Getting Past V6 — When to Sweat the Small Stuff

In entrepreneurship and many activities in life, the 80/20 rule reigns supreme.

Reading a business book? You’ll get 80% of the value from 20% of the advice (ie. it’s better to soak in a few key tidbits, then worry about every detail).

Training to run a marathon? Again, you’ll get 80% of the value from making a few small changes to your form and training. For me following the Hal Higdon approach was enough to get me over the line on two marathons.

But recently, for me in rock climbing, I’ve gotten to a point where the 80/20 rule isn’t helping anymore. I’ve been stuck climbing V5’s and v6’s for close to a year now and I’ve been struggling to evolve. That’s when I realized I need to make a shift and sweat the small stuff.

For me to get to the next level I need to train consistently. I need to take each climb seriously, think about small body adjustments, get my toes on the exact right lip of a foothold, and play with my fingers to find any slight advantage on a handhold. There simply isn’t low hanging fruit left. I need to train my finger strength for months at a time and have faith that it will pay off down the road.

The same shift happens in startups and a lot of time entrepreneurs miss the boat. Early on, all new marketing channels (whether it’s paid acquisition, content writing, or SEO) have low hanging fruit. If you execute the fundamentals correctly, you’ll see big gains. But eventually, when you want to max out a channel, you have to sweat the small stuff. You need to obsess over your process and work for months at a time to make small gains.

One of my favorite books that covers this idea is Bill Walsh’s the Score Takes Care of Itself. To win in the NFL, the highest level of athletic competition, you need to shift from an 80/20 mindset to a small stuff mindset.

It’s always worth asking yourself, in your hobbies, in your work, in your relationships, are you at an 80/20 time or a sweat the small stuff time? Knowing is key.

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