If you want to excel with anything in your life, you need to create positive feedback loops that will make it easier to do what makes you better, rather than not do it.
This is a basic law of human nature and behavior – what gets conditioned and repeated will determine the way you live your life.
Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Let this sink in for a moment – this quote hits really hard when you think about it.
Everything you have ever done, accomplished, or created to this day was a result of a habit, a mental program that has been implemented in your life, therefore if you don’t like your life, you in fact don’t like your habits. It is so simple and profound, yet most people don’t implement this.
To emphasize this point, let’s look at how we as humans learn and then operate.
There are two main paradigms – first, the Pavlovian paradigm tells us we learn by coupling two or more stimuli that elicit a response.
For example, when we see food, we get excited. Food is an unconditioned stimulus that creates an Unconditional response – Unconditioned because we don’t need to learn this. We are hardwired for this from birth.
Now, since we’ve evolved as humans we created a more complex way of trade and conducting value – we have created the monetary system that allows us to trade time for money and then for food. Therefore, food is now replaced with money, and money creates the same response of excitement we therefore would have gotten from food.
Think about it, if I would drop you on a deserted island for 5 years, would you want me to leave you with a million dollars in cash, or enough food and supplies for your survival?
And no… You can’t find food on this island and wait 5 years to come back a millionaire lol
Now, what would you choose? Food is probably answer 😀
Because money in and of itself has no inherent value, it’s just a medium of value exchange – remember that. Therefore – it’s a CONDITIONED stimulus that creates a CONDITIONED response.
Now, let’s understand the second, more complex paradigm of learning which makes more sense in our complex world today. This learning is called instrumental learning
This type of learning is composed of 3 steps:
Stimulus – Response – Outcome
It’s more complex because there are more variables and connections between the possible parameters.
Let’s take money and food for example.
So imagine you got a job as a button clicker. Every time you see the button and click it a golden coin falls out of a machine and you get to keep it. Nice job right?
So, you’ll probably sit there all day long hammering the button like a maniac, squeezing out as many coins as possible in the span of the workday, heck you might even work for extended hours and sleep in the office if it means you get to keep the coins!
Now there are two things in factor here: firstly There’s the Conditional stimulus we created for money (gold) and food – that makes you value the outcome, the golden coins.
And secondly, there’s instrumental learning that occurs. Let’s break it down:
- Stimulus: The button is the stimulus in this example, as you get a rush when you see it that urges you to respond
- Response: The response, in this case, is clicking the button, you see the button, and you click it – fairly simple. (take in mind that you were conditioned early on in life to click buttons and see what happens)
- Outcome: After clicking the button, you get a gold coin coming out of a machine. Wonderful.
Now, as you can see, there are 3 different variables, but this doesn’t end here. To truly understand how to create better feedback loops and habits we need to understand the connections between these factors.
- First connection: S-R -> This connection is between the button to click it. If you see the button (stimulus) over time you get conditioning to click it (the response)
- Second Connection: R-O -> This connection is between clicking the button to getting the golden coin. When you learn that clicking the button (respond) produces a golden coin (outcome) you want to click the button more and more.
- Third Connection: S-O -> Over time, just by seeing the button, you will get a strong connection to the reward. You will start thinking about the golden coins that will come out of it when you do the action. It’s a more advanced connection.
Now I want to talk with you about the first connection and the second, which are the most important.
Most bad habits live in the second connection – you get the O (outcome) to your Response super fast.
Let’s say you’re taking a drug, a few minutes later you’re already high and get the “feel good” that hacks your dopamine and brain systems.
This is a classic S – drug R – Taking it O – Outcome. There’s no delay between the R to the O, and it creates a very strong connection between R-O to make you want to feel the outcomes again and again.
Now, imagine you go out for a run. Let’s say the Stimulus is putting on your running shoes. The response is running. the outcome…..?
During the first run – probably, pain, physical exhaustion, out of breath, and tired.
Your brain’s reaction will be: AVOID AVOID AVOID at all costs.
This is why it’s harder to build “healthy” habits. It takes longer to see the outcome, there’s a delayed response to the situation.
This also works with food. Our brains have evolved over ages to crave sugar, salt, and fat due to its low availability in the wild. Let’s say the ancient human stumbled upon a reservoir of fat and sugar, he will be able to consume it in one sitting to “fuel” the body. There’s no saving for later or a supermarket to go to.
In this case – we developed a strong R-O for sugar and fats. Now, eating vegetables – it’s not that taste-inducing, so the response is slower. We have to develop the R-O over a long period of time, seeing we lost weight, and seeing how this benefits us to create a habit.
The S-R connection though is where the magic happens. If we manage to build more S-R connections in our life, we will get the outcomes eventually, they may just be delayed by a bit.
For example, I created an S-R of getting deep work sessions every day. My stimulus is waking up, doing my morning routine, and getting into a deep flow session for 3-4 hours.
Do I get an immediate Outcome in the form of Money, Food, Sex, Status, Etc at the end of the deep work immediately? Not necessarily, but as we’ve developed as humans, we have the capacity to understand delayed gratification and how to hack these brain circuits in our favor.
We may not be getting the rewards instantaneously, but we know we will. This is where faith and trust in your vision come in, transcending your lower human nature, which tries to bring you down to emergency action and immediate results – but it’s a conversation for another time.
To sum things up
If you want to build GOOD HABITS build S-R feedback loops. Focus only on the response, and make your outcome the action itself.
For example, in my writing session, if I get XYZ words done, that’s an outcome.
If you’re an email marketer – focus on getting 5 emails written a day
If you’re a coach, focus on contacting 10 new prospects, etc
That’s the idea – to create a system that rewards your Inputs rather than the outputs. That’s the only variable that’s in your hands and can be measured and improved. Everything else is a matter of multiple variables that you can’t and shouldn’t focus on.
The more shots you shoot, aimed right, corrected, and with constant improvement, the higher the chances you hit the target.
In theory it’s that simple. Problem is that humans are complicated organisms and have various systems running simultaneously in the back of their mind.
This is where High-Performance training comes in, where you can learn how to get much more done, in less time, without doubt, or burn out, and with supreme clarity on what needs to be done by aligning with your purpose, vision, and 10-year north star.
Book a call with me here to learn about the Limitless Performance program to start performing at as your elite self and skyrocket your business and personal metrics.
start expecting results like this:
and like this:
With clarity as this: