Intro

If you are reading this post then you’re either a Personal Development nerd, like me, or simply curious to know more about me or my writing. This is my first blog post so I wanted to make it something people could relate to. I was recently recommended a book by an acquaintance, Andy Attwood, a Health & Wellness Specialist, who I met through BNI. The book is called High Performance Habits, written by Brendon Burchard. You can find all the tools I have used, here, on the resources area of his site. So, for my first blog post, I thought: why not write a book review?

However, as I was responding to author’s ‘performance prompts’ throughout the book, I figured it could be just as valuable and maybe more insightful for people to read these, instead. So, here is a collection of my personal notes and reflections…

The book suggests 6 habits – 3 personal and 3 social. Although they are practices designed to be repeated often, I have found that some have produced value by performing the exercises just once, through note-taking, here, in this blog post. For example, the first habit, Seek Clarity, doesn’t seem like it would produce much benefit from weekly or monthly practice; more like yearly.

In the introduction of the book, Brendon recommends taking the High Performance Indicator Assessment. The assessment sections correspond with the chapters of the book. As you can see from my results, below, the first section correlates with the section of this blog post about seeking clarity.

My HPI Scores

CLARITY = 4.83 out of 5

Improving this area gives you greater confidence in who you are, which decisions are right for you at this stage of your life, and what will make you truly healthy, wealthy, and happy. How could you gain more clarity in life right now? A simple thing you could do is to set an intention for who you want to be and how you want to interact with others right BEFORE you enter any social situation.

ENERGY = 5 out of 5

If that score seems too far away from a 5, then it’s time to start some new daily practices that can help improve your mental, emotional and physical vibrancy. People really struggle with this one. Personally, my best habit is ensuring my environment is setup for me to win. So, I order organic groceries and stock my house with good food. Nutrition first. Then I protect my sleep and make sure I workout every other day. (The top 15% of high performers are 40% more likely to workout 5x per week!)

NECESSITY = 4 out of 5

This measures the level of emotional commitment you feel to showing up each day as your best. It’s your level of “must” in improving your life and serving others with excellence. If you haven’t felt as driven or motivated as you want, this is a great area to focus on. Start with asking yourself every day at work, “Who needs me on my A game right now?” Really connect with who you are working for – sometimes we’ll do more for others than ourselves, right? The chapter on psychological necessity in my book is probably the most popular of all, so be sure to read that one.

PRODUCTIVITY = 4 out of 5

We’ve noticed that if you’re below a 4.6 on this one, it’s REALLY hard to achieve your long-term goals. Maybe it’s time to minimize distractions and start some new habits to master your time management and project planning? My suggestion is to NEVER check your email in the first 60 minutes of the workday. Use that time to strategize, get real work done, and reach out to those you are needing a reply from. Stay in offence, not reaction, in that first 60 minutes and you’ll win more days.

INFLUENCE = 4.17 out of 5

This area of your life is EVERYTHING. When we can’t get people to believe in us, support us, buy from us, or take the actions we suggest, then it’s hard to ever get ahead. A good starting place is to focus on being a great role model, asking a lot of questions, and seeking to be more patient, compassionate and available to others.

COURAGE = 4.67 out of 5

Do the people around you truly know who you are, what you dream of, what you need? Are you living your truth, taking risks, putting yourself out there? The next level for all of us requires a greater willingness to venture into the unknown despite risks or judgement. Try telling others what you REALLY think or feel more often, and take one small step into the unknown every day.

My overall score was 4.44, which I am pleasantly surprised with, but I know there is room for improvement! The following notes are from the main 6 chapters of the book…

Personal Habit 1: Seek Clarity

Practice 1: Envision The Future 4

Have vision and consistently set clear intentions for who you want to be each day, how you want to interact with others, what skills you must develop to win in the future, and how you can make a difference and serve with excellence. Never enter a situation without thinking through these four categories (self, social, skills, service).

Self:

How have I perceived myself over the past several months?

I feel I’ve become more confident in social situations after spending a very long time in lockdown! It’s been great to get out and explore the world. Emotionally, I stepped out of my comfort zone and began dating but soon came to realise that it’s more difficult to manage my time than I had hoped, so that hasn’t developed into much. Professionally, I’ve been accelerating faster than ever.

Is this how I see myself being in the future?

Professionally, yes – I am passionate about web development and won’t stop learning or exploring anytime soon. In regards to dating and my personal life, I am quite happy where I am at the moment but it would be nice to share my time with someone. The thing is, I don’t miss it or need it, so it’s something I overlook. But when I see myself in the future, I see myself with someone. I also see myself being much more relaxed. At the moment, it can be difficult to relax because of financial commitments.

What are the three aspirational words that best describe your future best self?

Financially free, Composed, Resourceful.

