Read, Write, and Train Everyday
This tweet made some waves, getting retweeted over 1,000 times (thank you Naval)
It’s a simple heuristic, and clearly, it resonated with people. Simplicity is compelling. I believe it answers the universal questions that people have asked themselves since time immemorial.
What makes someone the “best” at something, and how can I get there?
What can I do to learn faster, better, more effectively?
What are the skills need to change the world, or change myself? (if you are particularly ambitious)
If you are someone that desires excellence in your life, or simply wanted to change yourself in some fashion, you have asked yourself these questions in some form or another.
The Trifecta is the key to finding these answers:
-Read one hour a day
-Write one hour a day
-Train one hour a day
This suggestion was not arrived at lightly, despite how simple it is.
Reading, Writing, and Training are absolutely critical practices. Within those three things you enable the broadest possible range of skills and cultivation of personal qualities that support your success in ANY field. I believe this is the foundational formula to becoming the top 1% of human beings, in any any given realm. It acts as a cornerstone to building skillsets, increasing cognitive learning, and maintaining physical health and resiliency to continuously improve. And it can be be done at ANY TIME, with a minimum of cost and a maximum of gain. There are ZERO prerequisites to doing it.
Said another way, it tilts the odds of success in your favor. And you WANT to the odds to favor you. The world is ever more competitive with each passing year, and staying competitive requires judicious action. The world has many narratives, many challenges, and many opportunities.
We all occupy a world where ideas have become the most valuable form of currency, where the ability to focus is under fire in a world of noise, and where “mastery” and making sense of truth is more important than ever before.
-The Finding of the Trifecta-
The Trifecta coalesced for me over time. Like many, I spent much of my 20s trying to learn about the world, and learn about myself in the process. My experiences are no doubt similar to many other peoples, though there is perhaps one critical difference. I’m a personal trainer, and I have clients. My reading, perspectives, and experiments, they are not all “N=1”, rather, I’ve had many other people to test them out. Im in a professional role of directing people’s mentality and behaviors. Patterns emerge readily.
This gave me a filter of application and objectivity. Over time, I went from looking for grandiose epiphanies, to wanting to distill the most objective truths that could be immediately acted upon.
To paraphrase from Peter Thiel, I wanted to find the secrets that hide in plain sight.
This was not so obvious a thing to look for. The gods only know how many books have been written about the Power of insert-X, the Habits, the Mindset, the Skillsets, the Making Sense of the, the Tools, the “what the best in the world do”. So on and so forth.
The self-improvement realm is MASSIVE, and more is being added to it every single day. At a certain point, it all becomes very redundant.
Further, I realized how non-objective people were in regards to their success. One of the interesting characteristics of success and mastery is that becomes HARDER for people to remember what it was like being a beginner. The adage of “remembering where you come from” is absolutely true. When you have been the best in the world for 20 years and/or devoted your life to being a high level expert, a “beginner’s” mindset can be an immense challenge.
What makes someone successful on the way “up” may NOT be what they remember when asked about success. Survivorship bias characterizes many people’s self assessment of WHY they are where they are, or why their method worked and others did not. Our perception of reality is constantly shifting according to our level of past success and perspective thereof. And the more successful we become, the more that perception SHIFTS.
People often fall into rabbits holes when they study “successful people”.
In our attempts to make sense of the habits of high performers and hypersuccessful individuals, we either get lost in emotional platitudes, or look for the estoeric and quasi mystical personal practices that they have. We want the things that no one else does, or that no one else has heard of.
Believing in passion, gratitude, love, joy, happiness, etc, these are nice feelings. They are also often vague, highly personal, and give us an emotional dopamine boost more than they provide anything useful.
Same goes for reading that someone drinks cherry juice post workout, or listens to binaural beats during their 15 minutes blocks of reading time, or read an obscure Egyptian wisdom book that’s 4,00 years old, that sounds COOL. The novelty catches our attention, but its also novel for the sake of being novel.
As such, I ended up going the opposite route. I care about application first, not theory. The mystical habits as I call them, those are often N=1 idiosyncrasies, they are exceptional, but make for poor suggestions. They may be worth trying, but the likelihood that they will broadly life changing is pretty low.
What I looked for was the commonalities, the mean habits that everyone appeared to share.
The Trifecta is what I arrived at.
Of everyone and everything that I studied (which was many people and subjects across many fields and a great deal of history), there were only three things that were universally common.
1. Reading-This was so common that it was taken for granted. Few people even discussed reading as being essential, and I realized they did not recognize how UNCOMMON concentrated, focused reading actually is (though to be fair, many lived during times period where most people were illiterate). Barring a few outliers, reading is a cornerstone habit for information acquisition, self reflection, thinking, relaxation, and general curiosity and intentional learning.
2. Writing-Successful people write. Period. They write about what they learned, what they are doing, what they think their motivations are, what they hope to do, what they failed at, what they can improve at. They write for their entertainment, even if no one ever sees what they they write. Writing purely represents that you have lived, learned, and have some level of self awareness to be able to examine your own memories. Not everyone writes a book, but a refusal to write is a mind a that does not want to examine its own thoughts and mode of being. Writing is credited with EVERYTHING, from overcoming trauma to providing refuge to finding love to affirming the ambition to conquer the world. Or a best seller that convinced them their ideas were worth a damn, if nothing else.
3. Training-People might take this to mean “exercise”, but it is not so specific as that. Training is anything of a physical nature. Walking to have time to think, playing an instrument, physical training of the body through various forms of exercise, this is something that everyone had their own version of. What was recognized was that physicality creates mentality, and that to self-actualize, you must have the physical health to support doing so. Strong body, strong mind, the two are inextricably linked. (outliers exist of course, but they do not disprove the heuristic)
There will likely be resistance to some of the above, or ALL of it
-I don’t have time
-3 hours a day is too much
-I don’t know what to read
-I don’t know what to write
-I don’t know what to do with training
And so on and so forth. Maybe the protests are valid reasons, maybe they are your own excuses. I’m not one to readily endorse people’s reasons for NOT doing something that would be to their benefit. Reasons are few, but excuses are LEGION.
Be cognizant that none of the above are mutually exclusive, and relative to living in western society, you’ve got all the means to do them. The resources that exists for writing, reading, and training are nigh infinite, and they all can be combined in various ways as well.
The Trifecta is not a formula that mandates perfection. You can add a fourth cornerstone to and personalize it. You can attempt it and discover what you discover. You might read a lot but do little else, you might write a lot but neglect your health. You might take care of your health but read and write little.
Or you may do none of these things, and consider the entire formula utterly worthless, and who has time for such things (thanks for reading to the end of the article, by the way).
The means are there. Whether you do any of them, that falls upon you.