Don't Let Them See You Struggle: 9 Ways To Own Your Craft And Come Out On Top

by Austin M.

Regardless of your field of practice, there are some strategies for success and self-improvement that are universal. Whether you’re a law student, medical student, investment banker, athlete or intern, there’s a lot of overlap when it comes to establishing yourself as top dog.

The people who notice this overlap and use their resources to get ahead are usually the ones who make it big. If you have any desire to make it to the top of the food chain, read below for nine different ways to get at it:

1. Begin each day with confidence.

If you want to be the best in the game, you need to start each day with your guns blazing. This means more than just waking up when your alarm rings; it means being prepared and ready to conquer the day.

The best time to prepare is right before bed the night before. Before you go to sleep, identify your plan for the next day. Figure out what you need to do, when you’ll do it and how you’ll get it done. Keep these plans in the back of your head (or written down somewhere), and when you wake up, use them as reasons not to hit snooze.

Another valuable strategy is to repeat mantras to yourself after you wake up. The goal here is to convince yourself of what you need to hear to get yourself going. I have a friend who wakes up some days and repeatedly yells, “Today, I am happy!” at the top of his lungs. Then, he walks out the door and lives his self-fulfilling prophecy.

The day will become what you make of it.

2. Learn the process; love the process; respect the process.

Nothing worth having comes easily. If you are embarking on the arduous path to mastery, then you’re probably already well aware of it.

Society and the media often highlight peoples' accomplishments without mentioning the grueling processes that led up to them. This puts a false notion of instant gratification in the minds of starry-eyed hopefuls who think they can “get rich quick.”

Once you stop focusing on the endgame and start focusing on the process, you will be poised to do better work. If you spend the majority of your time focusing on end results, chances are your attention from the task at hand will detract and your work will suffer.

All we really have is this very moment. Do you want to spend it buried in an intangible future or do you want to spend it by grabbing the challenge by its f*cking balls?

3. Break through the plateaus.

Regardless of your practice, you are guaranteed to hit a point where your continued hard work isn’t moving you forward. This is normal. It is unrealistic to expect tangible improvement every single day — you are human.

Your job is not to get discouraged, worried, anxious our doubtful. Your job is to understand that everyone goes through trying times and as long as you keep pushing forward, you will eventually break through the plateau and achieve greatness.

4. Find a mentor.

Mentors can be immensely helpful; they will help you make tough decisions, guide you to the right path, keep you motivated and engaged, and serve as examples from which you can learn. You should shoot for a mentor who does exactly what you want to be doing.

Obviously, you’ll want knowledge about how your mentor got to where he or she is today, but also make sure you learn about the mistakes he or she made along the way. Use the mistakes and successes as a reference for the direction in which you’re headed.

Having an example off of which to base your decisions will put you miles ahead of those who foolishly thought they could do everything alone.

5. Consider your competition and stay ahead of the game.

If you really want to be the best, you need to work harder, better, faster and stronger than everyone against whom you’re competing. I don’t care if there is no apparent competition; there are always people lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce on that position you want.

Be real with yourself. When others are sleeping, are you still working? When others are slacking off, are you still focused? Don’t give anyone a reason to think you’re not worthy.

You should be working your ass off in so many different ways that not a single person could come up with a reason why you don’t deserve what you’re working toward.

Think about whom you want to be in the pecking order. Do you want to be the powerful lion at the top of the food chain, or do you want to be another disposable nobody? Become the benchmark by which others measure their work ethic and you will get very far.

6. Accomplish what you have never been able to do before.

Getting better at your craft is not just about proving to others that you’re worthy; it’s about proving it to yourself. One of the most exhilarating feelings in life is what comes with expanding your limits. What a lot of people don’t understand is that limits don’t have to be permanent.

You create your own reality. If you believe your limits are real, then they will be real. If you believe that your limits are temporary barriers just waiting to be knocked down, you’ll eventually smash them to pieces and keep moving forward on your path.

7. Turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Becoming the best at your craft means limiting your points of weakness. Just like limits, weaknesses don't have to be permanent.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at something right now; if you shift your focus toward turning those weaknesses into strengths, you’ll start to find more ways to do so. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have initial success. This is something that takes a great deal of time, effort and mental strength.

Just remember that there is no such thing as failure — only results.

8. Reframe the pain.

There is a common misconception that pain is a bad thing. People try to avoid it, but what many don’t realize is that, oftentimes, pain is good for you. Pain allows you the opportunity to grow as a person. Once you overcome the pain, success takes its place.

If you can outlast the pain and get through the discomfort, you will get through to the other side — the side of success. Stop giving a sh*t about how hard it will be and just do it. Do whatever it takes and don’t look back.

Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

9. Give back.

Help others improve. Sharing your breakthroughs and helping others tackle challenges isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of leadership.

Not only is it good karma, but teaching others will also enhance your own learning. Teaching will push you to break down complex ideas into simple components, which will help you solidify your knowledge and better retain it in your memory.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It