Social:

Imagine, in 20 years’ time, people are describing why they love and respect you. If each person could use just 3 words to describe the interactions they had with you in life, what would you want those 3 words to be?

Inspirational, Aspirational, Encouraging.

Skills:

What is my Personal Field of Interest (PFI)?

WordPress

What are the 3 skills that make people successful in this field?

PHP, JS, CSS.

How can I develop these skills?

PHP – Make more Advanced Custom Fields blocks.

JS – Build mini apps.

CSS – Apply more animations.

What skills required by my PFI will I need to succeed in 5 -10 years from now?

React, Redux, Next.

Service:

How can I serve people with excellence and make an extraordinary contribution to the world?

Combine all my skills and interests into Vlogs and blogs via YouTube and here on my website.

Relevance: What matters now and how can I deliver it?

Writing this blog!

Differentiation: What makes me unique?

I am an artistic person and revel in delivering high quality designs.

Excellence: How can I deliver beyond what’s expected and serve in unique ways?

Share source code on GitHub. Volunteer at Code Clubs and freeCodeCamp or local web dev meetups.

Performance Prompts

When I think about the future for self, social, skill and service, the area I haven’t had as much intention in as I should is:

Social – I haven’t been very social over the lockdown period but am beginning to get out more. I am going to a comedy night in town this Thursday with friends so that will inject some zest back into life!

The areas in which I have not been considering those I serve and lead are:

Leading and serving are closely linked, in my eyes, since leading is intrinsically serving as a valuable example to either follow or be informed by. I am consistently very conscious how I both serve and lead my son, and nieces and nephew, and how I lead the grownups in my life, but I think less often about how I serve them. I am often so consumed in my own future and homeostasis that I neglect my milieu.

To leave a lasting legacy, the contributions I can start making now are:

Finish illustrating the picture book I started for my niece and nephew. Start a new picture book for my son.

Practice 2: Determine The Feeling You’re After

Ask yourself frequently, “What is the primary feeling I want to bring to this situation, and what is the primary feeling I want to get from this situation?“ Don’t wait for emotions to land on you; choose and cultivate the feelings that you wish to consistently experience and share in life.

The feelings I’ve been experiencing a lot lately are:

Sometimes feeling rushed, but excited, hopeful, sometimes anxious, but optimistic, overall very happy and grateful.

The areas of my life where I’m not experiencing the feelings I want to are:

Professionally, I am feeling pretty good but, personally, I feel I could be more confident and reach out a bit more in regards to socialising and dating. I feel a bit out of touch with friends so should make more of an effort there.

The feelings I want to experience more in life include:

I want to be more adventurous! The reason for this is mostly due to the fact that I cannot drive but I have booked in for my second practical test on 23rd November so I’m hoping I’ll be able to explore more, then!

The next time I feel a negative emotion come up, the first thing I’m going to say to myself is:

It’s not often I experience negative emotion but, when I do, I am pretty good at letting it float by. Even if I receive non-constructive criticism, I know it’s just information I can flip into something constructive, so I’d say I’m okay in this area.

Practice 3: Defining What’s Meaningful

Not everything that is achievable is important, and so achievement is not the issue—alignment is. Look to upcoming months and projects and determine what might bring you enthusiasm, connection, and satisfaction— then spend more time there. Always be asking, “How can I make this effort personally meaningful to me?”

Enthusiasm(Coding) + Connection(My son) + Satisfaction(Teaching) + Coherence(YouTube/Blogging/Legacy) = Meaning

The activities I currently do that bring me the most meaning are:

Writing. Spending time with my son.

The projects or activities that I should stop doing because they are not bringing me any sense of meaning are:

Although I enjoy spending time on my allotment and it gives me satisfaction working the land (which is a refreshing change from sitting down at a laptop or going to a the gym) it doesn’t provide any long-term meaning. It is almost a compensation for not owning my own garden and distracts me from accomplishing my goal to have one. So, although it’s provided a much desired and necessary escape from the stuffy 4 walls of my 9 – 5, it’s gotta go!

If I was going to add more activities to bring more meaning the first ones I would add would be:

I’m not sure if adding any activities is a good idea at the moment. I have enough as it is! I need to reduce, not increase. So, none!

Personal Habit 2: Generate Energy

Practice 1: Release Tension, Set Intention

Use transitions between activities to renew your energy. Do this by closing your eyes, practicing deep breathing, and releasing tension in your body and thoughts in your mind. Try to do this at least once every hour. Once you feel tension lift, set a clear intention for your next activity, open your eyes, and get to work with vibrant focus.

As I move from one activity to another, try this:

  1. Close my eyes for the next minute or two.
  2. Repeat the word ‘Release’ in my mind over and over. As I do, command my body to release tension.
  3. Set intention. What energy do I want to bring into this next activity?

