The 10X Rule for Life and the Trail

At a recent Perform Better Summit I heard Todd Durkin speak about how to get more impact out of the your life, both in the things you achieve and in the people you help. Todd is one of the most energetic guys you’ll ever meet and he excels at getting more out of each day than most people fit into a week. During the presentation he mentioned that everyone should read the book The 10X Rule and, since I try to follow the advice of successful people when they give it, I ordered it for my Kindle when I got home.

It is written by a guy named Grant Cardone who specializes in sales training. In it he reveals his insights into secrets for success and what he calls the “Ten Times (10X) Rule”. While the book is aimed at the bigger picture of life and business, I found the 10X Rule to have a lot of application to mindset needed to succeed with both training and mountain biking.

The 10X Rule is the idea that you need to multiply everything by 10. He says that most people fail when they set out to do something for 2 reasons:

1) They grossly underestimate the amount of time, money and effort it will take to achieve. People think about and plan from a best case scenario and then panic and quit when things take more than they anticipated. The 10X Rule says that you should assume that what you are shooting for will take ten times what you think it will.

I see this all the time with both riding and training. Riders will try standing up more on climbs or changing their cornering technique, get frustrated and go back to their old habits if they don’t get it down in 1 or 2 rides. New trainees will struggle to learn more efficient, mountain bike specific ways of performing exercises and go back to their old habits so they can lift more weight or do more reps.

If you just assume that it is going to take ten times as long as you think it will to see the results you are looking for then you will not blind-sided by setbacks. We live in a “right now” society – improve your riding today with a pill, powder or new bike/ part/ wheel size – but the truth is that real, long lasting results take a lot of time and effort to see.

2) They don’t set their goals high enough for the amount of work to be worth it. He says that most people set their goals just high enough to make achieving them feel like work, not like success. He makes a compelling argument for why you need to re-think your goals and the consequences of mediocre goals.

There is a saying that sums this idea up – whether you think you can or you think your can’t, you’re right. Why set limits on your success by not aiming ridiculously high? This isn’t mindless “positive thinking” bull crap, this is realistically appraising your passions and strengths and then multiplying what you think you can do with it by ten. Odds are, this will take your goals to levels that, if achieved, will deliver a much higher level of success as well.

Who wants to bust ass to be average or slightly above average? If the first part of the 10X Rule tells us we’re going to have to bust ass anyways, the second part tells us to set goals high enough to really appreciate the effort. Just like in life, the trail is ultimately what you make of it.

Overall I really liked the 10X Rule and the overall book. Besides the 10X Rule Grant also covers a lot the mindset and habits that successful people share, things that anyone can model in their own lives to increase the level of success they can achieve. I’m really glad that Todd recommended the book in his talk and can second that recommendation if you’re looking for a book to help you sharpen your overall success mindset.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Dirk says:

    Spot on! I am always amazed at how people underestimate themselves and simultaneously short change the amount of effort they can and should put into peak performance for an activity.

    The result is death by a 1000 pin pricks and settling for average. Screw that! get excellent.

    Reply • October 19 at 2:15 pm
  2. Jon Laterveer says:

    After my first workout today with your KB workout I am prepared for the 10X rule…it will take me longer…may have to go through the 12 weeks twice. I am happy that after this mornings workout I felt like I went for a long trail ride but only trained for 1 hour before work…fantastic! I am sure I will feel it tonight on my night trail ride

    Reply • October 19 at 3:14 pm
  3. WAKi says:

    How about setting goals 10x too high 😉 Both Aron Gwin and Sam Hill talked about it interviews, to have a very high general goal, but to set smart achievable ones. I find that the most problematic thing with all these huge jumps or huge stuff in general being shown around to the people – they show you something so huge that it starts to seem unrealistic. That’s what’s great about pumptracks anyone can do it to a certain degree, but you can’t jump a 10m gap… to a certain degree. Not many show those small steps pushing you forward, small goals which when achieved, encourage you to go forward.

    Reply • October 20 at 3:32 am
    • bikejames says:

      I think that when you are talking about setting goals based on your physical capacities you have to realistic. If you are 5′ 10″ tall then setting a goal of being a power forward in the NBA is not very realistic. Athletic goals need to be set very carefully and are not as subject to the 10X Rule.

      However, when it comes to goals set based on your ability to think, learn and put in time and effort then you should apply the 10X Rule. Your ability to grow and apply these areas is almost infinite, where your physical limitations make athletic goals more subject to the laws of “reality”.

      Reply • October 22 at 7:18 am
  4. John K. says:

    James great post as always. I love how you challenge the mtb community.

    I’m going to throw this idea out there: I think the reason people try a new idea (e.g., your cornering techniques) for a while and then abandon it is because they don’t know what they should be feeling. You talked about this in another post. If you don’t understand what the technique should feel like, you won’t have any way of knowing you’re executing it properly. Because most of us are out there practicing by ourselves, we need to have confidence that we’re practicing the right things.

    This happened to me with your cornering video. I’m not consistent with it, but I’ve had a few turns where everything clicked and it FELT amazing. Now I know what I should be feeling, and so I aim for that with every single turn. And yes, it’s taking my 10x longer than I thought to get this down!

    This is why your suggestion of “what should you be feeling” is so valuable. Maybe you could put one out for jumping, manualling, etc… For example, what are the feelings I should be tuned into as I’m about to manual off a drop?

    Reply • October 20 at 9:46 am
  5. Anne says:

    Great post James!

    Very true about the 10x rule. Everyone told me how quickly I’d recover from ACL reconstruction, but it’s never that simple, eh? You’ll be fully recovered in 3-4 months. More like 12-18 months.

    So i’m taking my training the same way: slow. Started strength training 4 weeks ago, but it’s going to take more than that before it’ll make a huge difference–it’ll be small differences. It took me 18 months to lose 30 lbs. While it’s not the fastest, but it’s staying off with better results. So it’s not only takes 10x as long to do, but it last 10x longer than any quick fix too.

    Goal settings are also import too. Set them in incremental as well as long term. People need to be realistic too.

    Thanks for posting this! Love your blog. Keep up the wonderful work, as it keeps many of us motivated!

    Reply • October 21 at 4:03 pm

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