PLAY TO WIN
Near to where I grew up, in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges, is a decades old attraction known as the 1000 stairs. It’s known as the 1000 stairs because that’s what it is – 1000 roughly hewn stone stairs weaving up the mountain, through the steamy rainforest that fills the mountains all around. At one point the 1000 stairs eroded to only 777 (I counted ’em about 20 years ago to establish this!) but they restored them back to the appropriate number and order was restored.
I spent years running these stairs in my early twenties, I learned more about myself and about what it takes to be relentlessly driven and succeed than I’ve learned in many other places before or since, and find myself often, when lost, again on these stairs.
Aside from journaling or Bikram Yoga, the 1000 stairs is where I go when I need to get back to ME, and in fact I’d say it’s my favourite place in the world and perhaps the place where I am MOST still and tuned in, even more than in my journal or the yoga room! Of course I can’t get to the Dandenong Ranges, which is now on the other side of the country from where I live, quite as readily as I can get to yoga or my journal, but whenever I’m in Melbourne I make it a priority to go as often as I can.
This morning, my last morning in Melbourne with family before flying back home, I made it to the stairs before 6am, a special last trip to see the sunrise from the mountain and to re-set once more. It’s always been the best time to go, early when it’s still and quiet and misty and almost mystical, watching the fog lift from the mountain and with only the most serious of fellow exercisers anywhere to be seen along the way. Nowadays it’s even more special to be there in the quiet of dawn, as during the day it’s become a ridiculous haven for “sunday strollers” who don’t seem to get that this is a place to BURN and PUSH and find yourself, to race against time and even life, NOT to dawdle along having the irreverance to TALK or play MUSIC or congregate in groups! This is a place where you LOSE yourself and release, it’s a place of freaking worship, only for those who understand how to give themselves TO the stairs, and if you understand that you shouldn’t be there.
It’s not just me who feels this way … those of us who’ve been running these stairs for decades all understand:
This is no ordinary place.
Treat it accordingly.
And fuck off if you can’t!
When I was in my early twenties my friend Liana and I would go up there every second morning, at 6am, and we’d run up and down 3 times. It 2 for a while, but when it became too normal, it had to go to 3. You have to understand that the average time to get up and down the stairs is about an hour, maybe 40 minutes for a fit person. We would get UP the stairs in sub-10 minutes, ALWAYS (my best time was 7min26seconds), and we’d do the entire up and down thing, bearing in mind the downward part is very steep, on stone, not even or anything remotely close to, and often wet with both water and mud, in under 20.
The AFL teams (Aussie pro football) used to come up there to train, and we would no way in HELL ever allow those boys to beat us. We’re talking about insanely fit athletes, but man were WE fit back then! Because we wanted to be … sure. But really because of the game. Because there was always a best to beat, or a way to make it harder, more interesting, more challenging.
I think we were doing twice up and down in around 35 minutes when we decided that the stakes had to be higher, and the new ‘rule’ became 3. She was, and is to this day, the only person who could ever beat me on those stairs, and maybe on anything when it comes to fitness. I used to hate going with anyone else, what was the point if you weren’t going to have to push till you bleed and cry and nearly DIE in order to keep up?
I still feel the same way, when it comes to the people I work or create or PUSH alongside.
And it was always about the game, really.
I was thinking this morning as I ran how many little rules and challenges and odd quests we used to make for ourselves, how it all still comes back to me every time I go, several decades later.
And how so many of them apply to business. I swear I’ve had 1000 breakthroughs about business and life on those stairs! Probably 10x as many, since I have a good few handfuls each time and I’d say I’ve been up and down there at least 1000 times.
All these rules, all these variances, all these ways of PUSHING myself more, that’s what keeps it interesting. It’s what keeps me addicted. It’s what gives me the ability to push through even the most tormenting of physical pain, and boy do I PUSH out there. You know you did the stairs properly if you just about hurl before you get to the top but you don’t slow down a JOT.
Pretty much the same as how in business you know you’re doing it right if you just.keep.going. when fear, resistance, genuine PAIN OF GROWTH would sway most people but yet you just.keep.GOING!
It’s the best 🙂
One of our rules since day one in fact has been to never stop on the stairs. NEVER stop on the stairs! No matter what, no matter how tough the pain or how much you feel like you’re going to cave or stumble or ANYTHING you NEVER stop. Not on the way up, HELL no. And not even on the way down, when your every limb is trembling and you feel like you’re going to fall flat on your face. As soon as you stop, you break momentum. You break flow. And it’s SO much harder to keep going. You’re SAFER when you’re going all in.