Performance Prompts

The things that cause me the most amount of tension each day are:

Being woken up at night by people in the house going to bed late… I’m a light sleeper!

A way I could remind myself to release that tension is:

Remember that there are other places in the world without safe living conditions. I am grateful for what I have.

If I felt more energy each day I’d be more likely to:

Work out more.

When I reset my energy each day with this practice, I’d like to start the next activity feeling:

Alive! Although I’d say my energy levels and approach to activities in general are positive and energetic so I am struggling to find meaningful answers to these prompts.

Practice 2: Bring The Joy

Be responsible for the energy you bring to your day and each situation in life. Focus especially on bringing joy to your activities. Anticipate positive outcomes from your actions, ask yourself questions that generate positive emotions, set triggers to remind you to be positive and grateful, and appreciate the small things and the people around you.

Performance Prompts

Three questions I could ask myself every morning to prompt positive emotion for the rest of the day could be:

  1. How can I make someone laugh, today?
  2. How can I make someone else feel positive, today?
  3. How can I help someone, today?

Some new triggers I could set for myself include:

Every time I enter a new room, ask myself how can I bring positive energy to this space and these people?

A new routine I could use for replaying the positive moments of my day is:

I’m not sure I would stick to doing something like this even if I had a great idea (which I don’t) so am gonna pass on this one.

Practice 3: Optimise Health

If the demands of your life require you to learn quickly, deal with stress, be alert, pay attention, remember important things, and keep a positive mood, then you must take sleep, exercise, and nutrition more seriously. Work with your doctor and other professionals to optimize your health. You already know things you should be doing. Do them!

Performance Prompts

I want to get as physically healthy at this stage of my life because:

Because I have spent my whole life exercising using calisthenics. Now, I’m going to concentrate more on weight training to build strength and muscle.

If I were to get into the best shape of my life, the first three things I would stop doing would be:

  1. Eating so much chocolate.
  2. Taking so many rest days.
  3. limiting myself to certain routines in the gym.

If I were to get into the best shape of my life, the first three things I would start doing would include:

  1. Investing more money in nutrition.
  2. Remembering to drink 1 protein shake per day.
  3. Going to the gym more often.

A weekly schedule that I could use and actively stick to would be:

4 days a week in the gym. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Monday = Arms + Shoulders + Chest

Tuesday = Core

Wednesday = Back

Thursday = Legs

Personal Habit 3: Raise Necessity

The Four Forces of Necessity

  1. Identity
  2. Obsession
  3. Duty
  4. Urgency

Practice 1: Know Who Needs Your A-Game

You cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it’s absolutely necessary to excel, for yourself and for others. From now on, whenever you sit down at your desk, ask: “Who needs me on my A game the most right now? What about my identity and external obligations makes it imperative for me to deliver today?”

Whenever I sit down at my desk, ask myself: Who needs me on my A-game the most right now?

Performance Prompts

The people who need me on my A-game at this point in my life are:

My son, Phoenix. And my employer.

The reasons each of those people need me include:

Phoenix is 7. He has not long been in ‘Big School’. For various reasons, including the lockdown over the Coronavirus period, he has a lot of catching up to do. So, I am going to try my best to support him in that. Our senior developer at work has recently left the team so we are down to just 2 devs doing both design and development so I need to make sure I keep my eye on the ball, juggling a bit more than I would usually.

The reasons I want to become a high performer for each of these people are:

I need to set a good example for my son to follow. I want to progress in my career and be a valuable member of the team.

I know that I’m on my A-game when I think, feel, or behave:

When I’m coding and get into flow state, being productive and solving problems.

Things that throw me off my A-game are:

Inconsistencies.

I can deal more effectively with those things by:

Taking a step back and letting go of frustration.

A few reminders I could set up for myself to be my best for the people in my life include:

Remember to be stricter with my budgeting so I am able to put aside extra money at the beginning of each month for spending time with Phoenix.

Practice 2: Affirm The WHY

When you verbalize something, it becomes more real and important to you. Speak your “why” to yourself out loud often, and share it with others. This will motivate you to live in congruence with your commitments. So the next time you want to increase your performance necessity, declare—to yourself and others—what you want and why you want it.

Performance Prompts

Three things I would like to become extraordinary at doing are:

  1. Frontend Web Development (SVG Microinteractions)
  2. Calisthenics
  3. Teaching

My WHYs for becoming excellent in each of these areas are:

  1. Design, Animation and Interaction is a passion but it also contributes to career progression.
  2. I strive to be physically strong, visually sculpted, and coordinated and aligned with my body.
  3. I love the gratifying feeling of knowing someone has benefited from learning something from me.

