Ever since I was wrestling in college, I’ve been looking for the secret to success.
I traveled to attend summer camps, trained at the Olympic training center, worked with amazing coaches. Eventually I went into coaching, then to major gift fundraising, and now, entrepreneurship. All the while searching for the secret to success.
In this episode, I’m going to share with you the secret that I’ve learned from hundreds of interviews with elite performers, from thousands of hours coaching brain surgeons, professional athletes, and others, and through my own experiences as an All-American athlete, NCAA Division I head coach, and entrepreneur.
So what is this mysterious key that unlocks success?
Is it hard work? Who you surround yourself with? The goals you set? Nope. Then what’s THE COMMON THREAD?
I’m going to reveal exactly that in this episode AND how to leverage it for outsized results. Listen now!
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
[00:00] And I know you have an email inbox that is way too full. You've got to do lists that keeps on growing. You've got a boss or clients who are asking for more. There's just not enough time in the day, but if you want to get all that done, don't just start. Welcome to another episode of success through failure.
[00:23] This is your host, Jim Harshaw, Jr. and today I'm bringing you a solo episode. We're talking about the secret to success that nobody's talking about and how you can leverage it to get outside of. Results ever since I was wrestling in college, I've been looking for the secret to success. You know, I went to training camps.
[00:43] I went to camps all summer long, growing up as a kid, I was talking to all these coaches finding the best coaches I could. I was going to the Olympic training center. All in search for the secret to success. And then I got into coaching. I became an NCAA Division I head coach, and I would go to the national wrestling coaches association convention.
[01:04] I took classes on coaching. I would talk to other coaches. All trying to find the secret to success. And then I got into major gift fundraising, raising millions of dollars. And I would go to the people who are the most successful at it and ask them like, what are you doing differently? What are the things that you're doing that nobody else is doing?
[01:25] Like, why are you so successful now? I got into entrepreneurship and I've owned multiple businesses. And again, Going to conferences, finding mentors, working with the people who are already doing it, who have already found a level of success that I'm looking for and asking them and picking their brain and trying to find like what's the city.
[01:44] What's the secret. Is there one thing, is there a common theme and that's what I'm going to share with you today. I'm going to share with you what I've learned through hundreds of interviews on this podcast with world-class performers, through thousands of hours of coaching, brain surgeons, professional athletes, and others through my own experiences as a, an All-American NCAA division one All-American wrestler as an NCAA division one head coach.
[02:11] As an entrepreneur, as a fundraiser, who's raised millions of dollars. I'm going to share with you what I've learned and it all boils down to. Thing. And nobody's talking about this, like I've never heard anybody talk about this habit, this secret in any way in and on any platform. And there are a lot of things that you kind of think of right away.
[02:31] Right? When I start asking this question, you hear some people say hard work, hard work is the secret to success. Right? Well, sure. That's an ingredient, but there are plenty of hardworking unsuccessful. I had people working multiple jobs or people who have worked really hard at something for a lot of years, but they never found success.
[02:51] You hear people say, well, the secret to success is who you surround yourself with. Sure. Again, this is an ingredient, but there are lots of unsuccessful people who are surrounded with very successful people. Right. I went to the university of Virginia it's number one, rated public university in the country.
[03:09] And I was on a great program there and there were, there were national championship sports and programs all around me. And there were just the best of the best in the athletic department. And academically UVA, there are plenty of people who were not successful. Right. They worked hard. They surrounded themselves with the right people still didn't find success.
[03:30] Right. Another thing you hear is, well, the secret to success, you've got to have goals, got to set goals. Well, sure. Again, another ingredient we know this, we've heard this, but that in and of itself doesn't guarantee success. So what is the common thread I'm going to share exactly what that is in this episode, but also how you can use.
[03:50] And if you like what you're hearing today, if you like the success or failure podcast, leave me a rating and review that goes a long way in helping to grow this thing. Let me give you one from Ryan rent-free. He was actually one of my inner circle clients. Ryan said this, he said, Jim is a rockstar and always has great information to share on his podcast.
[04:08] If you're looking to get more out of your life, this is the. For you. Thank you, Ryan. For the review. I love working with you. This guy's like high energy and awesome to work with. Like so many of my clients, it's just, we have this special, really special inner circle group. Love to have you part of that. If you do want to explore that, go to JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY, but in the meantime, Leave a rating and review, and you just might hear your name on the podcast as well. Also, if you're listening to this on your smartphone, go ahead and take a screenshot, crop it down a little bit, posted on Twitter, posted on Instagram, posted on LinkedIn or Facebook.
