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Milo of Croton was a 6th-century BC wrestler from the Magna Graecian city of Croton, who enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece. He decided to carry a newborn calf on his shoulders to strengthen himself day by day, for more than four years. While people were laughing at him, the small calf slowly grew into an adult ox and Milo got stronger and stronger along the way.
Now let’s look at the main lessons of his training and improvements.
Milo didn’t start by lifting a big heavy ox. He started with a calf. That gave him the chance to master the fundamentals.
He went with a smart approach to take on a manageable challenge and slowly develop strength and self-confidence, even though people were judging him. Deep down he had a long term vision that was much bigger than the short-term pain of being laughed at.
“In five years, you can dramatically improve your health, wealth, relationships, competences, happiness or whatever your goals is. Read one page per day and then add an additional one everyday.”
Hard work beats talent every time. But hard work is hard, since it demands almost bulletproof consistency and focus.
You have to persistently follow a carefully orchestrated process that leads you to your big vision. Consistency and never giving up, while staying flexible, are the key to everything. Milo knew that and thus wherever he went, he never left the growing calf behind.
Here is what consistency means in very practical terms:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”
Consistency is only part of the equation. Lift, Carry, Put down, Rest, Pick up. Practice Lay Down. Rest Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.
The right kind of consistency helps you focus, lay strong foundations and master the basics. The second part of the equation is progressive overload in combination with interleaved practice.
Practicing something with the same amount of effort and in pretty much the same way sooner or later becomes easy. Your comfort zone stretches and when that happens it’s time put more effort on your shoulders.
“If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be more than you are now.”
There is one thing that the Milo’s story doesn’t tell. Progress is rarely linear. Usually it happens with “one step back, two steps forward” or even in “a few steps back, one quantum leap forward” way.
Ups and downs. You practice, you work hard, but the progress is really slow. Or maybe you get sick, or a little bit fed up with everything and you simply must take a break. Those kinds of situations can make you extremely frustrated.
But if you keep persisting (maybe by adding one more pause or two), one day you wake up, go to your practice, and suddenly see a big improvement.
If consistency, progression and interleaved practice are the key to success, that means the most important thing is to never give up.
You should never be afraid of slow progress, the only thing you should be afraid of is to stop trying. There’s a simple secret how to make sure you never give up.
The secret is to start with why. You need a strong emotional reason why you want to achieve something. You must empower your doing with a mission, which is greater than any setback on the road. When you find your why, you don’t have a problem with motivation anymore.
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