The people I will tell about these goals and the WHYs behind them include:

Everyone and anyone who reads this blog! Oh, and some personal friends and family.

The things I can say out loud to myself, to affirm these WHYs (my affirmations) are:

  1. “I am an Interactive Designer.”
  2. “I have no limits.”
  3. “I am a teacher.”

Some ways I can remind myself of these important goals and WHYs are:

Say my affirmations out loud every morning.

Practice 3: Level Up Your Squad

Emotions and excellence are contagious, so spend more time with the most positive and successful people in your peer group. Then continue building your ideal network of supportive and empowering people. Ask, “How can I work with the best people as I embark on this next project? How can I inspire others to raise their standards?”

Performance Prompts

The most positive people in my life who I should hang out with more include:

I’m not going to publicly list these but I have a couple of people in mind.

To add to the number of high performers in my network, I should:

Be more proactive in reaching out to people, especially locally.

Some new routines or get togethers I could create to bring together the positive and supportive people in my life include:

I have been thinking about creating a meetup on MeetUp.com for a few years now. Originally for Virtual Reality but now I am thinking a WordPress meetup would be good or just more general web dev would also be interesting.

Social Habit 1: Increase Productivity

Practice 1: Increase The Outputs That Matter

Determine the outputs that matter the most in determining your success, differentiation, and contribution to your eld or industry. Focus there, say no to almost everything else, and be prolific in creating those outputs with high standards of quality. Remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

PQO = Prolific Quality Output.

Performance Prompts

The outputs that matter most to my career are:

  1. The websites I make at work
  2. My YouTube channel
  3. My Portfolio

Some things I can stop doing so I can focus more on PQO are:

  1. Watching unproductive videos on YouTube
  2. Chatting on WhatsApp
  3. Scrolling through the LinkedIn feed

The percentage of my weekly time I will allocate to PQO is (and the ways I’ll make that happen are):

Finish work at 5pm. Relax for an hour including commute. Start PQO at 6pm. Finish PQO at 9pm. 3 hours = 12.5% of day. 8-hour work (also considered PQO on weekends) = 33.3*%. Combined = 45.8*%. (Goal = 60%).

Practice 2: Chart your 5 moves

Ask, “If there were only five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?” Think of each major move as a big bucket of activities, a project. Break the projects down into deliverables, deadlines, and activities. Once you’re clear on these things, put them into your calendar, and schedule the bulk of your time working on them.

Performance Prompts

The biggest goal or dream I have that I need to plan out right now is:

Having my own accommodation.

The 5 moves that would help me progress swiftly toward accomplishing that dream are:

  1. Level up WordPress skills to increase salary.
  2. Publish The Flight Before Christmas for side income.
  3. Get driving license.
  4. Sell motorbike.
  5. Set up a savings account.

The timeline for each of my 5 moves will be:

  1. 1 year.
  2. Christmas 2021.
  3. November 23rd 2021 (Driving test date).
  4. By Spring 2022.
  5. From next paycheck, onwards.

Five people who have achieved that dream who I could study, seek out, interview or model are:

  1. Chris Sean (interview)
  2. Dorian Develops (interview)
  3. Basically, just ask all self-taught devs on YouTube if they have time for an interview! (But upload a few videos first so they can have a better idea of me in a more recent light, since I have not uploaded in 2 years!).

The less important activities or bad habits I’m going to cut out of my schedule so that I can focus more time on my 5 moves in the next 3 months include:

  1. Allotment
  2. YouTube
  3. Netflix

Practice 3: Get Insanely Good At Key Skills

Determine the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow into the person you hope to become. Then set out to develop those skills with obsessive focus through the ten steps of progressive mastery. The most important thing is to always be developing the critical skills to your future success.

The Ten Principles to Progressive Mastery are:

  1. Determine a skill that you want to master.
  2. Set specific ‘stretch’ goals on your path to developing that goal.
  3. Attach high levels of emotion and meaning to your journey and your results.
  4. Identify the factors critical to success and develop your strengths in those areas and fix your weaknesses in equal fervour.
  5. Develop visualisations that clearly imagine what success and failure look like.
  6. Schedule challenging practices developed by experts or through careful thought.
  7. Measure your performance and get outside feedback.
  8. Socialise your efforts by practicing or competing with others.
  9. Continue setting higher level goals so that you keep improving.
  10. Teach others what you’re learning.

