“The journey of a million miles begins with a single step” – Confucius (the original “Random Guru!”)
Let’s do some math for fun. There’s 5,280 feet in a mile, and a step is about 2.5 feet, so 2112 steps in a mile. It takes 20 minutes to walk a mile. So, 20,000,000 minutes (333k hours) to walk 1 million miles. There’s 5,840 waking hours in a year, so 57 years of walking non-stop everyday and taking 2.1 Billion steps. It’s not gonna happen, no matter how hard you grind.
It’s easy to grind towards a goal with the same techniques repeatedly but it may not be helping you, and may actually be PREVENTING you from seeing a better solution for progress.
The hard part isn’t grinding – the hard part is knowing when to grind and when to change your tactics. – TruthCake
“The journey of a million miles starts with the first step onto a shuttle to take you the rest of the way.” – TruthCake
How do you know if you’re grinding away on the right task? The answer is time. If you see progress, and then extrapolate that progress over a timeline, are you dead before you achieve it? If so, then it’s time to change tactics. If what you’re grinding out is creating enough progress such that you’ll achieve the goal within a reasonable time line, then keep grinding.
Alex Hermozi talks about this correctly when he mentions the techniques to get to $100k a year income are different than the techniques to get to $1M a year.
What thing have you been doing that when you consider the aspect of time, is probably not wise to continue on? What thing have you given up on too early, despite progress and a reasonable time to achieve the result, and you foolishly bailed on it because you wanted a faster method that didn’t work?
Gurus want you to work smarter, not harder, which is usually just a sugar coated way of saying “Don’t work so hard, take the easy path, and I have the easy path to sell you.” This is compelling for most lazy people, and does seem to have a ring of truth.
Here’s the reality, the hard work usually stays the same no matter what, but what changes is whether the work produces results quickly, and/or whether the work is more physically taxing vs mentally taxing.
Either way, you’re working hard.
Working smart just means you’re working hard, likely more mentally than physically, and getting results faster than JUST blindly “working hard” can do.
The person “working smart” is actually working just as hard as someone “working smart.”
Working smart is just a way people like to rationalize being lazy and trying to find the easy way to do something. Sometimes, there ARE easy ways to do something, but when you stack 100 easy methods on top of each other at the same time, it starts to feel hard again, so it still feels like working hard, but hopefully, the results come faster than if you simply worked hard alone.
Stop taking the easy route and take the fast route. The shortcut that sounds easier is likely a scam. The shortcut that sounds harder is likely the truth.
Unsuccessful people want the path that’s fast and easy, successful people search for the path that’s fast and difficult. – Truthcake
What things have you been doing that you told yourself was working “smart” but really it was just a clever way to not admit that you were trying to take the easy path, and what should be you be doing instead to get results?
“Buy the new formula for getting everything you want!” – Random Guru
The formulas are pretty much all available and are mostly free at this point. Getting rich is easy – save some money, put it in the stock market, and repeat for 60 years, and you’re probably rich. Getting rich isn’t the problem, the problem is doing it in a timely fashion. Want to lose weight? Cut your calories a bit, do some cardio, don’t get garbage food, and you’ll eventually lose weight. But will it take you 5 years or 5 months is the question.
The formula isn’t what’s needed. What’s needed are ways to speed the results of that formula.
When people think a new formula is the secret, it also causes shiny object syndrome. Shiny objects are basically new formulas – “Don’t try to sell on Shopify, instead try to do retail arbitrage!” But if you’re on the same path, know that path works, then it’s about speeding up the results on that path more than finding a new path.
Finding a new path may be the best idea, but it’s more likely that finding a way to speed up the path you’re on is a better idea.
Successful people look for ways to shave time off of things. If you’re thinking, “Oh, I can do that myself – everything online is free and I can just learn it myself.” That may take 6 months for you to do that, but maybe a better idea is to pay for someone to distill that 6 months of learning down to 6 weeks. Or perhaps you could build out that new diet plan yourself and it takes you 6 hours but someone else could do it for you and it takes you 0 hours in that case.
Successful people are buying time and unsuccessful people want to do all the trial and error themselves, not learn from anyone else, and try to do it all on their own.
It’s no coincidence that a lot of mega successful people have people that do their taxes, manage their money by telling them what stocks to buy, etc. Poor people dump their blue chip stocks, then chase crypto, then NFTs, then meme stocks, etc. They don’t stick with the same thing long enough to continue on that path and speed that path up by paying for advisors or training to help them know what to do better / faster.
“Get rich quick” schemes talk about new secret processes. “Get rich faster” ideas talk about well known processes, but mostly focus on how to reduce mistakes, trial and error, research required, and so on to speed up the process that’s already well known and trusted.
Perhaps you can start thinking about shaving time off the path you’re on as opposed to jumping to a new path entirely.
