Welcome to Breakdown 10. Today we tackle leverage.
BD is where I teach a coach's secret secret sauce: how to dissect a person's problem so you can give them the solution. Think of it a little bit like making an ice cream cake - I don't just show you the final cake but the recipe and mechanism that got me there. If you can learn this skill then you can start coaching yourself through your challenges and put me firmly out of business.
If you'd like to have a problem of yours BD'd please feel free to just hit reply and let me know (I've currently got 3 in the chamber so send one across if you have one.)
It's always a delight to do one of these and help one of you.
BD posts can get quite (very) long as I'm a full blown nerd at this stuff and this one in particular is a VERY nerdy topic.
Estimated full reading time: 9 minutes.
Estimated impact: Large to Life Changing.
Hey MJ, Firstly, thank you for that. I really appreciate it. Honestly... (I edited this part out for brevity) Secondly, Please do write a BD about awareness and leverage (Reason to change). I definitely want to read about that. Finally, I am really enjoying the BD's that you are doing, so please do not stop with them*.
The simple secret to relentless growth.
If you've read any of my material before, you know that one of the most common things that I'll talk about is the commitment to create change. In fact, if you go over any of the BDs I've written, in each of them I take some time to talk about how nothing is going to change until there is the commitment to make that change.
It’s easy to rush past a paragraph that talks about that and just say ‘Yeah I know’ – but it’s the most fundamental and critically important aspect of ANY change you want to make EVER.
Without leverage, you WILL remain stuck because you’re already leveraged in your current position. Think about it. You must have reasons, whether you’re aware of them or not, to continue doing your current behaviour or it would have changed already. Until you have a reason more powerful that what’s keeping you here – you’re going to stay exactly where you are.
Most people think that the most important change to make is the strategy to use. They want to read the next great book, they want to listen to the next secret podcast, they want to ‘hack change’ and ‘iterate’, which is all just pushing to get the next TACTIC. These are all just answers to the question how – but here’s the secret – there is no how without why. There is no change without action and action ONLY comes from a reason to do it.
Let me give you an example: probably 90% of the planet knows at some level how to lose weight. You just eat less energy than you use over a sustained period of time. That's it. If you do that you WILL lose weight (assuming no other medical condition.) Everyone understands the tactic, but hundreds of millions of people around the world are obese.
What gives? It’s not because of the lack of information, but because of a lack of commitment, which is another word for saying a lack of leverage. It’s a lack of the WHY, it’s almost never a lack of the HOW.
The classic definition of "leverage" is someone who has smoked every day of their adult life. The smoke because they have the leverage to smoke. They are addicted, helps them calm down, heck it may even have helped them get laid back in the day. The refuse to quit for all sorts of reasons until one day the doctor gives them 2 years to live unless they quit today.
Now, it’s a fact that most people in that moment don’t quit, but some of them do. And the ones that do it’s because of leverage – the reasons not smoke suddenly became so much more powerful than the reasons to smoke and like that, change happened.
I've seen some FUCKING crazy change happen in front of my eyes and every time someone changes their life in an instant: it's because of massive leverage.
Getting leverage is a skill that can be trained. If you’re on a mountain and there is a huge boulder blocking you, you could go round up a parliament of people to help you push that boulder down the mountain or if knew enough about physics and you placed the right stick underneath the boulder in the perfect place and you push on it in an absolutely perfect way, you could create that huge momentum and that huge swing in your life all on your own.
Learning how to find leverage on yourself, learning how to create a forcing function, is maybe the 2nd or 3rd greatest skill that you can find to create change and if you’re currently stuck it’s because you’re leveraged in your current place and don’t have enough reasons to move.
Stop focusing on the HOW. There is an unlimited amount of HOW and a HOW that works for you may not work for someone else. Instead, focus on the WHY.
If someone put a gun to your head and told you to go and figure out how to lose 20 kilos in 6 weeks or the trigger gets pulled, you would start taking some action. You wouldn't be wondering about the HOW. You would just be so committed to the task that you would keep experimenting and trying new things until you struck gold.
That’s the secret.