MY Ten Principles to Progressive Mastery are:

  1. WordPress + Advanced Custom Fields
  2. Identify specific parts of WordPress that are commonly used, for example:
    • Filtering
    • Forms
    • Templating
    • ACF Blocks
    • APIs (Google Maps)
  3. My WHY is: being an expert WordPress developer will enable me to earn more money and become a specialist in my field so that I can lead and mentor others.
  4. Putting time aside to study is critical to seeing my goals through.
  5. Visualise presenting to and tutoring at events and clubs (like freeCodeCamp – or start my own!).
  6. Find online WordPress coding challenges to compare my skills to others (TestGorilla, Picked.ai, etc.).
  7. Record scores from tests and work towards achieving 100%.
  8. Compete in WordPress/coding competitions.
  9. Once I’ve mastered one area of skills listed above, move onto next.
  10. Teach others what I’m learning through freeCodeCamps or meetUps (at Oxford Library or the other place further down).

Performance Prompts

Three skills that I could develop that would help me feel more capable and confident are:

  1. Public Speaking
  2. Speaking on Camera
  3. Interviewing/Being interviewed

The simple steps I could take to improve those skills include:

  1. Attend Toastmasters
  2. Resume YouTube uploads
  3. Set up interviews with YouTubers/developers

The coaches or mentors I could seek out, concerning those skills, are:

  1. Amy (Toastmasters attendee)
  2. Henry (for advice)
  3. Henry (for interview)

Social Habit 2: Develop Influence

Can you name the two people who POSITIVELY influenced you the most in your life?

Yes! My Uncle Steven, and the American author, Tony Robbins.

What specifically made each person so influential to you?

I have always been able to talk with my Uncle Steven about everything I am interested in, and in great depth. He is not judgemental and had had an open mind, just like me. We have a lot in common but also challenge each other about our different points of view and share ideas.

Tony Robbins has been a big influence in my life as he was one of the first motivational speakers and authors I had come across since being introduced to the world of Personal Development by my Uncle Steven when he lent me his cassette tape recordings of Earl Nightingale when I was 16. Tony Robbins best communicates his message through his presence on stage – even his online seminars demonstrate all the traits he strives to instil in his audience and we absorb his teachings just as well, virtually.

What was the greatest lesson each person taught you about life?

My Uncle Steven taught me it is possible to overcome your fears if you keep on pushing past your comfort zone.

I remember one specific thing about Tony Robbins that stands out in my memory whenever I recall any of his teachings. There was a bit of a back story but in a nutshell, he explained how he did not cry when he received news of his father passing away. He conveyed a sense of relief that his father was at peace and that we should celebrate people’s lives, not mourn their loss. This notion taught me about attachment vs unconditional love. It even lead me down the route of Optimistic Narcissism but I have since retraced a path back to a more balanced and healthy perspective on life and my existentiality within it.

What values or traits did they inspire you to embody in your own life?

Well, my Uncle Steven challenged me to be braver.

Tony Robbins taught me to love without fear of loss.

Practice 1: Teach People How To Think

In every situation of influence, prepare by asking yourself how do you want other people to think about (a) themselves, (b) other people, and (c) the world at large. Then go communicate that consistently. Shape people’s thinking by saying things like: “Think of it this way . . .” “What do you think about . . .” “What would happen if we tried . . .”

Performance Prompts

Someone in my life I would like to influence more is:

My son.

The way I would like to influence them is:

By teaching them that learning can be fun.

If I could tell them how to think of themselves, I would say:

“Phoenix, you are loved by Mummy and Daddy. You are kind, brave, clever, and funny.”

If I could could tell them how to think of other people, I would say:

“Most people in the world are happy but if they seem upset or are unkind to you, just remember they might be having a bad day.”

If I could tell them how to think of the world in general, I would say:

“The world is a big place and has lots of room to explore. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and express yourself. Draw your ideas or write them down or tell someone about them. I will support you, whatever you want to do in life.”

Practice 2: Challenge People To Grow

Observe people’s character, connections, and contributions, and actively challenge them to develop those things even further. Ask people if they gave their all, if they could be treating those around them better, and if they could give even more or serve with even greater excellence and distinction.

Performance Prompts

Think about a person in your life that you are trying to influence positively and think about the following sentences:

  1. The person I am trying to influence has the following character strengths:
    • Kind-hearted
    • Generous
    • Funny
  2. He could become a stronger person if he:
    • Stopped misinterpreting people’s jesting as a confrontation.
    • Accepted certain rules need to be followed.
  3. He is probably too hard on himself in this area:
    • Feeling obliged to take on parental issues that should otherwise not be a concern to him.
  4. If I could tell him how to improve who he is, I would tell him:
    • “It’s okay to be scared or hurt but joke back with people if they test you.”
  5. If I could inspire him to want to be a better person, I’d probably say something like:
    • “If you focus on one thing at a time then you will get better.”
  6. The way I want this person to interact differently with others is to:
    • Be more assertive.
  7. Often, this person doesn’t connect as well with others as I would like, because he:
    • Is often overly sensitive.
  8. What would inspire this person to treat other people better is to:
    • Understand that by reacting negatively to people challenging you, they will fear future interactions, and so avoid communicating with you, which could lead to loneliness.
  9. The greatest contribution this person is making is:
    • His unfaltering good manners and affection for everyone and everything around him. He brings joy to our family’s lives.
  10. The areas where this person isn’t contributing well enough are:
    • In school, although this is not his fault – the Coronavirus pandemic has set him back so he needs to relearn how to focus and persevere with mentally demanding activities.
  11. What I really want this person to contribute more of is:
    • I feel like it is not my place to even ask as he is still young and exploring the world but if he were to contribute more energy into studying then that would be most beneficial to him – although he is already well on the road to doing this as I am now teaching him Scratch coding and he has picked it up quite well so far which is fantastic news.

