What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere.
~ Ovid

If there is one key to creating what you want in your life, it is daily practice. When you repeat again and again, you learn so much about the habit you’re building and about yourself. There are nuances that you do not learn from a how-to guide. Such as how to persevere.

Why daily? And why action?

  • DAILY! Daily moves you toward putting in hours to develop your expertise and toward repeating an activity to develop discipline and focus. Whatever your regularity is, you build your own daily practice. You can choose if your daily means 5 days a week (work week daily) or seven days a week (whole week daily) or three times a week (M-W-F regularly).
  • ACTION! Action is a form of commitment. A thought can be transitory, passing. An action is you saying to the world, “I am ready and I am doing it.” An action is more powerful than a thought – by definition, Action = Thought + Activity.

But why do it? Why take regular, structured, self-scheduled daily action as opposed to acting whenever you feel like it?

The Deep Math Example. As my very good friend and a former math professor says,

“It takes a while to get into the problem. You need to sit with it at your desk for several hours at a time just to start to focus deeply enough to be able to create any new conclusions.”

It takes time to get deep enough into a subject that you are no longer skirting the surface.

The Ballroom Dancing Teacher Example. Have you found that some people who are excellent at what they do returrn to the basics from time to time? Like a yoga teacher taking a basic refresher course. Or an author going back to the structure of his characters? I know dance teachers who regularly take beginner classes. Why? Ballroom Dance
  • When you are at an advanced level, you get a lot more from beginner lessons. You start to see the nuanced distinctions that you didn’t notice at the beginning – “When I ask my students to ‘rock-step’ here, some are still thinking that they are rocking when the important distinction is that they are there-and-immediately back, on their toe and immediately forward… it’s more about the forward than it is about the rock-step back.” You start to see new ways of describing something, new ways of understanding and then being able to explain a concept.
  • You take the beginner class to come back to the beginner’s mind. To return to that joy that you loved about the activity to begin with, and to hear and see and feel and imagine what it is like to learn the steps for the first time. As Chip Heath and Dan Heath say in Made to Stick, we are sucked into the Curse of Knowledge: We are no longer able to often explain things to a five year old because we know too much detail. Avoid the Curse of Knowledge. Play as a beginner.
The Twyla Tharp Creativity Example. You make space for yourself – in your head and in your heart when you practice something regularly. You make space for yourself to be creative, to focus, to live in the moment. So much of life ends up being planning and rushing that unless you make the Creative Habit as Twyla Tharp says in her book, then you don’t ever create the discipline of creativity, the space for allowing yourself to do. That space is often only possible within the constraints of time allowed for that activity. Twyla Tharp
The Alaska Hiking Example. It is through action that you create a habit, and through habits that you create the life you want to live. According to Ann Graybiel, neural pathways – i.e. the pathways that create a new habit or new behavior pattern – form when you go over them again and again. Again and again. Like a hiking trail in Alaska worn by all the footsteps repeating over the ground again and again, so a new mental pathway forms when you repeat an activity. Best results are daily. Hiking
The Guitar Example. My guitar teacher years ago said, “The most important thing in learning guitar is daily practice. Even if you play 15 or 30 minutes a day, do just that. And if you have the choice to play once for 30 minutes or twice for 15 minutes, play twice for 15 minutes.” According to him and many other musicians, the mind learns when it starts a-new – when it comes to a project a-new. So scheduling that “new” regularly allows a habit to make that deep Alaskan hiking trail pathway. Guitar

And then, once you have taken the daily actions, keep track of them. Put a star on your wall calendar. Post about it on your blog. Write yourself an email accounting for that day. Track your progress. Roy Baumeister of Florida State University says (23-min interview) that one of the keys to creating a new habit is writing down those times when you have acted on that habit.

Is it really possible to achieve anything in life?
Let me ask that another way: what is harder than rock, or softer than water?

Lesson and Take-Away: 1) Take daily action and 2) write down your daily actions!

Images: math, dance, Twyla Tharp, hiking path, guitar.

Senia Maymin Senia Maymin, MBA, MAPP is an Executive Coach, and presents workshops to corporations about Positive Psychology. Senia is the Editor of Positive Psychology News Daily, and posts her latest ideas about positive psychology, business, and coaching at Senia.com. Senia’s bio.

Here is a new way to show that you LOVE this site! Please do click on it!


New website Damiga allows you to make a button and put it on your website, in your blog, anywhere – that allows people to express a particular emotion for you! Damiga (meaning: “d’amiga” is “of the friend”) is a really fun site to play with – enjoy it! Damiga!

And please let me know ONCE YOU MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTONS so that I can go and click on them!!!

[email protected]

Keywords: positive psychology, coaching, entrepreneurship, button, damiga, new, senia.com, happiness

Hugh McLeod at gapingvoid has a post on using blogs to boost the bottom line, from a speech he is giving today. I especially liked the section where Hugh describes EnglishCut, a blog by a London Saville Row tailor that from inception has been all about the suits.
Hugh says in his recommendations:

Passion. Authority. Continuity. Without those three, you have nothing.

