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11 Life Changing Action Steps From Hostage Negotiators, Astronauts, & World Renowned Psychologists That You Can Start Right Now

The world's top experts provide simple action items and easy first steps you can implement right now to create a big impact in your life.

What if you had dozens of the world’s top experts giving you advice about how to improve your life?

I’ve interviewed these experts and asked them for simple action items and easy first steps you can implement right now to create a big impact in your life. These are the top answers of over a hundred responses.

As the voice behind the popular podcast The Science of Success, I’ve received advice from some of the world’s most respected neuroscientists, psychologists, spy-recruiters, hostage negotiators and even astronauts.

At the end of every interview on the show – I ask our guests for one simple piece of homework for the listeners.

As a result, I’ve received over a hundred pieces of concrete actionable advice and specific first steps you can start to take right now to improve your life from some of the world’s top experts.

Here’s a list of my top eleven.

Build Your Challenge Network

Dr. Adam Grant – Wharton School Professor, Best-Selling Author

“Start by building your challenge network. So think about the people who’ve given you the best critical feedback throughout your career or throughout your life and ask yourself, “Okay. First, who are those people? Secondly, how do I build in a regular system of engaging them to benefit from their criticism knowing that I trust the quality of their feedback and that I believe they care about helping me improve?”

— Dr. Adam Grant

Building a challenge network of those you trust will lead to honest and constructive feedback, making everything you produce better. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Adam Grant here.

Understand What You Fear

Chris Hadfield – Astronaut Who Survived Going Blind in Outer Space

“Have a look at what it is that makes you fearful and don’t just accept the fear, but actually say, “Why does that make [me fearful?]” Then start to treat it clinically. What is it about that that actually is the danger? What is the real problem that I’m trying to solve? How can I change who I am so that I could deal with that problem better? What skill am I lacking? Why am I allowing myself just to be a terrified little chihuahua here when I’m a functioning homo-sapiens? How can I change who I am so that I’m not just relying on fear to deal with that facet of my life? Because fear to me this is a destructive long-term solution to anything. It’s okay in the short term, but you don’t want to have that the way that you deal with something in life.”

— Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Dig into your fears – understand why they scare you and take concrete steps towards solving them. Listen to the full interview with Cmdr Chris Hadfield here.

Schedule Time For Deep Work (& Schedule Time For Play)

Dr. Cal Newport –Associate Professor at Georgetown University, Best Selling Author

“I always tell people to do two things. The first is to block out on your calendar for the next few weeks some blocks of deep, uninterrupted work. Make it like a doctor’s appointment, protect that time, no distractions, and dive deep into the task at hand. Two, make some passive lifestyle changes – one of the most important easiest changes you can make is start scheduling the time that you’re going to spend receiving entertainment or distraction from the Internet.”

— Dr. Cal Newport

There is a freedom that comes from scheduling both your productive time and your play time. Use the power of scheduling to create a schedule that unleashes your productivity and creativity. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Cal Newport here.

Journal About Your Happiest Experiences

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar – Taught Harvard’s Most Popular Course Ever

“We are our best teachers. What I would recommend is, sit down and write. Write about your best experiences from the past, “When was I at my happiest?” Think back to that time and consider the essentials. Who were you with? What were you doing? Then, try to think how can you experience more of that?”

— Dr. Tal Ben Shahar

Take some time for self-reflection and teach yourself what makes you the most happy. Simple self reflection like this can open up opportunities for finding more happiness in your life. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Tal Ben Shahar here.

Dig Into The Emotions You Push Aside

Dr. Susan David – Harvard Medical School Psychologist

“Here are some questions I would ask yourself about your emotions.Are there emotions that you tend to push aside? If so, ask yourself if you can just be with that emotion a little bit more?If you’re struggling with something, ask yourself what would be a wise person’s advice to me?Start asking yourself some hard questions – what are one or two things that are truly important to me?”

— Dr. Susan David

A key piece of optimal performance is making peace with your emotions and discovering what your true values are. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Susan David here.

Understand People’s Priorities & Needs

Robin Dreeke – Former Counterintelligence Spy Recruiter

“Practice this with everyone and I guarantee you, relationships are going to start blooming with much greater trust. Find out what other people’s priorities are in their lives. Their challenges, their needs, wants, dreams and aspirations. If you take time and do this without judging them either, take time to figure out what someone else’s priorities are. I am telling you, who doesn’t want to talk to someone who isn’t actually interested in the things that they are important to them? You do [this] and I guarantee you, you’re going to start inspiring trust around you.”

