If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that I’m a fan of Benjamin Hardy’s books. I already read and praised quite a few of them. 10x is easier than 2x is part of a series that he coauthors with the founder of Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan. Therefore it’d probably not surprise you if I sad that this book mainly targets entrepreneurs, especially if you are aware of the author’s career trajectory. Dr. Benjamin Hardy earned his PhD in organizational psychology.
So why have I read it? Why do I review this book? Am I a - wannabe - entrepreneur?
No, not at all. At the moment of reading, in 2023, I’m a happy software developer who recently changed jobs and I am more than happy in my new band. First, I’ve been reading the author’s writings since he was among the most-read authors on Medium and I find his growth remarkable which gives him credibility. Second, I think that most of these books that target company executives or entrepreneurs are written in a way that offers many useful pieces of advice for normal human beings who are able to abstract a bit the ideas.
So let me share a couple of ideas from the book, let’s start with the one that gives the title.
10x or 2x?
The authors claim that it’s easier to increase your results by an order of magnitude than simply doubling them. That sounds bold and I think if you’re an employee you have to think about the numbers in a bit different way, but you can still appreciate the idea.
But how could be 10x easier than 2x? The author also refers to them as exponential vs linear growth, which is mathematically not very profound. Probably that hurts your ears and eyes as an engineer. But this is not a math book and the different names just help us understand the idea behind it.
2x growth is achieved by a somewhat natural growth, it’s achieved by local optimizations while 10x growth is achieved by focusing on the focal points, by putting new ideas into place. And this approach must resonate with software developers.
Just a few weeks ago, I discussed with someone about build times. Indeed, by using this or that technique, by letting the compiler inline some functions, you can achieve some speed-up. But that is local micro-optimization. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on it and reap some results. On the other hand, if you introduce build caches and start to organize your code in a way that fewer and fewer translation units should be rebuilt each time, you’ll benefit from far greater results. It’ll probably cost you less time to get your first great results and by focusing on it more, you’ll be able to get far better results.
And with that, we arrived at the second part of the 10x is easier than 2x idea. That is one thing that implementing - the right - good ideas will take you further. But you should also make sure that keep focusing on these areas. As the Pareto principle suggests, 20% of your efforts will bring about 80% of your results. You should focus on that 20% all the time and probably delve into the 20% of the 20% to find bigger growth and satisfaction. Yes, this is a book more for specialists than for generalists.
You’ll have to make sacrifices
By saying that 10x is easier than 2x, the author doesn’t mean that it will be simple or easy. It’s difficult because you have to shift your attitude. In fact, you have to keep shifting it.
If you want to go 10x, you’ll find resistance. It makes other people uncomfortable. I personally think, it also makes many others jealous. Some of the people will not have a strong enough drive to navigate through this situation and they will opt for 2x and not for 10x.
Most people are not willing to change a lot during their lifetimes because it’s uncomfortable and they are stuck in the same situations over and over again. By embracing the 10x process, you’ll evolve much more and much faster than the average person.
This book and the 10x process are a natural continuation of Personality isn’t permanent. The 10x process is founded on the idea of reinventing yourself and being comfortable with reinventing yourself. If you’re attached to your current personality and your current habits, it’s not going to work. You have to keep radically changing what you do and how you do those things.
You have to continuously sacrifice your beliefs and initially some “friends” who are uncomfortable with your changes.
It’s easier to work against something, but…
Choosing the 10x transformation is also about choosing freedom over security. The 10x process means freedom. But there are different forms of freedom.
External freedom means to be free from something, such as poverty or slavery. While it’s important, it’s superficial. The deeper freedom is the interior. It means that you are free to take full, extreme ownership of your life.
If I think about my experience in politics and studying politics, I can easily find some similarities. In politics, it’s very easy to build a movement against something(s) or someone(s). I’m sure all sides could come up with valid examples, so I don’t do it. On the other hand, it’s much more rare and also difficult to build successful and lasting movements to support something. To positively think about a long-term goal and keep moving towards it.
That’s the kind of difference between external and internal freedom as well. It’s easier to free yourself from certain things than to free yourself to do things. But it’s also more rewarding. It also fits more the stoic mindset. External freedom doesn’t only depend on you. Your physical freedom can be taken away by forces way more powerful than you. But your internal freedom depends only on you. Nobody can give it to you or take it away. You choose and commit to it.
It’s not cheap. It requires honesty with yourself and others. It’s both terrifying and liberating.
10x is easier than 2x is the new book written by Dr. Benjamin Hardy and it perfectly fits his career trajectory. It builds on the ideas of Personality Isn’t Permanent and also on Who Not How. It claims that elevating your results by an order of magnitude is easier than simply improving them on a linear scale.
The latter requires lots of small optimizations and has some hard limits. The former has no limits because you have to completely shift your mindset and what you do.
You have to keep analyzing yourself and your results. What is the 20% that gives you the most results? What is the 20% that brings you the most excitement? What is the 20% that defines your purpose? You have to keep investing in that and get rid of it, delegate the rest.
That’s probably easier for managers and entrepreneurs than for individual contributors, though specialists can also go far and deep in those regards. While the book targets entrepreneurs, the processes can be applied by anyone. In order to succeed, we have to keep reinventing ourselves around our main purpose.
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