In ancient times finding fruit was a reason to celebrate. It was and is an excellent source of energy and nourishment. Today we have another recipe for being fruitful. I am talking about mental fruitfulness—collectively, our self proclaimed competitive advantage.
I can remember trying to find a little fruit as a teenager—at that time, the fruit for me was some cash, some dough, some money. Why? Primarily I wanted the money to be able to have some fun—go out with friends or maybe even a girl.
Unfortunately, my experience with REAL fruit was not very fruitful even though I came of age in an agricultural community. Even in very fruit abundant northern California, where the summers are hot (plenty of sunshine), the ground is fertile, and rows of fruit trees are everywhere, I still had trouble finding the fruit I was after, those elusive greenbacks.
It was common for needy teens to work in the fields or at one of the local canning facilities. You can imagine my embarrassment when my “summer job” only lasted one day. My first experience with the production of fruit was extraordinarily short-lived and humiliating. The first day at the apricot cutting tables, I cut more than the apricot. With blood spewing everywhere and friends watching in horror, I had to go to the doctor to get stitched up. I still have the scar on my left hand’s palm as a constant reminder. So, no dough there, and that was the end of my summer work that year.
The next summer, I gave picking prunes a try. No sharp objects were involved, but the work was challenging. Hours in the hot sun, shaking prunes from the tree limbs and then picking them up off the ground to place them into a box. I think I earned .50 cents a box that summer and may have made $85.00 after six weeks of picking prunes. Not very fruitful.
My commitment remained. I believed that if I could become fruitful— I would find the dough. It turned out to be true. I found 4 F’s that can lead you to the fruit. The 4 F’s being the Frog, Focus, Flow, and Finish.
Now it might seem odd that I start with the Frog, and I’m not talking about the thousands of frogs we found as a kid in the creek near our house. I’m talking about the Frog that Brian Tracy writes about in his book “Eat That Frog!” Your Frog is your most significant, most important task. The one you are most likely to procrastinate on and the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.
Eating your giant Frog allows you to get more done in less time so you can spend more time with the people you care about, doing things that give you the most joy.
How to Find Your Frog
To find your Frog, ask yourself the following questions.
- What is the key result you’re creating?
- What one task will contribute immense value?
- What is the keystone to the quest you are on?
- What will have the most significant impact?
Visualize the long-term consequences of completing that task. It should have the most significant impact on your life or in the life of your company. This is where the vast majority of the rewards will lie—both emotionally and financially.
Your rewards, both financial and emotional, will always be in direct proportion to your results, to the value of your contribution.: — Brian Tracy
Now focus takes discipline. It is a skill that most of us can acquire with just a little practice. Like most things that we do, the more we do them, the better we become. But it takes a bit of work and self-control. Developing the skill of Focus may initially seem difficult, but the rewards are great if you stick to it. Here is how it works.
You see, the first step is often the hardest. Taking that first step is the spot where you have no momentum yet–Zero, Nada, None.
According to the laws of physics, an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Your mind, and specifically, your goal, will motivate you to move forward. Focus on that first small step and move toward your Frog–take that first bite. Once you take the first bite and have chewed on it for just a little bit, you will start to gain some momentum.
Focus is a superpower, especially in today’s distraction-filled world. If you want the fruit, you must be willing to give up the distractions. Be able to focus on the critical task at hand. Preferably that one essential task that will provide you with the greatest return—Focus on that Frog.
Getting Into Flow
Flow is a phenomenon. It has taken me a while to get a basic understanding of it. I know it exists because I can relate to it. Even as a teenager, there were times when I was on the basketball court, and I experienced it. When I felt like I knew where everyone was and where everyone was going, I felt in the zone, and movement was effortless. Michael Jordan calls it being “in the zone.” Musicians call it being “in the pocket” or “in the groove.” Some comedians call it being in that “never zone.”