Leverage gives you the permission you need to just keep trying all the different 'hows' with everything you’ve got until you find a way through. Commitment is building a total and ruthless focus on something that will allow you to plug the endless amount of tactics that you could use into your life and actually start the experiment to find which one of them is going to work in the most effective way.
So how does this actually work?
Mastering leverage is about understanding that the human brain at all times is craving pleasure and avoiding pain. Everything that you do in your life is at some level avoiding pain and about seeking pleasure.
It's very easy to nod your head and say you understand that, or that you’ve heard that before. If you truly understood the implications of the way the brain works, then you would never get stuck for the rest of your life and you wouldn’t be reading this article.
The reason that you haven't changed these habits is that your brain thinks it's more painful to change than it is to stay where you are.
That’s IT. That’s the GOLDEN distinction.
The reason people haven't quit smoking is that their brain believes it's more painful to quit smoking than it is to actually continue smoking their cigarettes. The reason obese people are obese is that their brain thinks it’s easier to stay big than it is to lose weight.
Every. Single. Failed. Change: this is why.
You can intellectually understand consequences all you want, but we are not intellectual beings. We are crazy, emotional and irrational beings who occasionally have a thought. Emotions rule your life and brain.
Leverage is finding a reason to create change in your life where staying where you are, your current model of the world, your current reality, your current habits are more painful than changing. You create that link in your mind sustainably and I promise you all the change you want in the world will fall on your lap.
The Two Main Leverage Strategies.
There are two main ways to go about creating this leverage.
1) Manipulating your environment to create a forcing function
2) Manipulating your emotions to create a forcing function.
Manipulating your environment.
I love this one. Gives you permission to do some absurd things. This one is all about creating accountability in insane ways.
A great way to create change in your life is to commit some huge amount of money and/or weeks of your life to working on a single problem. Spending $5,000 on a PT or a course or going away to study something is a fantastic way to create leverage. The pain of wasting that money is higher than the pain of growing.
Another way is to use the power of your network. If you posted a Facebook Live video with a can of dog food and the promise to lose 10 kilos in 6 weeks or you’d eat the whole can live on video what do you think you’d do? Sounds crazy and outrageous, but maybe doing something crazy in your life might be exactly what you need.
Why don’t you give your favourite book, shirt or painting to a friend – you know, the one you consider part of your SOUL and if you fail to make the change within a month the friend gets to go drop it in the sea or set fire to it, or just throwing it in the trash somewhere all whilst streaming it on Facebook for maximum embarrassment?
See, some of you read that and thought that’s way too crazy. And thinking that that's crazy rather than seeing the logic behind it and finding the courage to pull the trigger is exactly why you’re life is where it is.
Manipulating your emotions.
The other way to create leverage is to show your mind the real consequences of your actions if you fail to make a change. The easiest example of this is to show your mind how your actions will impact the people around you. I use my kids most often (NOTE: I don’t have kids but that doesn't mean I can't use it.)
Let's say you want to learn how to be more in love with yourself and have a better relationship with yourself. Great goal. It's not going to be a very big leverage point if you just say, "Well, I want to love myself because it'll make me a better person." That's not a big enough reason to move through change. That's not a big enough reason to actually create a different blueprint as your brain has reasons it thinks for why you shouldn’t love yourself.
Compare that leverage with:
"I need to learn how to love myself because if I do not, my kids will grow up with half a father or half a mother. I'll never be completely there for them. I'll always be focusing on myself, being selfish and being ruled by insecurities. I'll never support them and love them in the way that they need to be loved and they will grow up not loving themselves. They will grow up dominated by their insecurities. They will grow up feeling like they were never good enough because their dad or mum clearly didn't love they thought it was their fault."
"That guilt and that shame that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives will dominate their relationships, dominate their decisions, and the worse part of this all is that as they eventually have children, I will know that they're going to pass it to their grandchildren and I will be sitting when I'm 60, 70, and 80 years old at our family reunions watching all of these magnificent people around me who don't love themselves and resent the fact that I was a horrible parent. These people who I was supposed to love and who are not just surviving whilst being owned by doubt and have never achieved their greatness all because I was too small or because I was too lazy or because I was too insignificant to just find the energy within myself to actually work on myself and love myself. I wonder why I would even bother having kids if this is the quality of life I made them live. What a waste."
