On Being Relentless

MJ Quote

I recently finished reading Tim Grover’s book, Relentless.

For those of you not familiar with Tim Grover, he was Michael Jordan’s long time personal trainer.  Since MJ retired he has worked with many world class athletes including Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. He’s known for his “relentless” approach to preparation, physical performance, and mental toughness.

This is what Kobe Bryant (who, whether you like him or not, it’s hard to argue with his tenacity) said about Grover’s book:

Tim Grover is the master of mental toughness.  This book is the blueprint for discovering what you are capable of achieving, getting results you never imagined, reaching the highest levels of success and then going even higher. 

The book takes you through the steps that are needed to develop a “relentless” approach to the pursuit of your goals.

A quick summary about what it means to be relentless:

  • In order to be relentless in pursuit of your goals you have to know what your goals are.  Clarity is power;
  • A relentless person never makes excuses;
  • A relentless person thinks about “how”, not about “if”;
  • A relentless person pushes the boundaries of what they are capable of;
  • A relentless person is constantly improving and never settling;
  • A relentless person see obstacles as challenges to be overcome, not as insurmountable obstacles that are discouraging;
  • A relentless person intentionally seeks out what scares them;
  • A relentless person pushes to the very best that they have, and then goes a little further;
  • A relentless person isn’t concerned about what other people are doing, they are in a competition of one;
  • A relentless person channels “flow” and gets in the “zone” every day;
  • A relentless person thrives on pressure;
  • A relentless person is a leader, and when things get tough they are ones that first step up;
  • A relentless person makes decisions quickly and owns responsibility;
  • A relentless person doesn’t believe in failure.  Failure is only feedback.  The feedback is telling you that you’ve taken an incorrect approach to achieve your goals and you need to change up your behaviour.  It is scientific.

So how does one become relentless?

  • The most important thing is to develop mental toughness.  This can only be acquired by actually doing hard things, doing scary things, doing uncomfortable things, pushing yourself to your limits and then going a little further.  It is something that can’t be understood, it has to be acted on;
  • Being relentless is a behavioural pattern.  It is a method of action. It isn’t a theory.  Theory without application is useless.  You have to push yourself to the limits of your capacity every day to be relentless;
  • You have to set specific goals and then “relentlessly” pursue them.  If you don’t get them you don’t get discouraged, you simply apply the feedback mechanism – see what you did, see what that got you, then adjust your behaviour to get different results.  There are no emotions involved;
  • If you achieve your goals you have to still apply the feedback mechanism.  Think about what you could have achieved if you pushed yourself a little further.

I really like this approach.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  When I was in Greece recently I started to read about the Spartans and the battle of Thermopylae.  I found it inspiring.  I thought about whether I was challenging myself to the best of my ability.  I believe that I am, and I want to continually assess myself to ensure that I am taking this approach.

Here is what I am doing to be relentless:

  •  Continually set specific goals that stretch me beyond my capacity;
  • Each day plan my day to the very fullest.  Plan out every second of every day, and push myself until I can’t go any further;
  • Continually do things that scare me;
  • Continually assess my results against my actions.  Adjust the actions that I need to change to get different results.

For me, the relentless approach is most fulfilling. It makes me feel alive.  I think often about a quote from the Magician David Blaine:

I know that when I push myself to the absolute limit, I feel more alive than ever

I feel the same way.

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