Many authors immerse themselves in a topic or field in order to write about it. A.J. Jacobs spent a year living biblically. Dan Lyons worked at HubSpot. Others, like Stefan Fatsis, try to become kicker for the Broncos or, like Michael McKnight, try to understand to dunk a basketball.
But usually they dip in and dip out; their experiences help provide a relatively inside perspective for a guide or longform piece. (A little like me doing 100,000 pushups in a year.)
And then there’s Maria Konnikova. Couple of years ago she decided to publish a guide about poker but she knew next to nothing in regards to the game. So she did the smart thing. Instead to getting a coach, she got an expert: She connected with Erik Seidel, a professional POKERAMPM player who has won eight World Series of poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour title.
Seidel decided that for Konnikova to actually understand the game, she’d to follow along with the path beginners take. She had to construct her bankroll from scratch. So she started playing in $20 and $40 tournaments. Then she moved up to higher stakes tournaments, finishing second in one single and winning $2,215.
And then earlier in 2010 she won $84,600 at the PCA National… and chose to push back her book to 2019 and go all-in (pun intended) on poker, a choice that repaid when she finished second in an Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau event and won $57,519.
“PCA was as soon as where everything kind of came together,” she said. “I’m learning and it’s sticking and I’m playing well. It is a really wonderful feeling when you’re studying and working to possess that validated.”
Konnikova didn’t attempted to develop into a great poker player. She just wanted to obtain better.
That’s the thing about progress. That’s the thing about success. Even a little progress successes makes you feel good. Even the tiniest successes validate your effort. Tiny progress, small successes… they allow you to happy.
And that provides most of the motivation you need to get up tomorrow and keep taking care of whatever trying to understand or improve.
This is exactly why nearly all incredibly successful people set a goal and then focus all their attention on the process necessary to attain that goal.
Sure, the target is still out there. But what they value most is what they have to do today — and once they accomplish that, they think happy about today. They think good about today.
And they think good about themselves, because they’ve accomplished what they attempted to do today. And that sense of accomplishment gives all of them the motivation they have to do what they have to do when tomorrow comes — because success, even tiny, incremental success, is the best motivation of all.
When you savor the little victories, you can feel good about yourself each day, because you no longer feel compelled to compare the distance between here and there. You do not have to wait for “someday” to feel good about yourself; should you choose what you planned to accomplish today, you’re a winner.
Pick someone who has achieved something you wish to achieve. Deconstruct his or her process. Then follow it.
On the way you could make small corrections as you learn what is best suited for you personally, but never start with doing what you want to accomplish, or what feels good, or what you think might work.
Do what is which may work.
That way you won’t stop trying, because the process you create will yield those small successes that keep you motivated and feeling good about yourself.
Even if you’re a writer who decides to understand a little about poker.