And you’ll win faster, too.
Every day: Message. Create. Sell. Deal with what has to be dealt with AFTER each push, too. DON’T BREAK MOMENTUM. You did all that work to get INTO the zone, why the hell would you want to get out of it? So it hurts, so you feel like you’re gonna cry or die, so what? EMBRACE the pain of the push, it’s you growing!
Another rule: no cheating. No hands on quads to help push up. NO holding the rails which never used to be there and now EVERYBODY apparently thinks are necessary simply because they’re there. In business I see so many people these days using all these CRUTCHES to keep themselves going. On the stairs it’s extra clothes … water … stuff you end up just getting distracted by and it slows you down. All you ever needed really, was yourself.
All you ever need in business, is your message. An offer. And YOU.
No ‘pretend’ stumbling so you can take extra little pause steps instead of going at the pace you know you could be. For the stairs the rule is: 2 at a time for the smaller ones, of which there are about 850. And SINGLE steps for the BIG steps, of which there are about 150. The big ones are so long in length (as pictured) that it’s really REALLY freaking hard to stick to a single step on each. You have to go full pelt and not even DARE to hesitate for a second, or you’ll lose momentum.
It’s a total mind game. Every time, to this day, including of course today, I feel scared when I approach the big stairs:
Will I make it?
Can I do it?
If I hold back for even a millimetre I’ll simply not be able to reach after a few stairs, and I’ll FAIL my rules! So what that of course I’ll still make it to the top, if I didn’t play the GAME right it just don’t have the same feel of satisfaction to it. It makes it an even better challenge that the big stairs are right near the end, so you’re BURNING and shaking already … but yet that sweet nauseous elation is just a few minutes away.
Today as I came around the final curve of smaller stairs before the big ones, the usual question went through my head:
Does it MATTER if I take them slower for once? I’m still faster than everybody else!!
And so I did. Failure wasn’t an option.
In business I’ve found that if I eliminate failure as an option, it BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL. And the elation you get from following through on something you decided to win at beats even the greatest of hardship you have to overcome to get there.
In fact, you come to LOVE the pain of staying on your path, because you know how rewarding it is.
I wish more people knew, in business … fitness … life … just how good PAIN is!
You HAVE to run the final 40 or so stairs (small ones right after the big ones) FULL FUCKING PELT. Sprint to the finish baby! So many people slow down when they see the end in sight. Why would you do that? Where’s the ADRENALIN of finishing strong, and giving it your all? What about the feeling of incredible victory, to get there at 1000% all in?!
SPRINT to the end of your launches, your offers, your creations, your day.
A rule which many might not agree with, but what’s new there?
If somebody is ahead of you, you OVERFUCKINGTAKE THEM no matter what it takes.
So you nearly have to kill yourself to do so, so what?
BE A KILLER.
GO ALL IN.
WIN WIN WIN!
The thing is …
Most people look at the way I push, how I embrace pain, how I never stop or slow, and think I’m just obsessed with getting to the top. They think it’s bad to want to win! Okay, so what – then it is bad for THEM because I guess they weren’t born it.
And I am obsessed with it, YES. But I’m also obsessed with the GAME. Every day, there’s a way to improve. To add an extra layer of challenge. To be 1% better than the day before, whether in the same way or by adding something altogether new in. And because I always find a way to love the game and ADORE the pain, I always fucking win baby.
Most people just don’t care enough to win, that’s the truth I think. I don’t know if it’s because they genuinely don’t care, or because they don’t think they WILL. And you know what? They probably WON’T … definitely not if I’m chasing their tail, or staying ahead of it 🙂
In the end, there were those of us who are just born for this.
WE ARE THE 1% WITHIN THE 1% WITHIN THE 1% BABY.
Ain’t nothin’ and no-one gonna touch us!
What’s crazy is that the normal folks, those who are NOT us, they think they’re at least not having to sacrifice so much, endure so much, hurt so much, when what’s really going on?
They don’t get to LIVE as much.
I was thinking today, as I ran, as I pushed, as I BURNED, as I felt that long familiar fear of not being better than the previous me, coupled with the knowledge that I WILL no matter how much it hurts, I was thinking about how I don’t run as fast as I used to anymore.
And then I realised, as I reached the top and bent over in GLORIOUS nausea –
It’s because I learned to fly.
Life is Now. Press Play.