IDEAS THAT STICK – 5 actionable ideas from books I’ve read this year

“The smallest of implementations is always worth more than the grandest of intentions” (Robin Sharma)

You can read all of the books and blogsites in the world, but what really counts is what sticks.

The ideas that you read AND IMPLEMENT are the ones that move your life forward. The ideas that have nestled their way into a cosy section of your mind – and spring up just at the moment they’re needed. The ones that are easy to remember, and not so easy to forget.

Those ideas that have transformed from words in print, to living breathing entities – they have become you.

Those are the ideas worth their weight in gold.

Those are the ideas you want.

Those are the sentences that transform lives.

Here are 5 top ideas I’ve been implementing from the books I’ve read so far this year…

1. “EASY-TO-DO EASY-NOT-TO-DO”

This nugget is taken from the book “The Slight Edge”. “Easy-to-do Easy-not-to-do” is a key reason why people fail. Success in life is actually straightforward – you put in the work – and that work compounds. The problem is that a lot of the work involved isn’t particularly glamorous.

It’s boring.

It’s monotonous.  

It’s repetitive.

People focus on the allure and glamour of the successful result, and overlook the gruel and grind behind it.

The problem is that a lot of the steps on the way to success are simple – they are easy to do. But also easy not to do.

This phrase has been popping into my mind the moment I feel like skipping a task. When I want to delude myself into the false notion that the impact will be minimal.

The day I don’t feel like working out.

The day I don’t feel like writing.

The day I don’t go to bed on time.

And yes of course, one day off over the course of a year will have little effect. The problem is not that one moment. It’s the knock-on effect of that one decision.

Not running today makes it easier not to run tomorrow. And again the next day. Before you know it, that one moment has rolled into a week or two. A habit has been formed, making it harder to get back on track.

So, this little gem often pops into my mind at the moment of a seemingly minor choice. It’s a reminder that failure often results from the cumulative effect of small choices rather than a major decision gone wrong. It’s the impact of the small seemingly inconsequential actions when compounded that matters.

Failure lies in the seemingly insignificant, in the dismissible, in the delayable.

In not doing that which is easy to do … and easy not to do.

2. THE APOLLO ROCKET

The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson delivers again. The book tells the story of an Apollo rocket only being on course up to 3% of the time on its way to the moon. It was off track and course-correcting 97% of the time.

Although it may be oversimplified, it illustrates that we can stumble, and stumble often, on our journey to success. We are allowed to fail – we are allowed to go off course. As long as when we do fail, we dust ourselves off and get back on track. As long as we keep on course-correcting.

This nugget has helped me when I’ve set out to achieve a target and missed it. It’s kept me progressing towards my goal, rather than wallowing in self-pity or giving up. It’s helped me embrace failure and accept that it’s part of the process.

We often have a linear view of success, but actually those we deem most successful have often failed a lot.  The journey to success is more like a squiggle, or a line with peaks and troughs, rather than an upward linear path.

It’s helped me through the dips in life. It’s helped me keep going when I was running more but running less. When I was putting more effort in but getting worse results. It helped me through a month of being unable to complete half the distances I’d been able to complete with less training. When I was less fit. It helped me realise that sometimes only a tweak is needed to get back on course – a pivot – a little course correction.

It’s helped me get knocked off my horse and get back up again.

3. SO SMALL YOU CAN’T FAIL TO SUCCEED

“The steps were so small I couldn’t fail” (Robert Maurer)

This one comes from “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer. Setting a goal can inspire intense resistance in you – fear you never knew you had. You can be stalled by the enormity of a goal – as you currently seem to be so far from the type of person needed to achieve such a goal.

It can feel so overwhelming. So overwhelming that you don’t even start.

Instead, follow the Kaizen way. Think about the smallest step you can take towards that goal – so small you cannot fail – AND START. Then build up incrementally from there.

You may surprise yourself at the momentum you gain from achieving small but consistent wins. You may amaze yourself at where it leads. It’s how I started running from 5 minutes a day – slowly incrementing by a minute – to running half marathon distances.

The Kaizen approach – achieving change through small incremental steps – has become part of my personal philosophy.  I’ve seen the impact of taking small daily actions which generate results through the effect of compounding over time.

The smallness of the actions makes it easier to do … the key with this philosophy is consistency.

We often see success as a series of big leaps, but actually – just as how a child learns to walk – it is often achieved through a series of small but repetitive steps.

4. STOP IT BEFORE IT STARTS

Stop a problem before it starts.  This is the sentiment of the book “Upstream” by Dan Heath.

Oftentimes, we ignore the small warning signs alerting us to a problem occurring. The little red flags that dot our path. We deny them. We dismiss them. We push through them. They seem so small. So insignificant.

It’s often in hindsight that we look back and spot the signals along the way that could have prevented a crisis, had we taken action on them earlier.

Working “upstream” is being willing to be an invisible hero. After all … who will congratulate you for putting out a fire that never was? That never was because you prevented it in the first place …

I wish I’d acted sooner when I spotted the warning signs of a family member’s illness.

I wish I’d been more alert to the subtle signs displayed by people who did not have my best interests at heart.

I wish … I wish … I wish …

Well, now I’m armed with the knowledge to tackle this going forward. Reading “Upstream” has helped me become more aware of early warning signs. It’s helping me to take greater notice of those niggling thoughts and small inconsistencies earlier on. It’s helping me to look at the results I’m generating as a symptom of the systems I have in place. It’s given me the knowledge that a change in the inputs changes the outputs. That’s it’s possible to create more desirable results.

It’s given me greater awareness. To be alert. To act earlier. When the solution is easier.

To stop a problem before it starts.

5. INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE SELF

I have “Thinking in Bets” to thank for this idea.

Decision-making is an area I’ve traditionally struggled with. I’m a well-known frequent traveller to the land of Analysis Paralysis.  

Learning to take a decision from the view of my future self helps expand my perspective beyond my current limited self.

Who do I want to become?

What do I want to achieve?

How will this choice benefit my future self?

The decision to start and keep going with this blog has been an investment in my future self. Reading expands my mind – it helps me to gain insight into new ways of thinking and ideas that will will benefit me. Implementing the ideas that resonate is a way of problem solving for me. Actions and habits flow from thoughts and beliefs, so reading is a way of developing that foundation – of investing in a better mindset.

It’s a way of leveraging the knowledge and experiences of others to weave a richer tapestry, making up the landscape of my mind. To benefit my thought process, my decision making and tools for success. Each implemented idea is like a deposit into the realisation of more fulfilled future.

I share the summaries of the books I’ve read and ideas that come to mind in the hope it also sparks a connection within you and helps you generate a fulfilling future.

————-

Of all the books, blogs, and podcasts you have read and listened to over the year – which ideas stick out?

What golden nuggets have you discovered?

Which ones do you remember?

And most importantly, which ones have you actioned?

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