[04:43] Make sure you tag me so I can interact with you. I love to see who's listening, scroll through your bio a little bit, get to know who my listeners are and what they like and what they want to hear. And it really helps me and I look forward to interacting with you there. So. Let's get to this in my quest for finding the secret to success.
[05:02] I realized that I have this golden opportunity to talk to the highest performers in the world through this podcast. Now I've been blessed to have been surrounded by. Millionaires and billionaires through my fundraising career, I've been blessed to be surrounded by some of the best coaches in the country, national championship coaches, coaches who have been on world cup, championship teams and national champion athletes that I've been around Olympic gold medalists, who I'm friends with.
[05:34] I've had these opportunities through the years, but I never found that secrets of success. And so, yeah, it was about seven years ago when I started the podcast and I realized I had this golden opportunity to talk to these amazing people. And that's when I started asking this question, is there one habit that you do or have done that you would most credit?
[05:53] What's your success? I asked this question in versions of it over and over. I asked Navy seals in New York times, bestselling authors and Olympians and CEOs and astronauts and professional athletes. And I started getting answers like this creating space for reflection. So you need to sit down every week and spend some time and think about what works and what didn't.
[06:22] It's not time to sit down and go, oh, it's time to catch up on reports or catch up on cleaning the house or doing dishes and getting caught up in tasks, getting caught up on task. It's a matter of going, what could I have done better? What could I have changed this year? That could have moved me farther forward on my life's vision.
[06:43] That was Chris Duffin. He's an entrepreneur and he's the founder of multiple businesses in the world of strength and nutrition. He's also a power lifter who holds or has held multiple records. Currently holds the record of being the only man to ever squat and deadlift, a thousand pounds for reps. Wrap your head around that one for a second.
[07:04] And so he talked about. Creating space for reflection. He talked about asking yourself questions instead of getting caught up on tasks, right? This is the habit for success. I mean, really his one habit that he most credited for his success wasn't lifting weights. It wasn't making business deals or getting caught up on work.
[07:26] It was creating space for referrals. Quick interruption. If you like what you're hearing here and you want to learn how you can implement this into your life. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY to see how you can get a free one-on-one coaching session with me. That's JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY. Now back to the show.
And I asked the same question. Tim Ferris. When I interviewed him in episode 247, Tim Ferriss, if you don't know who he is, he's an early stage technology investor and advisor with companies like Uber and Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, and Alibaba. He is the five time number one, New York times and wall street journal bestselling author, right?
[08:12] Not just that he made the New York times bestseller list. Five times. He's been number one. Five times, including two books, you've probably heard of one is the four-hour workweek. And the other one is tools of Titans. Those are probably his most popular two books. And so here's, Tim's response to that same question.
[08:35] One habit that I get into that. Engage in which is a question really, or request that I see commonly across a lot of my friends who are very, very high performers is they consistently ask their smart friends to tear apart their idea. So for instance, one of my friends very successful in many domains, many, many domains as an operator, as a business builder, as an investor, as a husband and so on, but in the investing world, just because it's the easiest one to use with numbers and a scoreboard.
[09:16] He hired someone full-time to help him manage investments. And every time this friend has an investment idea, let's say he wants to buy. Amazon just making it up. I happened to be an investor in Amazon is disclosure, but it's it's, let's just say he picks Amazon. He will ask the person he hired to come up with every reason why he should not buy Amazon.
[09:40] Like, I want you to talk me out of every thing that I want to buy, and if I want to sell something, I want you to try to talk me out of it. So he's actively trying to solicit. Disconfirming evidence and trying to truly get to both sides of the story. Yeah, exactly. And to always look at the opposite side, right?
[10:04] So if, if someone gives you five reasons why you should buy X, then he would ask, okay, well, once you buy it, what are the five reasons you would sell it? And if someone can't answer the second question should lead you to question perhaps the, how. Thought through the first set of recommendations are right.
[10:25] And so I will oftentimes whether it's in a personal relationship, let's just say, I'm thinking of how to improve my relationship with my girlfriend, or I'm thinking about. Right. It could be improving my, my relationship with my dog or dog training or investing or whatever. If I, if I have an idea that I think is a good idea.
