Derek Sivers

Almost Perfect - by Erika Lemay

Almost Perfect - by Erika Lemay

ISBN: 1631954253
Date read: 2022-07-01
How strongly I recommend it: 7/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Elite athlete and physical artist shares her philosophy and actions that made her the best in the world. Wonderful intensity, focus, discipline, and ambition. Exciting and useful to hear her mindset, Übermensch in action, to apply to your own life and work.

my notes

After my shoulder was put back in its socket, I wrote down my new priorities, new goals, new structure of my days. All the positive outcomes I could come up with.

I have given my whole life to one passion, made it my priority, my reason why, my first love, the influencer of my daily choices.

I had a secret weapon. I wanted more than anyone else. I doubt there was a girl in that gymnasium who wanted more than me. My commitment to improving had no boundaries.

I took charge as much as possible even though I was a beginner.

Circus Arts has no boundaries. Be who you want to be. Push your own skills. Invent your Art. Invent yourself.

I don’t believe in talent. Being talented won’t make you world-class. Decades of dedication will.

There will always be a child who seems genetically crafted for the purpose. In most cases, this child won’t make it to the top. Being perfect for the job makes it easy at the beginning, during the period where the learning curve is still steep. You rise fast and high. All eyes are on you. However, what counts is what comes after: the decades of dedication.

It takes 10% of your career and efforts to become great at something; the remaining 90% will be spent on becoming excellent, to belong to the elite.
That 90% of time and effort may only represent a small improvement in skill, but it’s what makes all the difference.
That amount of energy, consistency, and patience will give you a slight chance at becoming world-class.
It’s only possible through daily consistent dedication.
Gruelling efforts producing outstanding results.

Obstacles are a filter. Everyone faces them. Most people will decide that it’s too hard and call it a day. A few will walk through the fire to get where they want to be.

I was ready to be uncomfortable to reach my goals.

I wanted to learn through discomfort, to raise my resilience and know I was stronger than any urge to give up.
I needed to feel a sense of invincibility to failure if I wanted to achieve something meaningful.

Improving is one of my favourite things in the world.

I’d do anything to become the best in the world.

Would you choose the same path if there was only you to please?
Have a purpose to fulfill for positive and personal reasons.

Are you ready to go through hell for it?
Do you have the courage to lead the life needed to reach the highest levels?
If so, let’s think about calling it a passion.
Otherwise, you have a hobby. Don’t put dirt on the word ‘passion’.

Goals have to continuously be created.
Stagnation is the murderer of passions.

My passion is wanting to push my craft to unprecedented levels.

Most of your time will be spent in the pursuit of the dream and not in living the dream. A passion must englobe the process.

Awards are just a little tap on the back to keep going in difficult times.

Art resets to zero every morning.

I soon grew addicted to pushing my boundaries to find out what the results would be.
The fine-tuning process of my life and Art, from a daily consideration, turned into an intrinsic habit.

Work as if your life depended on it. It will drive you crazy on a regular basis. You will not only have to endure, but you will have to thrive with a level of stress that would destroy most people. You’ll invest everything you have, including your most precious currency: time. It will take up all the space in your life. People around you will blame you for being so obsessed with ‘that vision’. It will be a 24/7, 365 days commitment each year. A renewed vow every single morning.

The passion of a lifetime should be able to make up for losing friends, the most intense loneliness, the lack of sleep and social life.

The taste of not being enough, not doing enough, not knowing enough. These feelings will haunt you, day and night.

Without a clear goal, that passion will remain a simple dream.
The vision you’ll create out of your passion needs to become so clear that even on the worst day in a decade, you never lose sight of your vision.

Write in detail exactly what you want to achieve.
Make that vision so clear and detailed that it becomes ingrained in you.
It’s what you see when you first wake up in the morning.

You’ll face an immense amount of dissuasion - from your loved ones, from society.

Stop competing with anyone.
Instead, focus that energy on your craft.
Be so focused on details, no one should be able to read the map of success you used.

I have to live the life of a monk; numerous hours of training each day, a strict and monotonous diet, healthy sleeping habits, planned creative sessions at specific moments during my waking hours.
I can’t afford to not be at the top on a given day.
I can’t afford a cold, let alone the flu, or an extra few grams of fat on my body.

I have learned to use every single hour, flight, waiting moment, pre- and post-performance, as efficiently as possible to keep moving towards mastering my vision.

Planning solidifies your discipline, and discipline is your freedom.
By designing your plan down to the smallest detail, you leave little room for error and no chance for ultimate failure.
Every morning, the only choice you will make to make your vision happen is to follow the plan you’ve crafted.
A restrictive lifestyle means freedom since you automatise the not-so-pleasant tasks through singular habits.
Then you have the remaining time to create, discover, improve, and indulge.

