“Everything in this book is about raising your standard of excellence, going beyond what you already know and think, beyond what anyone has tried to teach you. … I want you to be able to take all of this and use it as a framework for yourself to achieve whatever you desire.”Tim. S. Grover, “Relentless”
After having read Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, Relentless by Tim S. Grover was a great read to understand the mindset of excellence, that both authors share. In contrast to the more personal story of Goggins, Grover shares many mindset-maxims that may sound harsh or impossible at first. But I think it’s really helpful to have unreasonable standards or expectations for yourself because those help you to get over the excuses, distractions, and temptations to take the easy way a lot better than “being realistic.“ Being realistic has come to mean all too often accepting who you are and that unfortunately often also means settling for less than you are capable of or, more importantly, truly happy with. This doesn’t mean to set unrealistic goals and set yourself up for continuous disappointment, but to aim higher, than you think you are capable of reaching and trying to reach higher every day.
I’ve split the content of this book into four chapters. The first deals with what I call “The Self-Help-Trap”, being stuck in theory, not taking action – and how to overcome it. This chapter also explains the power of taking ultimate responsibility for your life and includes two more tips. The second one is about what it means to be “relentless”, which to me is to never stop demanding excellence in everything you do – every minute, every day. We’ll explore what this entails in the third chapter on the love of discomfort and pain and why it’s so important to embrace the suck, as David Goggins so eloquently put it. Lastly, I discuss, why you need to truly know yourself by being brutally honest with yourself about where you are in life, where you want to be, and what you are willing to do and sacrifice to get there. We explore why you need priorities, why routines are effective, and why you don‘t fail until you say you do.
Let’s get into it.
The Power of Execution and Responsibility
Whenever you do anything, you’ll be prone to distractions. These can be physical in the form of notifications on your phone, or mental by external pressure of what others think of you or how they judge you. Grover recommends shutting these distractions out and let everyone judge you by your result. That is what he means when he writes: “Don’t think.” Being focused on what’s going on around you makes you lose touch with what’s going on deep inside you. Instead of doing what you know to be true, you start to overthink. Overthinking often generates anxiety and fear. Grover writes: “Every minute you sit around overthinking, someone else is already doing.” Thinking doesn’t lead to outcomes, only action does. Thus you need to take action and execute despite distractions along the way. Now you may ask: “What should I execute on?” Let me tell you; you already know.
“Stop waiting to be taught something you already know. How many millions of diet and exercise books are sold every year? I promise you, every single person who picks up one of those books already knows the answer: eat healthier and move your body.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
To make progress in your life, you need to adapt ultimate responsibility for everything. As Grover writes: “Your attitude should be ‘I owe this.’” Own all of your mistakes, decisions, and choices, adopt responsibility for everything you say and do. If you make a mistake, admit that you fucked it up. Then fix it. You can’t fix something unless you admit it. Without control, you can’t create a solution. This means managing things before they turn into negative situations without blaming others or using luck as an excuse when things don’t go your way. You can’t control every obstacle in your path, but you can control your response. There’s only a situation, your response, and an outcome. Don’t shrug off a bad performance. Face it, fix it, and prepare to do better next time.
To get to the top and stay at the top you also have to pay attention to the details in whatever you’re doing. While sweating the details isn’t important when you first start out and is commonly used as an excuse for inaction, they become more and more important the more successful you get. Grover suggests a relentless maxim: to push yourself to excellence in all areas of your life and everything you do. This doesn’t just mean pushing yourself every day, but also to never stop learning about everything there is to learn about what you do and then improve on all of that learning.
The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence
It’s in that way, that you can engineer your life so you never stop until you get what you want always aspiring to reach even more. Relentless. For Grover, being relentless is about never being satisfied, always striving to be the best, and then getting even better. It means creating new goals every time you reach your personal best and taking a moment to recognize what you’ve accomplished. But the moment your mind thinks, “Done,” your instincts say, “Next.” Every accomplishment is just a stepping-stone to the next challenge.
