{How exactly to} win any competition you enter

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I always love when people don’t try for something because they’re sure they won’t {obtain it}.

  • “I’m not {likely to} {connect with} XYZ College…I’ll never {enter}, and even {easily} did, {I possibly could} never afford it.”

  • “There’s {no chance} {I’d} ever get that job…you need {a decade} of experience.”

  • “What? Enter that contest? {You can find} probably 5,000 {other folks} {carrying it out}.”

YES! THEY’RE RIGHT! They’re never {likely to} win…because they already eliminated themselves from any consideration.

One {of the greatest} principles I’ve ever learned is, “Don’t do their job for them.” {Allow} admissions committee reject you, {should they} decide you’re not right. Don’t do their job for them.

Your job {would be to} apply {and present} yourself every advantage in winning. {However the} {concern with} rejection makes {the majority of us|many of us} not even {desire to} step to the plate.

I’ve {discussed} this in the Craigslist Penis Effect. That’s when {other folks} are so terrible that you win {simply by} simply being “adequate.” It’s {a great way} I {were able to} win $100,000+ in college scholarships {to cover} my way through undergrad and grad school at Stanford. {Also to} get {my very own} phrase listed on UrbanDictionary. My parents are so proud.

Today, I’ve invited Jay Cross, creator of DIY Degree and my former editor, {to talk about} {a remarkable} new framework on changing {how you} think about {taking chances}.

I love his approach because so many top performers intuitively {do that} – but he’s written it {into} a usable framework {for all of us} all. {Once you} hear yourself saying, “Eh…I could never never get that,” {you may use} Jay’s {ways of} reconceptualize {how you} {consider} risk and success.

Put another way: Let others select themselves {out from the|from the} race, {when you} can push {during your} barriers and win.

Here’s Jay.

*   *   *

I’m {likely to} {enable you to} in on the best-kept secret of competing.

If {500} people enter a contest, maybe ten {of these} {will undoubtedly be} truly world-class. {The others} filter themselves out {for you personally}. Meaning {in the event that you} really dedicate yourself, you {simply} beat ten people!

I call this model (illustrated below) “The Continuum of Doers.”

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Thinking {in this manner} {enables you to} turn demoralization into inspiration – and truly surprise yourself. {I want to} {demonstrate} how.

My first confrontation with the Continuum of Doers

Back in 2008, Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords author Perry Marshall posted job ads {for just two} new positions. {I needed} {one of these}. Yet {they were|we were holding} not typical “send me your resume” ads. {These were} contests. And before {you can} even apply, Perry charged $25, non-refundable application fees to everyone who wanted in.

I {won’t} forget how people reacted.

Faced with {a good} tiny obstacle, {a lot of people} backpedaled. {Have a look at} {a few of} their whiny comments:

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A {couple of} others complained in agreement. Not me.

“SWEET,” I thought. “{This business} quit {prior to the} race even started!”

But {that has been} just {the end} of the iceberg.

“Wait {another},” I realized. “{It is a} continuum within a continuum. If five {individuals were} angry enough to complain, {imagine if} dozens more just silently {quit}? I might {already have} {a go}!”

Perry later estimated that hundreds {could have} applied without that fee. Instead just eighteen did: {the people} who really believed {they might} win. Five were rejected for sloppy applications. {The rest of the} thirteen were assigned an unpaid project, causing three more to drop out (weren’t so committed {in the end}.)

Of the ten who completed their projects, six were merely “respectable,” in Perry’s words.

Only four finalists of the starting eighteen did “excellent” work. I was {one of these}.

The winner was chosen {by firmly taking} the “mini-products” {all of} us finalists created, offering them {on the market} to Perry’s readers, and hiring whoever sold {probably the most}.

The other three were professional copywriters aged 35 or older. One worked at Google. I was a 21 year old college kid with barely any experience.

I didn’t win. But {I did so} {ensure it is} to {the ultimate} round when many better-qualified applicants (including an “editor of newspapers, magazines, and books”) couldn’t even crack {the initial}. My skills didn’t take me there. My approach did.

Instead of pouting, I studied the winner’s work. I compared his {technique to} mine and noted what he did better. {Half a year} later, when legendary copywriter John Carlton held {an identical} hiring contest, I won handily.

Three years {from then on}, Ramit hired me at IWT – largely {due to} {might work} with Carlton. {Most of these} experiences, {subsequently}, spawned The DIY Degree. I couldn’t have foreseen {some of} this in 2008. {However in} hindsight, {an individual} contest that I {thought we would} see differently sparked {a number of} life-changing events.

