Like all of us, you have a goal in your life you’re struggling with.
You want to get in better shape, make more money, find more clients for your business, switch careers — the list goes on.
What do you do? You set a goal. Your goal is always reasonable — work out three times a week, write 500 words a day, outline your business in the next 90 days and find one customer.
You’ve been told, “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step,” and you try to make progress little by little, but somewhere along the line, you fall short.
What gives? You know if you just “put your mind to it” you’d accomplish your goals, but you can’t bring yourself to execute and commit long enough.
What if the problem isn’t your inability to follow through with reasonable goals?
What if your goals are too reasonable and small?
Enter the 10x rule.
The 10x Rule Explained
Grant Cardone, entrepreneur, and author wrote the book The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.
Here’s the rule — Take your original goal and multiply it by 10. Also, multiply your effort to achieve your goal by 10.
I know what you’re thinking…
This is just wishful thinking and macho talk.
But the 10x Rule is one of the most practical books you’ll ever read.
Some of the core ideas behind the 10x rule are:
- Small goals are uninspiring — Small goals are easy to accomplish but they’re also easy to dismiss. You also don’t get much satisfaction from reaching them.
- 10x goals stretch your thinking and actions — The common wisdom is aiming high leads to disappointment, but this thinking is rooted in fear. Setting 10x goals and multiplying your effort 10x requires a transformation, which is what we all really want in the first place. The higher the potential payoff, the less likely you are to quit when things get tough.
- Don’t reduce your target, increase action — What’s the first thing we do when stumbling toward a goal? We lower it. Instead, why not ramp up your effort? If we’re honest in these situations we’d see we’re nowhere near our effort ceiling.
Why Reaching for the Stars is Safer Than Staying on the Ground
There’s a quote from Warren Buffet that says, “When the tide comes in you’ll see who’s swimming naked.”
The 10x rule isn’t just an exercise in lofty thinking. It’s a hedge against the tightrope of average results.
There’s nothing wrong with average thinking, average planning, and average amounts of action…as long as everything goes smoothly. But as soon as situations go south, failure to set big enough targets causes massive pain.
Just look at these examples:
- Most Americans grossly underestimate how much money they need to retire.
- Many are living paycheck to paycheck and have no savings.
- The average household has piles of debt (would you survive a repeat of 2008?)
- Most businesses fail because they underestimate how much cash they’ll need to survive lean times
- Almost all people with ‘revolutionary’ ideas severely underestimate how much effort it will take to execute those ideas
Living an abundant lifestyle isn’t just pleasurable, it protects you. Society emphasizes the virtue of mediocrity, but all morality aside, mediocrity is mathematically and pragmatically not good because it can all be swept away in the tide of circumstances.
You can’t just create 10x goals and make them magically happen. You have to give a 10x effort in as well. But how do you do that when taking normal levels of actions is hard?
Massive Action = Massive Results
In the book, Grant tells the story of running one of his first businesses. He expected to do reasonably well. He wasn’t unrealistic. It would take time to earn as much through his business as he did from his former day job. He estimated he’d get back to that amount in 6 months. It turns out it would actually take years before he reached the same level of income.
He reached a point of frustration and began to lean on the crutch of excuses we’re all prone to leaning on when things go south. The market wasn’t ready for the product. The timing was off. Clients didn’t have the funds. So it goes.
Rather than quit, however, he increased his activity.
Instead of making 5 sales calls per day, he made 50.
Instead of posting social media updates twice per day, he posted twice per hour.
As the company grew, customers started to complain about the frequency of his email marketing messages. What’d he do? He decided to send messages more frequently. This turned some of his audience off, but many began to admire the hustle and his influence grew.
He had the same business idea, in the same market, with the same customer pool, and his business exploded. The only thing that changed was his effort.
Aspiring writers reach out to me a lot. They’re all frustrated with their progress. Many haven’t even written 50 blog posts yet. I shake my head. They should come to me if they’re still struggling after having written 500 posts.
This begs the question — how is the 10x rule any different from the notion of trying hard?
The 4 Levels of Action
According to the author, we all operate at one of four levels of action:
- Do nothing — Pretty self-explanatory.
- Retreat — When faced with any form of resistance we back down immediately. People in retreat mode fear even beginning the journey of massive accomplishment.
- Normal levels of action — You go to work and do just enough to not get fired.
- Massive action — You mentally and physically go all in.
The author brings up an honest point I love. People at the first two levels aren’t really ready to take massive action in their lives.
I’ve heard this argument before — self-help in general usually works best for people who are already well-adjusted enough.
Fortunately, most of us fit into the normal level of action category and can move into massive action.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a pretty motivated guy. I wake up daily at 5 a.m. to write, work out three times a week, wrote two books, spoke at a TEDx conference in front of 1000+ people, and run a successful business. By all accounts, I’m doing well and I’m grateful for how far I’ve come, but am I capable of much more? Absolutely.
As motivated and productive as I may be, I still have limiting beliefs and mental barriers that keep me from working ten times as hard to achieve ten times the results.
These days, I’m setting 10x goals and focusing on giving 10x effort because it might be the only way to see what I’m actually made of. But that comes with an emotional toll right? Life is hard. People don’t necessarily have time or energy to go 10x. How do we deal with our current realities and find a way to step up our game?
