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Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Habits”

When dumb people want nice things

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20 11

A few years ago, I was doing a weekly ABC News segment.

One day, my producer asked me, “So how old are you?” I was 26 at the time.

“Aw, how cute,” she said.

That was weird. She was a 24-year-old Asian girl, so why would she call an older guy “cute?” It doesn’t make sense. She saw my quizzical look and said, “What? How old do you think I am?”

“You’re 24,” I told her. Duh.

She smiled. “I’m 34.”

On that day, I realized something profound: Asians never age.

So it was with great pleasure that I read an AP story about Asian people that’s remarkably related to what I write about on IWT every day.

How many people do you know that want the “simple” solution? It may not even work, but they prize simplicity over everything else. These are the kind of people who ask questions like, “What’s the ONE thing you’d recommend…”


Back to the article. It turns out that Koreans totally dominate the field of archery, so Americans have been crazily trying to get Korean coaches — any Korean!! — to coach their teams.

“The ‘must-have’ item for medal hunting archers at the 2012 London Games, Korean coaches have become a necessity rather than a luxury with the United States, Malaysia, Brazil and the Philippines among the countries paying for their expertise.

The clamour for their services is understandable — South Korean archers have won 30 Olympic medals, 16 of them gold, and hold every world record with the Olympic-style recurve bow.”

Why though? What do Korean instructors do that Americans don’t?

“Rabska said South Korean archery students continued to practise the most basic elements until they had perfected the technique and biomechanics.

“Those kids have six months intensive training before they shoot their first arrow.”

The approach in the West is much more direct. And much less successful.

“What we often tend to do in the West is just stick a bow in their hand right away and then spend the rest of the time trying to break bad habits,” added Rabska, who coached and worked closely with Lee at USA Archery.”

This is similar to so many things in our culture: Just get started! (Which is not always good advice.) Give me the one thing to do! What are some crunchy tactical tips??

Oh, you want me to learn about strategy? Hold on mister. You’re saying I need to take time — months, sometimes years — to perfect my craft? No! Get out of my way! Give me the life hacks so I can do it today!!

“You know, practise doesn’t make perfect. Practise makes permanent. The more you practise the wrong things, the more you lay on the hard drive and the harder it is to get rid of it.”

The Korean approach demands such sacrifice that it will not work with some athletes or sporting cultures. Some want immediate gratification in the form of medals or championships instead of long-term, long-lasting success.”

God I love Asians — and not just because they don’t age. Because they actually understand that extraordinary accomplishment comes from extraordinary work.

In a classic move, Americans completely miss the point of building deep expertise, creating long-term habits, and truly crafting mastery.


“Some countries were so desperate for the Korean archery magic dust they hired South Korean coaches — but from different sports, said Rabska.

“It’s unbelievable,” he laughed. “I won’t mention any team names but they are horrific as far as technique is concerned, with no understanding of the biomechanics of archery.

“It was like: ‘We need a Korean coach. Hey, there’s someone looking for a job from wrestling. Fantastic, we got a Korean coach!”

Yes, that’s right. They just hired a random Korean person hoping their Koreanness rub off on them. At least when we start seeing white guys playing cards, drinking, and singing Karoke on Christmas, we’ll know why.

This reflects everything that’s wrong with Americans in general, and in particular all the moronic people who want SUPER TACTICAL TIPS without understanding any strategy or the systems that support it.

I’ve written about this before, when I covered how I traveled for 3 weeks and made passive income. It’s why I insist that my students go through deep theoretical training when they take my courses. Then — and only then — do I give them my tested scripts and tactics. Only when they’re ready to handle them ethically.

If you find yourself searching for tactic after tactic, take an honest look in the mirror. How is that working out for you? Is it worth clicking to 50 new blogs every day to try to find that new productivity app?

Or is there perhaps something deeper beneath the surface? Something that your internet marketing friends don’t talk about? Something about not just HOW to do something well….but WHAT to do in the first place to live a rich life?

To put it bluntly, I could give you my most powerful tactics on negotiation, earning more, automation, and psychology, but if you don’t have the strategy and systems to use them, they will fail.