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between get rich quick vs get rich faster, but it usually can be distinguished from seeing if they’re talking about a new process altogether (ie stocks vs crypto), vs speed of process (ie you learning how to build a house from a book on your own vs a faster way of simply becoming an apprentice with a builder).
What things should you stop trying to do on your own and instead have someone else do it to help you speed up your progress with things?
“I’m a millionaire, and you need to do the things that I do!” – Random guru.
I talked before about the problem with modeling successful people and mentioned to “model the path, not the person.” Once you’ve found the path, then you can find someone else that’s on that same path but just a bit ahead of you and start trying to model that person.
Don’t ask a bodybuilding champion about their daily routine when you’re 200 pounds overweight yourself.
Instead, see the path that he took may have required at some point the bodybuilder wasn’t overweight, so you’d look to find and model someone that was only 100 lbs overweight. The advice from a bodybuilder of getting the best gains is going to be using ammonia capsules, specific pre-workouts, and carb cycling. The advice from someone that is only 100 lbs overweight vs 200 lbs might be that you simply need to stop eating an entire cake and only eat half a cake like the 100 lbs overweight person is.
Eating half the cake is a lot more possible and doable for someone vastly overweight than not eating the cake at all, or worse yet, trying to execute complex diets like carb cycling.
A better strategy is to find someone that is living the life you’d like to make sure your objectives are possible, find out what path they went on to get to where they are now, then find someone slightly ahead of you on that same path and model the person slightly ahead. Rinse and repeat.
A side note of importance is that I said “living the life you’d like” and not “has achieved what you want” because many people want the single achievement someone has had without all the other stuff. They want millions of dollars, but don’t want the stress and lack of leisure time that millions often has with it. They want 6 pack abs, but don’t want to restrict their diet from their beer and cake. It boils down to a big problem,
Most people’s goals are incompatible with one another.
Many people at the upper levels of achievement don’t remember what it was like to be a novice or can’t even relate to that stage anymore. Just like in sports, the best athlete is NOT the best trainer. We’ve been trained to think that the best in a field is the person to listen to – it’s not. Use them to find out that a) the life you want can exist and can happen, b) observe the entirety of person to see if it’s still something that seems possible or if your goals are incompatible, c) discover the path that successful person went on, d) find someone on that same path that’s slightly ahead of you, and e) model that person that’s a bit ahead of you.
How many times have you sought out someone at the top of their field, asked for their advice, and realized it just wasn’t very valuable for you? Instead, who’s slightly ahead of you on where you want to be headed and can you seek that person out for advice?
“Come to my seminar and solve all your problems!” – Typical guru.
In a different post I talk about how to solve problems using the Onion Skin Problem Solving framework. One other thing to think about is that when you hear of a problem, it’s FAR more important to know what caused the problem.
A problem’s result is much less important than the reason for it’s result.
This method is about speed and efficiency, so you know where to start thinking initially when you observe a problem. For example, say there’s a ‘problem’ of not winning a marathon. Most people initially hear this and say, “They need to get their mind into it more,” or perhaps, “They need to train more!” And initially their thought is to start solving the problem. And it’s not as efficient as thinking about the Problem’s Origin Point. If the origin point is that the person broke their leg halfway through the race, you may realize then that giving advice like “train more” would be pretty useless and stupid.
Most people see a problem and go straight to problem solving mode – this makes for highly inefficient progress.
If I have a bruise on my face, a solution may be to put ice on it, and that’s a real solution. However, it’s a bad solution if the reason there’s a bruise is because I go around starting fights (and lose) when I’m drunk. Whoops!
POPs (Problem Origin Points) can sometimes be deeper than expected. A girl with a terrible cut in her hand may have the problem solved with a bandage or with ‘good’ advice like “be more careful!” But if that cut happened because she likes to cut watermelons when she’s high, then maybe the problem is using knives while high. Or perhaps even deeper, that she’s a drug addict. Or perhaps even deeper, that she’s a drug addict to cope with abandonment of her father. Solving the problem origin point of resolving old family issues might be much better than simply getting a band aid every time she gets cut.
Most of the time people start with hearing what a problem’s result is and trying to solve that. It leads to stupid solutions or solutions that don’t fix anything ongoing. Gurus that are good at helping people solve problems create an addicted audience because the audience keeps having problems, which the guru can help fix. It’s much better to start by always understanding a problem’s origin point, considering how deep it may go, and then starting to assess the problem as you should using the Onion Skin method.
What problem have you ever tried to solve before first realizing the cause of it and how much time would you have saved if you didn’t start with the focus on the problem and instead its origin point?
“It’s only failure unless you give up.” – Random guru.
