Work in Progress 2/x
Here’s a “dad joke” quality insight that I’ve used in many podcast interviews.
“I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is that this advice will work. The bad news is that you’re going to have to get off your sofa.”
The Coach.me origin story is that I was listening to a game designer talk about gamifying the world (Jesse Schell) at the exact moment that I was gamifying my dog’s world to try to get him to “behave.”
At that moment I had an epiphany based on raw jealousy of my dog: If only someone would take this much time to gamify my life I could finally make something of myself.
Why do dogs get reward-based clicker training and I have to do everything through white-knuckled will power?
Thats’ what sent me into the world of using psychology to make myself and other people for the better. That’s essentially what therapy and coaching are: you are opting in to psychological manipulation for your own benefit.
There’s a limit to that manipulation though and change never becomes trivial, no matter how many promises you’ve heard in sales pitches. The book How to Quit Smoking the Easy Way turns out to be a lot of work.
And so now I tell that sofa joke a little differently.
“Change is more work than you’d like and less than you fear.”
It’s the less than you fear part that I really obsess over. I love when you can meet a successful person and hear their actual backstory. To use a Tim Ferriss word, deconstructing success is fascinating.
The reason I’m thinking about these success backstories is because we are redoing our habit coaching certification right now and that means it’s a chance to do the hardest thing in the world, naming. Some of our core concepts still need names.
And in particular, this bit circled in red is what I need a name for.
In our habit coaching program, the idea is that you start with a foundational habit built on consistency and then you go nuts on ways to add to it.
Originally we called this the Momentum Method and we might stick with that name. If you can trust yourself on consistency then you open up a million ways to increase the work you do in terms of volume, intensity & specificity.
But what the Momentum Method doesn’t capture for me is the secret of success, which is that successful people have built that success on a pile of good habits.
That’s the more work than you’d like, but less than you fear concept. You wish success was just one quick trick away. So it’s kind of a bummer how much work is really between you and the furthest reaches of your potential.
But then on the other hand, it’s less work than you fear. In particular, you fear that the success is completely impossible and cannot be reproduced.
In our model, when you start thinking in terms of these piles of habits, or should it be called layers of habits, you start to see that anything is possible.
Take this Steph Curry shot, maybe one of the most amazing shots ever made.
To make that shot requires aim. It also requires strength — I’m positive I couldn’t heave a basketball that far. And it requires decision making. It’s notable to me how quickly he goes from thinking about defense to making the decision to shoot. All of those things are trainable.
The anecdotes about how he trains and was trained in the past start with shooting alone in his driveway (like a lot of us have trained). Then a frustrating period where he changed his shooting form so that it would be harder to defend.
Then moving and shooting. In a real game you sprint before you shoot. And so Steph Curry, and in fact almost all NBA players, now mimic the running they do on the court before each shot.
Now, Steph also practices with special strobe light goggles that simulate shooting while distracted.
Layer on layer. I’m sure that’s not even all the layers. He has an amazingly fast transition from defense to offense to the point where he probably does loose ball drills where he has to go from fighting to beat someone else to a loose ball to planting his feet to take a shot as quickly as possible. In the video above, you can see that he’s decided to shoot before his hands even touch the ball.
Is he also 6'3", blessed with good athleticism, family support, and maybe even a talent for hand eye coordination. Sure. But he’s also got all of this smart training above.
That’s the part that any of us could do. And if we didn’t want to do it for basketball, then there’s almost certainly an equivalent pile of habits for whatever it is that you do care about.
Back to naming. What should we call this pile of habits? It’s really the essence of habit coaching. If you commit to building this pile, then you will be incredibly successful.
I’ve been trying out Mountain of Habits, sort of like how Dragons always seem to be sitting on a Mountain of Gold. If you collect enough good habits in one place, you will be sitting on your own mountain of valuables.
Anyway, that’s my random thought.