Level Up

Tom Bilyeu:

Don’t obsess over your current standing in life. Even if you’re a total failure today, so what? What does that have to do with what you’re capable of becoming? Insist on delivering value to yourself. Only focus on that which drives you to improve.

Everyone has 86,400 seconds a day to spend however they see fit. The only thing that separates the successful from the “also rans” is how effectively time is used in pursuit of their goals. Like money, time must deliver a return. Focus on what is true and effective. There is something in the rhythmic passage of time that blinds people to the opportunities that exist even in the most mundane of moments. As long as you have time, you have time to progress. And progress is so fundamental to happiness, that simply leveling up any element of your skill set will make you feel more alive.

Humans have an innate drive to master their environment, but we also have a competing desire to sit around and do nothing. You have to push through your lesser impulses. Invention is an active pursuit. Value doesn’t drop from the sky, it comes from serving others better than anyone else. But you can only do that if you focus on leveling up – of becoming capable of more. If you focus on results, on what is true and effective, on what delivers value, you can transcend opinion and arrive at a place defined entirely by your accomplishments.

If you want to feel good about yourself today, fall in love with your potential. Don’t be satisfied with what is already done. Emotional comfort is the enemy of future progress. Thankfully, you’ll always be a fraction of who you can become. No matter how much you’ve accomplished. And that’s a wonderful thing, for it is progress that will make you feel most fulfilled. That’s why the cliche that it’s the journey that matters and not the destination has persisted for so long. It’s the progress inherent in the journey that we crave.

You can’t hide from the passage of time, but you can fail to make use of your time. Become what you’ve always envisioned. Use your 86,400 seconds well. Level up.

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Start with the End of the Movie

Jesse Itzler:

It’s always been having for me — probably similar to you — always having the end of the movie in my head. And then filling in the script. So I knew I was going to leave there with a sale. I just had to write the script.

The script might change. There might be, you know, call an audible, and you might have to rewrite the script, but the end of the script was always the same.

I’m going to run a hundred miles.

Okay. Well, how are you gonna do that, Jesse? You’ve never — You’re not, like, a crazy endurance runner!

Well, then, let’s think backwards.

It starts with the end scene in the movie.

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Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Tom Bilyeu:

As the saying goes, people overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in 10.

I went from “naughts” to “yachts” in 5 years, you can do even better.

But you’ve got to have your eye on the fucking prize. Because it will not happen by accident.

It takes a level of maniacal focus that will surprise you, but it is possible.

Just remember, not a damn thing is going to change in your life if you don’t change what you’re doing.

So build a crystal-fucking-clear vision in your mind of what you want to accomplish – including a detailed breakdown of HOW you’re going to get there and then systematically execute against that plan. That’s it.

And it will all happen just as fast as you’re prepared to move. No short bursts, this is a marathon sprint, baby.

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Tom Bilyeu:

I’ve always told myself that on a long enough timeline, I can beat anyone at anything.

It’s all about skill acquisition, and I know most people don’t have my level of tenacity.

Most people give up after a while.

People can go hard for a month, maybe even a year. The hardcore motherfuckers out there can go for a decade.

But what you see above is the fact that I’ve been practicing my public speaking for 30 years now.

If you want to get truly great at something, all you have to do is go at it, balls out, day after day for decades.

Hold yourself accountable. Push yourself. Make insane demands of yourself.

Always have fun, but never be satisfied. Fight through boredom. Relentlessly self-assess. Risk embarrassment. Try and fail. Try some more. And never, ever, ever fucking quit.

Do that, and you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to.

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Humans are the ultimate adaptation machine

Tom Bilyeu, on the James Altucher podcast:

When you see somebody with six-pack abs and they say “I used to be a 100 pounds heavier”, you call B.S. until you see the before-and-after photo. But what’s the before-and-after photo of a mind? That becomes really difficult.

But I can tell you stories…

When I started in business (…) I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I didn’t understand business. I am not a born entrepreneur in any shape, way, or form. I definitely meet minimum requirements, though. I am smart enough. Okay, so once you’re smart enough — you can learn anything you want. You just have to put in the time.

Humans are the ultimate adaptation machine. More than any other species, we can adapt to our environment, we can adapt to stressors. You can put yourself in any environment, you can get good at it — if you have the will to do the work.

