Status: General musings on life and doing things, exploring ideas without holding them too tightly. Aware of numerous problems with the below text but believe worthwhile to put it out there. Experimenting with different writing styles and material.
Winning is contagious. It’s infectious. It has inertia. Momentum. A power in and of itself. People who win will tend to keep winning. It’s a virtuous flywheel.
Most people don’t recognise this. They think that winning is something that just happens once. They think it’s a grand thing. A massive spectacle. The Olympics. This is one definition of winning but it’s not the only definition of winning in this situation. There are many other ways that we could define winning and the Grand Spectacle is the least desirable of these.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to make winning into something that happens each and every single day. Preferably multiple times per day. To make it a habit. When you do this you are continuously giving yourself little hits of achievement. Little hits of accomplishment. You become a drug dealer. But you’re only dealing out success.
So how do we do this? First, we must understand how Victories occur and how defeat happens. In short, Defeat occurs when the required capability of a problem substantially exceeds out action capabilities. I call this the Capability Cliff.
What happens is that we’re moving along swimmingly, everything is going well until some event happens which substantially increases the required degree of competence in something. When this happens our current level is just no longer good enough and we tend to fail. Our skills aren’t sufficient to keep up with the challenge at hand.
When people come up against capability cliffs they tend to quit, to give up, to fail. When you give up and quit it’s almost by definition that you can’t succeed. It’s such a trite argument but unfortunately it needs to be made. The nuance that we need to add to this is to ask ourselves if we’re quitting because we don’t like something or because we came up against a metaphorical cliff that we couldn’t climb. There’s no possible chance of adaptation and we give up.
But there is an alternative option in this situation. Instead of trying to scale the Capability Cliff we can try to scale the Capability Staircase. When you’re on the Capability Staircase you’re still coming across challenges each and every single day but these challenges are incremental and achievable. Rather than smacking into a brick wall of “my life sucks” we’re transforming this into “how do I make my life suck a little bit less”. This is the only secret sauce there is, incremental achievement.
When we experience achievement after achievement, victory after victory, our confidence starts to increase systematically. Our self belief levels rise. Our mental image of ourselves changes and we become a better version of ourselves. This happens regardless of the size of the challenge or the victory. It can be something small and it will give the same effect. Victory is always relative. You can always change the field of competition to be something where you have a chance.
When we’re on the Capability Staircase we’re still coming across challenges in this situation, but they don’t seem too daunting and we’re able to overcome then. We’re able to win. To have a victory.
Each time we win and defeat a challenge we improve ourselves a little bit. We get a little bit better and we can make this into a formulaic proposition. First, we define our current position in an accurate, thorough and comprehensive fashion. Then we work out how to make our position better in a small and incremental fashion. This is the first challenge. Now, we must beat that challenge. Beating the challenge gives us the capability upgrade which kicks us up to the next level.
Our victory must then be celebrated, we need to lock it in to get the biggest bang for buck. What we want to do is associate the feeling of overcoming challenges with an overwhelming positive experience. We want it to be something that we look forward to and crave to experience again. This doesn’t have to be a public celebration, the quiet enjoyment of a job well done is just as, if not more, potent as a motivating force.
The Victory Loop
These victories are small but they’re tangible and they start to create a change in your mindset. When you learn that you can improve your life purely through your own actions you begin to overcome the learned helplessness that is so prevalent throughout the western world. You begin to have agency and once you have agency and control you’ll begin to see flow on benefits throughout your life. In short, you get yourself onto the Victory Loop.
Once you start to win you start to like winning, you like the feeling of improvement, of empowerment. You like how your life gets better and better. This feeling is what you need to capture and the thing that makes this a loop. You must try to retain this feeling at all costs, that feeling of victory over and over. From here, you make victory a habit, you make it an every day activity, and it starts small each and everyday.
If you’re depressed as fuck and an absolutely slob then the victory is simply having a clean house. If you have problems with binge eating and weight control then your victory is eating well for two days and seeing a measurable improvement on the scale. If you’re broke and have credit card debts then the victory is simple, reducing the principal amount a small amount. The Victory is a relative one and never an absolute one.
Every time you beat entropy it’s a victory. Every time you take care of yourself it’s a victory. Every time you do the work rather than procrastinating it’s a victory and these victories will eventually change you. Over time, it won’t happen overnight, you’ll become a person who fights to succeed, a person who likes the challenge, a person who wants, deep down in their heart, to win. Once you become this person you must hold onto this feeling. The easy victories won’t interest you any more so you’ll start to challenge yourself more and more.
Unfortunately, this is all easier said than done for a simple and obvious comparison. Comparisons are everywhere and instantly accessible via social media. If I want to find someone better than me at something this is just a quick search away and I’ll be able to find someone absolutely world class at something.
We’re literally surrounding ourselves with Capability Cliffs each and every single time that we do this. Every time we look at someone more attractive, smarter, more successful, more creative, more anything than us we need to recognise that these examples never show the journey. We’re only looking at the person on the top of the cliff and we’re not viewing the staircase that they took to get to the top. So you need to step back, to view the Staircase and not the Cliff, to understand the incremental steps that you can take today to begin moving forward, to get yourself onto the Victory Loop.
This is how you do great things. Not all at once, but slowly. One step at a time.