10x Is Easier Than 2x is probably one of the best self-help books I've read in 2023. My idea is to share every bit of knowledge I gained when reading it and taking notes. And I hope you can use it in your favor and dramatically improve your life.
The book starts with an intriguing story about Michelangelo and how he reached each 10x level in his life. From 17 years old to 37. From small sculptures to Hercules, and then Bacchus, Pietà, David, and finally the Sistine Chapel.
Each work was a new challenge to the path of the next 10x level. Each work was an opportunity to 10x his skills.
To complete each project, he learned the intricacies of human anatomy and how to craft a life-sized and believable human statue.
To complete each project at the level he desired required a full-on transformation of not only his skills and creativity, but also of his commitment, convictions, and identity. Every project was a 10x project that pushed him to be dramatically better.
This whole transformation is what the author calls the 10x process.
These are the core ideas on how he describes what a 10x process is:
- Every next level of your life will require a different you.
- 2x is a focus on quantity. You just add a zero and do more of what you’re doing. It’s linear and non-creative. It’s brute force, not higher intelligence, and leverage.
- Just as 10x isn’t about more but less, 10x is also not about quantity. It’s about quality.
- Going 10x means your attention is directly on far less, but it’s insanely more potent and impactful because it’s focused rather than spread thin. Finally, 10x is not about any specific outcome. It’s about the process. 10x is a capability.
- Going 10x is the simplification of your focus down to the core essential. Then you remove everything else.
The Surprising simplicity of 10x growth
The all-important question, if you’re someone who wants to live a meaningful and intentional life, is: How do you distinguish the 20 percent that matters and the 80 percent that doesn’t?
In order to clarify what matters from what doesn’t, you need to specify your goal.
Without a clear goal, you can’t define the 20 percent that will effectively get you there and the 80 percent that’s taking you in some other direction.
10x goals enable you to clearly identify the 20 percent of things and people in your life that are producing most of your results, and the 80 percent of things and people in your life that are holding you back.
Seemingly impossible goals are more practical than possible goals because impossible goals force you outside your current level of knowledge and assumptions. Very few pathways create 10x. With genuine reflection, a 10x target spotlights the few pathways — the high-leverage strategies and relationships—with extreme upside.
- Going for 2x growth means you can keep 80 percent of your existing clients, roles, behaviors, and mindsets. Only minor tweaks are needed.
- Going for 10x growth means you must eliminate 80 percent of your existing clients, roles, behaviors, and mindsets. 10x requires a full-scale transformation of yourself as well as everyone and everything around you.
- 2x is linear—to continue growing requires more effort. It’s working harder, not smarter. It’s quantitatively focused—you’re just doing more of what you’re now doing without respect to quality, uniqueness, or transformation.
- 10x is non-linear—enormous growth does not require more effort but often requires less, but better. It’s qualitatively focused—you’ve elevated your vision and focus such that you’re now transforming the value and impact of what you do for increasingly specific people.
Every time you make a 10x jump, you do so by letting go of your current 80 percent and going deeper into a more powerful and concentrated 20 percent. Letting go of your 80 percent generally involves hiring Whos to take over your 80 percent, and systemizing and organizing what is repeatable so you can innovate what isn’t repeatable.
Every time you go 10x by letting go of the 80 percent and going all-in on your desired 20 percent, you dramatically increase the quality and quantity of your freedoms as a person—which are time, money, relationships, and purpose.
Here are questions to ask you and drive a 10x mindset:
- What is your 20 percent that if you went all-in on, you’d become 10x more valuable and impactful?
- What are the few things you do and the few people you work with that produce most of your success and excitement?
- What is your 80 percent that is keeping you grinding away, and ultimately a distraction for your biggest future jumps?
10x the quality of everything you do
How you do anything is how you do everything. Going 10x involves the continuous process of increasing the quality and decreasing the quantity of everything you do.
Shedding your 2x-identity can be difficult, because as people we have the tendency to avoid loss, overvalue what we currently own, and desire to be seen as consistent.
