When you look at people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, etc, you can’t help but think: how did they manage to achieve such a huge success? what’s their superpower? how can I become a super-achiever, too?
And then you immediately decide you are not like them, you’ll never be a big shot because you lack whatever superpower they have.
Here’s the secret: there’s no superpower
I want to tell you one little secret: super-achievers are not much different from you and me. In the end, they’re just some random people. Random people who managed to build something huge, I agree, but still random people.
We’re all different and some are born with a little bit more talent or smartness than others, but in the end, there’s only so much that talent and smartness can do for you (Click to Tweet).
You could be the smartest person in the world, the most talented one, but if you don’t know how to use what you’ve got, you won’t achieve anything (Click to Tweet).
In Italy, we say: it’s not the guitar, it’s the guitarist (Click to Tweet).
Which is to say, you could have the best guitar in the world, but unless you know how to play it, it won’t help you a tiny bit.
They have a vision
The first thing which sets super-achievers apart is very simple: they have a vision, they know what they want to get and they bloody well know why they want to get it!
You might be thinking you have a vision, too. You know what you want to get!
But let me disagree: having a goal is not enough to say you have a vision (Click to Tweet).
A vision is much more than a goal. It extends to whatever you do. It means you know exactly what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and how you’re going to achieve it.
Let’s take Steve Jobs in the words of Tim Cook: “His vision for Apple was a company that turned powerful technology into tools that were easy to use, tools that would help people realize their dreams and change the world for the better.”
You see, Steve Jobs didn’t just say he wanted to found one of the biggest companies in the world and become a billionaire in the process. Of course, he wanted that, but it came as a side-effect of his grand vision. That’s what made him a super-achiever.
When talking about his SpaceX efforts, Elon Musk shares his vision: “It would be recognized as one of the pivotal events in human history, in the history of life itself. It would make it possible to colonize Mars, to make life multi-planetary. In the absence of a reusable launch vehicle, that’s not going to happen.”
This is quite a long shot: he didn’t just say he wants to build a better coffee machine so he can quit his job and work from home. The man wants to get us all to Mars. He may not succeed, maybe not in his lifetime, but if there’s somebody who should try to do it, it’s exactly someone with his vision.
And I think we all agree Elon Musk is the quintessential super-achiever.
Super-achievers have focus
Having a vision is the starting point, but to make the vision a reality, super-achievers have laser focus.
They know exactly what they want to do and what they need to do to get there. And they focus on that, day-in-day-out, without allowing anything to distract them from their big goals.
Most of us know what we want to do. We might even know what we need to do. But when the time comes to start working, how many can focus on the task at hand, their single most important task, without being distracted?
Mark Zuckerberg is running what most probably is the biggest time drain ever conceived in human history. However, do you think he wastes time looking at his friends’ updates instead of doing meaningful work? I think we all know the answer.
And I don’t think Elon Musk has ever been caught at the coffee machine talking about fantasy football — or maybe he was, I’m just guessing.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but I have to admit most of us tend to get distracted and lose a whole lot of precious time in the process.
Procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is if it comes at the mercy of your most important task.
There is a time for work and then there’s plenty of time for procrastination. But work should come first.
And when I talk about work, I don’t mean to say anything even remotely connected to your work. I mean THE work, THE thing which will get you closer to your vision. THE single most important thing you need to achieve in the day.
An example might be emails: we think of emails as a work related thing. And while it certainly is, I believe answering emails should not be considered work.
At best, it’s a chore, something you need to do, but which doesn’t really move you closer to your goal.
These kind of activities are better planned and done in pre-allocated time slots one or two times a day. Open your email, see if anything needs to be acted on, do it and close it.
Suggested read: How to develop laser-like focus.
Have a vision and schedule your focus
So step number one to becoming a super-achiever is to have a vision, know where you want to go, who you want to help, what your contribution to your company, community, country or even to humanity will be.
Once you know that, you need to develop laser focus and focus all the time on what your most important task is to get you closer to achieving your vision.
I know I had a good day when I manage to spend 3 to 4 hours of uninterrupted work on my single most important task. So every month I set a task for the following month. Then every week I break it down to the most important task to complete my monthly task. And daily, I set the single most important task for the day.
I have a recurring Single Task appointment on my calendar from Monday to Friday (Click to Tweet). It’s a 4 hours slot and it’s there, in all of its magnificence.
I treat it as I would treat a meeting with Richard Branson if he called me begging me to schedule a meeting so he could pass me all of his knowledge: I would put it on my calendar and would never touch it again!
Admit it: if you had a meeting scheduled with one of your heroes, with the person you admire the most, you would never miss that appointment, you would never even consider to reschedule it.
That’s what you need to do with your daily appointment with yourself to complete your most important task. Trust me, it’s probably the single best thing you can do to get closer to achieving your vision while becoming one of those super-achievers!
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