Imagine being admired as someone who is great at everything. You’re good-looking, fit, rich, well-traveled, well-dressed, charismatic, funny, have lots of friends, well-accomplished, and interesting. The truth is it’s possible and the people you perceive to be like this aren’t as perfect as you think. The secret lies in understanding diminishing returns and riding the point of greatest impact.
I want to share with you a secret about myself.
I’m not an expert in fitness, health, wealth, happiness, history, psychology, business, archery, volleyball, or fashion. But I know much more and can perform much better than the average person in these areas. On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being a world-class level), the average guy is a 5, and I’d say I’m a 7 or 8 in many areas. And that’s the key.
The perception is that the person you see can do it all — that he or she is a 10 out of 10. But the reality is that he’s likely a 7 or 8, but you conclude 10 based on the average people you’re comparing that person to. What many perceive as someone who can do it all is someone who can do above average. That man who is the most muscular at your gym is doing great, but he’s nowhere close to the level needed to compete in a national bodybuilding competition. There’s no need to be in the top 0.001% when you being in the top 1% or 5% satisfies everyone.
The best part? Sometimes, it only takes a few months (or a couple years) of extensive study and practice to reach that level in an area, when you use optimal speed-learning practices. It’s also because the average person puts in so little consistent time into every important area of his or her life. Tim Ferriss breaks it down concisely in this talk.
But that difference gets me so much in terms of results because of this.
Keep in mind that there’s probably tens of thousands of people in the world that are 9’s and 10’s in these categories.
- There are people who know sophisticated details about fashion such as cuff link sizes and different types of embroidery for your suit.
- There are people who know extensive details about the optimal way of doing a special type of squat to optimize for flexibility and growth of an obscure muscle group. My knowledge from the courses I have taken in exercise physiology won’t compare.
- There are people who can cook gourmet meals that require delicate, surgical precision and 50 different ingredients.
However, these marginal things will have very little impact on any additional results you want to achieve. Generally speaking, our goals here are usually:
- to get better at dating and do better with women.
- to feel more confident.
- to make more money.
- to do better in business.
- to do better in social situations or with public speaking.
Here’s the point: these areas have a diminishing return the better you get at it. It’s often not worth an excessive amount of extra time based on these goals.If you’re already pretty muscular, spending 10,000 more hours at the gym will only have a marginal impact on your perception
For example, if you’re already pretty muscular, spending 10,000 more hours at the gym will only have a marginal impact on your perception to women. There’s even a negative effect if you go too far as many women don’t like an overly muscular man.
If you’re already fashionable, spending tons of extra time and money on sophisticated clothing will have a diminishing return. It can even affect you socially if you’re scared to interact or touch people in a crowded environment because you think they’ll mess up or dirty your expensive clothes.
In life, and especially in dating, I have learned that it’s a balancing act. I’ve learned this from many sources, but the best source is The Mating Grounds podcast and their book Mate. They go into a good amount of science proving this.
It’s better to be a 7 in multiple areas (physique, sense of humor, and style), rather than all over the place (9 in physique, 3 in confidence, 2 in sense of humor).
I have seen a lot of guys learn this the hard way. Have you ever met a man who has an incredible body but sucks with women? I have seen quite a few handsome men who don’t do as good as I thought.
In fact, there are ton of handsome men and even models who secretly struggle with this. I was watching a dating instructor, Kezia Noble, talk about how 10% of her students were always head turners. And she has courses every week with hundreds of men.
Similarly, you can overemphasize fashion just like you did with physique and walk out thinking women will mob you just because you have spent years analyzing and improving your style and fashion with the top experts in the world. You will get noticed more but if many other areas of your life are below average, you won’t do that well.
Note: Fashion sense and social intelligence are things that usually cannot be improved alone. You often tend to have a huge bias towards how great you are at these when that’s not true. You can, for example, give off many creepy vibes you are unaware of or wear clothing with colors that clash or don’t suit you without realizing it.
I suggest getting 3 or more socially intelligent or fashionable friends (preferably girls) to help you on the areas they excel at.
Back to my big point:
Picture an average guy who can’t cook, has no muscle, and always wears a t-shirt and dirty tennis shoes. This is an example of a man who is a 5 in multiple areas.
Compare him to someone who is an 8 in these categories: he is muscular, can cook some interesting wine and steak recipes, and he’s wearing a well-fitted suit. This man doesn’t know about highly specialized things like how to do specialized tricep curls or how the cuff-link color should contrast with a hat, but he doesn’t have to.
Spending enough time and energy to go above and beyond enough is so much more than the typical average guy that you stick out. This especially works when you compound these areas together. You’re sticking out in more than one area.
You might not think it’s a huge difference to be significantly above the average person on a bell curve, but perhaps this example will convince you:
Over my lifetime, I have talked to dozens of girls who have casually mentioned that the first thing they look at when they meet a guy is his shoes. I usually didn’t ask about this, but it was always casually just mentioned. On top of that, I have stumbled across many fashion advice videos like those from Antonio Centeno who has said the same thing. It can’t be a coincidence.
