Rule #16: Frequency is more important than magnitude. Tortoise and the hare.

Pain, injury. Sciatica specifically in this case. It's the major obstacle sort of forgot in my listing reasons I have failed commitments in the past. Injuries are a little bit different than other obstacles. Ignoring pain is foolish. It can cause long term injury. It's also the perfect example for why Rule #16: Frequency is more important than magnitude. is so important. I'll get back to that in a moment. In the past I have given up on weight lifting and running due to injuries that required time to heal. This highly acute case of sciatica I am currently experiencing probably doesn't require a break. It would be wise to slow down the pace or take a single day off but I don't want to break the little momentum I have built. But for injuries in general it's important to recognize them and take appropriate action. Slow down, stop for a season, change goals, work out differently (biking, instead of walking for example). It's also important to treat them as you would any other obstacle and overcome. I hope to treat injury just like I treat failure. Sure I may miss a day but I will jump right back on the next day. No make-ups, no punishment, just jump on right where I left off. Today I'm pushing through the pain (I may take some Ibuprofen tonight with dinner as well).

I love the idea of Rule #16. It's all about taking the long road instead of the fast one. It is best understood as the allegory of the "Tortoise and the Hare." Remember they both start a race at the same time. The rabbit being naturally much faster simply sprinted just shy of the finish line, where he got tired and took a nap, thinking he had plenty of time to spare. The tortoise who simply keeps a slow steady pace eventually overtakes the rabbit and wins the race before the rabbit recovers from his nap. The story is meant to teach a simple truth: Slow and steady wins the race. I never fully understood this until I heard a more practical example from Dave Ramsey. As I remember he interviewed a billionaire and asked him how to get there. The self made billionaire responded with one principle: "The Tortoise and the Hare." Their is no such thing as getting rich quick. Those that win the lottery usually squander their money and end up worse off then they started. That's because their are two principles in "The Tortoise and the Hare." Go slow, and go steady [Dave Ramsey's Blog].

Going slow sounds like a swear word to some. But it makes more sense when you start with steady. Truly lasting growth happens with repetition. The body learns skills by building pathways in a neural network. It can be complicated to explain so lets use a simple example. A field of raw unspoiled grass. This is the mind of an unlearned person. Lets say we are learning to play basketball but know nothing. Our first task is to bounce the ball with one hand. If you have ever seen a 3 year old attempt to bounce a ball you will understand they just don't seem to get it. The first time they bounce it they cross the thick tall grassy field. The grass pushes back and they can't see so instead of a direct route they may walk in a few circles. Eventually they come out on the other side. Of course by the time they arrive their very little has been accomplished. Just a few broken blades and maybe some flattened spots where the foot dug into the dirt a little more. This was your first lesson. If you walk away and never bounce a ball again they grass will simply grow back and you will have learned nothing. But lets say you come back the next day and bounce the ball again. You follow the exact path, as best you can as it's not a clear path, through the grass. Maybe this time you go more directly but ultimately the grass is still hindering you and you still can't see well, and you still take a long time to get to the other side. Now it gets interesting. You do this every day for a month. Bounce that ball, walk through that grassy field. By the time a month is over you can bounce and catch that ball perfectly. And that grassy field has a clean, easy to follow trail. You may see this and say that's a nice idea but that is exactly how a neural network works. The more you take a path the easier the path is to take. Like the grassy field you can spend an entire day trying to build a trail, walk away and come back next week and your trail will be half as developed as the person who spent 30 min a day at the same activity. In fact if one person spent 3 1/2 hours in a week in one sitting wearing their trail, and the other spent 30 min a day they 30 min a day would win every time. That is how a neural network works, and that is how the human body, and mind learns skills and information.

So naturally the next question is, well if 30 min a day is effective why not do both. Do 3 1/2 hours each day for a week. Now you really got something. True. But, do you have 3 1/2 hours a day to spend? And this is where the slow part comes in. It's not about going slow per se. It's about pacing yourself and going at a sustainable pace. It's the reason I do 30 min walks every day instead of 2 hours. I would inevitably grow more if I did two hours a day for a month. But I wouldn't be able to sustain it. I would get about 3 days in before I am unable to work out because I'm emotionally exhausted or simply have chores to attend too. 30 min a day is slow but it is sustainable. And that is what "The Tortoise and the Hare" teaches. Go steady and at a sustainable long term pace. You can become a millionaire by borrowing $1,000,000 from the bank. But lets see you become a billionaire that way. In fact due to the interest you owe every month it's going to slow you down much more than if you just started with the $1,000 you already had. Don't try to get rich quick. It's not sustainable. You're not rich because you lack the skills and wisdom to manage money. Learn to manage your money, learn to budget, then learn to invest. Then learn to develop passive income.

The rule itself uses the words Frequency and Magnitude. Magnitude is the height (also known as amplitude). Frequency is the number of times the magnitude (amplitude) is reached in 1 sec. They are mathematical terms used to describe a wavelengths. Sound, radio, seismic, and light are all modeled as waves on a graph. A strange behavior of waves is the higher the magnitude starts the faster it losses it's energy [exponential/logarithmic decay]. Sure it may go farther but not in proportion to the increase in magnitude. Lets say a 100 watt bulb can be seen 1000 Feet away (entirely hypothetical). It can be seen 10 times it's magnitude (invested energy). How far away can a 50 watt bulb be seen? A simple comparison would suggest 500 feet. Wrong! it would be seen 700 feet away. That is 14 times farther than it's magnitude. That means it is more energy efficient to have three 50 watt bulbs than it is to have two 100 watt bulbs. If you want to maximize your impact, your productivity, your ability to learn you should save your energy and frequently use small amounts of time/influence instead of having one big blowout. Workout every day for 30 min and you will be much more productive than 3 1/2 hours every Saturday.

I made sure in my 40 day blogging challenge that I did not write 3 posts then just queue them up to publish every day. That would have defeated the purpose. I wrote a singe post every day. Much more valuable, much more lasting, much more sustainable. Wrapping up the introduction. Lower magnitude means more sustainability. Also I'm less likely to be injured as my body has time to adapt and grow as I begin the process, and that means I hit my goals faster, even if it is at a slower pace. Slow and steady wins the race [Prov 21:5]


I recently discovered a concept known as "The law of diminishing returns" [Wikipedia]. I had heard it before but didn't both looking into it or trying to understand it. In short the more resources you invest into a project the less value you get out of each unit of resource. Take an assembly line for example. You can add more people to the line. You might thing if you double the number of people it doubles productivity. And maybe it does the first time. But then double the number of people again and you will only gain 25% more productivity. Double again and your productivity may actually decrease -10% due to the floor being over-populated and people colliding with each other. Not enough room on the belt. The law doesn't as much affect productivity as cost. You can double productivity but still not make any more money. Because doubling the people cost $1 Million. But the product was only making $800K before so you only increased income by another $800K. That is a net loss of $200K despite doubling productivity. Once again economics supports the old adage be the tortoise not the hare. Don't just dump everything into one big blowout. Optimize. Their is a point where you maximize your productivity, income, and return on investment. That is usually not dumping massive amounts of money into the pot. But the slow and steady pace.