In this series, I’ve tried to break down Benjamin Hardy’s ‘Will Power Doesn’t Work’. The book puts forth the edict that in order to achieve our goals, you have to take will power out of the equation and instead, replace it with the environment that enables success. Previously, I discussed the situations in which one has to resort to will power and why that is not effective.
A large chunk of what success means to me is acquiring fluency in my craft – learning a new skill every day, perfecting it, and then bending its rules to create something wonderful and unique. All of this, according to Benjamin, starts with a phenomenon called ‘automaticity’ – the process of picking up a new habit or skill and turning it into second nature.
The reason automaticity is important to our goals is that once our brain picks up the mechanics of a new task, it frees up our consciousness to focus on higher things. We can build on what now occurs to us naturally.
Benjamin’s methods to attain automaticity, for me, can be broken down into three parts:
- Over-learning the basics: Doing a task repeatedly, exactly according to the rules helps you learn better. It’s not important that you do it faster, but that you do it more efficiently every time.
- Increase the intensity: Once you’ve achieved proficiency, sharpen your skill by performing the task under higher pressure situations. These could range from setting a time limit to adding a distraction to the task, escalating the skill from a habit to a well-oiled reflex. You’d be surprised by what you are capable of, when these circumstances become your new normal.
- Now, bend the rules: Now that you are prepared to perform these tasks under any circumstance, you can unlock your true potential by transcending the laws of this domain.
The overall idea is to not just make the skill something you do, but part of who you are. It’s part of the process of pro-actively creating the environment you want influencing you – like your own version of The Matrix, where you yourself learn the rules, make new ones along the way and then bend them. You are then primed to naturally become what you want to be without chasing motivation. As Morpheus from The Matrix puts it, “Don’t think you are. KNOW you are.”