Intelligent Achievement with Isaiah Hankel

At one point in Isaiah’s life he had achieved what many would call “success.” He was in a high-powered position, he had his own book, he was traveling in first class and getting upgrades at hotels. It took a medical emergency where he faced his own mortality for him to realize that he had been chasing fake markers of success. That is when he came upon the idea of “intelligent achievement.”

We’ve talked a lot on this show about success and what it means to different people. We often strive to achieve what our society tells us success looks like—which just so happens to be pretty specific for men. You know—the fancy car, the big house, nice suit, the corner office.

But is that really what we should be striving for? And if not, how do we figure out what success looks like for us? How do we get there?


Intelligent Achievement

The idea of intelligent achievement is to utilize your most valuable assets in order to achieve success. Makes sense, right? Isaiah covers this in his second book and breaks it down into three categories…

Selective focus: How selective are you with who and what you let into your life? Your most valuable asset is your mental energy and focus, so you need to be selective with how you use it. You need to be deliberate with how you spend your time, what activities you do, and how much time you’re wasting.

Creative ownership: How dependent are you on others for your happiness and success? This is all about making yourself more independent and giving yourself more options. If your happiness is completely dependent on someone else—maybe your boss or someone at home—that is inhibiting you. You don’t want to be dependent on other people for your happiness and success.

Pragmatic growth: How consistently and practically are you growing daily? You can talk all you want about the stuff you’re going to do, or want to do—but actually doing it is a different story. You have to be willing to do the nitty gritty work that it takes to get ahead. It’s about being able to look at feedback, respond to it, measure, and manage your progress in a pragmatic way.

We discuss the specifics of these three components in the podcast, and I think the first and second points are particularly important. These are two problems that I think almost all of us can relate to—focusing on the right things and actually doing them. It’s tough when we have so many distractions in our lives, but I think this is so key to achieving success in whatever form that ends up being for you.


Mental Energy is Your Most Valuable Resource

It’s so interesting to look at what we consider our most valuable resource, because if you actually dig deep you’ll find that certain things might not be as valuable as you think they are.

Many people would say that time and money are the two most valuable resources in their lives—which makes perfect sense. But if you actually look at this objectively, it’s not really the case.

We say we “don’t have time” to do something, but then we go home and watch television for 3 hours. We’ve all done it. It’s not that we’re consciously choosing to waste our time, but that we are mentally exhausted and can’t utilize that time properly.

Everyone wastes money. We constantly buy things we don’t need, so money isn’t technically our most valuable resource.

Isaiah argues that mental energy and focus is your most valuable resource because it is the one limiting factor of where you go in life and how much you do. You’re not doing everything you want to do because of a lack of time, it’s actually a lack of mental energy.

The takeaway here for me was that we should all be conscious of our mental energy. Everyone talks about being productive, and I think a better way of thinking about it could be “using your mental energy effectively.”

Isaiah and I talked a bit about the 90-120 minutes of peak mental energy everyone has in their day, and how you can use that most effectively. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you should listen in—it’s a game changer.


Fake Friendships

Alright, this is a tough pill to swallow but it’s necessary. Chances are, about half of your relationships are not reciprocal.

An MIT study found that most people assume around 90% of their relationships are reciprocal—a friendship that goes both ways. In reality, that number is right around 50%. These are people that you’re giving to, you’re trying to be a good friend to them and add value to their lives, but they’re not giving you anything back in return.

What does this mean for you?

It means that you’re sacrificing your precious mental energy on these fake friendships. It means you should take a hard look at your friends and use that energy on your real friendships. Or use it to gain new friends that make you a priority.

I know this is tough. It’s probably not something you want to hear, but I’d bet you can relate to it. I bet you have these people in your life, and if you’re ready to focus on making the most out of your mental energy this has to come into play.


Guest Bio: Isaiah Hankel

Isaiah Hankel is an author, entrepreneur, speaker, and expert in mental focus, behavioral psychology, and career development.

He is the founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist, a career training company that specializes in helping PhDs and other advanced degree holders transition into corporate careers. Isaiah is also a managing partner of Expert Cytometry, a technology company that specialises in flow cytometry-based cancer research. He has spoken and trained on career development, employee management, entrepreneurship, focus, and motivation at many of the worlds largest companies. In addition to speaking at corporations, he has spoken at many top institutions around the world.

Isaiah has written two books—Black Hole Focus: How intelligent People can Create a Powerful Purpose For Their Lives, and The Science of Intelligent Achievement: How Smart People Focus, Create, and Grow Their Way to Success. The way Isaiah looks at human behavior is refreshing—he comes at it from a scientific, rational angle and is able to put his findings into terms that everyone can understand. By using this information he has created actionable pieces of advice that people can use to make improvements in their lives.

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Thank You to the Team:
Editing & Mixing by: Aaron Johnson

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