One of the fundamental pieces of advice that I always bring with me in business is “Always pick the low-hanging fruit first“, this is a platitude as much as any, but there is some basic wisdom in it. Most people aspire to greatness, whether they admit this or not, and there are two major ways for a person to be recognized as great, doing something incredibly creative, or doing something incredibly complex. In recent years, this has tended to become even worse in that people take the technology approach which is: “Do something incredibly creative and complex“, which brings a whole string of new problems.
Complexity and creativity are two things that often land businesses in trouble, because people often want to be recognized for doing something revolutionary and people often view some creative as being more innovative if it also appears complex. They aspire to be the Steve Jobs of their industry before they’ve gotten their business off the ground. The idea behind the low hanging fruit is to do those things that are simple, uncomplicated, come at a low cost and risk, but promise safe, guaranteed returns before doing the things that offer greater returns but carry much higher risks.
For instance, if you are running a small manufacturing operation making pasta sauce, you can probably improve your bottom line by improving the production and distribution process incrementally, ensuring smooth operations throughout your value chain before attempting a market expansion. This accomplishes two things, first of all it ensures that you have control over the resource usage in your value chain, and secondly it removes barriers to scale. Many companies have tried to expand before they were ready to expand and it leads to a souring of relationships within their value chain due to either having to sacrifice product quality, being unable to deliver, or not being able to keep up with their inputs.
In the same way, many men who are new to the red pill tend to go after the big things, that come with equally big costs and risks first, rather than fixing the little problems. For obvious reasons, often we think that major changes give major results, and major effort has major effect. However, 10 small changes can often have much greater positive effects than one major change, for less effort at a lower risk. Furthermore, those many, small and easy changes serve to enable the big changes.
The Risk with Big Changes
When you find yourself having neglected a major area of your life for an extended period of time, there is a certain parity between the time you spent neglecting it and the time required to fix it. You are simply behind the curve and you need to do extra work to catch up. If you spent 5 years getting into debt, getting out of shape, neglecting your career or your education, odds are that you will have to spend a similar amount of time to fix those things. This simply comes from the fact that these things are big issues that require big changes. Sure, if you spent 6 months putting everything on the credit card while out of work and then find a job, you can fix it quickly. Spend 6 years like that, odds are it will take from 3 to 6 years to fix it as well.
However, in order to tackle those big issues, you will have to put a decent amount of effort and dedication towards it, which means less effort and dedication available towards other things. If you can do 10 things that are simple and quick, and nets you 80% of the results of doing 1 thing that is complex and slow, it would be more efficient to do divide your effort between the two areas roughly 40% and 60%, as opposed to going all in on one perceived solution. This also has the effect of diversifying your energy investment, meaning that if one or more of the perceived solutions do not generate the expected results, then you won’t find yourself having made a massive energy investment, at high opportunity cost, which has now become a sunk cost.
The risk of experiencing failure or set backs with the big changes is also much greater than with small, and simple changes. Saving $5 a day by making a thermos of coffee at home, as opposed to buying a cup at a coffee shop is a much easier thing to do than renegotiate your debts, moving to a smaller place and selling your car.
A sentiment that I run into with some of the men I speak to who complain about one aspect of their life, be it women, their careers, their work-outs or various other things is the view that “My life would be perfect if I could just add this to it“. This is dangerous, for the simple reason that life is zero-sum, you have only so much time to do so many things and most of the time these things will be mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the “single problem” simplification as I’ve referred to it is rarely accurate, and sets you up for the Nirvana/Perfect Solution fallacy. If you have 1 huge problem in your life, odds are that you have many small ones as well, you just don’t see them hiding behind the big problem. You are being iceberged by your problems.
The key is to correctly identify areas that contain low-hanging fruit for you so that you can pick that first. One must keep in mind that if you can spend a couple of days getting a decent wardrobe, hair-cut and get your grooming sorted, this has a financial cost, but it takes up very little of your time. A change in a major area of your life, can take months or perhaps years until you start seeing solid results, and can change your effort in the area from building to maintaining.
