagine for a moment what could happen if you believed the exact opposite of whatever beliefs are currently limiting your capacity. What evidence could your mind find to support those audacious new thoughts? With a brain that is constantly striving to be right, what kind of achievement could you then access? It’s kind of staggering to think about. If the exact opposite thought is too big of a leap, you can also try “laddering” or “bridging” thoughts, to work your way to a new belief system. For example, if your thought is, “I’m terrible at generating leads.” But you can’t fully believe the exact opposite, “I’m awesome at generating leads,” you can use qualifiers to help you ladder your way to the thought “I’m awesome at generating leads.”
I like this because it doesn’t require you to embrace cognitive dissonance in repeating something which is blatantly incorrect. For example, I stink at speaking Bulgarian, the very tricky Slavic language of the lovely country where I live with my wife (living as an expat and marrying a local makes a great excuse to not do the hard work of learning a new language!) I could bridge my beliefs like this…
I stink at speaking Bulgarian…
I have learned some Bulgarian…
Bulgarians respond positively to me when I try to speak…
I learned to speak Spanish fluently…
I am good at learning languages…
I could learn to speak Bulgarian…
The difficulty arises because there is a gap between the who you are now and the who you want to become. This is known as cognitive dissonance. The mind does not like to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time and it causes enormous mental discomfort.
Crucially, as you’re bridging to more empowering beliefs, you want to be observant of evidence for them. This becomes a feedback loop, the more you entertain empowering internal narratives, the more you notice things that confirm them and the more optimistic and confident you become.
Thought Proceeds Reality
Our thoughts and our words have power. And the bottom line is that no one is qualified — not really. No matter how far we have come there is always a new step. We all have flaws and things to learn. But how we think about our capacity, our ability to grow and meet the challenges ahead, makes all the difference. The thought that is true is the one we choose to believe. I don’t want to overstate it, but this is the secret to the universe.
In their findings, the researchers noted, “Even after the evidence for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs. Once formed, impressions are remarkably perseverant.” Do you see what this means? It means that mindset is more powerful than fact.
How do we know what future to imagine if we haven’t ever been there before? Here’s the truth: you get to make it up.
Your brain does not differentiate between a real and imagined event. Whatever you can create in your mind, your brain will believe and create the neuropathways to accomplish the task. See yourself in that future place, doing the things that you want to do. Take a picture of that future self and hold onto it.
Thought Proceeds Feelings
This is because our feelings never come from our results. Our feelings are only ever created by our thoughts. This is hard to recognize because achievement can indeed give us thoughts that make us feel good. We then associate feelings with results. But be careful to note that the results themselves are not creating the feelings — our thoughts about the results are. Feelings are only ever created by our thoughts.
Instead of running around trying to accomplish things so you can feel better, you need to feel better first, which will drive much more powerful action and give you better outcomes in your life. A positive mindset produces entirely different feelings — confidence , determination, certainty, courage — which ultimately create the results you want.
Discomfort is the Price
No matter what your goals are — make a million dollars, lose forty pounds, become a morning person, run a marathon, write a book, earn your doctorate, 10X your business, become an industry leader — discomfort is the price you have to be willing to pay to achieve it.
The truth is a primary reason any of us have not achieved what we want — from weight loss to building our businesses to improving our relationships — is that we have chosen not to be uncomfortable. We have opted for ease over achievement.
The discomfort you have about doing something you’ve never done before is not a phase that you’ll get through, it’s your constant companion on the path to growth and success.
One of the biggest fallacies that we can buy into when we feel unqualified is the idea that if we improve and change and grow then we can outrun or eliminate our feelings of lack, the thought being that if we know more and evolve more, then we will finally be worthy.
Being willing to suck takes humility and vulnerability and is all the start of any new endeavor requires. That is the only qualification to get better: being willing to suck when you start.
Get Your Failure Fate Up!
One of the challenges when it comes to talking about failure is that the word itself fails us. The original term was created in the 19th century to describe the economic event of bankruptcy, when there was simply no more money to continue the venture. It wasn’t until much later that it was applied to other endeavors and it acquired an emotional connotation.
Some high achievers take this idea even further: not just accepting or curiously tolerating failure but actively seeking it. As IBM’s CEO Thomas Watson Sr. once said, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” Financial advisor and author, Ramit Sethi even recommends keeping a file of failures with a specific monthly goal to fill the file. For example, his goal is to achieve five serious failures every month to add to his file.
A near win is greater than not trying.
It turns out that we thrive when we still have more to do. This is known as the phenomenon of the “near win.” The idea is that a near win will propel you forward with more power and energy than any actual win will. For the ambitious, this is the sweet spot for achievement.
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” -Jim Watkins
Put simply, persistence is the quality of not stopping.
If there is something in your life that you are not doing that you want to start doing or if there is a place where you are not showing up and doing your work like you want to, the idea of developing “a minimum baseline” can be very useful. It is the beginning step to showing up like you want to — and you can apply it in any area you want to work on.
I’m an ardent proponent of Biohacking and Nootropics because persistence is such a challenge for so many. If you suck at persistence, take Nootropics and you’ll find that you’re a markedly more focused and motivated person.
An off the cuff video about my deeper meta motivation for doing what I do - being the Internet's smart drug dealer. Why…
Neurologists have determined that creating efficient neuropathways through accurate practice allows the speed of the connections between neurons to increase from 2 mph to 200 mph!
There’s a lot of tools for upgrading and enhancing Neuroplasticity — the capacity of our minds to adapt, change and repair themselves — my favorite is Dual N-Back brain training.
Dual N-Back Pro
By Jonathan Roseland Connect I've done brain training for 3 years now and this app is significantly more challenging…
Walking is a Creativity Hack
Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, at Stanford, performed a series of four studies where they had students come up with creative solutions to problems either when sitting at a desk or taking a walk. They found creativity increased more than 60 percent when the students were walking rather than sitting.
How you do anything is how you do everything
But it turns out that it’s only the little stuff that counts after all. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. It’s how we show up in our lives every ordinary, average day that makes the difference.
The Ripple Effect
The book points out an interesting meta-factor in human accomplishment, proximity. When you’re in proximity to others doing exciting innovative things you have an incredible capacity for growth.
In The Little Book of Talent, Daniel Coyle examined the phenomenon of hotbeds of talent — places and periods of time where clusters of great talent appeared simultaneously.
So, what is happening when these clusters of greatness arise? Is it the random workings of a mischievous universe, or the astounding appearance of meta-ideas concentrated in a single area, or some strange permutation of the law of attraction? Perhaps it’s just the perfect environment for growth or the exact right combination of healthy competition? What creates talent in such concentrated and obvious clusters?
We never work in a vacuum. As we grow and build our own dreams, the beautiful thing is that we help others build theirs as well.
Using your averageness and admitted inadequacies while still working to achieve greatness in your field, gives others around you a vision for what is possible for them as well. In fact, that very authenticity can make all the difference for those around you as they work to accomplish hard things.
The chapters of the book are punctuated with vignettes of the inspiring story of a Brazilian guy named Magno who moved to the United States and realized the American dream not by faking it until he made it, but with persistent hard work and a growth mindset. The book and Magno’s story underlie the message that…
…it’s not people with extraordinary ability, extraordinary luck, or extraordinary advantages that achieve what they want. It’s only people with the extraordinary ability to see their own “un-qualification” and not let it matter at all.
Extraordinary people are ordinary people that discover that ordinary people have extraordinary capabilities.