I ditto that. Fred at AVC first showed me the importance of continuity with this post.

Here is Joel on Software talking about showing Passion. Authority. Continuity. to your customers: Seven Steps to Remarkable Customer Service.

Lesson and Take-Away: All three. Passion-Authority-Continuity. All the time.

Here’s a little goofiness on being too passionate about email:
[Recommendation #]10. Reduce the amount of e-mail you receive.
OK, I’ll try. … Would everybody please send me less e-mail? … (Now I have to go see if that worked.)”
Made me laugh out loud!

Some interesting new video technology companies:

  • 1938media – video production house, posts new videos daily (from Hugh)
  • Blinkx – video search (from Scoble)
  • NowThen – history of your life starting today – you use your cell phone to email pics daily or however frequently you like (launched a month ago, from blinkx)

Speaking of video technology, here’s a good analysis of one possible result in YouTube/Google land: “pre-rolling” ads.

What exactly is Web 2.0?

Here are two answers:

How does Web 2.0 differ from the regular internet? Some of the problems that people decribe with the early internet is that it was too based on older media, like TV, newspapers, even radio. And it wasn’t enough based on interactivity and personalization. The talk is that there is a new internet coming or in place now (depending on who you ask) that is about the individual user, that is about community, and that is about seamless individualization.

From Kevin’s notes on the page with the video:

Throughout history, each new medium (books, radio, cinema, television) has first been used to produce content equivalent to that found in existing media. The classic example is radio, which was first used to broadcast radio plays—content based on the familiar medium of theater. Eventually, however, out of the unique strengths of a medium will arise a new kind of content: one that doesn’t mimic what came before, but instead delivers an experience that would never have been possible before. Web 2.0 is that stage in the evolution of the Web as a medium.

It turns out that discussion about Web 2.0 can actually make some people pretty emotional. See Kathy Sierra’s post on this – she discusses the difference between Web 2.0 being a buzzword (just a word) and jargon (a word that means something deeper to the people who understand the field). I wrote a bit about jargon in my Quantum Speech post.

And to summarize Seth’s post, the enhancement of Web 2.0 can come from data (Web 3.0) or from intra-people connections (Web 4.0). Seth writes that Tim Berners-Lee defines the future Web 3.0 as a semantic web – where computers can analyze all the data in the world, and specifically all the data relevant to you. Then Seth introduces his version of Web 4.0, in which different gadgets and information systems can talk to each other, and in a way that’s not top-down, but as he describes, is like a tribe – “smaller, far more intense connections with trusted colleagues and their activities.”

Enjoy the future.

It’s interesting that in both Kevin’s talk and Seth’s post, the best way to describe the future is by examples: “What will we be able to do with Web 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0?” Why do you think that is – that we need examples to explain something we don’t yet know? …. Aha, it’s because people think in stories. Because people live in stories and think in stories.

Update: BTW, you can tell that people have strong opinions on the term Web 2.0 if you read Kathy Sierra’s article on the difference between a buzzword and useful jargon for “Web 2.0”.

Hi, here are the five things you may not know about me. I got tagged by the delightful and fun Evelyn Rodriguez.

Five Things:

1) A couple of years back, I auditioned as a dancer for the Madonna Confessions tour. She had open auditions in NYC, and there was a line around the block in the super-cold winter. I stood in line between two Rockettes (I learned you have to be 5’8″ to be Rockette). There were over 300 females auditioning. When we went in, everyone tried to warm up from the cold quickly, and the tour choreographers had four of us get on the floor at a time and dance to Madonna’s “Hollywood.” The Rockettes both went with more jazz, some girls went hiphop (which worked great to that song), a few went ballroom-dance style, and I was on the flamenco-jazz side.

2) When I was a kid, my dad taught me combinatorics using different mini-chocolates.

3) I did singing-songwriting on the folk open-mike scene. I’m a big fan of the open-mike scene in Boston. It’s a wonderful environment – you go into various clubs and perform your songs. It goes like this: they draws names from a hat to pick the order of the evening, then people go on in their order. You know most of the people in the room, and you try out different songs on the audience. Fabulouso.

4) My sport in high school was springboard diving. Loved it! Our coach used to use as his mantras, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” and “90% of this is guts.” Having done gymnastics earlier, it was great to switch to falling onto water as opposed to onto the mats.

5) I love rock-climbing and have done a multi-pitch climb (where you climb some, then reset your base in the middle of the cliff, then climb some more) only once at the Gunks. One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

I now tag these super folks!
David Seah (uppdate: David’s list of five things! 2/1)
Dave Shearon (update: Dave’s list of five things! 1/31)
Alvaro Fernandez (update: Alvaro’s list of five things 4/1)
Alvin Soon
(update: Alvin’s list here 2/4)
Chris Harrison (update: Chris’ list of five things! 1/30)
Anna Farmery