If you lift 3 times a week, and try to avoid fast food when you can, then you won’t get the same results as someone who is in the gym 5 days a week and prep every meal. If you, as some of the old PUA gurus did, dedicate your entire life for 2 – 5 years purely to game, of course you get good at it but think about what you will be giving up to do so. Take any skill you view yourself as having solid competency in, and try to figure out how much time you spent developing that skill.
The “Always be grinding” fallacy has 2 variants, one consisting of comparing your results in something you are 10% dedicated to, with the result of someone who is 100% dedicated to it. The second, conflating effort with results. It’s natural for us to assume that effort and results are on a 1 : 1 ratio, meaning that the more effort you put in, the better your results will get, but the truth is only goal-oriented, directed, conscious effort in the right direction brings such results.
We all have to make trade-offs in our lives between different opportunities, this is where the old adage “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” comes from, if you try to do 10 things, you will not be as good as someone who is focused on one thing. It’s fairly common knowledge that being A+ in one area gets you better results than being B- in every area, this is in fact one of the major issues plaguing our school system, and where many people are trained to think that you should focus on improving your weak-points rather than cultivate your strengths.
Just keep in mind when you structure up your plans for how you will become the best version of yourself that all the big changes will require long-term dedication, effort and consistency, while some of the low hanging fruit can be picked tomorrow.
Summary and Conclusions
One of the major changes in my approach to life in the past 10 years, is that I stopped asking “Do I want to spend energy on this“, and started to ask “Is this an efficient use of my energy“. This may appear to be a semantic difference, but it has quite large effects in your life. Humans are inherently prone to conserving energy, which for many translates into doing nothing, rather than seeking maximum output for minimum energy. This goes back to the essay I posted about “Mathematics of Self Improvement” in that it’s not about how much energy you spend on something, but how much energy you invest in something the returns well on that investment, efficacy rather than effort.
I understand the appeal of magic bullet solutions and doing big things. After all if you have a decent level of disposable income, paying $3000 to someone to have them fix a major problem in your life in a short period of time is tempting. This is the same principle of hiring a personal trainer to get in shape, because you trade your money, for their time and knowledge. They have already spent the time learning what you must know in order to get in shape, so they save you time having to learn it for yourself. However, far too often the marketing and sales aspect overrun the deliverables and everyone who has ever worked with salespeople have had the “He promised you what??” reaction when meeting a client for the first time.
One of the things that annoyed me about watching videos from bootcamps in the old seduction community was seeing men pay thousands of dollars to the instructor for a 2 day workshop in a 3rd rate hotel, while wearing a $20 poorly fitted outfit, while 50 – 100 lbs overweight, and having $2 haircuts. To me this is the equivalent of hiring a Big 5 consulting firm to create a business strategy for a lemonade stand. I can somewhat understand why, considering the fact that many of the men attending were desperate for a magic pill that would improve their success with women, and game was being sold as the “end all” magic pill. You don’t need to fix yourself, you just need to learn game.
This is one of the things I observe in other groups as well, where people will spend a lot of resources without fixing the problem. In essence, they will paint the walls, change the drapes, re-enforce the floor with steel beams, move the furniture around and raise the ceiling instead of dealing with the elephant in the room.
Many of these men could have drastically improved their lives and romantic lives much easier, for a lot less money by getting a gym membership, eating less junk, getting a haircut that costs more than their lunch and getting clothes that actually fit them. Instead of taking the many, small and simple steps to improve their product, they paid a high priced marketer to teach them how to spin their product better. Instead of picking the low hanging fruit, they hired a guy with a helicopter to fly them over the orchard so they could try to pick the top of the tree, while the low-hanging fruit was rotting on the ground.
I recently launched a Patreon page where I will be posting additional content every month for those who support me and I will do a Google Hangout for the highest tier Patrons (limited to 10 people).
I’ve also had some requests for consults, which I’ve declined up until now, but due to demand I’ve chosen to open up for doing some consults on request. For details please check out my Consulting and Patreon Page