Collected Thoughts re: Performance

A risk inherent in the perform-better-each-day (PBED) mentality is that one may well be tempted to coast upon realizing he’s massively outperforming at, say, the halfway mark. The temptation is two-fold:

  1. Trying hard is hard, so if giving anything less than will keep PBEB intact, comfort AND success can be achieved with easy effort.
  2. Outperforming too greatly jeopardizes the entire PBED enterprise. Marginal improvements are absorbable, Carl Lewis-leaps are not.

PBED tends to ignore the non-linear nature of progress. When detached from the tidy narrative society tells itself about a neat work-in-work-out process of progress, a reality is revealed where seemingly no progress, despite great practice, is made for long stretches. Then, as if by magic, massive gains are suddenly achieved. Of course, we will still fight to cram this genre of progress into a narrative … and this will be a mistake. The lesson: randomness plays a larger role in progress than any of us feel comfortable admitting.

Your 100% is absolutely contingent on the context, some of which you can comprehend, most of which you cannot.

A risk of completely adopting the nothing-then-leaps (NTL) philosophy is that it can be weaponized to rationalize mediocrity. Performed poorly? No big deal. Progress happens in leaps. I need not worry about irrelevant “noise.” This explanation could be true, but it also could be true that you simply committed the sin of lackluster effort.

Part of knowing thyself is understanding your own biases. Are you someone who will use NTL to give false comfort? Are you someone who will have unreasonable expectations and grow frustrated when PBED becomes unsustainable? You cannot completely eliminate these biases; you can compensate for them through more honest self-accounting and progress frameworks.

Perfect actions can lead to undesirable outcomes. The best man does not always win. Luck bounces in both good and bad ways. Nevertheless, the belief that “goodness” should be rewarded appears hardwired into us. Maybe this instinct deserves respect, because maybe it is right. Maybe “unfairness” runs rampant only when outcomes command undivided attention. Maybe if one can truly divorce himself from those outcomes and focus instead on process, “goodness” is always, indeed, rewarded.

Sometimes I think operating without a watch would free me to run optimally. Other times I think running without a watch removes the accountability necessary for the optimal.

Sometimes I think goals are limiting and thus worthless. Other times I think goals permit us to reach otherwise unreachable heights.

Sometimes I think understanding oneself and the world is necessary for growth. Other times I think only total ignorance engenders exponentiality.

The most obvious way to improve output is to go harder sooner. Everyone saves something for a “final kick,” and that something is too much (nobody is regularly collapsing before completion). The ideal way to transition into harder-sooner mode is while actively engaged in the activity, because if you decide beforehand, you may, consciously or not, let off just a bit pre-kick knowing the kick is going to be more grueling than usual.

Why is the wind always blowing against me? Because my abilities to notice good fortune have deteriorated.

Or what if that sentiment is altogether unwise since the next level of being is removing the word “good”? Just notice. Just be. No judgment. Is this possible? Is it net net desirable?