[10:46] One of the first things I will do is call one of my friends. I think it's not necessarily domain experts, but someone who has really. Uh, part a key part of our friendship is that we can speak blunt truth to each other. And that is so valuable in a world of kind of glad glad-handing and political correctness.
[11:02] Somebody who can just be like, that's a terrible idea. Let me tell you six reasons of why I will go to them. And I will give them the idea and say, I want you to pick that apart. Like please try to dismiss. And pick it apart. Like I want to know where that could be wrong. I want to know how that could backfire.
[11:21] Uh, that's another habit I would say that has become increasingly increasingly valuable. Notice that similar to Chris Stephen's response to this, wasn't doing it. Wasn't returning emails or writing a book or giving a speech. It was asking. Now in Tim's case, this is asking questions of friends, but it could be a mentor or your boss or a colleague or an executive coach.
[11:47] And this is the role that I play in my clients' lives. And I want to share now another response and this time from Tom flick, he's a former NFL quarterback for the San Diego chargers. And he's now an internationally renowned speaker and consultant. So this guy has been world-class at two completely different things.
[12:06] Now here's the Tom's response to that same. Here's a simple little tool that we share with executives, and then they seem to enjoy it. We certainly do it here in our office. When you start the day you come into your office, do not touch a keystroke. Don't look into the monitor. It's a vortex and you'll be gone.
[12:24] So stay away from your computer instead. Grab a notepad or an iPad. Sit in your big, easy chair. Swing away from your computer. Turn off your phone and spot yourself. 10 minutes. And here's what I'd like you to do in the first five of those 10 minutes. Ask yourself this question, ponder, pray over this question, create a list of one to three items.
[12:46] One to three opportunities that you'll go after that day, that'll help you win the day. These are not tasks and they're not errands. These are big opportunities. What are one or two, three things that you would really focus on today? Here's the deal? Your list. Can't be over three because psychologists tell us that when it goes over three, we drop in productivity and efficiency about 65%.
[13:08] For some reason, the brain goes to. When our lists are beyond three, it doesn't even need to be three. It could be one or two. So the first five minutes are thinking and writing that information down the second five minutes is create a list of one to three dangers. Or hazards that would prevent you from winning the day.
[13:25] What are those things that trip you up that prevents you from really achieving those initial, you know, chasing those big opportunities for success? So it's just a real simple tool. It's just easy. It focuses your mind. It gets you squared away. And at the end of the month, you should be able to have tacked off or ticked off a predominant number, at least 80% of your days that you write.
[13:46] And it'll make a difference in your performance and how you use your time. After asking this question to dozens of guests, I realized that I wasn't getting the responses that I'd expected. I thought it would be learning about the habits about training from the athletes or habits about writing from the authors or from about marketing from the entrepreneurs.
[14:08] But that's not what happened. I kept getting world-class performers telling me that their secret to success. Was to slow down and ask questions before they launched into action. And this kept on happening with people like Bonnie St. John she's a speaker and author, and she's the first African-American ski medalist in winter Olympic competition, or Mike Novogratz, the billionaire investor, who you might catch on CNBC on any given night being interviewed about global finance or Cammie.
[14:40] She's a four time Olympian in the loop. All the responses I was getting were similar. And I realized that there was a theme here, a theme about pausing before taking action. And there were other examples in my life that I started recognized. Right. Like when I was wrestling, the most valuable habit that I did was for example, setting goals with my coach every year, I would sit down, set a goal, set my goals for the year, create a plan and execute.
[15:11] I would also revisit that plan throughout the year. Like be this habit was most responsible for my success. It wasn't the training or the weightlifting or the watching of a film. It was this, this. And the coaching that I do now with my clients. It's the same thing. It's, they're not returning emails getting caught up on their to-do lists.
[15:32] They're not delivering a presentation when they're working with me, they're hitting the pause button. They're stepping back, you know, you see this in the military, they call it an after action review. This is after a mission is over. They step back and they go, okay, what worked? What didn't work? What went well, what didn't go well and what would we do different.
[15:51] And, you know, when I worked at the university of Virginia, the university went through a strategic plan, a whole process, the strategic planning process, I stepped back, asked a lot of questions, spent a lot of money, put a lot of time into this so that the university was operating as best as possible. And taking all this into account.