It is that mental state where time seems to standstill. There is a reason for this. The clock mechanism in your brain starts shutting down. Hypofrontality begins to occur as parts of your pre-frontal cortex (PFC) lower their activity levels—they diminish. Now you might think this would be a bad thing as our PFC is at the core of your executive functioning—thinking, decision-making, analyzing. However, when you are in Flow, you stream your consciousness and are unaware of yourself. You begin to lose yourself. You are just being there—100% present.
But the part that is “shut down” is what Duke University psychologist Mark Leary, aptly titled in his book, The Curse of the Self. He states
“The self is not an unmitigated blessing; it is single-handedly responsible for many, if not most of the problems that human beings face as individuals and as species.
While in Flow, this sense of self shuts down.
By this point, your neurochemicals have turned into a waterfall of pleasure. Your ability to pursue your goal, your desire is reinforced by the mix of chemicals and electrical pulses in your neuroanatomy. You are continuing to act because the neurochemicals are flowing, and they are pulsing you to more action. With each drop of norepinephrine, you get more energy to stay alert and to keep moving forward. You might even feel obsessed with the project and can’t or won’t put it down.
The Power of Flow–What’s In It For You?
- Flow focuses your attention on what’s significant
- Flow can lead to improved performance.
- Flow can accelerate learningand skill development.
- Flow can multiply your productivity.
- Flow helps you to rise to challenges.
- Flow increases enjoyment and creativity.
In addition to the neurochemical reactions, there are also electrical connections being activated. And the more of them that start activating, the more that others start firing.
In his book, “The Art of the Impossible,” Steven Kotler describes it as water being poured into a bucket on a waterwheel.
“Pour enough water into a bucket, and sooner or later, it spills into the next bucket and the next. It’s that mechanical.”
– Steven Kotler
Final Finish! Or Is It?
This mixture of neurochemicals, electricity, and anatomy can propel you forward all the way to finish line. You will often get there faster and more efficiently than you could ever imagine. The research is startling.
McKinsey & Company found a 500% increase in productivity by executives who regularly access flow states. Harvard found subjects to have three days of heightened creativity after experiencing a flow state. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) found subjects to have a 490% increase in skill acquisition, and the Unversity of Sydney found subjects to have a 430% increase in creative problem-solving.
There are several traits, keys, disciplines to help you across the finish line. Not the least is a bit of grit. That stick-to-it ability that keeps a person on-task. Showing a bit of resilience and persistence. But these traits can be “hacked” too. Below are some helpful tips.
Getting Across the Finish Line
- Set milestone goals. Divide the project into smaller bite-size parts.
- Celebrate along the way after each bite is eaten
- Eliminate distractions
- Overcome the obstacles. Create solutions, conquer challenges—make it fun
- Pause and review
- Keep an eye on the finish line
Getting to the finish line will not be a big challenge once you have accessed that waterfall of neurobiology. It will continue to motivate you while at the same time keeping you inflow.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back for more. The mix of chemicals and electrical impulses are gratifying and appealing. They feel great, a natural high, and may even be addictive. So in place of your “finish line,” you may find yourself on another search for more fruit. That is when the 4 F’s begins again, and you will repeat the surprisingly simple super-cycle to success. It is the closest thing to a magic formula. It is where you can find the frick’en fruit.
Author – Speaker – Leader - Investor
Dave spent a long and distinguished career as a pilot and leader in the United States Air Force. Along the way, he managed to obtain three graduate degrees. As an investor in the stock market for more than 37 years, Dave has seen his share of ups and downs. When Dave retired as a Colonel in 2006, he founded Razor Sharp Investments. Subsequently, he worked with an investment education company, teaching new investors how to handle their money, and then two brokerage firms doing the same thing. In 2012, Dave founded his own investment firm. Dave has always been fascinated by the question, Why do people do the things that they do? On his discovery journey, he encountered Tony Robbins. He worked with his event staff to eventually progresss through the Institute for Strategic Intervention as a coach, making him ideally suited to tackle the most formidable challenges in a relationship. Dave continues to be committed to a life of service, mainly serving those struggling in their relationships over money.
Dave is dedicated to the values of
Integrity First -- Service Before Self – Excellence in All We Do.
Author: Rich Life, Wealthy Life
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