Innergame Insight #1: The Power of Persistence

Hi. I haven't written an article in sometime. I generally have to feel inspired to write one and a conversation with a new friend impacted me. At the last NYC workshop we had a student who became lovingly known as "Ass-Dog". Ass-Dog is a genius. This is a guy who graduated from a major college very early, who has had medical papers published in journals and as worked for the Government & Financial sector and he is not even 25 yet! However he has quite a few glitches in his personality, (he is well aware of this lest the reader think I am poking fun). Another student from the same workshop is also brilliant and works at a Hedgefund (not exactly the type of business known for hiring dummies). I generally tend to form strong bonds with my students and a lot of them become lifelong friends. While myself & Hedgefund were chilling one night (not at the bootcamp but one time as friends), we were talking about Ass-Dog and we both agreed he was going to be very good at pickup (he had already done close to 2000 sets pre-bootcamp, had zero AA and was doing mixed sets with ease all night. One of the night’s infield he actually got pulled from the venue by a group). I said I know he is going to be very successful also but not for the reasons listed previously. I was curious how my friend knew that. He said he had one major attribute that he has seen in all successful people he had me: Persistence.

So what is persistence? Princeton defines it as: perseverance: the act of persisting or persevering; continuing or repeating behavior. Well then what does it mean to persist? Princeton defines this as refusal to stop. I teach this concept in my bootcamp, the concept of being relentless. I LOVE Hockey. I might even like it more than football (that's a tough one). I will never forget one year during the Detroit Redwing Dynasty (I HATE the wings cause I am a huge St Louis blues fan, this even after being racially harassed in St Louis & almost getting robbed at gunpoint outside a strip club, alas I digress). It was a game 7 and they zoomed in to the Red Wings locker room, you would think on the whiteboard would be all these X's & O's diagramming plays that the Wings would be running against their opponents’ but there was not. All Scottie Bowman had written was "How hungry are you, are you hungry like a wolf, or you hungry like sheep?" How bad do you want it? This has stuck with me throughout my life. How bad do I want something that I am going after? What amount of pain will I go through to get the result?

Another thing that inspired me to write this was I had basically the same conversation 3 friends (former students) today. One told me things weren't going well, he was down in the dumps, etc, etc. One told me things are going amazing, he is attached to the process not the outcome; another told me things are going great he couldn’t be happier. 2 good, 1 bad but all following the same path and following what I believe is probably one of the core attributes of acquiring any skill set: Persistence. When I first started teaching I was stunned by people who would take the course and then never go out after the seminar. Or even worse self-sabotage during the seminar (like the student who drank himself into oblivion and literally passed out at a table during the infield my first time in Cleveland.) Now I am kind of desensitized and I can size up really fast if people are going to be successful. I think to myself how hungry are they? There a famous quote from Pumping Iron ""The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens." He is talking about persistence.

When learning a new skill there are 3 components that directly affect your ability to acquire it. First is the ability of the teacher. In either Outliers, or What the Dog Saw (I can't remember which but I believe it is Outliers), Gladwell talks about how big of a difference the teacher makes in a student’s ability to learn. The next component is the quality of the material. Even with the best teacher in the world crap material is crap material. Finally, the 3rd component is how the student learns the information. Learning, much like teaching, is a skill. Unfortunately in school most of us are never taught how to learn properly. While words only make sense when in a context by the same token so do statistics. If I told you .400 what does that really mean? If we are talking about Baseball the person in question is probably one of the greatest players to ever swing a bat. If we are talking about an NBA player and free throw statistics he won’t be in the NBA very long shooting 40% from the line. Pickup is such an interesting skill set to learn because the majority of the time, much like baseball, you will not be successful (in terms of getting on base or getting the girl, etc). Since the majority of the time you will not be getting the desired outcome many people have a tendency to quit. This brings us back to the attribute of persistence. How hungry is the person trying to learn the skill?

Persistence tends to bleed into what I call the play2win lifestyle. What do I mean by play2win? I mean there are two choices in life you can play2win or you can play not to lose. Playing2Win is doing whatever it takes to get the job done. It is the very essence of persistence but persistence used in the right fashion. Playing not 2 lose is doing just what it takes to get by, the minimal needed. I discuss this concept more in-depth during the inner game portion of my workshop. Play2win has been a huge life concept for me in general long before I found the dating community. I have a lot of friends who work on Wall Street and the one common denominator between all of them is how they will stop at nothing to get the job done right.

Recently, I made a friend (former student) who is a professional card counter. He explained to me his system and how I could learn to count cards also. I was thinking about it and after pondering it I decided not to do it. The reason why was I felt that the value of learning to count the cards and what that would bring into my life was not worth the effort I would have to expend to learn the skill. However I have recently started teaching myself Spanish, this will take some time to get good but I am going to pursue acquiring this skill no matter what.

I think what follows is a good introductory list of questions that one might want to ponder before they attempt to get a new skill set of any time.
01) How bad do I want this?
02) What will I sacrifice to get it?
03) How will I go about getting it? (Action plans, dates, goals, timelines, decision trees, etc)
04) What will happen if I don’t get it?
05) What will happen when I do get it?

There is a ton more I could talk about this (and do on workshops). I think inner game is everything; I think it is even more important then outer game (which is why I spend so much time stressing it). In closing I have three questions for the reader: How bad do you want it? How hungry are you? Are you hungry like a wolf or like a sheep?