That’s the relentless pursuit of excellence, always believing in your ability, demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever ask of you. Making every possible move to put yourself where you need to be and staying there. This means being consistent in any environment, keeping things simple, and constantly working for that end result – every minute, every day.
“Your whole life is essentially dedicated to one goal, to the exclusion of everything else.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
The Love of Pain and Discomfort
One of the most important steps to get to where you want to be is to get used to pain and being uncomfortable. If you allow yourself to become paralyzed by excuses and comfort, you’ll never get to where you want to be. You can’t stay in your comfort zone and expect results. Instead of looking for the instant gratification along the way, focus on the end result.
“When you never have to take on anything harder than your daily routine, when you shy away from anything that rocks your sense of safety and control, you’re much more likely to fall apart at the first twinge of pressure.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
Grovers points out, that you don’t have to love the work, you just have to be relentless about achieving it and not get distracted. You need to crave the result so intensely, that the work is irrelevant.
“Bottom line if you want success of any kind: you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every time you think you can’t, you have to do it anyway.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
There are no secrets, hacks or shortcuts. There’s only doing the work every single day.
“Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear.“TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
Harnessing the Power of Self-Awareness
In order to improve anything in your life, you need to be willing and dedicated to improve and become better. Wanting something, waiting for something, or trying to be someone you’re not won’t get you anywhere. You need to face your fears and get rid of your poisons, baggage, demons, and addictions. You have to face who you really are and make it work for you, not against you. This includes to stop denying your dark side – all the secrets you have but don’t tell anyone – and harness its power to get in the zone and do the work.
“I don’t think you can really understand relentlessness until you’ve faced your worst fears, and you’ve experienced that internal response telling you what to do.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
Once you understand your baggage, you have to understand what you want to achieve and what you’re willing to endure to get it. Ask where you are now and where you want to be instead. Ask yourself what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice – if those two don’t match up, it’s highly likely that you don’t want it bad enough. You have to be willing to sacrifice to succeed. Make a realistic and true plan that reflects your goals and interests. Then, make a choice and stand by it.
“In order to have what you really want, you must first be who you really are.”TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”
You can’t achieve excellence in all aspects of your life though, because achieving excellence means saying no to anything else. You need to identify what wants to pull you away from your mission, what distracts you, and learn to control it. Learn to stay focused in any situation by detaching from everything while you’re in the zone. Grover recommends including many routines in your days to aid with getting in the zone and avoiding unnecessary changes to what’s working. Having such a schedule means defending your priorities and focus on one thing – your craft. When you’re completely focused on one thing, it’s hard to pay attention to other people, but it’s also important who you surround yourself with. Here, Grover recommends surrounding yourself with people who can operate at your level of demanding excellence but to also be careful about who you choose to keep close. (Make friends with people who want the best for you.)
“Success and failure are 100% mental. You must establish your own vision of what it means to be unstoppable.“Tim. S. Grover, “Relentless”
You also need to become comfortable with failure and be open-minded to advice that goes against what you want to hear. You need to make mistakes to learn from, to get where you want to be. Look at problems as opportunities. Don’t see problems, see situations that need to be addressed or issues that need to be resolved. Recognize when it’s time to shift directions and consider other options. Try different ways to get to where you want to be. If you encounter setbacks, learn and adapt, remap your course and get back to work. You don’t fail until you believe it’s over – until then, always look for ways to get to where you want to be.
“It all comes back to this, no matter what you do in life: Are you willing to make the decision to succeed?Tim S. Grover, “Relentless”
Are you going to stand by that decision or quit when it gets hard?
Will you choose to keep working when everyone else tells you to quit?
Pain comes in all sorts of disguises—physical, mental, emotional. Do you need to be pain-free?
Or can you push past it and stand by your commitment and decision to go further?
It’s your choice.
The outcome is on you.”
Be relentless. Done. Next.