5 Steps to Achieving Anything [The Literature of High Performance]

You know what it’s like. Because you’ve been there. You’re just a finance guy. What do you know about singing? You’re a management consultant. How can you ever be an actor?

Get real!!

They’re right. Let’s get real.

The reality is this. Realize this. Internalize this.

“You CAN achieve everything you’ve ever wanted; and then some. “

This articles will show you how.

STAGE 1: Knowing What the Real Problem Is

There are generally two causes why most people are afraid to pull the trigger and push themselves towards achieving their goals. One is external and the other internal.

On the one hand, school and society set artificial boundaries on how far we aim to achieve (remember your “I want to become a pilot” dream?), on the other, those of us who want to reach for something bigger often don’t know how.

Let’s go into more detail on each.

Surroundings Said No

A lot of the times we stay stuck to what we’re doing because of the social reinforcements from our circles. Of them, the major ones are,

  1. School: School teaches us to stick to the program. To the structured list of subjects chosen for us by a relic of our colonial past. And we fall for it. Because our friends did too. Our parents did too. And their parents too. And so on.
  2. Parents: Our parents rightfully have their own dreams for us. But they inadvertently trap us in their own paradigms and their limiting mindsets become self-fulfilling prophecies for us.
  3. Peers: Everywhere from school to our community to our work, our peers sow the seeds of doubt into our hearts which collectively materialize to prevent us from pushing ourselves to achieve our desires.

Didn’t Know How

Those of us who manage to break through the cloud of doubt are then faced with another challenge.

  1. How do you go about achieving your goals in the most effective way possible?
  2. Where do you start?
  3. Who do you call?
  4. How do you design your plan?
  5. How do you get feedback?
  6. How do you scale?
  7. When do you quit?

And many, many more questions… Without the right answers.

So failure hits us even after breaking through the gravitational pull of doubt and aspiring for something grand.

STAGE 2: Realizing That Others Have Done It

Benjamin Franklin left school at the age of 10 before becoming one of the founding fathers of the United States and the inventor of the lightening rod. John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in history, was the son of a cheap con artist and Richard Branson was dyslexic before he started multiple billion dollar companies.

There are countless such stories of people who fought against the odds and challenged the possibilities that life gave them. They were no different from you and me. They had the same hot, red blood running through them, the hunger for opportunity and the greed to grow.

Robert A. Heinlein summed it up best when he said,

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.”

STAGE 3: Knowing How You Can Do It Too


So now that you’re all pumped up, let’s look at the performance literature of the last 100 years and derive our lessons from there…

After synthesizing the literature of this period, we see that the essence of the teachings boils down to the following. The first, Believe it, deals with the first problem we discussed, where school and society prevent us from achieving our dreams. The next ones (Observe the best, Practice like a pro, Stick to it), are direct responses to the second problem, which was not knowing how to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

The problems and subsequent solutions are summarized in the diagram below.

Deep Dive

STAGE 4: Doing It

Finally, since knowledge without action is worthless, this is the step where you execute on your goals. Here’s a quick and effective list of questions to start you on the track to accomplishing your goals, whatever they may be.

Now that you know how to bring your dreams to fruition, it’s time to get on and do it. As Navy Seal turned performance coach Jocko Willink would say, “Stop reading and DO”.

Where You Can Go Next



  • The Tim Ferriss Show: Interviews of top performers by the famous performance coach and the author of the 4 Hour Workweek
  • The James Altucher Show: A show that interviews the top people in their fields to tease out the tricks and habits they use to get ahead
  • Freedom Fastlane: Show on living the free life by building yourself, starting successful businesses and investing the profits
  • Jocko Podcast: THE man of discipline. A show by a former US marine who shows you how to achieve your goals like a fighter
  • $100 MBA: A podcast that strives to replace an MBA degree and teach you all about personal improvement and business

This post was originally published in Techonomics. If you liked this article, you’re more than welcome to visit now and then.