I’ve heard it said that nothing compares to your first line of cocaine. First time users transition into addicts because they spend the rest of their lives searching for the euphoria of the first time.
Of course, they never experience it. Nothing quite feels like the first time. It is a hopeless search that’ll leave you feeling empty, broken, and ultimately will kill you when you either overdose or have you given your life away in search of it.
Chasing novelty is much like that. It is a double edge sword that’ll give you fleeting moments of euphoria, temporary feelings of happiness, but ultimately will leave you broken and empty.
It’s a problem. Why? Because humans fucking love new things.
You could be driving a 30-year-old car that is an absolute piece of garbage…but if it’s new, you’ll love it.
At least temporarily.
This could get me in trouble but have you ever had a girlfriend who was the best girl in the world for the first six months? (I’m going to assume each of you has met every girl in the world so you are allowed to make these types of conclusions.) And then she “turned” into the devil? In reality, she could have been the devil the whole time but she was new, it was a novel experience, and you were blinded to the truth because of your attraction to novelty.
Program ADD is no different. Travis touched on it a bit here but I have undoubtedly experienced the same thing. TNATION was my go to website my sophomore year of college. It wasn’t a problem because our programming was taken care of by our strength staff… until of course I was given the opportunity to program for myself in the summer. What’d I do? I only squatted 21 days in a row attempting to mimic the absurd results of Broz Gym.
Did I feel temporarily awesome? Absolutely. I couldn’t have been more excited to go to the gym and squat for 21 days in a row. I loved it. That seems insane but the novelty of a new program blinded me to the harsh reality that I’m a drug free athlete, with soft tissue restrictions, and in no way shape or form can handle three weeks straight of max effort squatting. I was strong (front squatted 365 at one point)… until I wasn’t. I spent the remainder of the fall barely able to get out of bed because my back was so thrashed.
I was broken and empty.
The same goes for pitching and mechanics. I’ve never been confused with Greg Maddux growing up. Good stuff, decent velocity, but I don’t “paint” for anyone well versed in baseball lingo. But I’ve tried to learn how and I always thought that mechanical adjustments would be my answer. Problem is, when you try new mechanics every two weeks, you’re going to be stuck in the same place you started at: a pitcher with minimal control. Every time I changed or tried different mechanics, it’s because I didn’t get results overnight and the novelty effect of the old mechanics wore off.
I needed something new, something to get me excited about pitching again. My thinking couldn’t have been more flawed. I didn’t need new mechanics or something else to get excited about. Seeking novelty was the worst possible thing I could have chased. I needed to stick with one thing, one set of mechanics. I needed to try it when I was excited about it and then stick with it through the monotony that eventually comes when the novelty effect wears off. That’s how progress is made. That’s how mechanics are perfected.
I am experiencing the same thing with Show Me Strength. Don’t get me wrong, I am still thoroughly excited about the work that Chad, Matt, and I are doing. Yet, it’s different. The novelty effect has worn off. I am not as excited anymore to wake up at 5 in the morning to write posts. When I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper, words don’t happen to flow as easily as they once did. I struggle a lot more than I used to when Chad and I rebooted the site three months ago.
That’s ok. I’ve come to accept it and my work in all aspects of my life will grow because I no longer chase novelty or the next new best exciting stimuli.
Because chasing novelty prevents mastery. It is the antithesis of grinding.
Grinding is hard, it can be mentally exhausting, and above all it is the furthest thing from sexy. As someone who loves the grind can tell you, most times it is one of the most miserable things you can do. Couple that with the unfortunate reality of our society programming us to continually seek instant gratification and we are set up for disaster.
Today, most people would rather be horrendously mediocre at 500 different things than a master at one.
Becoming a master, or expert, according to Malcolm Gladwell and the research he’s compiled from social scientists requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Practice just isn’t good enough. It has to be deliberate, it requires extreme levels of concentration, and you must do it every single day for hours a day if you have any dreams about becoming a master.
Where’s the novelty effect there? Do those seeking to become the expert continually seek new stimuli? Impossible. If they did, they would never achieve any level of mastery.
Kobe Bryant will shoot the same jump shot 10,000 times, feel comfortable with it, and then keep shooting. How many times do you think Greg Maddux practiced his delivery before he perfected it? Monotonous? Absolutely, but necessary if you want to be great.
Like all things in life, it comes down to a choice. How committed are you to the pursuit of greatness and mastery? Even if you are pursuing mastery doing something you love, pursuing your passion, eventually the excitement will lessen. Each day will become a little more monotonous than the last and it’ll be a constant battle to motivate yourself. You’ll have moments when you’ll become disinterested, when all passion seems to be lost, and motivation is nonexistent.
Most stop here. Grinding is too difficult, it requires too much. The resistance is too strong. Mediocrity will inevitably follow.
In light of all that, I urge you to choose the road untraveled. In doing so, you must accept that the road to mastery will be arduous. The lack of novelty will make you will feel broken and empty at times. You must continue on.
Your calling is found in your passion. Mastery of your calling is found in the grind.
Embrace. Fight. Prevail.