Mohammad Ali, the legendary boxer, when asked how many pushups he did, answered “Eight”. This obviously surprised the interviewer. Till Ali went on to say, “I do eight after I reach the point that it hurts so much that I believe I can’t do any more.”
Mark Divine, a retired Navy Seal, loves to talk about a concept called the 20X factor. Essentially, he says that each of us is capable of doing and achieving at least 20 times more than what we are currently doing.
And of course, many of us have been told, at some time or the other, that the average human uses less than 10% of his or her brain power.
Whichever way we look at it, and wherever we may be in our lives, the bottom line is that each and every one of us is living and playing at a level that is way below our potential.
The cliché that the sky is our limit is so true. Most of us live lives of routine and average-ness. We live lives of quiet desperation. We may be superficially successful, but in our heart, we know that there is so much more we are capable of.
So, do we have to be the Greatest Boxer of all time or a Navy Seal to live closer to our potential ? To stretch our limits ? Of course not. Each and every one of us can do it. It does not matter what has happened in our lives so far. The past is for historians and accountants. The future is ours to create.
The reality is that we can change our lives by stretching ourselves in more ways than we can imagine. From the mundane to the sublime.
Okay, you and I aren’t a Navy Seal operating at the peak of physical, mental and emotional strength. So, forget the 20X factor. Let’s give ourselves some leeway here and decide that, for the meantime, we will explore our 5X factor.
What happens when we believe that we can stretch ourselves to 5 times where we are now ?
- 20 kilos overweight ? We can eat better, exercise more, lose it all.
- Attention span of a goldfish ? Meditation and concentration exercises will help us become centred and focus on something for over two hours without a break.
- Low willpower ? We can start with small victories and build up over time. One day soon, we will reach a point where we can say no to dessert, start working on that overdue project, let go of that toxic person, put our smartphone on silent and show up for our yoga class, all in the space of one afternoon.
- Never run more than a hundred meters ? We could run a marathon next year.
- Have had a book idea mulling inside our head for years ? We could finish it and self-publish it on Kindle in six months.
- Watching 4 hours of mindless television a day ? We could replace it with smarter and more productive stuff – reading, gardening, writing, meditating, a gym session, family time or a run around the block.
- Stuck in a dead end job ? We could reinvent ourselves by taking a course, expanding our skills and actively seeking a change.
By applying the 5X factor, we will get closer to leading the perfect life,
And this is where the complication comes in. All of this is easier said than done. How do we translate our noble intentions into reality ?
Well begun is half done. A good starting point is to identify the areas in your life where we want to apply the 5X factor. Things that we want to be, do or own. We take a pen and a piece of paper (or the notes app on our smartphone) and identify the 5 to 7 big changes we wish to make in our life. Huge changes. Changes that take us to another level. Changes that we currently believe we genuinely can’t implement. We read and rewrite these over and over again till we get them just right. We take it as a challenge to our ego and our self-respect. We make an action plan to make these changes happen. And then execute the action plan.
I wish I could give you some magic formula beyond this. Sadly, there isn’t any. We have to do the work. No pain, no gain. Of course, we must get online and research tools that will us you achieve our 5X life, and we will be drowned with various suggestions including
- Visualising our success
- Affirmations and self talk that we will succeed
- Creating the right environment for success
- Making S-M-A-R-T goals
- Identifying triggers that are obstacles for us, and avoiding these triggers
- Busting procrastination – 50 ways
All of these work wonderfully. From my experience on areas where I have already applied my 5X factor in the past (giving up smoking, writing two books, losing 15 kilos, delivering a key project with a near impossible deadline, reinventing myself for my second career as a Hedge Fund Manager, launching a personal development website etc), I can certainly say they do.
And I will be using some of these to bust my next set of 5X goals (losing that additional 10 kilos, get certified in Yoga, earn the money and create the time to travel with feeling and respect to at least 50 countries, meditate for six months in an ashram in the Himalayas, acquire emotional balance all the time, assist 50 children who would otherwise drop out of primary school to graduate college, coach 20 executives to the peak of leadership, play a fulfilling role in the ongoing digital and smart money revolution and seek forgiveness from at least ten people I may have hurt.).
Some of these tools are bound to work for you. Do the research, and collect the information. Stay focused on your agenda. Work hard. Work smart. Do something relevant every day. Don’t get distracted by the deviations. If you fall, just get up and get moving. Relish your small victories. Celebrate your success. Be resilient. Stay persistent. And one day, soon, your 5X factor will be a stark and vivid reality.
You, and you alone, are responsible for your life, and for reaching your potential. Identifying your 5X areas is a fantastic starting point. After that, putting in the work to get there will give you an indescribable sense of fulfilment and confidence. And take you many steps forward in your Pursuit of Happiness.
Also published on Medium.