I’ve been binging out on the Lincoln Lawyer for the last week on Netflix.
I finished the last episode on the weekend with popcorn crumbs all over my chest.
Without spoiling anything, Mickey Haller (the lead protagonist), makes a comment in the final episode that hit home for me:
“I didn’t learn any of that in Law School.”
He was talking about the tactics and strategies he used to defend his clients. The things that moved the needle that academics didn’t know.
It reinforced a perspective that I’ve had for many years now.
Effort doesn’t put food on the table.
School and university would make us believe that there is little difference between the classroom and the real world.
But as Mickey Haller said:
You don’t learn about the real world in school.
What’s good in theory isn’t always good in practice (although the opposite doesn’t function the same way — what is good in practice is alwaysgood in theory).
Of course, universities would never admit this. If they did, the whole facade would be over and they wouldn’t be able to take the massive handouts from the government that funds the system…
Nor would they be able to command the exorbitant fees they charge students that deviously sink them into debt in order to get a rite of passage half as good as learning in the real world.
And before all the offended @edu email addresses unsub in disgust (last time I had a crack at our prized institutions I had like 10 people unsub and they were all from @edu addresses LOL), I’d like to emphasise you’re exactly the type of person I’m talking about here.
Seriously, I’ve thought long and hard about this and in most cases, the only use-case for university degrees like exercise science is for those who want to become academics and researchers themselves.
Outside the lab and in the real world, I’m yet to see an example where I’d hire a 4-year uni grad with no experience over a coach with 4-years experience and no degree.
So it got me thinking:
What exactly is the disconnect?
This is what I came up with.
In school, ‘trying’ counts. For a lot of students, it’s all that matters.
At school and university, you can get almost any degree (medicine is an exception) getting every second answer wrong…
That simply doesn’t fly anywhere else. In the real world, trying counts for nothing.
What’s the most famous saying out of university?
“P’s get degrees.”
But in the real world, P’s don’t get you shit.
In our cottonwool education system, teachers feel the pressure of commending students for trying.
You’ve no doubt heard the quote:
“It’s OK, you tried hard, and that’s what matters.”
But it’s not what matters.
Trying is a fugazi.
The only reason so many people believe it is because our education system hypnotises students into thinking that trying counts for something. This creates a breed of students that graduate thinking that they should be rewarded for their effort.
They expect a pat on the back, a gold star, or worse… a job.
And if they don’t get it, many become bitter and jealous.
They may even grow resentful of others’ success.
I remember once, someone told me my success was due to my “white male privilege.”
All I could do was laugh.
While this comment came from a woman who slept in a bedroom overlooking the ocean, I slept on the floor of my gym on a 3-inch foam mattress.
While she went to private school, I didn’t even make it to graduation at a public school.
And while she was on her third degree, I was busy in the real world slaving away at the altar of do or die.
When it comes to real life, trying counts for sweet f*ck all.
That’s one of the reasons I love sport.
You don’t get points on the ladder for trying. If trying were good enough, everyone would be a winner.
The same goes for business.
A salesperson who doesn’t make sales gets the flick.
A CEO who can’t run a profitable company gets the boot from the board.
Because real life offers rewards for one thing and one thing only:
Getting over this hypnosis is easier said than done.
I see it show up in conversations I have with business owners a lot.
“I tried paying for marketing, but it didn’t work.”
“I tried implementing a cancellation policy, but my staff didn’t feel comfortable implementing it.”
“I tried putting up prices, but it upset my clients.”
Trying is the realm of degrees and certificates.
Results are the realm of the real world.
That’s why I’m a MASSIVE fan of KPIs in my business.
Every staff member knows what is the effective threshold. They know when they are being a high-performer and they know when they aren’t performing well enough.
Likewise for the management team. We know when we are on target, or when we’re off. We know exactly what the goal is and it’s very clear at the end of the week if we’re closer, or further away from our goals.
We live or die by our results.
There is no try.
We either get the result, or we don’t.
It’s wickedly simple.
Now that’s not for everyone of course.
Sometimes, standing by results is too confronting for business owners.
‘Trying’ is comforting while taking the L is cold and ruthless.
Sometimes, it’s easier to put your head in the sand and not look.
That’s not your fault… because we spend our whole upbringing being mind-controlled by a system that makes money from participation.
But if you can be the one that breaks free from the coddling to put results first, then you’re putting yourself in the best position to succeed.
Because at the end of the day, the real world doesn’t remember the lawyers that tried unsuccessfully to defend the innocent, the sports teams that worked hard to come last, or the business owners that put in their fair share of effort but ended up closing shop.
The language of the real world doesn’t have a word for try.
– Karl Goodman