I used to think all wealthy people had to be dishonest or inhumane.
Rewind time further back and I thought I had to be quite well off to run a car.
Rewind time even further back and, I kid you not, I thought girls fell pregnant after eating a specific diet! Erhm. I was about 6 years old and that was the story my aunt fed me on why she was pregnant!
Myths seem to follow us all our lives, taking more sophisticated forms to con us!
If you’re not a productive, creative powerhouse, it might be that these 5 particular myths have been playing you. I know they keep playing me (I have to remind myself regularly). Here they are!
MYTH#1 : THE IDENTITY MYTH
“This is who I am! Take it or leave it!
How many times have we heard this, or even said this ourselves? In relationships or in life in general, it is common to blame our faults on our genes, personality, and upbringing. As if we could not change.
Yet we do change. Every 7 years, every single cell in our body, including our brain, has been replaced. Not one day is exactly the same as another. We do some things differently. We are not robots! Change is unavoidable. We just resist it because it feels unsafe.
The truth is, however, as we change physically, we can also change mentally. It’s thanks to brain plasticity.
We think, feel and behave the way we do because it has become a habit. Sure our upbringing played a part in shaping whether we would be naturally productive and creative in future. Sure, our genes also played their part. But ultimately it’s by habitual thinking and doing that we shape who we are, over time.
The process is simple. If you want to become a creativity and productivity powerhouse, you just need to think you are one, feel like you are one and behave like you are one. Consistently.
The more you behave in the way you aspire to behave, the more you believe you can become that person and eventually, you will. Reinforce that belief. Trust your brain. After all, it keeps you breathing, digesting, dreaming, fighting external agents without you being aware of it.
It’s extremely efficient and powerful, capable of learning, changing, all its life.
It’s a Bugatti Veyron. Take it round the track!
So is that it? Is it just a matter of harnessing the power of one’s thoughts? Yes. But some other things will help tremendously. Here is one that may come as a surprise.
MYTH#2: THE BRAIN VS BRAWN MYTH
“Physical exercise? EWWW! ”
In some circles, exercise is viewed as unnecessary, unsophisticated or even somewhat incompatible with being smart. Some think that excelling at sports is only a poor consolation for not being able to excel in any mental endeavour.
Think about it, would it surprise you if I told you that there are bodybuilders who are also artists, or entrepreneurs? Kai Greene is one that comes to mind.
Research has shown that exercising is actually good for the brain. It improves cardiovascular activity, increases the brain’s blood and oxygen supply, stimulates neurogenesis and plasticity. In other words, it helps your brain become more agile. And of course, the release of endorphins makes you feel better.
So not only does working out make you fitter, stronger, feel better, it also makes you smarter.
The best thing is that you needn’t become a bodybuilder to experience the above benefits. A 30-minute session 3 times a week is sufficient. Obviously, give your body the proper fuel, plenty of water and healthy food to help it along.
But once you’ve got the surplus of mental and physical energy, how can it be used to the best? This brings us to the next myth.
MYTH#3: THE MULTITASKING MYTH
“Look at how much I can do simultaneously! ”
This is the distraction age. It’s easy to fall into the trap. You are researching something online, then before you know it you have multiple tabs open and you have almost forgotten why you were online in the first place. We’ve all done it!
No wonder there is mounting evidence that multitasking is bad for productivity.
It has been shown to lead to more mistakes and poorer results. All it does is giving the illusion of being more productive.
Focus is what creates great performance.
Performing tasks one by one to the maximum of our ability is what creates great work. But by multitasking so much, we lose the ability to focus and do our best work. Due to the onslaught of distractions, the average attention span in an office is 8 seconds, worse than that of a goldfish (9 seconds)! We’ve learned to function like this but think of how much potential we’ve got buried under there.
But does that mean that we should go the other way and be workaholics? That’s the next myth.
MYTH#4: THE WORKAHOLIC MYTH
“Succeed or die”
Ever held your brain to ransom to get it to deliver the goods before the deadline? Pulled several all-nighters maybe? Brought work home, tried to work several hours straight?
If you’re like me, the best intentions didn’t carry you through. You had to rest way before you initially planned!
But that’s ok because just as multitasking, working long hours is counterproductive.
The adrenaline rush may help you work more but this is not sustainable.
Keeping that lifestyle up not only tires you out but makes you a prime target for stress-related diseases, heart attack and surprisingly, doesn’t even make you uber productive.
A social networking app tracked its users and found that the most productive did not spend longer hours working. In fact, they worked less, but smarter.
They spent 52 minutes working then had 17 minutes break all through the day.
Now a question can be raised. What do you do with all that knowledge? Apply it all at once? That brings us to the last myth.
MYTH#5: THE ALL OR NOTHING MYTH
“I want change now!”
You may have heard of people who stopped smoking overnight or became healthy eaters or gym goers all of a sudden. Before you accept it as a norm and decide to settle for nothing else, stop and reflect.
We are looking at the tip of the iceberg here. You can be pretty sure there was a process culminating in that decision and commitment, unseen to the outside world, even some baby steps.
And that’s the best approach. You need to learn to walk before you learn to run.
Being creative and productive is like getting fit.
It’s a process, you start small, maybe scheduling 15-30 minutes working at your craft, then you find that you can spend longer, create more and easier.
The same is true with being productive.
You may find 15-20 minute focusing on one task challenging at first, then in time, you will find the 52 minutes a doddle.
You might find that 30 minutes exercise once a week or even a fortnight is plenty. Start wherever is comfortable, increase when you can.
Now let’s recap.
To become a creativity and productivity powerhouse,
1) Know you can become one. Trust your brain, it’s the most powerful machine ever!
2) Exercise regularly. It turbocharges your brain.
3) Single-task. Make focus your ally. This will multiply your results.
4) Follow the work/rest pattern. You will produce more and tire less.
5) Make these changes little by little. I recommend adding one goal per week.
Reflect, Redefine, Rise!