3 Minute Monday
I’m thinking about excellence this week.
“If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves” sounds like a throwaway line from your grandmother, but the sentiment is unbelievably accurate.
Think about it this way…
Any large accomplishment is essentially just a sequence of smaller accomplishments, made up of micro accomplishments, created by individual actions.
It would be reductive to say that winning the 100m sprint olympic medal is achieved simply by putting one foot in front of another.
But from a simplified, practical perspective, that’s kind of how it works.
By focussing on doing the small things well, and taking pride in them being done properly, you start to build up larger gains.
Now in each individual instance, choosing to do the activity properly or not doesn’t seem like a big deal, and only has an imperceptible effect.
But over time the gap between those two realities widens as the gains and losses compound.
Becoming 1% better every day makes you nearly 40x better by the end of the year.
Becoming 1% worse every day makes you only 3/100ths of what you were when you began.
The challenge is that the route of not doing things properly tends to be easier in the short term.
While the pain of taking the shortcut isn’t felt until the future.
So you need a way to remind yourself that doing everything the right way is a priority TODAY.
My suggested approach for this is to use a mantra.
Let’s say you’re faced with the choice between doing the washing up now or leaving it overnight until the morning.
Or going to the gym when you don’t fancy it.
Or hitting the snooze button when you’ve got a busy day.
Or replying to a DM from a hot guy or girl on Instagram when you know your partner wouldn’t want you to.
You can use your mantra to remind yourself of the big picture, third party perspective.
My two favourites for this are:
“How you do anything is how you do everything.”
“Don’t practice what you do not want to become.”
They remind us of the long term effects of our actions.
And that excellence is achieved through commitment to integrity and proper actions every day.
If you can continue to focus on doing the small things as well as possible, your life WILL improve as a byproduct.
Sir David Brailsford credits Team Sky’s dominance in cycling to the power of doing small things well.
If it’s good enough for one of the best coaches in the toughest race on the planet, it’s good enough for us.
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
I do a podcast which has had 18 million+ downloads. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
David Buss is one of the founders of the Evolutionary Psychology movement discusses why sexual conflict, stalking, harassment and relationship arguments occur from an EvPsych perspective. Do not miss this one.
Robb Wolf breaks down the Ancestral Health movement and explains how to eat, sleep and train like your ancestors. Some amazing insights for health & fitness.
Not sure yet. Maybe Renaissance Historian Alexander Lee on the life and philosophy of Niccolo Machiavelli.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Machiavelli was a lad.
I asked Renaissance History expert Alexander Lee how he would describe Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the best known political philosophers in the world.
“He was a lad.”
Niccolo regularly had orgies with both men and women.
He got drunk with his friends and got into rowdy bar fights in pubs.
He once was suffering with “conjugal drought” after a long time away from his wife and ended up sleeping with a lady so old and ugly that he threw up on her after they finished having sex when she moved too close to the candle in a dark room.
He also talks about struggling to maintain sexual performance for one of his mistresses when he was in older age.
Contextualising the titans of history helps us to remember that they were no different to you or me.
Flawed, broken creatures can still do great things.
Humans are built to be effective, not happy.
“This is the irritating reality of the human condition:
Whatever we do, we’re left with unfulfilled desires.
Human beings are chronically conflicted animals.
And that’s because that’s what selection made us.”
– Steve Stewart-Williams
The swing toward a Democratic majority in America is confusing.
The UK just blue-washed itself with a huge Conservative win in the local elections.
The General Election in 2019 was a landslide for Conservatives too.
Sir Keir Starmer himself said that no one knows what the Labour Party stands for any more.
Presumably that includes the ministers as well as the electorate.
I don’t think you can expect to win in a country with a population which is as salt-of-the-earth as the UK when your party plays identity politics and systemic grievance hierarchy games.
It just doesn’t resonate.
Hence, fewer and fewer people are voting for the party which pushes those policies.
Across the pond, America’s Democrats are even MORE extreme with their progressive policies.
But the response has been totally different.
Rather than a Conservative landslide, you’ve got a Democratic majority (albeit only a slight one).
Is it just as simple as a difference in culture & values?
Is it the alternative make-up of the population?
Is it media bias?
I’m not sure, but there’s an increasing divide between the political sentiment in the UK and the one in the US.
Gate D2 in Amsterdam airport.
For those of you on connecting flights through Europe, Schiphol in Amsterdam is a common connection.
Sadly, it’s usually rammed, and freezing, and loud, and there’s nowhere to lie down.
Or so I thought.
Then I discovered Gate D2 in Schiphol you have a number of cushioned seats WITHOUT armrests breaking them up.
It’s also set back from the main walkway and in my experience is rarely used.
If you’ve got a couple of hours between flights and need to grab a nap, this is the place to go.
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I’m recording with Mohamedou Ould Slahi today. He was held for 14 years in Guantanamo Bay without being charged, he’s the guy who The Mauritanian movie with Benedict Cumberbatch was based on. You should watch it on Amazon Prime, it’s outrageous.