Growing up, I spent my summers holed up in the gym, training gymnastics for up to 6 hours a day. When I wasn’t in the gym I was doing math problems or practicing Chinese characters. Or preparing for SAT’s (did 10 full tests one summer). Or reading personal development books like 7 Habits for Highly Effective People and writing personal mission statements. That wasn’t normal.
In high school, there were days where I’d:
- wake up at 7am
- go to school till 3pm
- stay after class to work with my high school gymnastics team till 4:30pm
- drive to my “real” gymnastics practice at 5pm
- do serious and intense training until 9-9:30pm
- get home at 10pm
- shower, eat dinner, and START doing my homework at 11pm.
That wasn’t normal.
Sometimes I wish I had a more normal life growing up. I wanted desperately to watch more TV shows, play video games, and perhaps even get a girlfriend somehow. I wanted to fit in – you know – like a normal kid.
But then I realized that there were other things about my life that weren’t normal. Making the Jr National Team. Being named Boston Globe Gymnast of the Year 3 times in a row. Getting a 1580 out of 1600 on my first (and only) taking of the SATs. Being selected as the graduation speaker for a 2000+ student high school. None of that was normal either.
If you want to win or succeed in something – you’ve got to be willing go against the grain. The truth is, winners do what losers won’t. World champion climber Patxi Usobiaga goes months without a single off day. What kinds of unreasonable, abnormal and irrational things are YOU doing to ensure that you get results that blow people away?
Remember one thing… winning isn’t normal. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual … So it requires unusual action. In order to win, you must do extraordinary things.
You look at people who are extremely successful and I can almost guarantee there is at least something very weird or different about them They have attitudes, habits, ideas and tendencies that are very abnormal. And that makes total sense. Because winning isn’t normal.
EDIT 1: There’s a robust conversation about this post over at Hacker News that you might be interested in checking out.
EDIT 2: I produced a video post that followed up with further thoughts and reflections on the content in and response to this post. Check it out here.