There are so many people in the world that are so much more talented than you.
They’re sexier. Smarter. Richer. More creative. More likable, more charming, better-connected, and better-looking.
But there is one thing you can do better than them, you can outwork them.
This sheer commitment to keep-going-no-matter-what beats your stronger opponent every time.
Prolific actor Will Smith was once asked how he got to be so successful in his career:
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first or I’m going to die.”
Anybody can cultivate this discipline.
It’s the single most effective strategy to outperform the toughest competitors you’ll ever face.
You just need to be consistent.
Anything Worth Learning Is Going to Suck
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.” — Mark Manson
The road to success isn’t fun. You don’t run and skip and play on that road—you trudge it one step at a time.
One of my favorite basketball players growing up was Ray Allen. In a farewell letter to fans, he said how people used to describe his jump shot as “God-given.” This annoyed him; he said that claiming it was “God-given” took away from the thousands of hours of hard work and practice he spent perfecting and mastering it. As best-selling author James Altucher once put it, “Anything worth learning, you’re going to suck. You’re going to suck badly.”
Achieving anything worthwhile is going to suck.
Whatever skill you want to master comes at a price. It takes time, perhaps thousands of hours. It takes full concentration. It might mean waking up early and studying late when you could have been out drinking with friends.
The reason most people never pass the “apprentice” phrase (see: wanna-be) isn’t because they’re unable; more often, it’s because they’re not willing to put in the work.
In fact, most people don’t even believe they could become a master of anything. “It’s lonely at the top,” uber-successful entrepreneur Tim Ferriss once wrote. “99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”
Most people will not press through the difficult initial phases of mastery. Mastery has a price, and most people aren’t willing to pay.
But for those who do? Anything is possible.
If you can get through the boredom of consistency, you can achieve truly enormous goals.
“Repetition can be boring or tedious, which is why so few people ever master anything.” — Hal Elrod
Ordinary People Focus on the Outcome—Extraordinary People Focus On the Process
In his autobiography, Bryan Cranston (Walter White of the renowned Breaking Bad) described the lesson he learned that helped him go from an average actor to an extraordinary one. Here’s what he wrote:
“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living…but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.
I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.
I was going to give something.
I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Take some chances. Enjoy the process.”
Cranston went on to say after he made this mindset shift, he felt much more relaxed and free. There was no longer any pressure, because the outcome was irrelevant. “Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into,” he wrote. “Which meant I could relax. I was free.”
Soon after this shift, Cranston was offered a role in the wildly popular Malcolm in the Middle, for which he was nominated for three Emmy awards. He is now one of the most respected and well-known actors in the world.
What would it do for you if you could walk into any room and feel relaxed and free?
How would it feel to have power in any situation you walked into?
What would happen if you could live your life with no pressure, free to achieve any goal you wanted?
Ordinary people focus on the outcome. But extraordinary people focus on the process. This is how they achieve such enormous goals.
Anyone who relies solely on luck, talent, or prestige doesn’t understand this lesson and will suffer for it.
The best professionals were, at one point, pretty bad. Everything is difficult before it becomes easy.
True champions, however, don’t rely on luck. They don’t wait for inspiration to train or do the work. They just do it. By focusing on the process—doing the work, day in and day out—they become stronger, faster, more focused, and more skilled.
When you focus on the outcome, you stunt your growth. You lose focus on the here and now. True champions focus on the process. They know champions aren’t made in the ring—they’re made in the practice arena, every day for months before.
“Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” — Joe Frazier, Heavyweight World Champion
How to Consistently Accomplish 100 Times More Results With 1/10th Your Usual Effort
If you want to succeed in your endeavors, you need to shift your frame of mind first.
This is what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 of those hours sharpening my axe.”
The idea of achieving 100 times the results with 1/10th the effort might seem silly to you.
But I’ve seen it myself. I tried to change things for years—my writing, my addictions, my behavior, my relationships—and I mean I really tried. I worked my butt off.
But it wasn’t until I relaxed, took a step back, and reset my frame of mind. You know, it takes more energy to dwell in mediocrity than to start being successful. It’s exhausting to constantly be fighting off discouragement, fear, anxiety, and frustration all the time.
Instead of going virtually nowhere despite exerting massive energy, stop. Reset your frame of mind. Nurture your self-belief. Then go out and do it.
Your frame of mind before you start an endeavor is vastly more important than the endeavor itself. This is the difference between an amateur and a professional; the beginner begins his or her task without much thought, but the elite professional first gets him or herself in the right frame of mind, then acts.
If, deep down, you don’t really have the belief of yourself, you’re practically guaranteed to fail. Mental creation always precedes physical accomplishment.
Internal belief precedes external achievement.
Once you fundamentally change the way you see yourself and your work, your whole life will change. You can enter flow states and consistently accomplish 10 times and even 100 times your usual results, often with a fraction of the effort.
Better to do things extremely efficiently for short bursts than draw out mediocre results over a needlessly long period.
Consistency is boring. Putting in the work, day in and day out for a long time, will make you feel like a loser. The work isn’t sexy, and you won’t see results for a while.
This is where most people quit. They want instant results; they want a million dollars in their first year of working and 6-pack abs after a few weeks at the gym.
If you can push through the dip—if you can keep putting in the work even when it feels like you’re going nowhere—you can achieve extraordinary results.