Dr. Isaiah Hankel: How Smart People Focus, Create, and Grow Their Way to Success

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Isaiah Hankel received his doctorate in Anatomy & Cell Biology and is an expert on mental focus, behavioral psychology, and career development.

His work has been featured in The Guardian, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Isaiah’s previous book, Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives, was published by Wiley & Sons and was selected as Business Book of the Month in the UK and became a business bestseller internationally. Isaiah has delivered corporate presentations to over 20,000 people, including over 300 workshops and keynotes worldwide in the past 5 years.

Isaiah grew up working on a sheep farm in the Pacific Northwest of the US before going on to get his doctorate. Isaiah went on to become the founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist®, a career training company that specializes in helping PhDs transition into corporate careers; he is also the director of Hankel Leadership®.

Through these ventures, Isaiah has consulted on career development, employee management, entrepreneurship, focus, and motivation at several Fortune 500 companies. He has been invited to speak at top institutions including Harvard Medical School, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, University of Chicago, University of Oxford England, the Marie Curie Institute France, and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You connect with him at his website.

Favorite Success Quote

“Take responsibility for your own life and never give that responsibility to other people”

Key Points

1. Everything Is Your Fault

Read that sentence again and internalize it.

Everything in your life is your fault. Good. Bad. It doesn’t matter.

It’s your fault.

And that’s a good thing…

If everything is your fault or, should we say, your responsibility, then you have control over everything in your life.

When you take 100% responsibility for everything in your life and everything not in your life you are the only one who has the power to change things.

Now I don’t know about you…

But I would sure as hell prefer taking an uncomfortable amount of responsibility for my results than allowing someone else to determine my levels of achievement and success.

Accept that everything is your fault.

Unless you internalize this truth you will constantly give you power away and fail to reach the goals you have set.

2. Align Your Values with Your Daily Actions 

One of the first steps to achieving the life that you want is defining the values that will drive you towards your dreams.

Your values (should) determine how you conduct yourself, how you handle business, and how you treat others.

This is not a matter to leave to chance or shirk off with a dismissive “It’s not really that important”.

Living a life that is congruent with your values means the difference between living your biggest dreams and ambitions and wallowing away in mediocrity.

When you have clearly thought through values that you have defined, written down, and committed to living in your day to day life, every decision becomes easier.

You no longer have to debate decisions constantly in your head.

You can simply analyze your options, refer back to your values, and make the decision that is most in line with your #1 priority.

I challenge you to sit down after this interview has concluded and really think about your values.

What do you value? What forces do you want driving and shaping your life? What outcomes are truly important to you and which ones are merely societally incepted b.s. that is incongruent with your deepest identity?

When you can answer this question and authentically live it, life and all of the amazing experiences within it, are yours for the taking.

3. Your Most Valuable Asset is Your Mental Energy 

People will often (mistakenly) tell you that your most precious resource is your time.

They are wrong.

Time is NOT your most valuable resource, mental energy is.

Let me prove it…

Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that your mental energy or “Willpower” is a finite resource. Much more finite than the #hustle generation wants to admit.

The most commonly referred to research suggests that we only have 90-120 minutes per day of peak mental energy levels. And we only have about 5 hours a day of mental energy levels greater than 80%.

Let’s do the math for a moment…

If you live in a developed country, you have about 20,000 days or roughly 500,000 hours of life to live after the age of 18.

However, of those 500,000 hours, your mental energy levels will only be at optimal  (80%+) levels for 145,000 of them!

When you apply the laws of supply and demand you will quickly realize that your mental energy is worth about 300% more than your time! Crazy paradigm shift, huh?

So now you understand why mental energy is your most precious resource. The question remains… What do we do about it?

If you want to be a high performer then you must learn to work with your biology, not fight it.

Dr. Hankel recommends that you shift your work schedule so that you tackle your most important tasks roughly 2-3 hours after waking. This is when your mental energy will peak and this will allow you to allocate your best focus time to important tasks.

He further recommends taking frequent breaks throughout the day, working in 50-90 minute chunks, and using mental “Slump time” (typically 2-4 p.m.) to manage your most unimportant or simple tasks.

4. Prioritize Sleep More than You Think that You Should

The great hustlers and movers of the world have done us all a disservice.

They have glorified an unbalanced and unhealthy lifestyle that can lead to an early grave.

You will often hear “Gurus” telling you to sleep only 4 hours a night, to draw inspiration from your dreams, to push through your exhaustion and just “Do IT!”.

But they are all wrong.

Unless you are one of the rare individuals with the DEC2 mutation you, quite literally, cannot function at optimal levels on less than 7.5 hours of sleep. (6 is a bare minimum)

While you are sleeping your brain restore and repairs itself, allowing you to attack the next day with your mental energy firing on all levels.

As we’ve already established, time isn’t your most valuable resource. Mental energy is.

This means that the hours you “lose” sleeping you are actually “investing” in restoring your mental energy and operating at the peak capacities of which you are capable.

5. Everyone Should be an Entrepreneur 

There is a common misconception that entrepreneurs are born not made.

As technology continues to advance and the landscape of the workforce continues to change more and more people are realizing that “Part Time Entrepreneurship” is not only a worthwhile endeavor, it’s downright necessary.

Company loyalty and pensions are a thing of the past.

This is the era of the freelancer and the side hustler.

If you want to “Make It” in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, then you must develop your innate entrepreneurialism and find unique ways to generate income and create freedom in your life.

Every single person reading this should keep their day job and start a side hustle. It will give you income, options, and most importantly freedom.

You don’t have to be born with special skills and abilities, you simply need to find something that the market needs and provide it in a systematized and automated way.

Influential Books

1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

3. Relentless  by Tim Grover

Next Steps

I hope you got a TON of value from this article/interview! My team and I are on a mission to impact 1 million men all over the world with life changing content and, if you found this valuable, we’d really appreciate it if you’d share this on your favorite social media platform to help spread the word and impact more lives.

Also, if you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and principles shared today then I want to invite you to sign up for my FREE 3-part video training series on becoming a stronger grounded man. Just click here to learn the proven strategies and tactics that will help you live with more success, freedom, and happiness, TODAY.

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