Sounds good but…give up what exactly? Russell Brunson from ClickFunnels tried selling nearly 100 different things and had a mixed bag of failures and small wins before his biggest win. What if someone told him to never give up on his potato gun product? Or his herpes sore zapper? He needs to give up so he can move on to something that DOES work.
Here’s what they wished they articulated:
“It’s ok to give up on the means, but never give up on the end.” – Truth Cake
James Altucher had over a dozen businesses that failed but eventually had a couple that worked out very well for him. Many businesses and ideas are terrible and will fail. If you’re not failing, then you’re probably not trying anything, and also MOST IMPORTANTLY, if you’re not giving up, you’ve not moving on to get to something that will work.
I’d rather hang around someone that’s failed at 20 different things than someone that’s succeeded once. The person that has succeeded probably hasn’t been trying much in life – who knows if they have any perseverance for the end goal and if their current thing fails, will they be able to succeed again? Someone that has failed 20 times is trying things, can move on and try new things, and adaptable. Granted, they may fail at everything, but that’s unlikely. Perseverance rarely tends to go unrewarded.
The art is knowing WHEN to give up, change, and adapt to the circumstances of failure. Otherwise, we’re all stuck following Think and Grow Rich’s story of the man that was 3 feet from gold. The story is about a guy digging a hole to find gold and gave up digging any deeper when he was only 3 feet away. Sometimes, you need to know that you’re digging in the wrong hole and start over with another hole, or even a different idea altogether.
Refusing to give up at all in any circumstance will nearly guarantee prolonged failure. – Truth Cake.
Failure is ok and inevitable, but prolonged lasting failure is unacceptable.
The real goal is to know when to give up, and realize that failure is a part of the process almost always.
Also remember that if you’re not failing at all, your goals are probably too conservative or safe.
The hard part is knowing when to give up on a specific technique, strategy or process to get to your end goal. You shouldn’t give up on your end goal. But you can’t start thinking about the hard part about knowing when to give up (on the means) if you’re stuck listening to bad guru advice like “Never give up.” Winners give up (on the means). Winners fail (because their goal stretches them out of the world of guaranteed outcomes).
This concept is even present in relationships, when people stick with the wrong person for far too long. There’s an art to knowing when to split vs getting marriage counseling.
What’s something you tried that didn’t work but also realize now that you should have given up sooner so that you could move on to something else that ended up being much better?
“I passed on investing in Uber.” – Gary Vee
Gary loves to brag about how he “makes mistakes,” but is it really a mistake? If someone in front of him said, “I have a lotto ticket and I have a hunch it’s going to win, wanna buy it?” Would it be a mistake if he passed and it won? Absolutely not. Gary probably also passed on 100s of terrible bankrupting ideas, but that’s not as sexy and humble as talking about passing on Uber.
“Winning doesn’t mean you’re a winner.“ – Truth Cake
Ask anyone that plays poker for a living and they’ll show you the loser players that go all-in on terrible hands where the odds are stacked against them. When that gambler goes all-in and wins, they’re not winners…they just happened to win one hand, but on a long enough time line their decisions will bankrupt them, because they still act and think like a gambling loser. Lots of clichés orbit around this idea like how someone may win a battle but lose the war, and so on.
Selling your business for $1M when it gets valued for $500M the next year isn’t really losing either.
However, I hear countless stories of people that moan and groan over making incredible sums of money that feel like a big win to them at first, and then they find out they could have had more and feel like a loser.
If your goal is “more” then you’ll always be a loser. – Truth Cake.
In a truly abundant world, there’s always room for more and somewhere along the way, someone will be able to get ‘more.’ When you sell your house and the buyer turns around and sells it for $250k more than what he paid, it’s tempting to feel like you lost, but we’re all losers relative to ‘more.’
Be cautious of always wishing for ‘more’ – it’s too vague, you can wish for a specific amount that happens to be more, but if you’re goal is just “more” you’ll always feel screwed in the end. Even professional stock traders sell a stock while it’s still going up and often sell out far below the stocks ultimate peak. The FOMO of not having sold for the perfect highest price has to be given up, because trying to achieve that is both a) unlikely to be able to be replicated at all, b) unlikely to happen to begin with, and c) isn’t necessary to be a winner.
What’s something that you did where you felt like a winner but saw someone else get “more” and suddenly you felt like a loser? Maybe it’s time to leave your FOMO in the past, get specific on what you’d like, and drop vague goals like ‘having more.’
What is this site?
Self improvement for smart people.
I follow business leaders, gurus, and philosophers and note things others missed that I’ve found valuable.
This site is my precious treasure chest of ideas on business, philosophy and life. And hopefully during your pillaging here, you get your mind blown.
My life’s goals are to help summarize the human knowledge base, dispel self improvement myths, and achieve a resultant and unrelenting state of 24/7 euphoria. I’m kidding, but we’ll still try!
Follow along on my journey!