Like Steve Jobs said, “{It is possible to} only connect the dots looking backward.” The complainers {won’t} know where their dots {may have} led them.

Tragic.

Every barrier “thins the herd” for you

What does this all mean?

It means {other folks} {could be} “better” than you {in writing|in some recoverable format} (higher GPA, faster lap time, stronger resume, etc.) without hustling, executing, or selling themselves to {the very best}.

I pushed myself in Perry’s contest because I knew {a lot of people} wouldn’t and that alone gave me {an excellent} {possiblity to} win.

I literally CELEBRATED the barriers ({the application form} fee, the unpaid project, etc) for the drop-offs they foreshadowed. Every barrier was another {possiblity to} leave people in the dust.

You {may use} this framework to pump yourself up for anything, {like the} “impossible” competitions.

Let’s {consider the} continuum of professional baseball players.

In {confirmed} year…

  • 2,000,000 kids play in little league

  • 455,000 kids play in high school

  • 25,000 kids play in college

  • 1,500 kids get drafted by MLB teams

The craziest part? {Not} the drafted players are guaranteed {to create} it. The adjustment to pro ball filters {a lot more} players out. {Many of them|A lot of them} “peak” in the minors, never stepping foot {in the} big league batter’s box. {Actually}, {at any moment}, only 750 players are {dressed up in} uniform on {a significant} league team’s 25-man roster.

Of course, {given that} you know {concerning the} Continuum of Doers, {you need to know} ability isn’t {the only real} filter. Big leaguers aren’t just {probably the most} talented: {these were} also the hardest workers, emotionally stable, team players, likely had supportive parents, stayed {free from} legal trouble, etc.

Put another way: {a lot of} sufficiently talented players wash out, clearing {just how} for less talented players to outshine them on less obvious ({but nonetheless} important) dimensions. That’s where your opportunity is.

Consider these examples:

  • Getting into top schools. Every applicant {includes a} perfect GPA. But {just how many} can write an arresting essay on why Harvard should {spend money on} THEM? Far fewer. Admissions officers actually complain {about how exactly} imitative and cookie-cutter most essays are.

  • Landing dream jobs. {Many people are} a “detail-oriented team player” {searching for} meaningful work. But {just how many} speak the hiring manager’s language {to split up} themselves from the pack? English majors don’t {need to} finish last {should they} {understand why}.

  • Writing guest posts. “A-list” bloggers get pitched daily. But {just how many} {of these} pitches are brief and specific and original and considerate of what’s {inside it} for the blogger and do {all of the} {work with} the blogger and align with the blogger’s audience? {Almost no}.

Want more proof? {Have a look at} Ramit’s post on using tiny barriers {in order to avoid} kooks:

Before, I used {at hand} out my card and tell [prospective PBwiki interns] {to obtain} {connected}. Maybe 10% would. ({That is} already a dismal follow-up rate for {an organization} that self-selected themselves {to move up} {and have} for someone’s card.) Now, I {give away} my card and {inform them} this: “Yes, definitely! Here, take my card {and obtain} {in contact}. Just make {your personal} wiki first {and} email me. {We are able to} {discuss} what you’d {desire to} improve.”

New response rate? Maybe 2%. When I {keep these things} {take action} really trivial ({developing a} wiki takes 10 seconds), {quite simply|put simply|basically}, 80% of {individuals} who used {to get hold of} me {fall off} {the facial skin} of {the planet earth}. {However the} {individuals who} do {get in contact} {are more} interested and better qualified.

Of course {they’re}. The 8% who didn’t {continue} weren’t serious or assumed they wouldn’t get hired or both. {Another} 2% knew better. That’s the pool {companies} hire from.

Do {what must be done} {to stay} that pool.

The Continuum of Doers in your life

One more thing: {some individuals} mistake this framework for the oft-repeated quote that “{1 / 2 of} life {is merely} {turning up}.” There’s legitimacy {for the reason that} idea, {nevertheless, you} {can’t ever} control outcomes, only probabilities. {Therefore the} Continuum of Doers {isn’t} saying {you merely} need to {arrive}. Rather, it says {that when} you…

  1. Identify the specific barriers that trip {other folks} up ({it may be} {body gestures}, {the opportunity to} meet deadlines, even {how you} word emails)

  2. Systematically improve yourself in {all of} those areas

…then your {likelihood of} succeeding are {greater than} you ever dreamed possible.

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