Practice 3: Role Model The Way

Seventy-one percent of high performers say they think about being a role model daily. They want to be a good role model for their family, the team, and the greater community. So ask, “How can I handle this situation in a way that will inspire others to believe in themselves, be their best, and serve others with integrity, heart, and excellence?”

Performance Prompts

  1. If I were going to approach my relationships and career as an even better role model, the first things I would start doing are:
    • Reduce my bad language! (And speak more fluently/with conviction)
    • Dress smarter
  2. Someone who really needs me to lead and be a strong role model right now is:
    • Again, my son. But, secondly, also my nieces and nephew.
  3. Some ideas on how I can be a role model for that person are:
    • Show how to deal with confrontation
    • Demonstrate examples of casual social conflict along with its resolution.
  4. If, ten years from now, the five closest people to me in my life were to describe me as a role model, I would hope they said things like:
    • “Charlie inspires me to explore my creative side.”
    • “He encourages me to follow my dreams and passions.”
    • “He shows me that there is strength in vulnerability and honesty.”
    • “He demonstrates how working consistently towards my goals pays off in the end.”
    • “Charlie shows me how I can do things out of my comfort zone.”

Social Habit 3: Demonstrate Courage

Practice 1: Honour The Struggle

When you have the opportunity to learn and serve, you don’t complain about the effort involved. View struggle as a necessary, important, and positive part of your journey so that you can and true peace and personal power. Don’t bemoan the inevitable hardships of self-improvement and chasing your dreams; have reverence for challenge.

Performance Prompts

A struggle I’ve been facing in my life is:

Feeling anxious when eating in social situations.

The way I could change my view of this struggle is:

Understand that it is learned behaviour and I can unlearn it with practice and courage.

If something great could come from this struggle, it would be:

To appreciate, even more, the times when I DO feel comfortable eating around people.

The way I choose to greet life’s inevitable hardships from today forward is:

With the mindset of knowing I can try to employ a degree of courage if I need to, in order to overcome my fear.

Practice 2: Share Your Truth And Ambitions

The main motivation of humankind is to be free, to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction – to experience what may be called personal freedom. Follow this impulse by consistently sharing your true thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams with other people. Do not play small to placate others. Live your truth.

Performance Prompts

Something I really want to do that I haven’t shared with enough people is:

Make frontend web animations with CSS and SVG like infographics and micro-interactions.

If I were going to be more “me” in my everyday life, I would start to:

I think I am as authentic as I can be so I have no qualms with this.

When I put myself out there and someone makes fun of me, I’m just going to:

Take their comments onboard but use them in a constructive way to improve.

A major dream I’m going to start telling people about and asking for some help with is:

One of my recent dreams was to, one day, set up a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality Arcade but watching startups in that arena largely fail over the course of the nascent revival of XR tech, I will be holding off on that front for the foreseeable future. I think my main dream is to simply be financially free, doing a job I love, preferably frontend design/development.

Practice 3: Find Someone To Fight For

We need a noble cause to rise for. High performers tend to make that cause just one person— they want to fight for that person so they can be safe, improve, or live a better quality of life. You will do more for others than for yourself. And in doing something for others, you will and your reason for courage, and your cause for focus and excellence.

Performance Prompts

A courageous action I will take this week because someone I love needs me is:

I can’t think, off the top of my head, what I can do that is courageous but will keep the mindset of being ready to do something courageous if a time calls for it.

Another courageous action I will take this week, because a cause I believe in needs me to take it, is:

I have something in mind but is a private matter so will keep this one under wraps!

Another courageous action I will take this week, because my dream requires it of me, is:

I have been considering posting an SVG/CSS animation on LinkedIn but have held back because, like usual, I find other things to distract me; procrastinating my way out of it. So, I think, this week, I will make it a priority to post an SVG animation, no matter how simple – just to get it out there!

The reasons all these actions are so important to me are:

I think taking action is important because it allows you to be vulnerable and I know being vulnerable is required to grow, so, that’s why it is important.