If you guys want to study how to integrate strategy AND tactics into finding a Dream Job, click here for a free mini-course.

If you want to learn how to do the same for earning money on the side, click here.

Or not. I don’t care. I’m going to get some food.

20 11

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20 11
  1. Alexander Boland Link to this comment

    Well said; I had a similar thought.

    As a disclaimer, I think Tim Ferriss is a very clever, successful, and interesting individual; but “The 4 Hour Workweek” has one big flaw. Ferriss knows HOW to execute the plan that he lays out–his experiences from studying at Princeton, studying judo abroad, running his first company, etc. All those things probably gave him a very deep procedural knowledge that helped him build his automated lifestyle.

    In my own experience, I’ve found that how “hard” I seem to be working on a project in the present isn’t the key factor. The make or break factor is whether I’ve had the I-Give-A-Damn to work at internalizing the fundamentals for an extend period of time. No shortcuts, no tactics; it’s about knowing what you’re doing. The difference is staggering.

    • I agree that the knowing “How” is a lot harder than it seems.

      But in the 4-Hour Workweek, it also talks a lot about doing experiments and rapidly testing hypotheses as you develop your lifestyle business. To Ramit’s point, I think a lot of people want someone to “just tell them what to do.” But there are so many variables from individual-to-individual and situation-to-situation that regardless of what expert advice you take, you need to be willing to test and refine it to fit your life

      If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all answer to lasting success, you will constantly be disappointed. But if you’re willing to learn and apply the fundamental theories, you can constantly adapt and refine them to bring about the best results.

      To your brilliance!
      Elizabeth Grace Saunders

  2. It’s true, Asians never age! I live in Flushing Chinatown, and I’ve gotten used to seeing women who look 15, but have 3 young children. It threw me for a loop the first few times because it just looked *wrong*.

    • Aww Meg, I’m well familiar with Flushing Chinatown. I didn’t think there would be a shout out to Queens on this web site!

  3. That example of hiring the random coaches is hilarious.

    It reminds me a lot of people when they get on a health and exercise kick. They say they want to “get in shape” (what the hell does that even mean? Lose 10 lbs? Gain 5 lbs of muscle?) and “get started” by randomly running and doing arbitrary weight lifting sets 7 days a week. If they spent one afternoon defining a goal and reading a good fitness and health book or even just some legitimate articles, they’d be able to find the most efficient (aka, sustainable) way to get results. Of course, this abrupt change in their habits never lasts.

    It’s made a big difference for me that instead of doing things like healthy dieting and exercising 100% perfect for a month, I can do it at a sustainable 80% that builds habits to get incremental results for years and years.

  4. Great post. Cal Newport at Study Hacks discusses this topic in depth.

  5. I think the problem in our country is the instant gratification culture that has sprung up over the last two decades. If you aren’t rich and famous now…you’re a loser.

    Ironically most people achieve success after suffering for a while, enduring pain and sometimes ridicule.

  6. Recently, I talked to a group of college-age composers. When I told them that what would have them fulfill on what they wanted to do as composers would entail 4-8 hours of composing per day, especially right now while they were in school, I thought their heads were going to explode. Many were happy with 4-8 hours per week! You’re not going to be Mozart or even a decent commercial composer with that little work on the fundamental craft. On the other hand, anyone that put in that kind of time with a competent teacher can be pretty darn good.

  7. I really hope this is one of your ghost writers, cause the “asians do this and asians do that” comparisons are unwarranted and unnecessary.

  8. […] is a great article from about the importance of building a strong foundation.  When figuring out how you are going to get […]

  9. Good post.
    I was watching the Olympic’s, Men’s Diving and the interviewer asked a British diver if he was disappointed to not qualify for the next round, his response was, “I cant be disappointed, my results are a reflection of my preparation”.
    It definitely struck a cord with me. How could I be disappointed with my monthly sales, for example, when I know deep down that I didn’t prepare to win?

  10. Yury B. Suertegaray Link to this comment

    This topic made me think about the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, when he explains that the best way to change a behavior is changing your paradigme.