The crazy part is that I’m 100% sure that all of these girls haven’t met each other. Yet they all came to the same behavior. It might be an evolutionary thing or a girl’s fashion thing. I don’t know. I do know that it’s clear as day that it matters.
Now, for most guys, even if they know about this valuable piece of information, they won’t do anything about it. First off, most guys don’t even know about this. But if they do, they don’t do anything and I know because I’m one of them.
I think I’ve known about this for a while but because I wanted to stay on a budget and I wasn’t good with choosing shoes, I didn’t do much. Over time, I am starting to spend a little more and take my time to do my research because it matters. And it will pay off.
When a typical girl meets a guy, she will usually look at his shoes first. For some girls, she can immediately tell a lot about a guy by his shoes. Let’s call this girl Sally.
Sally meets 10 guys who ask her out on a date over a month (which isn’t that unusual for a pretty girl). 9 out of these 10 guys have dirty Nike tennis shoes, old canvas shoes, or a standard shoe like Air Jordan’s. 1 of these guys (let’s call him Bill) is wearing Johnston Murphy double monk strap brown, mahogany leather shoes. And he clearly knows what this shoe is when he’s asked.
Who has a small advantage? Definitely Bill.
Note: it may seem like Bill knows his shoes well, but in all honesty, Johnston Murphy is simply one of the more trusted, affordable, yet high-quality shoes that is recognizable and has a quality reputation. It’s one of the well-known companies out there.
It’s sophisticated enough to impress most people but nothing impressive if you talked to a true shoe expert or fashionista. You don’t need to go that far.
See how that works?
In real life, it’s a balancing act. You’re better off being good enough to look better than 90% of people, without worrying about the last 10% of people. You are better off being a man who makes six figures, is confident, funny, well-dressed, and fit versus someone who makes a million per year but is completely out of shape, obese, and comes off creepy without realizing it.
The one area where this doesn’t apply is making money. From what I have observed from watching billionaires, they are deadly skilled in one specialized area and average at everything else. Paul Brunson wrote 2 great articles on what he learned from being an apprentice to two billionaires including Oprah Winfrey. One of his discoveries was that Oprah was average at everything else in her life, just like everyone else, except for the one thing she was world-class at interviewing people.
The one area I try to be deadly and dangerous in would be self-development and business strategy. I strive to be in the top 1% of 1% in terms of knowledge and understanding in those areas. So far, I have consumed more material than 99% of people on Earth in those areas and I’m still going. I understand it to a fairly sophisticated level that I hope to dive deeper into.
Other things like fashion or fitness, I simply want to be good enough to appear better than most people. In reality, it’s a facade. I’m not in the top 1% in these areas. My secret is that I have just studied enough, read enough articles, and watched enough videos to do well enough.
Quite frankly, it’s usually all you need if you just want to be muscular or fashionable enough. For fitness, for example, there’s really no magic pills or shortcuts. If you know that you need to eat healthy foods, exercise more, and do a few foundational exercises consistently over a long period of time, you already know enough to get better than the average man, who is probably obese or really skinny.
Focus On What You Are Bad at First to Get Bigger Results
Would you like to get more results in dating even though you put in the same level of effort as someone else?
Well, it’s completely possible. Most men run around like chickens with their heads cut off. They are very tactical with what they do rather than strategic.
They chase the next shiny new magic pill (a magic pick-up line or cheesy psychological trick). They try to to improve what they are good at (e.g. they notice they have big arms so they make them bigger). They throw their hands up in frustration when they do not get anywhere.
Instead, improve the areas that are below average first.
Why? Because girls are genetically wired to be overly disgusted by below average traits. They put extra weight into the negative because it helped their ancestors survive by choosing the right mate.
Here’s an example. Consider two guys who are alike in every way:
- The first improved his terrible hygiene and fashion to a level that is slightly above average.
- The second took the same amount of time and energy to improve his already charming personality while leaving his hygiene and fashion where they are.
With the same effort, the first man does a lot better with women. Why? Because you are playing a huge disadvantage with the hygiene handicap. Girls will immediately be repulsed. Second, because most areas of attractiveness has diminishing levels of return. That means that going from really funny to extremely funny does not have as much impact in the dating world as going from boring to somewhat funny does.
Dating is more about covering your bases and balancing them rather than becoming world-class at one specific area while letting other areas go. It’s funny because a lot of people who have made a lot of money say it’s the exact opposite in the career and business world.
On a final note, your motivation must spring from the right source. You shouldn’t base your happiness or self-worth on whether others perceive you as someone who can “do it all.” That’s unhealthy, and no one, even super-mom’s can’t do it all. We’re human. Plus, who cares what acquaintances and strangers think of you? It’s healthier to have an intrinsic motivation (e.g., “I want to have balance in all areas of life so I can be happy and successful”) rather than an extrinsic motivation for your happiness.
What’s the #1 most important thing you learned from this video that you will test out immediately?
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