I have the will to do the work. I know how to want something. I know how to start with “I’m interested” and turn it into an all-consuming blaze of desire. It’s cultivated. And I believe anyone can do it. You have to know how to fan the flames, you have to know how to self-congratulate, you have to know how to self-punish… all of that… but all I do is say: “I’m going to DECIDE I want this thing.”


You have to get to the nature of things. The reason that I’m always telling people that “humans are the ultimate adaptation machine” is — humans lead with belief. You’re never going to take an action to which you don’t believe you will ever get a positive result.

But if you believe, “Oh, nothing special has to be true of me, I just have to accept that I am a human, and humans are adaptation machines.” That’s literally what we’re designed to do. So just because I’m not good at something today doesn’t mean I can’t be good at it tomorrow.

And that was that first belief that allowed me to start down the path of really developing a growth mindset, building out a set of skills that was valuable.

I believed that my efforts would be rewarded just by the fact that I’m a human, and that’s how the human brain works. You do something over and over and over, and you get better at it. You certainly get more efficient. And then if you can train well, then you can really improve.

So, because I simply believed that that is true of the human animal, I don’t have to think anything unique about me, it’s just — that’s the way this works. If I put the energy in, I’m going to get a result.

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Ryan Holiday:

A CEO calls her staff into the conference room on the eve of the launch of a major new initiative. They file in and take their seats around the table. She calls the meeting to attention and begins, “I have bad news. The project has failed spectacularly. What went wrong?”

The team is perplexed: What?! But we haven’t even launched yet…!


The technique that the CEO above was using was designed by psychologist Gary Klein. It’s called a premortem. In a premortem, a project manager must envision what could go wrong—what will go wrong—in advance, before starting. Why? Far too many ambitious undertakings fail for preventable reasons. Far too many people don’t have a backup plan because they refuse to consider that something might not go exactly as they wish.

Tom Bilyeu:

“Paul, we’re here to answer exactly one question: Why am I going to fail?”

And if you start with that, instead of “Tell me how to succeed” — which is what most people do — you can start to eliminate some of the obvious paths, or at least understand why they’re dangerous paths, why most people fail as they go down those.

Looking at that, what I’m trying to do is rapidly iterate through all the possibilities. There’s a 1000 doors before you. 999 of them aren’t going to work. So the question is: how do you find the one that’s going to work?

And the answer is, you go through one — “Did this work?” No. Back up. Next one. Back up. Next one. Over and over and over. The goal is to fail rapidly. The question is, what are you learning when you’re failing?

Scott H. Young:

If you can endure the worst case, the best cases take care of themselves.

All of my plans are pessimistic. I focus on what might go wrong, not speculating about what might go right.

This may seem like a mindset doomed to fail, but I’ve found quite the opposite. When you manage and control the worst case, fear and anxiety are less likely to overwhelm your thinking. Since you know you can endure the worst outcome, then anything becomes tolerable.

Part of this is asking whether I could sustain a failed outcome. What if a new project completely goes bust? What if I make no progress? Could I keep going, or would failure to reach a certain outcome be a disaster with my plan as it is now?

But an even bigger part of this is expecting a certain amount of behavioral failure. What if I get sick? What if this takes me longer than I had anticipated? What if this turns out to be harder than expected?

When you take this mindset, you start to feel a lot luckier. Why? Because when you’ve planned and prepared for the majority of negative possibilities, then the “random” events you tend to encounter are biased towards the positive. You get a lucky break, or something succeeds more than you had expected.

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Seth Godin on mentors and heroes:

I am in the minority here: I think mentors are way overrated. They don’t scale, it’s an unequal relationship, and it’s an easy way to let yourself off the hook: “I wish I had a mentor”.

Heroes are in enormously large supply. You can say: What would Bill Gates do? What would Elon Musk do? What would Jacqueline Novogratz do? And you can study their work enough, that even from afar, without them knowing you exist — because they’re your hero — you can start to model it.


I find heroes everywhere I look. I find people who speak to me over my shoulder, virtual muses, who encourage me to solve a problem or deal with a situation the way they would. This is thrilling news, because there are so many heroes, so freely available, whenever we need them.

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