Greetings from Chandler, Arizona!
Wow, what a week.
Since last Monday, 52 new subscribers joined this newsletter–our second-best week ever!
On top of that, we hit a milestone on Friday: 300 total subscribers!
We’re making good pace towards my goal of 1,000 total subscribers by January 1, 2021. This growth has been fueled by you sharing the newsletter and articles with your friends, co-workers, and social media followers.
If you’re not already subscribed, join this growing community of smart, ambitious coaches today:
Whether this if your first newsletter or you’ve been here since the very beginning, thank you for your help making this newsletter grow.
I want to say a special thank you to everyone who shared this newsletter on social media over the last 7 days: Tyler, Cody, Jim, Lantz, Jon, Mike, Jeff, Coan, Ryan, and Jordie. Thank you so much.
In addition to the incredible subscriber growth, I also built the first-ever Monday Morning Edge product. It’s officially launching Friday and you can sign up to get notified here. But if you read this newsletter closely, you might find an Easter Egg where you can get early access.
Now, onto the newsletter…
Today’s newsletter spans a pretty wide range of topics, but–as always–it all comes back to coaching. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- The 3 reasons competition is for losers (and what that means for you)
- Why understanding player psychology is your best bet for gaining a competitive advantage
- What The Sims can teach us about coaching
- What we can learn from caribou to make us better coaches
As sports lovers, we’ve been taught that competition is good.
But what if competition isn’t all we believed it to be?
Here’s Peter Thiel:
“Why do people believe that competition is healthy? The answer is that competition is not just an economic concept or a simple inconvenience that individuals and companies must deal with in the marketplace. More than anything else, competition is an ideology—the ideology—that pervades our society and distorts our thinking. We preach competition, internalize its necessity, and enact its commandments; and as a result, we trap ourselves within it—even though the more we compete, the less we gain.“
While competition is inherent to the sports we love, it distorts our thinking and causes more damage and destruction than good.
In my latest essay, I look at the 3 main reasons competition kills coaches and why competition is actually for losers.
After you read it, you’ll understand the negative effects of competition and see how you can escape competition in your own career to create a long-lasting competitive advantage.
Read 3 Reasons Competition is for Losers today.
Book of the Week
I had an awesome conversation with newsletter subscriber Jeff on Twitter last week and it sparked some thoughts that I want to share here.
Our conversation started out with me talking about what I call “The Certification Value Curve”:
The idea behind the curve is simple: with each additional person that earns a certification, the value of your certification decreases.
Jeff responded and asked how coaches could gain a competitive advantage if it’s true that certifications aren’t it.
Here’s how I answered him:
The #1 source of competitive advantage for coaches is in understanding how to ethically influence people.
Peter Thiel talks about this regarding secrets.
For Thiel, there are two types of secrets: secrets of nature and secrets about people.
A secret of nature in the coaching world is something like a knowledge advantage–you know something that another coach or team doesn’t know.
An obvious baseball example would be the Oakland Athletics’ Moneyball approach to team-building. They knew something that other teams didn’t and had an advantage because of it.
But that advantage was short-lived. Teams quickly figured out what Oakland was doing and copied their strategy.
This happens in every industry. As Mike Dariano wrote in Be Different:
“It’s why Daryl Morey said that their draft board isn’t so different anymore. Competing teams noticed that Morey’s team tended to draft well and copied, tinkered, and remixed it. Ed Thrope said: “any edge in the market is limited, small, temporary, and quickly captured by the smartest or best-informed investors.””
A secret about people, on the other hand, is something about people that A) they don’t know about themselves or B) they know about themselves but try to hide it from others. These secrets are not easily replicable.
Because secrets about people are hard to copy, the competitive advantages that comes from them are highly durable.
I believe that having good feel is one of these secrets about people.
Feel is the all-encompassing coaching term for good social skills. The end goal of having feel is influence, which Brett Bartholomew defines as “the use of power to bring about change.”
To gain a competitive advantage, we need to learn how to influence people. I can think of no better way to learn the fundamentals of how to do this than with Robert Cialdini’s classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Learnings of the Week
I’ve recently been going through Will Wright’s Masterclass on Game Design & Theory and I must say, it’s fascinating.
Wright is the designer behind The Sims and he definitely takes a unique approach to designing his games.
A few things that have stuck out to me from Will’s class:
On designing beyond zero-sum games:
The Sims & Sims City don’t have zero-sum win states. Instead, the player gets to define the rules of the game and can decide what winning looks like (lowest crime rate, highest character happiness, etc.). Which relates to…
On expanding player creativity:
Wright says that “good design amplifies player creativity.” He always tries to find ways to give the player the opportunity to create something unique within the game. To empower them to express their own creativity. What would it look like if we designed our practice sessions in a way that we actually encourage and expand our players’ creative expression?
On being cost-effective when prototyping:
This game design principle says that you want to limit costs during the prototyping phase of game development.
It reminded me about something I learned from Tiago Forte: evolving deliverables.
Here’s how prototyping and evolving deliverables plays out for me:
When I have an idea, I don’t immediately turn it into a product that I try to sell. Instead, I will first post it to Twitter and put together a short thread to see if it resonates with people.
If it resonates, I will refine it and turn it into an essay.
Then, if that resonates with people, I might decide to improve on it further and turn it into a product.
By only evolving ideas that resonate with my audience, I minimize the costs of failure through cycles of low-cost, low-failure-risk prototyping.
Article of the Week
I loved this article about why tacit, skin in the game-type knowledge is often superior to rationality when it comes to understanding certain cultural traditions.
I had a hard time picking just one quote to preview this article for you. It’s that good.
But nonetheless, here’s (probably) my favorite quote from the article:
“When hunting caribou, Naskapi foragers in Labrador, Canada, had to decide where to go. Common sense might lead one to go where one had success before or to where friends or neighbors recently spotted caribou. However, this situation is like Matching Pennies in chapter 2. The caribou are mismatchers and the hunters are matchers. That is, hunters want to match the locations of caribou while caribou want to mismatch the hunters, to avoid being shot and eaten. If a hunter shows any bias to return to previous spots, where he or others have seen caribou, then the caribou can benefit (survive better) by avoiding those locations (where they have previously seen humans). Thus, the best hunting strategy requires randomizing.
As I’ve thought about this article’s application for coaches, I’ve reflected on this quote. And here’s what I’ve taken away:
Coaching has a huge game theory element to it. Without some degree of randomization, we become entirely predictable and therefore, easy to defeat. Like the caribou, our best bet is to try to mismatch our opponent.
Photo of the Week
Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope you have an incredible day.
I love you.
That’s all for this week.
Like always, feel free to respond to this email or DM me on Twitter if you want to discuss the essay or share a link you come across that you think deserves a feature in a future edition of Monday Morning Edge.
Thank you so much.
Until next week,
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