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Part II of "The Art of Impossible" on Perseverance

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

The second part is called perseverance. We don't need to talk much about perseverance, you can listen to or read the blog about "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" and "Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose", these books are related to this topic. Everyone just need to remember one thing: perseverance just like our muscles, and since we can exercise our muscles, we can also exercise our perseverance. The author of this book gives two approaches.

The first method is called the "The Habit of Ferocity”. For example, if you are tired of running, at the moment when you are about to finish, give yourself another 400 meters,1 kilometer. Training in this way works well. You might have seen scenes like this, when runner almost done, the coach will suddenly say, add a few more meters of sprint. This is extreme training, after you reach the limit, and then break through, often can strengthen your tenacity.

There is another way. When the average person runs, whenever they encounter going up the mountain, they may slow down, because it is very tiring to go up the mountain. One coach said that as soon as we encountered going uphill, we should speed up and develop this as a habit. Later, during the competition, everyone found that the trainees he trained were particularly brave. This method is called "Action Orientation”. When you have perseverance, you have to challenge things that others think are impossible, such as accelerating up the mountain, and those who play Muay Thai have to take their elbows to hit coconuts and challenge the limits. It's all about cultivating perseverance.

The third part about motivation is the goal. Do we really need to set goals? Are there any experiments that can prove this? Someone has actually done such an experiment. They brought in two groups of lumberjacks, one with no goal, who cut it as they pleased, and set a goal for the other group of lumberjacks. Later, they found that whether you set a goal of high or low production, the group with a goal is always cut a little more than the group without a goal, with an increase of 11% to 25%.

Some people will say, isn't this contradictory from the autonomy mentioned earlier? Isn’t autonomy completely left alone, do it yourself? Notice this, having a goal doesn't mean involuntary. You can set goals for yourself, goals that help you be more efficient and help you have a target to strive for. And if you're realizing aiming too low, you can always work a little more.

A very important outcome that goals can bring is focus. This is something I hadn't thought of before, it was the first time I'd seen it in this book. Tens of millions of bits of information pour into our senses every second, yet the human brain can only process about 7 bits of information at a time, and it takes at least 1/18 second to distinguish one set of information from another. “By using these figures,” as Csikszentmihalyi explained in Flow, “one concludes that it is possible to process at most 126 bits of information per second.” That means our brains can only process 126 bits of information per second. But as long as your brain is working, information from the outside will continue to enter the brain. If you don't have a goal and you don't know where to put the spotlight, you'll be easily dazzled by all sorts of fun things. This is what Lao Tzu said: "The five colors are blinding, the five tones are deaf, the five tastes are refreshing, the galloping hunt is maddening, and the rare goods are disturbing." “五色令人目盲,五音令人耳聋,五味令人口爽,驰骋畋猎令人心发狂,难得之货令人行妨。” When you focus your attention all day long on the outer world, you will be disturbed by many things that attract your attention and energy.

Therefore, people need to set themselves high and difficult goals. This difficult goal is what we call a challenging goal. For example, Spiritual Wealth Club’s challenging goal is to "help 300 million people develop reading habits". But this goal can't guide your daily life, you need to break down this difficult and challenging goal into clear, specific goals, such as how many new users we need to develop this year. This clear, visible goal is then broken down into a daily to-do list. The author says that even when he was studying extreme sports, the list of to-do events per day did not exceed 8 items. If you can accomplish 8 things a day, you won't be too inefficient. Of course, don't write all those trivial things. Write down the 8 things you think are important in the day, complete one, cross out one, and then do the next, and your efficiency will increase.

So, do you want to talk to someone about this challenging goal? That's a detail procedure. For example, the goal of "I want to become a sprint world champion", do you want to talk about it every time? The author's advice is not to talk about it. Why? There is a very strange phenomenon in the human brain, when talks too much, he feels that he has done it. If you talk to others about this great goal all day, and you become numb after talking too much, you will not have feeling for this goal. You will feel as if this goal has been achieved. Even if you do achieve your goal, you tell someone else again, and the pleasure is gone. So he doesn't recommend sharing this challenging goal too much with those around him. If you share too much, there's a good chance you'll lose your freshness to the goal.

Drive, perseverance, and purpose combine to mobilize your motivation. If you can't mobilize a socially valuable motivation, you can't stick to what are doing.

Next blog we will be discuss about Learning.

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