For those of you who are not familar with the work of Andy Frisella, The MFCEO Project or 75Hard, I suggest you check out the podcast now. It is, hands down, the best raw business and life advice podcast I’ve ever found.
Andy is the CEO of seven companies – including 1st Phorm and Supplement Superstores – of which are estimated at $400M+ in annual revenue. He’s a successful dude who genuinely wants to help others, yet refuses to give his audience anything but the truth. He’s truly a signal in a noisy world of snakeoil salesmen and shock jocks.
Disclaimer: I may be biased because I work with The MFCEO Project content team, but I think he has the best business podcast on the planet. And the numbers don’t lie:
At some point around early March, Andy released a challenge out into the wild. After interviewing The Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence, he was inspired by what the human body and mind are capable of, if conditioned and pushed.
The challenge? 75Hard, a mental toughness program devised to sharpen your mind, body, and soul for whatever the world may through at you on your pursuit of individual success. The challenge lasts 75 days (you can find out all about it here) and consists of the following tasks each and every day:
- Stick to a diet (doesn’t matter which one; pick any) with NO cheat meals or alcohol…a single peanut M&M constitutes as a failure of the challenge
- Workout twice for 45 minutes each time (no back-to-back workouts) and one of the workouts MUST be outdoors, regardless of weather…workouts can range from intense weightlifting to light cardio (e.g., walking), if you’re dead tired
- Read 10 pages of non-fiction
- Drink one gallon of water
- Take a progress picture that actually shows your progress (e.g., shirtless if you’re a man or in a sports bra if you’re a woman)
I started this challenge towards the end of June and just wrapped up yesterday. Here’s what I learned:
What I learned from 75Hard
#1 – Positive Momentum is Crucial for Success
“My life has been a product of compound interest” – Warren Buffett
Perfection is impossible. Adherence however, is acheiveable.
In life, you’re going fuck things up. You’re going to give into your emotions and have a slice of pizza or drink one too many beers. It’s going to happen, on a long enough time scale.
As James Clear says in Atomic Habits, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about not having two bad days in a row. You can slip up from time to time, that’s natural. But you have no excuse for allowing that small lapse spiral into a shit storm of poor habits.
I didn’t understand this fully until I did 75Hard. I used to stick to diets or exercise regimens for weeks at a time. But eventually, I would hit a point – usually a month in – that would lead to a weekend of binge drinking and eating and completely derail my progress.
Building self esteem
There’s no room for even minor hiccups on 75Hard, so this was the first time I stuck with these positive habits long enough to go through a full cycle. I had many “test days” along the way, but refused to give into my emotions.
I chose vegetables over the homemade mac and cheese on the 4th of July. I drank sparkling water while others downed tall boys at concerts. I painfully passed on cake at my sister’s birthday party, chosing blueberries and yogurt instead.
Each time I did, I felt my confidence and self-esteem rise. I was holding myself to a higher standard and keeping the promise I made to myself. To be clear, I wasn’t comparing myself to those around me, just to myself.
This became easier as the days went on because I never lost positive momentum. Sure, there were hard ass days where I did the bare minimum to not break the challenge, but even those days didn’t move me in the negative direction. They were neutral at worst.
Positive momentum, compouding interest, whatever you want to call it, is a very powerful tool. It helps make difficult things like dieting, working out, having tough conversations, and other uncomfortable, yet powerful activities more automatic. It conditions you to become the type of person who does the hard things, even when no one is watching.
And that’s a priceless skill to have, if you’re in pursuit of long-term success.
#2 Your Actions Have a Bigger Effect Than You Think
“Leading by example isn’t the best way to lead, it’s the only way to lead.” – Vince Lombardi
75Hard launched in March, but I didn’t fully commit to the program until June. During that time, I followed Andy and a host of others on Instagram while they tackled the challenge and shared their progress and learnings.
All of a sudden, I was more conscious of my fitness. I started to be more intentional with my business and reading. I felt the impacts of their hard work and it influenced my habits and behaviors, despite not being fully involved in the challenge myself.
Their actions had a huge impact on me and eventually led me to start 75Hard for myself.
This is something I saw in my personal life as well. Once my friends and family became aware of my new eating habits, they started subtely changing their eating habits, at least when I was around.