No detail should be left random.
Everything you can use in your favour should become a trick to thrive further.
Simple tricks become habits.

Never allow excuses - what some call exceptions - to not follow the plan: Christmas for overeating, jet lag for not sleeping enough, an achievement to celebrate instead of going to sleep at a toddler’s bedtime. Each exception slows you down, and exceptions added to exceptions create mediocrity.
The cost is too high.
Be repulsed by procrastination.
Every downside of the life you’ve chosen should be part of the plan. Find a use for it; foresee it.
Don’t regard them as obstacles or random events to deal with when they show up. Expect them.

Build a strong character, and you’ll have the most powerful tool for life.

Be coherent in daily choices and actions.
For elite results, you have to forge an elite personality.

I do what’s right for me in the long run, but complete torture in the moment of doing it.
I learned to disregard the painful part.

By regularly practising something challenging, you’ll improve many of your skills.
Deepening skills can be transferred to other fields.

Don’t be content unless you become what you wanted, not the bargaining version of it.
Contentment is the beginning of the end.

Be diligent in designing your daily life. It is the mirror of your entire project.
Each detail should be linked to logical foreseen outcomes.

No instant gratification - what people call enjoying life - is worth my attention.

The medium-term plan, set at six months for me, is there to create a sense of deadline. I see it as a motivator and timeframe to keep me in check with my aspirations.
If I follow the daily plan, in six months, I should have lost a given amount of body fat, acquired this new movement I am working on, finished this artistic piece, or automated my online promotion tool.

Do not chop and change your plan continuously to adapt to daily noise.
Reassess and make changes, but at intervals of six months (medium-term) rather than day-to-day.
Think the short-term plan through thoroughly.
You’ll inevitably have ups and downs during this medium-term window.
If you keep adapting the daily plan, you only respond to what is happening daily.

The evening prior to a new week, I pause and write all my weekly intentions on paper. It’s a very beautiful, almost meditative ritual.

Every day, I write down the reasons I am pursuing what I’m after.
By doing so, I remind myself of the importance of even the hardest days.

I have been repeatedly criticised by people surrounding me on a personal and professional level that I am too rigid with myself, that I should ‘enjoy’ life more.
‘Live a little!’ they say.
But these exact rigid life habits let me access a level of ingenuity, an intense life.

The key to creativity does not reside in chaos.

I know some goals within the mission will take years to achieve.

Remove from your life or delegate anything that does not help your mission.

Give up any casual social life. The time you spend with other human beings matters; pick them wisely. Be the opposite of a people pleaser.

Cultivate minimalism; let go of useless belongings. They will make you a slave to moving them and taking care of them.

Avoid business meetings. Prioritise written communication. People are more concise in this way than when you let them talk.

If you want to be a pro at something, act like one. Take yourself seriously.

Your appearance on the outside shows years of daily choices led by a strong personality.
There is an enormous psychological factor to succeeding at looking good.

Do not keep at home food you don’t want to eat.

Keep your last bite as far away from your sleep time as possible.

Empty the lungs of air.
Breathe in quietly through the nose for eight seconds.
Hold the breath for a count of eight seconds.
Exhale forcefully through the mouth for eight seconds.
Hold for eight seconds, without breathing in.
Repeat steps two, three, four and five 10 times, counting very slowly.

How you spend your days is how you spend your life.

Ask the following question every single day:
Is there anything you are doing because you are stuck in a recurrent scheme for which you can no longer find the why?
Or is every action of your day still coherent with the purpose?

I avoid the headlines or anything that would poison my day and be short-lived. Will knowing this information matter in five years?

What I grow today should remain valid in 10 years or be a foundation for something I’ll keep building in the future.
That goes for my business and personal relationships as well as the things I put in my brain.

I save work for the evenings, once I’m entirely out of my creative space.
I condense anything business-related, managing a worldwide career, into a two-hour chunk.
I am much more efficient than if I answer sporadically during the day, throwing me in and out of my mindset.
Once I shut myself into the office and delve into business mode, I go through a day of work in a few hours.
Mono-focusing is an essential tool.
Multi-tasking is a myth to make people with short attention spans feel better about themselves.

Delegate to refine your life to the purest expression of your craft.

You put so much energy into planning your long-term goals; you also need to plan the after. Plan the post-climax period.

Question your motivation and purpose daily.

My mission: Create beauty to inspire the world. Push boundaries through an active, culturally and intellectually rich life.