Now, some of you are sitting there and just thinking, "Holy shit. That got intense really fast," and that is what leverage is. Imagine if you had said that out loud to yourself when you were thinking about doing something to create love.
Assuming you had a soul if your brain saw that, no matter how much you didn't want to create change, you would start fucking changing.
You can also use your partner, your relationship with yourself, regretting your actions whilst being old (this is the most common form of leverage you’ll find people using. People make MASSIVE change because they don’t want to be regretful when they are old) or the impact it will have on your health or friendships or your career.
Anything that you find important and care about you can tie to leverage to make change.
I’ll give one more example, let’s use a partner-based leverage.
Let's say you're in a relationship and you want to learn how to meditate.
"If I don't learn to meditate, I am going to place myself in a situation where I am increasing my chances of not being in control of my mind. I'm also very aware that I am not someone who has a high amount of willpower to do something as easy as even just spending 10 minutes a day meditating. This knowledge that not only am I not taking care of myself, but also the fact that I obviously don't have enough willpower as a human being just to make one simple change will start to eat away at me. After one year, two year, five years’ time of just repeatedly trying and failing, I will start beating myself up for the simple fact that I can't learn to meditate. It’s just another example of my unworthiness and lack of success. Beating myself up inevitably leads me to a place where I start to feel like shit, which will compound with the fact that I don't actually know how to have willpower, and will lead me to feel like shit each and every day. I’ll feel unworthy and not enough.
This will have a profound impact on my relationship because I won't be able to serve my woman or my man in the way that I truly believe I should be able to, because I'll be constantly focusing on myself and my own failures, and beating myself up, looking at all of these things that I've not done, which means that I'm not a man of integrity, and instead just slowly eat away at the foundation of our relationship all because I just can't be the person that grows like my partner deserves. I’m a failure and am not worthy of being in a relationship with this person because of this."
Now again, it's very easy to look at all of that and just say, "Holy shit, why are you even saying all of that just so that you can get yourself to meditate?" But this is how the brain WORKS. It’s not an intellectual pursuit, you need to stack the pain to SHOCK your mind into taking action. It needs to be different or outrageous or gravity will just pull you back down.
It's the easiest way to get you to do anything is to just create some fear or some pain for you to run away from. It's extremely important to know how to do these things because just by doing that, you'll start creating momentum. If you understand how habits are created, once you get momentum, if you just focus on not breaking the momentum you change.
Once you've created your leverage, and once you've found an area of leverage to build off, there's then two more steps. The first is that you need to make it emotional.
What does that mean? It means there's a very big difference in you just writing all these things out, versus closing your eyes and actually trying to see the effect that this is going to have on your life.
Actually see the impact that it's having on your kids, and you seeing them when you're 80 and realised that you've basically screwed your whole family up. Deliberately use pain and keep making it more intense until you actually feel an emotional response. Until you feel your body say, "There's no fucking way I'm doing this." Or until you feel your mind say, "This isn't for me."
Whatever it is once you feel that response then you know you've successfully created leverage.
NOW, if only you had to do that once and that was that.
But there’s more....
Now you need to do the final step: condition it. One of the most common criticisms you'll hear of people who go to self-development programs or read the books is the fact that they go to one program or read one book, and then they choose to go to the same program again or read another book on that topic.
How ludicrous of those people! Clearly, the whole thing is a sham!
When people say that I say, "Right. Do you also criticise people who go to one PT session, and then go back again?" They say, "No, of course not." Every aspect of your life needs training. This is the most important part that people leave off. You have to condition these responses. You have to work on this until the habit has stuck.
Conditioning takes time.
You don't just go to the gym and do one set of bench press and get an amazing chest, or one set of squats and get an amazing booty. You have to build these habits over time. It's incredibly important to realise that it's unlikely that you'll do this once and it will stick. You have to keep doing it, to start the process, but if you just keep leveraging effectively you can create whatever you need.
*Yes I left the compliment in.