Better necessarily implies different
Note: This was the subject of my recent Think Better Newsletter, where I addressed the topic in a more summarized form. Read it and subscribe here.
"Better necessarily implies different"
I saw this aphorism the other day and it struck me that we often overlook this simple fact. To get better, we have to do something different.
Now different can mean a lot of things.
Most of us immediately think about creating a different plan: crafting a different training program, doing different workouts, finding a different coach, or even living in a different place.
Doing these things can certainly make you better. But they come with a big cost. There are major tradeoffs to overhauling your life.
We all get to the point where a different plan is necessary. But we don't have to start there.
The right place for most of us to start is with different execution: being more consistent, being more thorough, staying more focused, and getting more out of each activity.
Remember: It is better to get 100% out of a good plan than to get 70% out of a perfect one.
Here are three simple ways to think about doing any activity differently, which can all generate significant improvements.
1. Do it more efficiently. Can you do the same activity in less time, or with less energy? If so, you're doing it differently and, potentially, better.
What should you be doing more efficiently? Anything that that needs to get done but doesn't provide outsized benefits. Maintenance, recovery, household chores, and other responsibilities all fit this category. Aim to get them done and move on.
2. Do it more effectively. This basically means to do it with more care, to get a higher quality output. Can you take more time, focus more, or put more energy into it?
What should be done more effectively? All of your practice and planning activities. Most study should fall under here (but not all). I would also include key time spent with friends and loved ones and any hobbies you are passionate about.
3. Do it with different emphasis. Pick one part and put a little more effort than usual into it. The overall activity may be the same, but your attention and effort can be tweaked to see what happens.
It is important to mix it up once in a while. To test yourself and see how you respond. The same interval workout could be done multiple ways. Focus on your breathing one day. Or focus on your ability to feel the pace. Emphasize running behind a teammate, or perhaps leading the group. It's not just about hitting splits.
Similarly, if you always do something the same way, test doing it a little differently. The result may not be as good today, but what you learn could help you do it better going forward.
The key to all of the above is thinking about what you are going to do before you do it.
Once a day, I recommend you pick an activity and ask yourself: "why do I do it this way?"
It is a very simple system that will slowly get you used to thinking about better about all you do.
Executing better starts with thinking better. Better thoughts drive better expectations. Better expectations lead to more accurate priorities. Better priorities lead to more purposeful action.
And the best thing is: we don't have to overhaul everything we're doing. We can optimize it and worry about changing it when we've gotten everything possible out of it.
Again, the easiest way to get better is to think better. But that necessarily implies thinking differently.
So here are three questions for you:
Question #1: Do you believe it is possible to think better about your training (or your classes, or your job, or your relationship)?
I assure you it is. In fact, it's relatively easy. You can change your mind much faster than you can change your body!
But if you don't ever consider it, you may miss the opportunity.
Question #2: What resources do you have to improve how you think?
There are tons of them out there. Your coach, your teammates, and your mentors are all wonderful resources. Books, websites, and online courses abound.
My book, Make the Leap, is just one of them. But unlike most, it was written specifically to accomplish this goal. You don't have to figure out what part matters. I've done that work for you.
Question #3: How different are you willing to be?
Different doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen.
Whatever resource you choose, invest in it, engage with it, take what you need from it, and then apply it.
Before you go and make some drastic change to your plan, a difference that will upend many aspects of your life, start with something a little simpler, a little easier, and a little less disruptive.
Start with thinking better and executing differently. See where that takes you first.
Want to learn more?
- Read the Introduction to Make the Leap here on the blog.
- Then sign up to my Think Better newsletter and get Chapter One: What is a "Leap?" for FREE.
Or if you are ready to think better, train better, and make the leap, Buy the book today!