3/18/21: The "invisible" high costs of excess friction

Sent 3/18/2021

I am launching a new podcast called Fueling the Pursuit in partnership with UCAN on Monday. Our first guest will be Meb Keflezighi. It's a great conversation, so subscribe in your favorite podcast player to be sure you don't miss it!


Last week's Think Better Newsletter looked at friction. This week's continues that discussion.

The Idea

Last week's newsletter made the case that friction in our lives is a major factor in whether or not we make the leap. I should have made one thing clear. We can't ever achieve "zero friction." There will always be inconveniences and miscommunications and everyday obligations.

But that doesn't mean we can't reduce them.

In fact, it's critical that we do. Because when it comes to a feedback loop--training is a feedback loop!--all positives are not the same. Let's talk about the difference between 1% and 0.1%.

Improving by 1% or 0.1% looks about the same from one day to the next. Namely, it doesn't look like much has happened at all.

But this is where our intuition fails us. Because even though both are positive and are part of a feedback loop, the results they generate over a long enough period are nothing like each other. 

If you get 1% better each day for a year, you end up at 37.8 times better! (You can check in your calculator. The equation is 1.01^365.)

1 percent vs 0.1 percent

And what about 0.1%? Even though it's positive and compounding every day, too, you only end up at 1.4. Improving by 40% in a year isn't too bad, but it's a far cry from 37x. 

(These examples are just to illustrate the point. I know you can't get 37x better at running in one year. But could you get 40% better?)

I am convinced that we all have the potential to realize these outsized gains--in our training, our studies, our companies and our relationships--but we allow friction to wear away at the gains.

Even if you have the best coach, the best training program, the best teammates and the best talent, quality and consistency are critical to your success. A life filled with friction makes both harder to maintain.

Friction may not stop you from improving, but it will stop you from making a leap. And you may not even realize how much it's truly costing you.

The System

Last week I recommended you take stock of all the things that create friction in your life. This week, you need to pick the one that is holding you back the most and make a plan to improve it.

Let's be honest. It's usually a person.

An overbearing boss. A demanding parent. Maybe even a difficult coach or exasperating teammate.

You need to determine whether that person truly needs to be in your life or not. If they don't need to be, then make a plan to reduce how much you are around them.

I promise you whatever pain you feel from doing it will be forgotten once you regain the momentum they're stealing from you.

If they do need to be in your life, pay particular attention to the environment in which you interact with this person. Remember, it's often not just the person, it's the setting in which you're interacting.  

The simplest way to reduce friction is to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings that generate it.   

The Question

Who do you least want to see and where? (Do you have to? Really?) 


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

"For most of us, relationship with another is based on dependence, either economic or psychological. This dependence creates fear, breeds in us possessiveness, results in friction, suspicion, frustration."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti


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