I am extremely grateful for how accomodating they have been over the last two and a half months and extremely happy to see they are beginning to take their health more seriously now too.
My dad has started fasting. I’ve got my mom reading and working out for thirty minutes daily. My friends are starting to hit the gym more consistently.
While I am definitely not taking credit for their individual progress, I think living what you preach is the ultimate way to get through to those you care about. If you want them to get uncomfortable and uproot their existing, negative habits, you need to have some skin in the game and do so yourself, too.
We can all do more
We all have room to grow. If you’re in great shape, you could still probably work on your strength, mobility, cardio, or endurance. There are always ways to improve, so pick one and start working on it.
You can then parlay that hard work into impacting those around you to make positive change in their life. You can now inspire and support them. Because, in the crazy world we live in today, the only way to make lasting change is to start on the micro: positively change yourself and those around you.
You’ll be shocked at the scale you can achieve, if you do this consistently on a long enough time interval.
#3 Emotion is a Lagging Indicator of Action
“Virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing.” – Marcus Aurelius
Being a human would be a lot better, if we didn’t have to deal with negative emotions. Imagine never feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, or anxious. Things would be pretty fucking awesome right?
Too bad that’s not possible (at least to my knowledge). No matter what level of external success you have, you’ll still have to battle your emotions until the day you die. That inner voice of yours isn’t going away anytime soon.
And one of the most important core tenets of this pratical branch of philosophy is understanding that there is so much you simply cannot control in life. Shit will hit the fan, whether you like it or not.
So, instead of dwelling on all of the things you can’t control, focus all of your valuable energy into mastering the things within your reach, by taking action as often as humanly possible.
An important distinction here is this: taking action is entirely independent of how you feel. Read that again. You don’t have to feel like eating a salad to eat one. You don’t have to feel like writing an article to sit down and do it.
How to love what you do
This is where people get it twisted. They think if they work on what they love, they will never feel resistance to doing the work. They think there will be a never ending firehose of motivation.
So, when they have a rough couple of days or months, they give up. They think <insert something a lot of people want to be successful at, but few actually are here> just isn’t for them. They fail to realize that you’ll never be jazzed up all of the time; that’s simply unrealistic.
People fail to think long-term. Hell, they fail to see ten seconds into the future with most of their decisions (I’m guilty of this). As Paul Graham write, it’s not about being passionately excited in each and every moment, but rather over the long-term:
“The fact is, almost anyone would rather, at any given moment, float about in the Carribbean, or have sex, or eat some delicious food, than work on hard problems. The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn’t mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month.
Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something.” – Paul Graham, How to Do What You Love
The beauty of 75Hard though, is that you’re commited to taking action every single day. You’re working on hard problems day in and day out and building mental toughness in the process. And once you start doing positive things, you start feeling better.
This is the beauty of forming habits: they become easier over time because you break down your negative emotional associations and start to build the positive ones. It makes them so much easier.
Emotion lags action. Often times, your emotions will be flooding your brain with excuses to not work out or eat oatmeal or start that project. But, once you dive in, even for just a few moments, you’ll get an emotional lift. Things will start to feel easier!
And, if you act in spite of you emotions consistently enough, you rob them of their power. Your mind starts to realize that emotional resistance can’t actually stop you from doing anything.
When you can act in the face of massive resistance, anything is possible.
I am extremely grateful to Andy and the entire 75Hard community for sharing this challenge and the stories behind it. I have learned a ton about what I’m capable of and feel like I’m just scratching the surface.
I’ve got some more challenges on the docket for the remainder of the year, so I won’t be going directly onto Phase I of the LiveHard program at this point in time. Instead, I plan to dive into 75Hard from day one early in 2020. I commit to starting before January 15th, 2020 and then will continue on with the subsequent programs.
In the meantime, I’ve framed my homemade accountability tool next to my favorite quote of all time and put them above my bathroom mirror to constantly remind myself of the power of action:
I believe we are all capable of any change we desire, if given proper purpose, guidance, and patience. Please let me know if I can help in any way or support you on your journey: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading and thank you to everyone of my friends and family for supporting me over the last 75 days. I sincerely appreciate everything you’ve done and couldn’t have done it without you. Much love!