In the book “Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits,” writers Emma Barrett and Paul Martin explore what makes thrill seekers get such a rush from being out on the edge. “Brain imaging studies,” they write “have found that risk seeking behavior is preceded by activity in the region of the brain associated with the anticipation of pleasurable experiences like sex, drug taking, and monetary gain.” In other words, situations that would be terrifying to us, are pleasurable to them. As a result, they don’t understand the kind of fear, insecurity, and intimidation most of us experience. The book is filled with stories of people who have gone beyond what we normally think human beings are capable of, but in their list of attributes of thrill seekers, two things stood out:
- Single Mindedness.
The biggest reason people who most people would call crazy are still alive is that far from being impulsive or easy to panic, they are actually control freaks. The writers list many of the keys to their success, including planning and preparation (rehearsing for catastrophe), experience, and methodical thinking. They’re not really risk TAKERS, they’re risk AVOIDERS. They are able to do amazing things because they don’t take anything for granted.
But the two most important traits were resilience and single mindedness.
Think about that in your career. How resilient are you? How many set-backs can you take before you give up? How much criticism can you handle before you wilt under pressure? And when it comes to single mindedness, how focused are you? Are you trying to accomplish too many things or are you zeroed in on your One Big Thing?
Take a few minutes today and reflect about your own resilience and single mindedness. The truth is, in case after case, people who accomplish great things – from inventors to artists to entrepreneurs to politicians to leaders of all kinds – have those two things in common.