Escaping the high-intensity trap and uncovering the path to sustainable growth

What do Michael Jordan and Warren Buffett have in common?

At first glance, a basketball legend and an investment tycoon might seem worlds apart. Yet, they share one secret to their success: a relentless commitment to consistency.

Jordan wasn’t handed his athletic skills in a gift box — he trained, honed, and polished his skills for years on end. Buffett didn’t accumulate his fortune overnight by winning the crypto lottery — he made careful, considered investments that paid off over time.

These guys knew something most of us spend our lives overlooking: consistency trumps intensity every single time.

So, you may ask, then why are so many people drawn to the high-intensity approach, or radical changes, expecting instant, and lasting results?

Let me explain:

Turn your eyes anywhere you want, and you are bombarded with perfectly curated success stories. You name it: business, life, health, healing, relationships — creating the illusion that extraordinary success and perfection are within easy reach.

But here’s the bitter pill to swallow: these stories often are often half-truths, and sometimes, downright lies.

In reality, most of what we consider to be real and possible are false narratives made up by people who are framing, lying, or simply downplaying the amount of time, preparation, effort and failure that went into the overnight success, their ideal life of seamless healing journey they are portraying.

One reason we’re drawn to such stories, rather than acknowledging the consistent effort and hard work necessary over time, is that they offer a sense of excitement and novelty. They get the dopamine pumping in our brains, creating a ‘feel-good’ aura, giving us the jolt of motivation and the hope that ‘if they can do it, I can do it.’

That dopamine high, it’s seductive.

It’s what makes many people go for the grand slam, the high-intensity play, the one that they believe will bring instant success — making them commit to rigid spiritual regimens of hours of meditation, cold-water immersions, and insane fasting rituals to awaken their inner power.

Or morphing into some sort of a pre-dawn running, cold-shower-taking, raw-egg-eating superhuman.

This may work for a very select few, but generally speaking, this isn’t the secret sauce to long-term growth. Rather, it’s the recipe for frustration, failure and ultimately burnout.

Especially when these new lifestyle “changes” are paired with the already relentless demands of the everyday hustle and bustle — setting even more unattainable, sky-high standards.

This is why so many high-achievers throw in the towel shortly after beginning their journey towards the growth that would move the needle in their lives. And moreover, it’s why they revert to their old ways of doing things.

They try to leap before they learn to walk.

That’s where the Goldilocks Rule comes into play. It’s a neat little concept that suggests we’re at our most motivated when we’re operating at the edge of our current abilities. Our goals shouldn’t be so easy we get bored, nor so difficult we feel overwhelmed. It should be just right.

Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

To do this, be it in business, life, or our relationships, we must learn to make commitments that we are genuinely able and willing to follow through upon. It’s a lesson we need to learn and re-learn.

This not only allows us to take charge of our growth, direction and success in life — but also teaches us something far more important:

To trust our own word.

We have to remind ourselves that progress in anything, large or small, requires recognising, accepting, and starting where you are. Which despite what the status quo may tell you, is something that shouldn’t be criticised — when in fact, it’s rather extraordinary.

What makes acceptance so hard is that many people — men in particular — associate it with giving up, complacency, phoning it in, or committing to mediocrity. But this isn’t the case.

Acceptance isn’t about giving up — it’s about waking up.

It’s about looking reality in the eye and seeing it clearly for what it’s, whether you like it or not.

And only once you truly accept where you are and what’s happening, and get at least comfortable enough being in it, then you can take conscious and progressive action to get where you want to go.

So here’s a little homework for you…

Zero in on that one action that has the power to ignite your growth and has the potential to create a positive ripple effect in other areas of your life. Remember, this is personal — your key action will look different from the next person’s.

It could be committing to scheduling daily deep work sessions, walking 10.000 steps daily, turning off your phone 2 hours before bed, tackling your most important task first each morning, or checking in with your parents once a week — whatever it is that will tip over the first domino stone.

Then, scale down and commit to clear, measurable steps, remembering the goldilocks rule — making sure that whatever direction you set off in is just right. Don’t go sprinting before you can walk, but don’t start by crawling when you can walk.

As you progress, keep checking in with yourself. How are you feeling after the first day, or the first week? Is it too hard, too easy, or just right? Keep adjusting and refining as much as you need to ensure you’re on a path that you can confidently and comfortably sustain until you achieve your desired outcome.

The bottom line is, let your actions speak louder than your words. Always.

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