This is a lesson I learnt from lifting weights. And interestingly, there turns out to be so many parallels with entrepreneurship. Give me permission to explain.
Enter Weights Training
Enter a commercial gym, and you'll see groups of testosterone-charged bros trying to lift as heavy as they can, cheered on by their peers, all psyched up and raging to kill the weights.
Their reward is some crippling Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in the following days. Some drop out, but most carry on. The next workout is hard, but not as bad as the first. The next is even better, and then so is the next.
But one by one, people drop out of the group. It starts with the petty excuses, which spiral into . Those who are left after a couple of years are big and strong, and they congratulate each other on reaching this pinnacle of achievement, working ever harder, fueled by a nebulous desire to improve, whilst silently trying to beat their peers, disguised as sneers of those who weren't man enough, weren't dedicated enough, and chickened out.
There are obvious parallels to entrepreneurship.
There are the tough-guys in this field as well. People who strived through hardships and scraped up all the resources they could to make things happen. Some were even willing to mow over their peers to get to where they are.
Eventually, some of the starting cohort do reach the top, and then at gala dinners and cocktail parties, they congratulate each other on their achievements, whilst silent trying to oust their competition, disguised as sneers of those who simply couldn't deliver as good a product as those at the table.
The question is how much does it take to burn you out.
The interesting part is of course, that some people can take more beating than others. This is the proverbial tough-guy in the gym, whom is of course, who we all draw inspiration from, and mistakenly, whom we all aspire to be.
In the world of entrepreneurship, this corresponds to those who are just that dam good, and those who get bought out before burn out. These people are the ones that we deem successful, and whose state we aspire to achieve.
There is however, a strict difference between the two in the way that we measure success.
In the case of weight-lifting, the goal is, "How fast can you add weight to the bar without overtraining ". Success can be easily defined by a single metric: the amount of weight you lifted. Entrepreneurial success is much harder to define.
And yet with such a simply goal, the desire for those who lift weights to boundlessly improve, and to work as hard as possible in the present moment is so immense, that it's the prime reason that people fail to achieve their goals in the first place.
Entrepreneurs should be even more wary of this. Their craft is bound to be riddled with more tales of passion and more delusions of grandeur than any out there. Its scope is so large, and the bounty so enticing, that it seems one can do anything to succeed.
And so they work, and work, and work. And yet many fail to see much tangible results. They are chided for not being remarkable, for not delivering a good product, which is all too true. But when you're stuck in that rut, it's impossible to adopt the mindset of a true creator.
The only way out of over-training is to rest. With weight-training it's an actual restoration of the body's ability to function optimally. With entrepreneurship, it's the restoration of the creator's perspective.
When finally that restoration is complete. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that you can push hard like you did again. You can only adapt so quickly, and while the threshold for work may be raised, it's still a strict upper bound. We have to be relentless, and single-minded in our pursuits, but we must also monitor ourselves for signs of fatigue. And interestingly, if we don't push ourselves past that limit, we can recover really quickly, and be ready to push again.
In more succinct terms: Focus, not Fury
Send the PDF to someone you know who's more furious than focused.