BEWARE THESE 3 TRAPS

Trap 1: Beware Superiority

High performers face a unique set of character traps because they are, by definition, outperforming so many around them. When you are succeeding beyond others, it’s easy to get a big head. You can begin to think you’re special, separate from, better than, or more important than other people. Of course, you probably would never say to yourself, “One day, I want to start feeling that I’m better than other people.” So consider these prompts closely.

Performance Prompts

A recent situation where I found myself being overly critical or dismissive of others was:

The thoughts I had about myself in that situation and the others involved were:

Had I reimagined the situation from a more humble and appreciative view, I would probably have realized that:

The best way I can remind myself that everyone is dealing with difficulties in life and that we’re all more alike than we are different is:

Trap 2: Beware Dissatisfaction

Do not listen to those who say, “Never be satisfied.” Satisfaction is something you should feel as you strive, not one day when all is perfect. Being satisfied, then, doesn’t mean “settling.” It simply means accepting and taking pleasure in what is. It’s allowing yourself to feel contentment whether or not a thing is complete or “perfect.” You have to reach yourself to feel fulfilled and enjoy the journey now. These prompts will help.

Performance Prompts

The areas of my life I’ve felt consistently dissatisfied with include:

Some good things that have also happened in those areas include:

Something I can say to myself the next time I feel dissatisfied, to get me to notice the good things and continue moving forward, is:

Someone who probably sees me dissatisfied more than I want them to is:

If I were going to inspire that person to believe you can enjoy life as you work hard and succeed, I would have to change these behaviors:

Trap 3: Beware Neglect

It’s easy to neglect the important people and things in our lives when we get overcommitted or overreach. Perhaps that’s why this is one of the most important chapters in the book. Read it twice. Trust me. No one wants to wake up and realize they took their eye off what matters. These prompts will help you remember what’s important.

Performance Prompts

An area where I am neglecting someone or something important in my life is:

An area where that neglect will cause me regret later on is:

An area where I can return my focus, reallocating my attention to things that matter, is:

Some areas in my life where I feel overcommitted right now are:

The things I need to learn to say no to more often are:

An opportunity I really want to chase right now that I could schedule to revisit in few months is:

The main things moving the needle toward my success that I should be focused on right now, despite all the other exciting interests and opportunities I could chase, are:

The way I’ll remind myself not to take on too much is:

THE #1 THING: CONFIDENCE

Practice 1: Develop Competence

High performers are confident, in part because they are good at what they do. While most people think of confidence as a general belief in oneself, the kind of confidence that is most tied to performance improvement comes from belief in one’s abilities in a specific task. This means that the more knowledge, skill, ability, or talent—that is, competence— you have at a given task, the more likely you are to be confident and perform well.

Performance Prompts

The competences—knowledge, skills, abilities, or talents—that I have worked hard to cultivate in my life include:

If I gave myself credit for learning all those things, I would start to feel more:

Something I’ve learned to do in the past few years that I have not yet given myself credit fore is:

I feel that I can handle a big challenge in my life right now because I am good at learning how to:

A practice I’ll begin doing every week to help me start feeling more confident is:

Practice 2: Be Congruent

At some point—often a major moment in their lives—high performers took control, defined who they wanted to be, and started living in accordance with that self-image. They shaped their identity by conscious will and have aligned their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to support that identity.

Performance Prompts

The person I really want to be in life could be described as:

Three things I could do each week to live more congruently with that vision for myself include:

Three things I should definitely stop doing in my life so I can live in greater congruence with my ideal image of myself are:

Practice 3: Enjoy Connecting

Confidence comes as much from our social settings as our skills. High performers have learned the tremendous value in relating with others. They’ve discovered that it is by connecting with others that they learn more about themselves and the world. It’s their connection with others that inspires greater congruence and competence, and thus confidence.

Performance Prompts

The main reason I want to become better with people is:

I know I’ll become more confident with people when I:

To gain more confidence with people, from now on when I talk with them, I’ll think to myself:

For most people, the most common workflows native to WordPress are:

  1. The Page/Post Editor.
  2. The Customiser.
  3. The Widgets area.

Without custom development and putting page-builders/paid-for themes aside, extending the native Page/Post Editor‘s functionality beyond that of the WYSIWYG has been achieved mainly through plugins, shortcodes, or Advanced Custom Fields.

Page-builders meant more complexity and bloat, which meant a slower user experience on both the backend and frontend.

Gutenberg is WordPress’s own take on a page-builder and its blocks are designed to replace plugins, widgets, and shortcodes. Even global settings like navigation menus and the site logo are roadmapped to be integrated into Gutenberg. The idea is to decrease the variation of workflows and deviation between them in order to centralise as much as possible; creating a more unified backend UX and development process.

