At a recent Perry Marshall Roundtable meeting,  a lively debate broke out over whether the path to success was Reflection & Though or Massive Action. On one side, you had the people who believed in grinding it out, putting in massive amount of hours in order to achieve your goals. On the other hand, you had people who felt that reflection was the main ingredient for success.

The main example in point was Richard Koch, an investor with a personal fortune of $100+ million. He only “works” approximately 1-2 hours per day, which involves primarily, being in communication with other people. The rest of the time is spent doing what he wants and reflecting on different matters, some of which involves business I’m sure. He is one of the main proponents of the 80/20 Rule and has written a bestselling book about the topic. Watch the video below to get an idea of what he is talking about.

Now the issue here was whether or not (which was pointed out), was that reflection was work. It wasn’t the sweat-dripping-from-your-brow back-breaking or the mind-numbing drudgery that we often associate with the word “work”, but it was “work”.

So as a aspiring athlete, how do you know whether you should be analyzing or planning or whether you should be working? That depends on your coach. A coach should be able to accurately assess and determine what you need to do. Therefore, massive action doesn’t solve every problem.


The coach / athlete relationship also varies on the Positive vs. Negative Motivation Axis. What’s the difference?

Positive Motivation vs. Negative Motivation

Negative motivation is when behavior is motivated by anticipation or fear that an undesirable outcome will result from not performing. Fear is a powerful motivator.

Think I have to train because I don’t want to lose.

Positive motivation – “I have to train because I want to become a World Champion.”

When I first heard this concept, it provided a big insight for me because it explained a phenomenon I had noticed at Crazy 88 where a person quits just as the going got good. For example, a female student comes in and wants to lose 20 pounds. She does the classes and then she quits. A male student is insecure about his ability to defend himself so he comes in and reaches a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt level or Muay Thai Level 1 and then they quit.

I realized that this was because they never made the switch from Negative goals to Positive goals. Their primary moivation was to escape some negative stiuation, whether it was being overweight or feeling insecure. Once they achieved this, they needed a new goal… maybe achieving a new belt, or taking the next step from ‘not being overweight’ to an athlete.

Lots of coaches have their preference – whether they are total pricks or feel-good motivational figure types. Here’s the problem. No matter what anyone says, I haven’t met any coach that doesn’t use negative motivation. I also haven’t met any human being who is not at least partially driven by motivaiton. All humans have a preference of course. So a good coach can adjust his motivational style based on the athlete and the situation. The coaches who are better able to do that will be able to get better results from their athletes and it will show in the resutls over time.

There are tons of coaching and parenting material out there that emphasize positive motivation. But very rarely have I seen someone pull off purely one. The positive motivation gyms tend to be a little too lenient which allows the personal weaknesses of the individuals to play too large of a part in the individual’s success. The negative motivation places just tend to burn people out.

Reflection vs. Activity

Reflection and analysis is a part of success just as activity is. The misconception here is that one can get away with one or the other. People also tend to prefer the activity they like.

There are athletes who love coming in and training hard. They love the discipline and routine of training and hard work. There are other guys who love to just think about sports and analyze it

For most casual students, the biggest impediment to their success is their lack of activity. They don’t train enough or they neglect the areas of training they dislike. Training has to match the goals of the individual. An individual who wants to win the World Championship but doesn’t want to do strength & conditioning (for example) is shooting himself in the foot.

For some more intense students, the issue becomes whether or not they are analyzing and reflecting on their own progress and the art itself. With a good coach, this becomes less necessary as the coach can analyze the athlete’s performance and adjsut the training to fix it. However, most of the BEST competitors I know, have a highly reflective aspect of their personality.

One of the Crazy 88 Black Belts, Malcolm Vaughan, made it through the majority of the purple belt just by thinking about it.

Go-Getter vs. No- Getter Axis

Is the person engaging in the activity and behavior that is necessary to achieve the goals he wants? Are you really hustling, whethere its thought or actions, to get where you want to be?

As Winston Churchill said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”

This is the area where the coach has the least amount of control. To an extent, the coach can create an environment where an intrinsically unmotivated individual can act like a motivated one, but this becomes hard to scale.

Let me give you a story of why this is frustrating. This is the classic story. We have a guy Willy. He’s a pretty good athlete, lives at home, has the opportunity to train in the mornings and travel if he really wanted to. But he doesn’t. Here are a few classic “Willy-isms”.

Lets have you compete more so you can win the Worlds.
I don’t have the money to do tournaments.
OK, let me give you more hours at the gym so you can make more money then.
No, I don’t want to work anymore hours.

Hey, can you register for the New York Open?
I can’t I don’t have the money.
Do you have a credit card?
I don’t want to use a credit card.

Are you coming to the special training session on Saturday?
No. I’m going fishing, family vacation, etc.
Oh is it a special occasion.
No, just want to do fishing, family vacation, etc.

Due to his athleticism, a few of the coaches like him so he gets some personal attention. He’s never going to be one of the “worst” guys in the room so he’ll never get that emotional

After a few years of coaching, I decided that I would never be more invested in an athlete’s career more than the athlete was himself.

Here you might be wondering, “Whats the problem with continnuing to motivate an athlete?” Nothing… if you have the time, money, and emotional energy to do it. But if you have more than one athlete, shouldn’t your time, money, and emotional energy go towards the athlete that is willing to do whats necesary?

The coach can to an extent motivate the athlete to do whats necessary to perform. But its a losing game eventually. Just like you can’t negatively motivate yourself forever, its hard for coach to take a “No Getter” and always push the athlete to “Go Getter” behavior. And even if its possible, at a certain point, you’re much better taking that energy and directing towards other more receptive athletes (Pareto’s principle at its finest).