Stop Being a Little Bitch
In the audio version of the book, the author on-the-spot renames one of the chapters, “stop being a little bitch” as opposed to “stop being a victim.”
Look, setting aside issues on religion, politics, and sex, let’s just be honest for a second.
As a society, we’ve grown marshmallow soft. Slowly but surely, we’re learning to become more helpless, reliant, and downright whiny.
I can say this almost objectively — the government isn’t going to save you…hell they don’t even care about you at all.
I have my bias, of course, but it seems clear to me people have been conditioned into expecting good things to jus happen crying when they don’t.
Look, I get it. Your circumstances are quite real. No one’s saying they’re not. But at the end of the day, your life is your life and you have to live it. Your two choices are to act or don’t. And as much as being a victim gives you the weird pleasure that comes with martyrdom, you still end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
Anytime I feel sorry for myself, feel tired and weak, or feel like giving up. In essence, I tell myself to stop being a little bitch. I remind myself of the only two options I have — stay the same or act. After this internal conversation, I always do the latter.
Let’s explore some other topics from the book and explore strategies to support your new 10x way of thinking and living.
An Unusual and Extremely Useful Way to Look at Success
“Do kids benefit when they see their moms and dads losing or quitting?”
This section of the book struck me as something I’ve never heard before.
The author says to succeed you should treat the acquisition of success as an ethical issue.
Most of us look at success as a luxury. We shrug it off with “sure, that’d be nice” types of phrasing. We look at giving the most of ourselves to our lives and the people around us as an option, not a duty.
Also, we all have a tendency to act pious and believe ourselves to be moral. You think you’re a good person because you don’t steal, commit acts of violence, or overtly cheat other people. But, if looking at the acquisition of success as an ethical issue, are you cheating yourself and others out of what you can contribute?
You probably are.
If you’re tempted to rush off and mount your high horse, remember, success means much more than a monetary reward or status. So, the argument of “I don’t care about money and status” doesn’t fly here.
Look deeply at your life…even in the way you treat your family. Are you fully present? Are you giving them your full self? Or are you physically there but not mentally because you’re preoccupied with worry or trying to drown that worry out by tuning out?
The point of treating success as an ethical problem isn’t to beat yourself up for not having a million in the bank. The point is actually to humble you by realizing that doing just enough isn’t something to be proud of.
You’re alone reading this. Have that conversation with yourself. Are you making success a duty or are you bullsh**ing yourself?
You know the answer…
Adopt This Attitude
“Think about it: What’s the worst thing that can happen to you if you just totally go for it?”
I entered a competition against 23 other speakers for a chance to give a talk at a TEDx conference. I’d been in a Toastmasters club for less than six months. I had no reason to believe they’d chose me. But I figured, “Why not? The worse thing that could happen is they say no. That’s it.”
When I write a new book, I spend a few thousand dollars to produce it. The worst thing that could happen? I lose a few thousand bucks — not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things. Plus, I can’t sell negative books — I know the downside.
I make these little bets on my future all the time. And the worst-case scenario is usually just getting my feelings hurt and ego bruised. But we’re emotional creatures and the fear of failure and rejection can be too much to bear.
What about you? What imaginary ghosts are you battling now?
If you went all-in on that idea lingering in your mind, really, what’s the worse thing that could happen?
You don’t need a loan from the bank to start a business anymore.
You don’t have to put your family at risk to start a new venture or find a new career — you can always use your spare time.
There usually isn’t a great answer to “Why not?” is there? Just fear. Always fear.
Here’s what I know. If you do fail, there won’t be a giant crowd to witness it. Others aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think they are. Also, human beings have the amazing ability to recover from setbacks. Think of a time that felt bad in the moment but barely registers with you now.
I’ve failed at many different things. It felt bad then. But now I think, “Eh. It was still worth the effort.” Then I move on.
I’m no different than you. I just act before I’m ready — and the secret is you’re never really ready.
10X The Quality of Your Life
I never seek to judge. I’m not the type to admonish anyone for how they live. My goal is to get you to think for yourself and make observations that help you change.
But let’s just call a spade a spade. There is such a thing as being mediocre. By way of pure numbers and comparison, some people are just in the middle.
I know from experience that being in the middle is one of the most dangerous places you can be — it’s also the riskiest.
Who got hit hardest by the financial crisis? The middle.
Who is a few health scares or negative financial windfalls from being destitute? The middle.
Who gets put on the chopping block when a company downsizes? Average mid-level management.
At least at the bottom, you have aid, support, and assistance. At the top — at 10x levels — you’re constantly prepared for the future and always taking action, so you know you’re ready for whatever the future brings.
In the middle, you’re most susceptible to the rug being pulled from underneath you.
From a purely pragmatic and practical viewpoint, it seems like escaping the middle should be a priority.
You may not be able to 10x your income, but you can 10x your creativity, energy, and effort.
You can 10x the standards you have for yourself.
The core idea of the 10x rule is this — You are nowhere near the universe of what you’re capable of.
Maybe going 10x isn’t the key to everything you want in life, but underestimating your capabilities is the key to not getting it.
I’ve never looked at success in terms of just status, money, or other worldly measures. The level of effort you exert to become successful turns you into a better version of yourself.
Become a better version of yourself for the sake of becoming a better version of yourself.
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