3/11/21: How much friction are you trying to overcome?

Sent 3/11/2021

I published my second month progress report detailing my sales, marketing efforts, and my plans for the next month.

Going forward, I am planning to publish these exclusively to newsletter subscribers.


Last week's Think Better Newsletter looked internally at the role curiosity plays in boosting our engagement. This week's looks externally at the friction in our environment.

The Idea

I recently interviewed elite runner Garrett Heath on the Go Be More podcast and he said the following about his college experience at Stanford:

"Put successful people around you, or people with similar motivations, and you're gonna rise as well, or you're gonna naturally get better just by being around them."

For those of us who have been on great teams, this is obviously true. And for those of us who have been on dysfunctional teams, the reverse is doubly true.

But why?

The answer is friction.

A great supporting team doesn't just motivate you to work hard. It enables you to...by reducing friction. A dysfunctional team does the opposite.

So what do I mean by friction? Friction is anything that makes it harder to do your work.

We usually experience it as distraction, animosity, inconvenience, and miscommunication. Friction is a measurable aspect of our environment.

We fundamentally underestimate the importance of our environment--and the friction it creates--on our success. We like to tell stories about how our determination and motivation and preparation and other internal "-ations" led to our success. How we willed ourself to the top.

But that's only ever partially true. Nobody--and I mean this literally--nobody can overcome an environment that is holding them back and truly achieve their potential.

Who we surround ourselves with, where we live and train, and what responsibilities we take on will add or reduce friction. This friction is just as important as whatever internal strengths we bring to the table.

Our ability to create a low friction environment is a critical skill toward making a leap. One way to look at my book Make the Leap is as a tool to help us identify friction we may not even realize is there. 

The System

The first step is to identify what's slowing you down. Take 10 or 15 minutes and write down all the things that are holding you back from doing what you need to do. 

Put everything down. This list is for you. You don't have to share it.

Put down your family or your teammates or your boo.

Put down the clothes you don't like to wear, the chores you don't like to do and the obligations you don't want to fulfill.

Put down the mild annoyances and the major blockers.

Put it down whether it's real or imaginary, shameful or silly, and in your control or not. 

Call all of it what it is: friction.

Now ask yourself: if I just work harder can I overcome this?

You are talented enough. You are motivated enough. You are passionate enough. You will be able.

Make sure your environment isn't what holds you back. 

The Question

How often do you tell yourself you need to work harder versus improve your environment? 


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast

"Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by tone of voice."
- Arnold Bennett


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