Think about the last time you were exposed.
I’m not referring to the last time you were caught slipping out the back door in your undies only to drop a little rubbish in the garbage container in the alley…only to find out the door behind you locked. Exposed.
Tell you what, think on it, and we’ll come back to this after I give you a little context.
As you know, if you read my blog I’m an avid listener to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Twice in his 100+ episodes of deconstructing world class performance, he’s interviewed Josh Waitzkin (Link to podcast here). Without providing a complete wikipedia reference to Josh in this post, I’ll simply say this and you can click on his name. Josh is a childhood chess prodigy (the subject of the book Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess) a world class martial artist, and all-around brilliant guy (shocker).
In their most recent podcast session, Josh shed light on how he sees exposure leading to world-class performers and inevitable success. He discussed with great detail, how after four tireless rounds of Jiu Jitsu practice, the best, the most focused and driven will look for one more challenge. The toughest guy in the room. Those wanting to be world class, search for the most exhausting matchup even when their tank is empty.
This exposure, Josh says, is where excellence and success live.
The sparing partner looking for a “rest”or an easy matchup as they enter their fifth and final matchup of the day may very well be good. But, they’ll likely never be great, because they aren’t exposed to their true potential when it is needed most.
Think about this through another lens. How does a muscle grow? I’m not a body builder, but I know it takes one key word. Resistance.
The toughest steel is forged in the hottest fire
Care for another example? There is a wonderful book I read a little over a year ago by Carol Dweck: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I highly encourage this reading to anyone who asks me for a recent book recommendation.
To oversimplify Carol’s theory (which is slightly unfair) for the purpose of this conversation on exposure, think about this. Growth focused vs. static mindsets
Are you smart?
We’d all love to answer yes. But Carol would argue the mindset of being “smart” will limit our future success. It is static. So I should be dumb, you’re probably asking? Obviously not. But your mindset should be more focused on growth than static mindsets (static = I’m smart).
Carol expands with research linking kids who were told they were “smart” seemingly struggling when met with a real challenge in the future. Since the answer isn’t found with relative immediacy, the smart kids tend to give up and feel worse about themselves in the process. Since they can’t figure it out and they’ve always been labeled as “smart”, the antithesis is I’m dumb. Confidence is shattered.
Conversely, the children with a “growth” focused mindset, those with an appetite to learn for the process of learning, were excited & excelled when presented with a really difficult challenge. They didn’t need to be smart to find the answer, but they wouldn’t give up when pursuing multiple solutions when an answer wasn’t immediately available.
The reason the growth focused mindset leads to more successful futures is directly linked to exposure.
Back to the beginning. I read and write frequently about the nature and origins of success. I love the topic and the learnings that come with it. One constant of success across all walks of life is exposure. Exposure is the oxygen needed to fuel the fire. The people consistently seeking exposure to new challenges, new beliefs, new literature and new data are more often than not winners because they’re not afraid to take the next step in the stairway to success.
ACTION ITEM: There are few things I love more than winning and a winning mindset.