Don’t’ stress about operating at your ‘full capacity’.
I remember listening to a golf pro talk about the ideal swing at some point.
I’m not going to tell you it was when I was having lessons. It was one Sunday morning, watching TV, feeling too dusty to even change the channel.
Anyway, the point that stuck with me was his idea that you should never be swinging above 70%.
So if 0% is where you’re not even moving, and 100% is when you’re summoning every last ounce of physical strength you have, you should never be throwing more than 70% at the ball.
He reckons that once you get above 70% – especially as you get closer to 100%, you just start introducing error into your swing. All that force and effort needs to be perfectly balanced. If not, one muscle pulls a little tighter than the others, and your swing gets thrown out of wack.
What’s worse, if your swing is out of wack and you’re throwing all your effort at the ball, you can end up sending it way into the trees. Small errors in your swing become big deviations in trajectory when you’re giving it everything you’ve got.
But if you keep it below 70% (and look, I’ve got no idea how you measure something like that. But it’s the idea that counts) – if you keep it below 70% then you’re operating in a comfortable zone. You’re not locking things up. The elements of your swing are moving freely, almost effortlessly.
In that range, you’re able to hold all the elements in harmony. Your arms are in balance with your hips.
As a result, you’ll hit the ball cleaner and with more control. You’ll have better line and you’ll probably get more distance too.
So while it feels counter-intuitive, if you want a consistent, good, long drive, you need to keep a lid on things. You need to stop yourself from getting excited, and keep your swing down around 70%.
(This, and many other reasons, is why I get frustrated with golf, and why my set of clubs tends to end up in the water more often than not. Funny game.)
The thing that stuck with me though was the way he thought about training. For him, training was all about shifting where your 70% is at.
So on any given day, there isn’t much you can do about where your 70% is at – how far you’re able to hit the ball. But over time, there is. You can do strength exercises to build greater capacity in your muscles. You can practice on your swing to make it more fluid and clean. Repetition also improves your hand-eye coordination and determines how well you strike the ball.
With practice and training, your capacity expands. And the reason we train is not so that we improve our 100% – what we can do when we’re giving it everything we’ve got. It’s so we can improve our 70% – how much we can achieve when we’re taking it easy.
This is quite profound I think.
For the investment journey, it has profound implications. And for most endeavours in life really.
This “70% rule” is quite powerful.
But let’s think about it in the context of investment. I totally agree that you want to be operating at 70% capacity. You want to be swinging at deals that don’t demand every last ounce of strength that you have. You want to be swinging at deals that are well inside your comfort zone.
Why? Pretty much the exact same reasons this golf pro pointed out.
When you’re swinging full tilt you’re adding a lot of effort and tension into it. When you’re on your edge you’re not going to be making the best decisions. You’re going to be ‘forcing it’.
You’ll probably make mistakes.
And small mistakes with big money can result in big losses.
Also, it’s not sustainable. Some deals can take over a year to pull off. You can’t be operating at 100% for 18 months. You’ll burn yourself out.
And, it’s just not fun. Every deal should be enjoyable, if you’re planning a career in deal making. Each deal should give you more energy that it takes from you.
It’s supposed to be fun.
So come back to where you’re swinging in your comfort zone.
The other point I’d make is that I see a lot of people trying to keep themselves operating at 100%.
They go the full colonic-irrigation juice fast retreat in Bali, to keep themselves operating at full capacity. To keep themselves operating at their full potential.
But their full-potential is wasted on booking colonic irrigation juice fast retreats in Bali.
I know I’m going to anger every god in the new age cosmos when I say this, but life is not meant to be lived at 100%.
I can count on one hand the number of days I’ve felt like I’m operating at 100%. There’s always something. The baby is teething so you’re not sleeping well. The inlaws are visiting so there’s lots of distractions. You’ve got this flu that just won’t clear up. The computer needs an upgrade.
100% just never happens.
So don’t make it something to aspire to. You’re chasing a dream.
Aspire to 70%. Aspire to be doing the best you can with whatever crap is going on in your life in the moment. Be content with that, remembering that this is where you’re power actually lies.
And do something!
Because the best way to expand your 70% is through experience – experience supported by self-education and development.
It’s through doing stuff.
And the 70% of someone with 10 years of experience is worth an infinite amount more than the 100% of someone with no experience.
That’s my thoughts. Next week, we’ll talk about putting.
What capacity do you run best at? What level do you wish you were running at?