— Robin Dreeke

Focus on other people, how you can add value to them and how you can frame things in terms of their priorities and needs, and you will be a much more effective communicator. Listen to the full interview with Robin Dreeke here.

Ask Yourself – Is Your Technology Serving You Or Are You Serving It?

Nir Eyal – Author of NirandFar.com

“If you’re trying to break an addiction to technology (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), the first thing to ask yourself this simple question; is this technology serving me, or am I serving it?” – Nir Eyal

We all spend too much time on our smart phones. Odds are, you’re probably reading this on a smart phone right now. Taking time to step back and understand your relationship with technology can help you put in place some simple safeguards to have a healthier relationship with your tech. Listen to the full interview with Nir Eyal here.

Spend a Moment to Notice the Behavior of Other People Around You

Chris Voss – Former FBI Hostage Negotiator, Author of Never Split The Difference

“Take time to watch the interactions around you, just a little. Watch people talking to or at each other…Study the dynamics around you a little bit and you’ll see that if you will listen first, you’re going to save a lot of time.” – Chris Voss

There is a wealth of information available in every interaction with someone. Noticing small things like body language, timing, eye movement, and much more can give you serious clues into their intentions and their behavior. Take it from a hostage negotiator who has to make these kinds of decisions when people’s lives are on the line – noticing the behavior of others can have a big impact. Listen to the full interview with Chris Voss here.

Develop Your Own Personal Philosophy

Dr. Michael Gervais – High Performance Psychologist

“Take time to think about and articulate your philosophy, your personal philosophy. How do you do that? Just start writing and just start feeling the words that start thumping when you say, “My personal philosophy is,” and just kind of sense and feel your way through that. That would be a phenomenal and significant investment in yourself to see if you can articulate in 25 words or less what you stand for, what you’re all about, what it is that is your true north, your compass for what you’re doing here in life.”

— Dr. Michael Gervais

What’s important to you? What are your values? Why do you do what you do? Without goals, without values, without guideposts, we have no framework to organize and understand our own behavior. Listen to both interviews with Dr. Michael Gervais here and here.

Try Sleeping 8 Hours A Night For One Week

Dr. Matthew Walker — Founder of The Center for Human Sleep Science

“Give yourself one week of 8 hours of sleep and see if you feel any better. Just give it as self-improvement test. Try it as a hack, that if you are one of those people who are into the quantified self-movement and you’re into self-experimentation then just test out in the next week and just determine if you feel any better when you’re sleeping 8 hours every night and you’ve regular each and every night.”

— Dr. Matthew Walker

There is a crisis of sleep deprivation in the western world. Sleeping less is not a badge of honor, its foolish. Mountains of research demonstrate that sleep has a positive relationship with nearly every good outcome you can think of, and lack of sleep directly relates to nearly every negative outcome you can imagine from infertility, to Alzheimer, to lack of productivity, and even “all cause mortality.” Listen to the full interview with Dr. Matthew Walker here.

Develop “Contemplative Routines” That Push You To Think More Deeply

Charles Duhigg – Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

“The conventional wisdom has always been, “Oh, those people must work much harder. They chain themselves to their desks,” or maybe that they’re much smarter or that they went to the right schools and so they have more advantages. What the research shows is that doesn’t tend to be true. Certainly, working hard is great and going to the right schools doesn’t hurt, but that doesn’t seem to correlate with success. That what actually seems to correlate with success is that the people who are most productive and most successful, they tend to have what researchers refer to as contemplative routines, as habits in their life that push them to think more deeply. You mentioned journaling. Journaling is a great example of this.”

— Charles Duhigg

Research shows that successful people cultivate contemplative routines like journaling and meditation so that they can think more deeply , focus their time and their priorities, and know what priorities are important. More work isn’t the answer, spend more time reflecting and thinking. Listen to the full interview with Charles Duhigg here.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you take the time to implement even a few of these strategies into your life – you will see a big impact.

These lessons are from some of the world’s top researchers and thinkers as well as people who have been in the trenches and survived everything from hostage crises to outer space disasters – what do you have to lose in giving them a shot?

Want To Get The Full List?

In this article I’ve shared only a handful of the hundreds of strategies, tactics, and tips that my guests have shared over the last few years on The Science of Success. If you want to get the rest — sign up for our email list to get 101 Life Changing Action Steps You Can Start Right Now.

Originally published at www.successpodcast.com

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