Mohammed Ali once said, “I don’t count my sit-ups.  I only start counting when it starts hurting.”

The point he was making was that the sit-ups before the burn aren’t really exercise.  They’re only preparation for exercise.  The real exercise happens when the burn happens.

This, I think, is the key to success.  Most people talk.  But only a few actually succeed.

As I see it, there are three parts to this.  (I wrote about the first part yesterday.)

The second part is this: don’t quit.

These are so simplistic they sound sarcastic.  But they’re not.  I don’t know what it is—I fight it all the time myself—but most people just won’t start, and the ones that do often quit as soon as it gets hard.

What separates the champs from the rest is not brains, brawn, or privilege.  It’s just that they didn’t quit.

But on a practical note, what do you do when you mess up?  Push on anyway?  Steven King calls this killing your darlings.  No matter how much you put in to it, if you realize it’s not helping your goal, cut it and start again.

The burn, or hurt, is a part of it all.  That’s the learning and growing.  That’s why pushing through is so important.


A great and tiny book on this is Seth Goden’s The Dip.  Here Goden talks about how to evaluate the what’s a dip and what’s a dead-end.  It’s in my 2015 reading, and I recommend it.


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