How to play up while others are staying average

Principles you need to learn this week to get more than what everyone else is getting

My son was playing basketball in a traveling basketball league when he was in 7th grade. Every game we played we got blown out. One opponent beat our boys 74-7! Turns out the team we were playing was freshman playing down and our boys were 7th graders playing up.

While the beatings of playing up are harsh and the rewards of playing down are mediocre at best, playing up will serve you far better, a lot more often later down the road.

There is one simple concept to playing up. If you want to get 300 customers, think how you can get 3000. If you want to change 3000 lives, think how to change 300,000 lives. And so on. I think you see the point.  

This sounds far easier than it really is, in fact, who wouldn’t want more. Isn’t this common knowledge? The answer is yes but, there are a few caveats. 1) Not everyone knows how to do it and, 2) if they do know how, not everyone has the guts to do it.

For this article let’s talk about number 2 because let’s face it, if you don’t have the guts or the nerve to achieve huge results, all the knowledge about how to do it will do you no good.

It doesn’t require talent. 

I would argue that the most plentiful resources in the world are an abundance of highly educated and amazingly talented people with no measure of real success in their lives. With that said, achievement is available to anyone at any time. Because if it were talent and education that created top tier individuals, there would be 300 million millionaires in the US alone. Put aside the idea of talent for just a minute and become very comfortable that effort will beat talent every time. Like my son’s 7th grade team, effort will look ugly and feel defeating for a long time before you see the rewards. But when the reward of effort does come, they are far grander than that of talent alone.

Get comfortable with failing… a lot!

It’s more than important to understand that failure is part of the game. We all want to be successful right out of the gate but that’s just not realistic. Living with the pie-in-the-sky ideas that you won’t fail is taking too much valuable mental energy away from your vision. Working harder at not failing than just pushing forward from your failures and learning from them is wasting valuable time. Every successful person fails at what they do before hitting success. You are no special case that is immune from failing no matter how hard you prepare. You must not waste valuable time on circumventing failure. You must prepare, plan, and proceed. But when you fail, just learn from it and move forward. I know this sounds simple but so many people are missing this.

Playing up is having the willingness to play at a level much higher than you are ready for. The propensity for failure is magnified once you begin playing up. Get comfortable with that because if you are never pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you are living way too safe to be exceptional at what you do.     

Understand success is like a sport, you must practice

There has never been a super successful person that did not practice their craft. Every day you must practice in some way. It’s no different whether you are running a business or running a marathon. Practice, practice, practice, no days off! I understand that the modern way of life is about balance and working every day to achieve something grand lends itself to burnout. But you must understand that if you aren’t going to do it, someone else will. If you worry about burnout, there are others who are not. There are no laws or regulations in the success world that penalizes you for outworking your competitor. You must always, always be practicing!    

Risk is doing what others are not willing to do

We hear so much about risk. What’s risky and what’s not. How to minimize risk and use risk adverseness metrics and calculated risk theories. But here’s the truth, risk is nothing more than doing what others are not willing to do. You probably do something every day that others are not willing to do. Yet, when it comes to playing up and getting more than others, most people retract and go back to comfort. Rethink the idea of risk. Is it “risky” to be better at something than everyone else? The reason you think certain things are risky is that you are applying your own perspective of what is considered risky. When others risk more than you, they are not viewing it as risky. The reason? Because they are confident in their ability to manage risky action. How you may ask? Reread the paragraph above about practice.    

Fear is nothing more than…

If risk isn’t enough to up your game in playing up, now add the idea of fear. We all have fears. I just don’t believe in the concept of people not having the fear gene. There is no fear gene! Even the greatest risk takers in the world fear for their families and for the average things we all fear. The difference is that the great risk takers of sports, business, or whatever, have learned to control their fears and manage them in a way that does not control their actions. Think of it this way: “Fear is nothing more than your inability to control your thoughts.” Things are not happening to you now, you only fear what might happen in the future. Learn to control your thoughts and start calming your mind.

You probably don’t know what you are doing

If you were to find the most successful person you know and were to look deep into their mind, you would find that they are saying to themselves, “I don’t know why everyone is trusting me so much, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing!” We all look to the most successful, top tier individuals and think they know what they are doing. This is simply not true most of the time. The reason? Top tier individuals are constantly pushing themselves “up” to the next level of their achievement. Once they hit their target level, they look for what’s next and play-up! That next level is generally unfamiliar territory and they have to figure it out – most of the time alone. The reason you think they know what they are doing is that they approach the next level with unconventional levels of self-confidence. While they probably don’t know what they are doing, they are confident they know how to handle anything that comes their way.

To conclude, No one ever said playing up was going to be easy. That’s why most people never do it. Can you be moderately successful by being comfortable in your average lifestyle only getting mediocre results? Well… yes, that’s what most people do. But if you ever want more than what everyone else is getting you must learn to play up. And not just learn to play up but have the balls to do it. I would argue that the vast majority of people know how to get to the next level and beyond. They do not lack opportunity, they lack the nerve and the steely mind to push through the pain and rejection to get there.

Take some time this week and find ways to insulate your mind from the fears and failures that will inevitably come your way on your journey to playing up.

I guarantee that once you defeat your own mind’s fears of playing up you will start seeing results that are far better than what you are seeing now! 

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