Did you wake up this morning hoping today will be the day for your personal breakthrough? Everyday we see breakthroughs happen. A new artificial intelligence technology making waves in the market, a new overnight success actress stars in a Hollywood blockbuster, an IPO that makes the founders of a business billions in a single day.
“When will I get my personal breakthrough?”
We often see others having breakthroughs and wonder when it will be our turn. After all, we deserve just as much success as those people. We are just as talented, or smart, or determined as those people in the headlines, so surely our personal breakthrough is just around the corner?
The problem is that we do not see what happened BEFORE the breakthrough. We don’t see the hundreds of hours of coding, testing and fixing before software version 1.0 was even launched, and it is already at version 13.1.
We don’t get to see the hundreds of auditions, rejections and hours spent in front of the mirror mastering even the smallest of expressions. The 90-minute blockbuster is our first exposure to that artist’s work, so we assume they have just been discovered.
Before the IPO, those same business owners were hustling for sales, getting rejections for funding and having numerous moments where the business almost failed. Stock prices never reveal the blood and sweat the entire company had to invest to get to that point.
5-Step Personal Breakthrough Process
The reality is that for every personal breakthrough, there is a 5-step Personal Breakthrough Process. Rather than waiting for your breakthrough to happen, find out where you are on this path.
1. Decide To Be In The Game
First off, make a commitment to get into the game. Observing as a spectator and commenting on how you would do better is never going to lead to your breakthrough. You need to have skin in the game. You can’t influence anything sitting on the bench, or even worse, in the audience. This first step is often the scariest as you have to overcome all of your personal fears that have held you back until now.
Sure, there is no risk associated with being a critic. Theodore Roosevelt said in ‘Man In The Arena’ that critics are “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”. Instead, you know that to experience a breakthrough, you have to leave that old mindset behind, get in the game and open yourself up to success.
A great example of someone who put himself in the game, even when each game was completely different was Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you look at Arnie’s CV, you will see bodybuilder, actor, bricklayer and governor of California. What you have done in the past shouldn’t hold you back from getting into the game today.
2. Get Started
Start small rather than jumping all the way in, quitting your job and starting something full time. Develop your breakthrough as your side hustle first, before growing it to the point that it replaces your salary. Ben & Jerry’s started with a $5 correspondence course in ice cream technology. Vivien Westwood may have invented the mini skirt, but her fashion career started at a weekend market stall selling homemade jewellery on Portobello Road.
If you are interested in finding out more on how to develop a side hustle, check out books like Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau or 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss for ideas on how to get started. These books will help you see how easy it can be to start such projects, give you a process to follow to build your momentum, and will also give you examples of how other people have also been able to create breakthroughs. If other people have done it, then you can too.
3. Get Better Every Day
Once you have begun your journey, your a natural tendency will be to compare yourself with competitors and collaborators. The problem is that everyone is moving at different speeds and are at different points in their journey. Comparing yourself to people much further ahead of you can be demotivating. On the other hand, you may get complacent if you look how much further you have come than others who have just started.
Instead, focus on how you can improve yourself every single day.
Dave Brailsford was able to transform British Cycling into one of best cycling teams in the world with small improvements. The key principle of the Law of Marginal Gains is that lots of small improvements eventually turn into huge progress. So, instead of aiming for a huge personal breakthrough, try and improve specific areas by 1% every day and see how quickly that all adds up.
“I wonder how many times people give up just before a breakthrough – when they are on the very brink of success.” – Joyce Meyer
4. Network & Connect
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were introduced to each other by a mutual contact who thought they might have some things in common. Harrison Ford created a huge break for himself talking about his desire to be an actor when building cabinets for George Lucas. Although we don’t always know which contacts will facilitate our breakthrough, without a strong network and group of contacts, your reach will always be limited.
When you are networking, think about specific groups of people you want to connect with.
The cast of the original Ghostbusters movie all met doing Saturday Night Live. They were already successful comedians, but it was this connection in a different environment that sparked the idea that went onto become a huge blockbuster movie.
Ask yourself “what is the SNL of my industry?” and then find a way to get into that group of people. Connect with people who have the potential to advance your dreams and goals.
5. Players & Coaches
Michael Jordan said, “talent wins games but teamwork wins championships”.
The journey to success can take some time, and getting all the way to our destination is rarely something we do along. Sometimes we need people to extend our mental or physical bandwidth so we can produce more. Sometimes we need encouragement or people to bounce ideas around with. You need to surround yourself with a team and coaches that will help you play at the level you want and deserve to be competing at.