Put in the Reps
Today we are talking about activation energy. “Activation energy is the minimum quantity of energy which the reacting species must possess in order to undergo a specified reaction.” In “Atomic Habits” James clear talks about a similar concept when he refers to the plateau of latent potential. It doesn’t matter the behavior, activity, or skill the most useful outcomes that come from learning or practicing these actions will be delayed.
There is a certain amount of pain and discomfort that is required before we start seeing results. Generally when we start to experience the stress of stepping outside of our comfort zone that's when we stop. We interpret the pain as a bad thing when in reality it is a reverse indicator that we are on the path to growth. Too much pain is obviously unhealthy and overwhelming but some pain is required.
Think about working out. I want you to imagine you are curling a weight. If you curl the weight 10 times but stop once you feel the muscle start to burn then your muscle won’t grow. You have to keep pushing past that point stretching the muscle past what it is capable of so that you create the micro-tears ultimately causing it to repair and get stronger. There is a certain amount of time under tension that is required for your muscle to be stimulated and grow. Once the muscle adapts to the stress you are putting on it, you have to up the intensity of the lift. You can do this by adding more weight or increasing the time under tension!. If you are curling and you start to feel the burn at 10 reps that is threshold you must pass in order for the work to really make a difference. That burning sensation is the indicator that you passed the activation point and your muscles is now going to be forced to adapt (aka get bigger). Although it suffers in the short run it will get stronger in the long run. The 10 reps weren’t wasted, they were absolutely necessary to get you to rep 11 when you passed that threshold.
James illustrates the point by talking about melting an ice cube. If you warm an ice cube from 0 degrees to 25 or even 31 then it won’t melt. The energy wasn’t wasted but the results aren’t seen until you get over that 32 degree mark!
In any industry, field, or subject there is a certain amount of work that you are going to have to put in before you get to where you want to be. Most people give up in what Jame’s calls the "valley of disappointment." Just today I talked to a wedding photographer who shot his first 30 weddings for free before he started charging his rate.
Be willing to put in the reps. Be willing to fail over and over again because that is just how the system weeds out those who don’t want it bad enough. True mastery is going to demand you put forth the time, and effort to get there.
Don’t be afraid of discomfort or failure. Its part of the process and an indication that you are growing!