My grandfather used to have a weekly lunch with his mates. They had all grown up in the then poor working-class suburb of Carlton, in inner Melbourne. They were all old men, holding onto their friendships. I would pick my grandfather each Thursday from the cafe, and all too often, I'd be cajoled into sitting with them.
One lunch, the men beckoned me over as they were trying to get into my grandfather's stubborn head that you can't go broke making a profit. He had been holding out for his dream price on something and for years refused to budge.
Years later, I still think about their advice. The underlying idea here is to never accept perfection. Make the sale and move on.
Progressive Overload is a fundamental principle at the core of strength and fitness training, and it's applicable to your mental skills as well. The basic idea is to always be training near or just below your limits.
In other words, yesterday's achievements are now the cost price and if you can improve on that, then that is the profit.
I tell my students this concept all the time. Especially reading fiction. The brain is like any muscle. It'll get stronger with use. You can't expect anyone to run a marathon after months of lying on the couch. You start by walking around the bloke and constantly improving on yesterday's distance. They need to read every day, even just a page.
Zone of Proximal Development
There is a concept in education called "Zone of Proximal Development". Essentially, this refers to the idea of making the learning just that little harder for the students so we push them to grow and learn. Nice, if you can find the zone.
What makes it hard is within any class, there are up to twenty-five different zones to cater to. Unlike a fitness routine, where you get to work on one group of muscles before moving on, a class is an attempt to work all the muscles at one time.
Over the last week, I have been at home with Covid. What I have enjoyed about this forced isolation is that I haven't been able to distract myself with my usual routine of walking the dogs out bush or going to grab a coffee at the local cafe.
And this has forced me to focus on the simple act of existing without my usual routine and had used these to punctuation my day as a way of avoiding extremely long and uncomfortable sentences, such as this one.
Making a profit
The question I am struggling with is how to identify my own zones of proximal development so that I can progressively push my boundaries. I am like any of my classes, with multiple zones to take care of. There is my desire to be a writer of some intelligence and wit, to be a fit and healthy middle-aged man, to be financially independent, etc etc.
The key is to identify what the current market price is (what can I currently do) and to beat that price. It doesn't have to compare to anything. The key is to eliminate the idea that someone else can do 'x', or I used to do 'y'.
Make the new sale and prepare for tomorrow. Remember, you can't go broke making a profit.