Tom Dekan

Have you ever wondered what your limits are?

You might be working or training hard. But how much more effort could you put in? How much further could you go?

I wonder about that question.

Three days ago, I discovered an answer for me: 16 laps underwater.

I passed my limit after I touched the wall, asked “how far did I go?”, and heard an answer from a friend. She then watched as my head tipped backwards, downwards and unconscious into the water.

All I remember after the answer “16” was sitting in the Majorcan sun on the poolside. I was coughing a little and smiling at my friends. My right eyebrow felt oddly bruised, some of my friends were now also in the pool, and my friends were looking at me with expressions that didn’t match the situation at all.


My aims in our relaxed underwater laps contest in our apartment pool were:

  1. To win. Particularly to beat my close, competitive, and competent friend Andy, who had scored the furthest so far.

  2. Hit my target of 16 laps. This target was the most arbitrary and important target to me.

I achieved these targets. I also passed my body's limit, causing my conscious day to be 3 minutes shorter than usual.

I learnt:

that my limit is 16 laps. This is an undeniable limit that I’d passed.

I can really trust my friends. I turned from an independent adult to a total dependant in under 4 minutes.

Besides reducing your body's need to breathe, hyper-ventilating overrides your body's self-protecting mechanisms.

Death by drowning can follow.

The amateur produces when he feels like it.

As a diligent person, he might have produced a list of potential things to write about. He'll look at this list when he fancies writing.

But when he fancies writing, if the potential writing topics on the list are unexciting, he'll probably leave writing to later.

That doesn't mean that he'll never produce anything. Just that he'll be guided by his present emotions. Novelty guides him, and he waits for inspiration to strike before writing.

Sometimes, even when inspiration strikes, he'll delay producing his thoughts because it's not quite the right time. The inspirational idea is so good that he'll save it for later. At that point, he’ll have more of an audience, more time to write the idea fully, or otherwise better able to execute the idea.

By not consistently producing, his ability to produce – even when inspiration strikes – is rusty.

He's like a runner waiting for great conditions to run his best time. He might run when those great conditions arrive, but he'll be slow.

He's unable to seize the moment because he hasn't been practicing during all the times when the conditions weren't great, and when he didn't feel like it.

Consistency trumps intensity.

“Don't rule out your offer until you've made it at least 100 times” – Alex Hormozi

When you’re creating a new business, you must avoid giving up when you're in the no man's land of effort.

This is the zone where you have put in lots of effort and time, but not enough to see any results.

In a new business, where there's a lot of uncertainty and you haven’t yet had success, you have to conclude whether:

a) you haven't put in enough effort, or

b) your product hypothesis is wrong.

Many would-be entrepreneurs have their idea killed by the mind virus of self-doubt at this stage. They don't see immediate traction, so they conclude that their offer is fundamentally flawed.

In reality, they haven't put in enough effort to find out if their offer is good.

To see success, you must cross the no man's land of uncertainty – where you are putting in effort but getting no results. This is an emotionally uncomfortable phase. You’re spending time and money and you don’t know if you are progressing towards something,

At this stage, most would-be entrepreneurs take an emotional shortcut. As they don’t see success, they take the shortest way out of the no man’s land of uncertainty. They take the certainty of flipping to another idea, or giving up entirely.

To pass through the uncertainty, and to establish whether your offer is actually good, you need to push to the extreme. You need to have put in such a large amount of effort that it would be unreasonable for you not to see any success if your offer has merit.

If you put in this unreasonable extreme of effort, and don’t see at least some success, then you can conclude that your product hypothesis is wrong.

The test you should be asking is: “Have I done so much X that it would be unreasonable not for me to get results?”.

If you don't put in an unreasonable extreme of effort, you'll never know if your idea was good.

One close friend of mine is often stopped by charity salespeople when walking around his town.

As human adverts, these charity salespeople are much more mentally costly than most online ads. Rejecting a real human, particularly in the guise of helping others, is much more emotionally costly than ignoring a banner ad.

My friend pays for a premium experience walking around his town. To avoid the mental cost of rejecting these salespeople, and instead feel a positive, my friend donates to all of them.

When he is then approached, he simply and honestly tells these people that he already donates to the charity that they are selling. He glides past frictionlessly and happily.

Think of a close friend of yours. What's their name?

Now, imagine that your friend sets up a business tomorrow. That business grows immediately and rapidly. Within 3 years, your friend is a billionaire.

How do you feel about that? Would part of you feel some discomfort at the idea that your friend is suddenly much more financially successful than you?

If not, congratulations. I suggest stopping reading now.

If yes, then continue. I'm calling this feeling of discomfort “peer anxiety”.

Peer anxiety is natural, but counterproductive and illogical. It's natural because we naturally think of the world as zero-sum. We think that there are a limited number of:

  • resources
  • senior positions at work
  • business opportunities
  • number of potential customers
  • slices of pie generally.

This is wrong. The world is not zero-sum. Neither is it a pie. Our global economy and resources and opportunities are essentially unlimited and continually growing.

So, you are not competing with your friend for a limited number of resources.

Instead, my key point is: your friend's success benefits you massively. The more successful they become, the more successful that you are likely to be.

This is because you can help each other. If your friend becomes a billionaire by building a business, the skills that they have learnt to do that are extremely valuable, and they can guide you – accelerating your development.

There are an overwhelming number of benefits to you generally of your friends being massively successful. Considering just the economics, by creating a lot of value, your friend has demonstrated their ability to the market. This means that they can access capital easily as a result – they have proven that they can create wealth. Assuming that you're talented, your friend can vouch for you, using their reputation to advance your progress.

This applies generally. Imagine the amount that your close friends: Bryan Johnson, Chuck Schumer, Shohei Otani, Alex Hormozi,

could accelerate your development in tech and longevity, politics, baseball, and marketing.

You want your friends to win as much as possible. If your friends win, you win.

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