The easy reps don’t count

I don’t count my sit ups.  I only start counting when it starts hurting.  That is when I start counting because then it really counts.  That’s what makes you a champion.

Muhammad Ali

The easy reps don’t count.

If you are to make a success of yourself in this life, you must embody this mindset.

Everyone can do the easy reps.

The first 10 sit ups.  The first 20 lines of code.  The first 50 pages of a new book.  Anyone with moderate ability and application can do these.

If you want to excel beyond the average person, you must re-frame your thinking and re-base your starting point to where it first counts.

The point when it starts hurting.  This is no ground zero.  This is where your game starts.

Investing principles and your competitive advantage

When making an investment, one of the first things that I look for in a company is a competitive advantage.

A factor or a characteristic that tips the economic odds in the company’s favour. Something that makes the probability of success much greater than 50%.

A company needs something that helps it win in the market.

One of the big mistakes that many people make is forgetting that they are almost always in competition.  You are in competition in business, in your love life and in your commitment to your health.

If you are to win in the game of life, you must be better than the competition.  

You must find a way to outcompete them.

Your competition – whether it is another business, another guy that is flirting with a girl you like or another player on the pitch – they are all playing the same game as you.  They are also trying to win.

Whatever you find easy, assume that they also find it easy.

In a 90 minute football (soccer) game, the real game starts 70 minutes in.

70 minutes is when the competition starts to get tired.  If you can continue pushing past 70 minutes, this is when you can start to tip the odds in your favour.  

The amount of effort that you put in after 70 minutes is your competitive advantage.

This is how you win.

Embrace and enjoy the pain

You should welcome the pain.

The pain that arrives when you have been working for 12 hours already.  When you have been running for 70 minutes already.  When you have been shot down 3 times already.

It is the desire to give up.  To quit.  To surrender.

When the pain arrives, you should rejoice.  You are now in the “making a difference” territory.

The pain signals not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.

The work starts now.

As does the learning.  As does the growth.

For those who ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders, the work you do after the pain starts is what helps you grow those shoulders.

This alone should be enough motivation to carry on.  But for those who want something more practical, here is what I suggest.

One Two weird tricks to help you dig deep

OK they are not so much weird tricks, as two separate concepts for the world of sport and the world of business that I have mashed together.

1. The Power10

There is a rowing term that I like called a “Power 10.”

When a rowing team is nearing the finish line or has fallen slightly behind, the cox (skipper of the rowing boat) will raise a call for a Power 10.

This means every rower on the boat puts in 10 extra hard strokes to finish off the race or to attempt to regain the lead.

Our minds are not good at putting in maximum effort constantly.  But it is much easier to put in maximum effort for a defined time.

A Power 10 can be applied to anything.

5 more miles running.  2 more A/B test on your ad campaigns. 3 more companies analysed for investment.  1 more approach to a new attractive woman.

Just give it full effort for a little extra time.

2. Contingent reward

This concept I have borrowed from my job as an investment banker.

For those who don’t know, as an investment banker, I help entrepreneurs sell their business.  I do other things but let’s stick with the sale example for now.

If the company sells, I get a percentage of the sale value of a company.

Say my fee is 1%. If I sell a company for $100m, I get $1m.  But if I work a bit harder, and find a way to sell it for $150m, I get $1.5m.

The harder I work and the better I do, the higher my reward is.  My incentives are fully aligned with the clients.

You can create this same structure in whatever you are doing.  

Whatever reward you want, whether it is slices of pizza, beers or even just an hour off with a favourite book, you can give yourself this reward, but based on the level of effort you put in.

The reward should be set on an increasing scale based on the additional effort you put in, after it becomes difficult.

An example

Let’s put these two together, and give an example.

Let’s say you are creating a new info product.  

You have been grafting away for 10 hours that day already.  You are tired. You want to give in and go and watch some Netflix.

You are at the point where most ordinary people would give up and congratulate themselves for the 10 hours worked that day.

But not you.  You know that the competition is dropping away.  You are in the red zone now.  The point of making a difference and getting ahead.

You call a Power10.  

Give me an extra 2,000 words tonight.  For every additional 500 words you write tonight, you earn a slice of Pizza on Saturday.

The combination when used with a reward that you actually want can work wonders.

The whole world works on incentive structures, but so often we don’t put any effort into thinking about how we incentivise ourselves.

You must create an incentive structure that allows you to push beyond the point where it hurts.  

Only when doing this, can you enjoy the reps that really count.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for digging deep and smashing through the pain.

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