Your identity is the story you believe about yourself and the standards you hold for yourself. Defining and choosing your own minimum standards, no matter how seemingly impossible to yourself and others, is fundamental to experiencing a 10x transformation.
Evolving yourself to the level of a higher minimum standard requires commitment and courage, which eventually leads to the development of new capabilities and confidence.
To make something a new standard, you stop saying yes to the 80 percent — your now 2x identity and standards — that no longer fits. You embrace rejection and learning at the new standard until you reach a place of capability and confidence at the new standard.
10x requires letting go of increasing distractions. Every time you go 10x, you become more focused and less broad. You have higher ambitions with greater and deeper scope, requiring more and better of your attention. To make something 10x better involves deep, deep work. Innovation occurs as you break everything down and put it back together in a simpler, easier, and better form.
Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast)’s three ingredients to his 10x process are:
- thinking exponentially and non-linearly bigger
- hyper-focusing on quality over quantity, and
- building a team to handle the 80 percent so you can focus and improve in your craft.
Here are questions to ask you and create a new standard, identity, and 10x the quality of everything you do:
- What are the standards you hold for yourself?
- Were your standards chosen by you, or adopted by the norms of those outside of you? What are your own minimum standards that you’re focused on and committed to?
- What would happen if you dramatically elevated your standards?
- How can you move toward your 20 percent focus and mastery?
- What 80 percent would have to go?
- Are you living exponentially or linearly?
- Are you focused on effort or volume, or are you creating something qualitatively different and better than anything else out there?
- Are you spread thin, doing five or more different jobs, or do you have a growing team of people handling your former 80 percent?
Remembers that “it isn’t 10,000 hours that creates outliers,” said entrepreneur and angel investor Naval Ravikant. “It’s 10,000 iterations.”. The focus is in the quality, it's the deliberate, focused, deep practice.
10x embraces abundance and rejects scarcity
When you choose freedom over security, then you embrace a life where you choose exactly what you want, rather than vying for what you think you need.
- Living a life based on intrinsic wants enables an abundance mindset that allows you to create the wealth and life you want, without needing to justify to anyone why you want what you want.
- Living a life based on external needs enables a scarcity mindset that causes you to compete for the limited resources you believe you need. People who live based on need feel they have to justify their actions so that others will accept them.
You can only go 10x by embracing a purely wanting approach to life because 10x isn’t inherently something anyone needs, but only something you can have if you choose the freedom to want and create it.
- Your Unique Ability is a central and core aspect of who you are, which can only be uncovered and developed by embracing what you most want.
- Your Unique Ability is the way in which you provide the most value for other people, which no one else could ever replicate even if they wanted to.
- Your Unique Ability is more valuable and exciting than any specific industry or skill, though it can be utilized effectively toward specific activities such as teaching, leading, strategizing, etc.
- Overly linking your Unique Ability to any single activity, such as teaching, will inhibit your ability to evolve both yourself and your Unique Ability to higher levels. Your Unique Ability is what drives your best and most exciting performance.
Being in a flow state occurs when you embrace your Unique Ability because you’re not overly editing yourself based on external approval, attachment to outcomes, etc. Instead, you’re just purely free to be and do and create as you want and in the way you want.
You’re completely free and energized as a result and the byproduct is inspired creativity.
This is also why and how you transform and expand your Unique Ability to otherworldly levels, wherein you become uniquely skilled and masterful at what you do.
How do you do it?
- Clarifying your ideal future self and what they would be doing. Be very specific about this. What context are they in? What mission are they fulfilling? What is the cause they are about?
- Expanding your vision and thinking exponentially bigger for yourself about what you can be, do, and have. Continually hone your Unique Ability—that which excites you, energizes you, and which you see the potential for never-ending improvement—and utilize your Unique Ability to bring forth your 10x vision.
- Clarifying the 20 percent that if you develop greater mastery in, you’ll experience your desired 10x jump in freedom of time, money, relationships, and overall purpose.
Some questions to drive a wanting life and your unique ability:
- What is your Unique Ability?
- What is the unique value you provide to others, that no one else can?
- What is the 10x jump that excites you most, which requires you to go all-in on your Unique Ability to realize?