At Twenty Eighty Online, we create custom themes through a combination of hard-coded page/post sections and ACF blocks. Hard-coded sections work well for archive or contact pages, where the addition of content to those locations is automated by WordPress with a simple blog post, for example. Blocks, on the other hand, provide flexibility if the client wants more control over specific areas of content creation and presentation. The Flexible Content filed within ACF also provides a degree of flexibility for the user but they are restricted to using only the fields made within the ACF Flexible Content field. Moving forward, we are embracing more block-based theme creation utilising, specifically, ACF Blocks.

Natively, Gutenberg has a few useful blocks that can be laid out and styled to a certain degree without any input from a developer. Going beyond that, we can now edit the theme.json file to add, subtract, and mould the native blocks to align more closely to a theme. But customisation to functionality is limited. This is where ACF Blocks come in.

There are 2 ways to approach making your own custom blocks.

  1. React Block API
  2. ACF blocks

At Twenty Eighty Online, we use only ACF blocks. I’ve been working as a WordPress developer for just over 2 years and have no prior knowledge of web programming. In my first year as a junior, I was learning mostly HTML, CSS using SCSS, and a touch of PHP but the PHP was mainly for templating purposes. Now, I use PHP mostly for creating ACF Blocks.

So, even without much knowledge of JS, I’ve been able to be fairly productive using the ACF/PHP combination. Now, I’m looking for ways to leverage the most commonly written code in a way that can speed up theme creation. We have a boilerplate at work which we all contribute to and clone for new projects. I’ve been contributing some custom block boilerplate code, recently. It made me wonder how many other developers who make ACF blocks are doing the same thing and what commonalities there might be across our collective set of custom block code.

I googled around and came across acfblocks.com. WordPress also has its own library of blocks you can check out here.

But none of these cater directly to individual clients’ needs without a degree of customisation. The whole premise of creating custom blocks is to cater for specific requirements. Depending on what you need to make, some custom blocks could well serve as templates to get started but functionality and styling may have to be either added or removed, accordingly.

This brings us to another aspect of creating custom blocks and themes in general. Creating a theme sets a baseline standard around brand design, providing clients with options for predefined colours, spacing, layout, animation, filters, fonts, and so on. But how and which of these should be editable is a nuance that is addressed on a case-by-case (or block-by-block) basis, through consultation with the client.

Okay, so when should the client have more or less control over the elements that affect the theme?

Can we distill those requirements down to the absolute basics to use as a framework to build upon?

When the output on the frontend becomes more or less predictable. For example, if a client has a hero block with an optional image background filter, then depending on whether the filter lightens or darkens the background image, the overlaying text should be editable to be either lighter or darker in order to achieve readability. So, in this case, we can supply editability of the font colour with the Colour Picker.

But what if the client wants a video background?

How do we anticipate the contrast of the video changing in degrees of lightness/darkness?

In this case, the client might ask for the text to change in brightness/darkness, automatically, in contrast to the changing brightness/darkness of the background video.

So, what would the internal process of that look like, hypothetically, for the developer?

Would that extra functionality be written from scratch or could it be extended from a boilerplate?

This is when I came up with the idea of making an ACF custom block functionality-specific boilerplate library. You could argue that finding the most common design patterns and making reusable snippets from them would be more flexible but I think having all the fundamental parts in a self-contained folder where the foundation is laid out already would be quicker, clearer, and amply extensible/malleable.

Another reason I like using blocks is because they are interchangeable with native blocks. ACF Flexible Content is flexible in the sense that a user can choose which field to add and in which order but those fields are self-contained in the parent Flexible Content field, which does not integrate well with Gutenberg because the_content() (which contains the Gutenberg blocks) is called either before or after the Flexible Content field.

Why don’t you just use ACF Flexible Content, since it’s easy enough to make custom fields that provide all the functionality of both ACF Blocks and Gutenberg blocks?

I see 2 main reasons:

  1. Using blocks allows content to be previewed from within the page/post editor.
  2. Gutenberg has a friendlier UI and UX in general.

On the other hand, I only see one reason to use Flexible Content:

  1. When making highly bespoke websites where you want to purposefully restrict/direct user editability.

Previewing ACF Blocks brings additional architectural considerations to the development of a theme. In order to make an ACF Block preview appear accurately in the page editor, we must add the hook, ‘admin_enqueue_scripts‘. It looks something like this:

// Custom Admin Style added through admin_enqueue_scripts hook
add_action( 'admin_enqueue_scripts', function() {

  // Register style
  wp_register_style( 'typography-css', get_template_directory_uri() . '/build/css/common/typography-min.css', false, '1.0.0' );
  
  // Enqueue style
  wp_enqueue_style( 'typography-css' );

});