What makes a master isn’t success, but expecting failure

Happiness is reality minus expectations. If you expect resistance, its easier to overcome

Photo of Boy Wall Climbing

When doing something new, you fall into one of three categories: 

  1. The dabbler

  2. The stressor

  3. The master

The initial trend of success is the same for all three categories. You have your beginners luck, followed by a plateau (credit, Tony Robbins).

The difference between these three categories is how they deal with the plateau. 

The dabbler expects their “beginners luck” to last forever. When they hit the plateau they get discouraged and move onto something else to repeat the process. 

The stressor doesn’t expect the plateau, but they refuse to give up. They fight it and wear themselves out. They can't complete it because they’re so exhausted. 

What makes the master different is that they expect the plateau. The master is mentally prepared for the challenge. So instead of becoming discouraged, the master is ready to find innovative ways around it.

Since I’ve started this blog I’ve overcome one plateau after another. Every time I’ve hit one, it seems insurmountable. But, I’ve realized every significant, successful endeavor I’ve ever accomplished in life seemed that way at first.

I was talking about this with a friend and he was describing how every year in Marine bootcamp he had to climb a massive mound of sand called the “grunt scale.” He would climb up the hurdle, and rapidly slide back down. It seemed all uphill, and with each step he’d go up, he’d slide three down.

But, he said that everything changed for him one day when he woke up and tried the challenge again with this thought: “I’m just going to get more tired today.”

Failure was inevitable, but quiting was not an option.

When dealing with a plateau, it is better to assume you’re going to get more tired today than to assume you’re going to succeed. And, I can tell you from experience, if you can get yourself to that mentality (where failure is assumed, but give up is not an option), you will eventually “fill the well” in your subconscious and pop over the plateau.

After using this method to finish Marine Corps bootcamp, I’m currently using it in the business world. When I launch a new sales program, blog post, or make an improvement to my marketing, if I have the expectation that I will be met with resistance or failure, it’s way better than if I have the expectation that the challenge will just be easy to overcome.

My attitude in the past was that when I hit a plateau I would succeed at overcoming it because I had a great plan or great skills to guide me past it.

What happened was that I would hit a plateau I didn’t expect or one of my plans wouldn’t work right away. So, I would get discouraged and give up and do something else.

But, now after using this approach in boot camp and on previous launching of campaigns, my subconscious has come to expectations that failure and resistance are coming. So, my conscious doesn’t let me opt out and so I work until I get past the plateau.

Paul Graham calls this “found time.” I see it as “fuel running out.” You’ve got the gas in the tank to get out of the hole you’re in, but you have to keep burning gas to get past the hole. You can’t give up and stop, you can’t burn out and stop; you press on till you get past the plateau.

So, whenever you’re about to embark on something big, put the expectation in your mind that you’re going to fail, but not to quit. And, challenge those around you to have the same mentality. This is how business, successes, and life are mastered.

"I have nearly forgotten how to cry. Nearly. But not quite."

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