- What’s the 80 percent of your life keeping you busy but unproductive, because it’s keeping you outside your Unique Ability?”
Uncover your 10x past to clarify your 10x future
Ideals are like a horizon in the desert. They provide illumination and direction but are unreachable. No matter how many steps you take toward the horizon, it will continually move out of reach.
Ideals are the same. They are useful for direction, but you shouldn’t measure yourself against them.
Being in the gain is a twofold concept that enables you to effectively measure your progress and transform every experience you have into greater learning, meaning, and growth.
To be in the gain, you only measure your progress backward against where you were before. You never measure yourself against anything external—whether that be your own ideals or other people.
By reflecting on your previous jumps and “connecting the dots backward,” you’ll first see that you’ve gone 10x many times before.
This will normalize 10x for you, helping you see that you can continue going 10x in the future, as you have in the past. Additionally, in examining the 20 percent of each 10x jump, you’ll be able to see and appreciate how you’ve been developing your Unique Ability to this point.
Accurately and powerfully measuring your progress backward enables you to more fully understand and appreciate your own past. This also helps you better clarify and contextualize your future—the non-linear 10x jumps you now feel most excited and ready to make.
In reflecting on your next 10x jump, one helpful concept is called fitness function—which asks the question: What are you optimizing for?
Fitness function clarifies the qualities you want to develop and the standards by which you measure progress and success. Whatever you focus on you become.
Some ideas and questions to practice:
- At the end of each day, you could write down three “wins” you had that day. Those wins could be things you learned (even from things that didn’t go well). They could be literal progress you made toward your goals, even if it was minor progress.
- What are you “optimizing” for?
- What level of capability and results do you want to develop and master?
- What are the standards you want to refine and actualize?
Take 150+ free days per year
10x is about innovation and results. It's a qualitative and non-linear approach to time. 2x is about busyness and effort. It’s a quantitative and linear approach to time.
Structure your week for high performance and flow. Stack and schedule similar activities like meetings on the same day. Only have meetings on various days of the week. Have several days per week where nothing is scheduled.
- Research shows that there are three essential preconditions of being in a flow state: Clear and specific goals.
- The challenge and/or risk of the activity is beyond your current skill or knowledge level.
- Make sure your three daily goals are clear and specific so that you can know where to focus.
Adopt a maker schedule, where you have huge time blocks dedicated to deep work and innovation. This is how you’ll get 10x better. Apply focus-flow and recovery flow at an even higher level, where you not only have focus and Free Days, but you have focus and free weeks, and even focus and free months.
Stop working when you’ve completed your three important tasks. Don’t work longer than is necessary. Productive and busy are opposites. Be in the gain, not the gap. Optimize your evening routine for increasingly quality sleep.
The final hour of your day determines the quality of your sleep as well as the quality of your next day.
- For 10x sleep, put your phone on airplane mode at least 30-60 minutes before bed. Pull out your journal for 3-5 minutes and write down three wins you had that day. These wins will be any form of learning or progress you had, even if they weren’t planned.
- Then, after you’ve framed the day as a “win” — which is how you want your entire past framed — choose and commit to the three goals or “wins” you’ll get tomorrow. Pray and or meditate and then commit to sleep. Be excited and happy to fully shut it down.
According to constraint theory, every unit or system has a core goal or objective. That core objective also highlights the core constraint or bottleneck that must be solved in order for the goal to be achieved.
Without solving the bottleneck, you won’t achieve the goal, no matter how much energy and effort you’re putting in.
- The bottleneck is the 20 percent.
- Everything else is the 80 percent, which doesn’t meet the filter of the goal.
More questions to drive the 10x process in your life:
- What is your 10x vision?
- What is your 20 percent?
- What is your Unique Ability?
- Are you committed to going 10x and creating a Self-Managing Company?
- Are you playing the infinite game or stuck in a finite one?
- Are you ready for 10x freedom and purpose?
- Are you going to let go of your 80 percent again and again, devoting your time to an ever-shrinking 20 percent within 20 percent within 20 percent, becoming the most powerful, unique, and optimized version of yourself?