With yoga studios born out of selfie-happy instructors and book deals awarded to clean eating bloggers, it sometimes seems like success is as simple as clicking “send.”
Howes distilled all the wisdom he’s gleaned from the uber successful and innovators into a new “textbook” for excelling at life, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, where he boils down the eight key things his interviewees (who’ve ranged from Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson to media maven Arianna Huffington) had to master on their individual paths to greatness.
But how to translate them if you haven’t yet mastered the uneven bars or launched a eponymous news site? We’ve done that for you.
Here are 8 ways you can apply greatness-seeking to situations at the office, the gym, or anywhere in between. Warning: You will be flexing your hustle muscle. —Erin Magner
You need to figure out exactly what your idea of greatness looks like—and it helps to be ultra-specific. For instance, instead of a vague desire to learn arm balances in yoga class, commit to holding flying pigeon pose for 10 seconds, and then write down the steps it’ll take to get there and envision yourself doing so every time you practice. Soon, Howes promises, your body will catch up to your mind.
“Adversity gives us an opportunity to get valuable feedback about what’s not working in our lives,” says Howes. Great people use crappy situations as catalysts for evolution—so, if you’ve just been through a brutal breakup, think about what you learned from the experience while remaining grateful for all that’s good in your life (even if it’s just the Ben & Jerry’s stash in your freezer).
This one goes along with the step above, says Howes: “If we don’t have a strong belief in ourselves, a mindset that we are capable, adversity can crush us.” Going back to the breakup example, you could make an honest list of your relationship strengths and weaknesses to clarify where you’re already killing it (i.e.: you’re super loyal) and where you need to put in some work (i.e.: your confidence).
Building up your “hustle muscle,” as Howes charmingly puts it, often means doing scary things. Seek out situations that make you uncomfortable—running an extra two miles, going to a networking event where you don’t know anyone—to train yourself in taking committed, consistent action that pays off over time (even if you don’t feel like it).
The first step to change, says Howes, is acceptance of where we are now—which is why he says we should all photograph ourselves in the nude (no, really). Notice where you’re critical of your bod and work on sending love to those parts, as, according to Howes, “only then will you have the positive energy to make the improvements you want.”
“This one is so powerful, because it’s what makes the difference in your day-to-day,” says Howes. Morning routines, he says, are particularly potent, as they set the tone for the next 18 hours. He suggests picking one habit you want to cultivate (making the bed, eating a sit-down breakfast), committing to doing it for 28 days in a row, and seeing how the rest of your day shifts. And before you hit snooze, remember: he swears the change will be profound.
Howes stresses how important it is to surround yourself only with those who energize, inspire, and uplift you—and if it’s not possible to cut everyone else out of your life (like that co-worker who’s always complaining), have a “clearing conversation” with those bringing you down to politely let them know they’re killing your vibe.
Finally—and most importantly—Howes says that “living a life of service is what ultimately embodies greatness to me. Before I understood this, no achievement was enough to satisfy me.” You don’t have to join a non-profit board to put this into action; just committing to a daily act of kindness is enough to put you in the giving—and greatness-inducing—frame of mind.
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