How to Improve for Long Term Success

My son, Adam, is a competitive bodybuilder. An approach to progress in his world is, “train to failure.” What does this mean? In order to build muscle and strength, you have to lift a weight until you absolutely cannot do it one more time. There’s a bit more to it, of course, but studies have shown that training to failure can increase human growth hormone and the size of muscle cells (which, of course, results in bigger muscles).

The same lesson applies to overdoing it.

If you want to grow, you have to push yourself until you have nothing left to give.

You can’t grow your capacity if you don’t use up all the capacity you have. You have to stretch the rubber band—it won’t stretch itself and until it gets stretched it can’t do you any good. You’re the same way; we all are.

If you never test yourself, you never improve.

If you never test yourself, you never improve. Click To Tweet

You overdo in the beginning especially, because that’s when you have the most to learn and when you need to grow as fast as possible. You continue to push yourself throughout your life, because that is the path to serial winning. You use your capacity and strength, or you lose it.

Pushing yourself to uncomfortable limits today makes it possible for you to handle bigger challenges tomorrow.

Pushing yourself to uncomfortable limits, makes it possible for you to handle bigger challenges. Click To Tweet

Primerica used to “volunteer” the top leaders in the eld to come in to the corporate headquarters and provide insight. We were supposed to spend two days a week over ninety days showing the guys in the home office what was important to those of us in the field and what wasn’t, what was helpful and what wasn’t, and what needed to be improved. (Of course, they were nice enough to not give us a dime for our time.)

A friend and colleague, Andy Young, got “invited” and wasn’t too happy about it. He was working all the time—in the of office and on the road six days a week. How was he sup- posed to get his work done every week—for three months— in just three to four days? It was a nightmare for him in the beginning.

I saw him not long after his stint was over, and everything had changed. He now had two free days a week! He had had no choice but to figure out how to run his business in four days instead of six. It was possible after all! Andy wondered how much more time he was wasting, so he kept at it. He became so efficient and organized and established such strong priorities that he eventually found he could run his existing business in just two days a week. Now he had extra time to start some new expansion of offices and experiment with new pilot programs, spend more time with his top performers, and also get in a bit of extra quality time with his family.

Andy would never have found all of that “free” time if he had not been put in a difficult situation to begin with.

He had to push himself almost to the point of failure to learn, improve, and grow his capacity for doing. But in a short time he figured out how to adapt, and it changed his life. He had learned how to run his business rather than have his business run him.

Winners want to know what they’re capable of. They are dying to find out just how hard they can push themselves.

Winners are dying to find out just how hard they can push themselves. Click To Tweet

Winners live by the words of Airstream founder Wally Byam: “It was impossible, so it took a little longer to accomplish.” And they know that pressure is their friend: it’s what changes coal into diamonds. If you want to give yourself the best possible start, you need to put yourself in situations that seem impossible. Eventually, you’ll grow through them.

Now, obviously, you can’t do this all the time in every area of your life.

Even bodybuilding experts say that if you just keep pushing to the point of failure, you’ll hurt yourself. After every big push you need recovery time—a discovery that led to huge advances in training elite athletes. People who are focused on continual growth—as serial winners are—plan regular recovery time. It allows them to push for greater gains the next time.

Unfortunately—or maybe fortunately for you—most people won’t push themselves hard enough to even need that recovery time. They spend much of their life worrying about “balance.”

For winners, balance isn’t an all-the-time priority. What’s important is taking advantage of opportunities when they are available.

If it’s harvest time and there’s rain coming, everyone on the farm may go a few days missing meals and sleep to get the crop in. Family life gets thrown out of balance. So what? They know as soon as harvest is done they can get back to meals together and other priorities. At that point, balance isn’t the big priority. The priority is getting the job done.

Here’s the bottom line: By training to failure in the beginning, you’ll set yourself on the path to build the strength and endurance you’ll need long-term.

Train to failure in the beginning—you’ll set yourself on the path to build long term strength. Click To Tweet

So don’t be afraid to push yourself, especially in the beginning – it will pay big dividends at the finish line!

This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, Serial Winner. If you’re a fan of the book, please leave me a review on Amazon! To learn more and get a copy of your own, click here!

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