[16:15] I realized that there's a concept here that can be boiled down into a term that I created called the productive pause and the productive pause is this it's a short period of focus, reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of action and peace of mind. This is the. It's not doing the thing it's stepping back.
[16:36] And I know you have an email inbox that is way too full. You've got to do lists that keeps on growing. You've got a boss or clients who are asking for more. There's just not enough time in the day, but if you want to get all that done. Don't just start doing it. Hit the pause button first. What do you do with this information?
[16:55] Right? This is just information for you right now. So let me tell you exactly how to use this. Like how does this work day today, right. I'm going to give you a short, medium and long versions of the productive pause. Uh, I'm the shortest, and it might be something as simple as this. How do I win the day?
[17:12] Right. Tom flick talked about this in our interview. How do you win the day? W I N what's important now. Right on the short end, you might even have to do a productive pause. When you're walking into a meeting, you know, you can take 30 seconds and say what's the most important thing that we've got to get out of this meeting today.
[17:32] That one question, if you spend 20 or 30 seconds on that alone, You can save yourself a lot of time and a lot of energy and maybe even half the meeting can be cut short because you get to the point quicker. This is a productive pause. It's an investment of time. It will give you time back. Another example of a short, productive pause.
[17:52] Daily could be the five minute journal or something that I've created my own version of the productive pause journal. We call it the Pathfinder journal. My coaching program is called reveal your path, and we have a. Now and to get a copy of this yourself, just email assistant at Jim Harsha Jr com again, assistant edgeum harsher junior.com.
[18:12] If you want more information about the Pathfinder journal. And so now I gave you the short, let me give you the medium versions of a productive pause. This might be something like reflecting back on a project. That you completed at work, maybe you by doing an after action review, like I talked about the military does, or like what I do with my clients.
[18:32] Once a month, we set micro goals. We define the long-term goals, the one-year or 18 month goals or two year ago. And then we said on a monthly basis, micro goals, these smaller goals, that things that go from the goals worksheet down to my to-do list or onto my calendar, or, uh, as a set, as a reminder on my phone or a post-it note on my desk, right?
[18:55] These are micro goals. We do this once a month. All right. So that's a medium productive pause. You're not doing the thing you're stepping back so that you can do the thing more efficiently, more effectively, right. And you'll have a lot of clarity around. What to say yes to and what to say no to, because anytime you say yes to one thing, it means you're saying no to something else, right?
[19:16] You can't do two things at the same time, your time, your energy is finite. So you have to choose how you spend your time and your energy wisely, because if you do. Then you be working on a million things. You're going to go an inch deep and a mile wide. Right? You've got to go deep and get the right things done.
[19:33] The high leverage work has to be done. Right. So I gave you the short, I gave you the medium versions of the productive pause. Now here's the long-term version. Once you get. Reflect on your goals once a year, look back on the prior year and look ahead to the year coming up now in episode number 329, I talk about this.
[19:54] How do you do this productive pause at the end of the year? What kind of questions do you need to ask yourself? Looking back? It can again be those simple questions of the after action review. Like what worked like what went well, what did not work or what did not go well? What would I do different. I'm doing that review.
[20:11] Uh, I even like to go scroll through all of my photos from the year. I'll look back at my journal entries, any, you know, my calendar, what kind of trips did I take? Look at all those things to kind of let that year flash before your eyes to do this productive pause, looking back, and then looking ahead and setting your goals again while you're doing this for me, I take a good half a day, at least four hours to do this.
[20:33] My email inbox is getting fuller. My to-do list is growing. Things are piling up. Right? But this productive pause is helping me get more done. This is a high leverage task. So if you want to learn more about the productive pause and how you can implement it into your life. Grab a time on my calendar, go to JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY.
[20:57] You're not going to find a whole lot of time there these days. Things are pretty darn busy, but find a time I can share with you more about this, how you can implement this into your life, how you can use the productive pause to create outsize results for yourself. Good luck. I look forward to. Thanks for listening.
[21:15] If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my account. JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY where you can sign up for a free one-time coaching call directly with me. And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION.
[21:33] And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more often. You would totally make my day. If you give me a rating and review those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast. Just open up your podcast app. If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast, a rating and review.
[21:59] Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck. And thanks for listening. .
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