Maybe I’ve gone insane or drank too many green smoothies in a cold shower at 4 am. Dunno. But I only understand hard. It came from childhood…
Ciggies, weed, p*rn, nightclubs, and strippers
My friend Billy and I discovered cigarettes and p*rn at a young age.
We overindulged. Soon we were puffing joints and illegally going to nightclubs. That led to us going to strip clubs.
We thought we were kings. We had it easy. The neighbor over the road, Steve, loved Nintendo games. So did Billy and me.
We’d go to his house with a pack of Winfield Blue smokes and race him at our favorite game, Diddy Kong Racing.
But Steve always won.
We weren’t a few seconds behind. No. He’d lap us. He’d make our lap times look slower than my grandma driving to the 7-Eleven to buy vegan milk.
We had no idea how he did it.
One day I hung out with him 1–1. He spent 12 hours a day playing the game. That wasn’t the secret though. I noticed when he got to the home screen of the game there were three options: Easy, Medium, Hard.
He’d always select to play on hard.
When Billy and I played we only ever selected easy. When I went to the local shopping center to play other gamers on the free Nintendo 64 at the department store, I noticed everyone always played on easy mode too.
It was the default. Nobody stopped at that screen. Ever.
In fact, I didn’t know anyone else who played on hard. It made no sense. Hard mode got the same levels, bonuses, kart upgrades, and stories as easy mode. Why would anyone want to play on hard?
I tried a few times to play Diddy Kong Racing on hard but I sucked. It was so difficult I’d end up frustrated and quit soon after.
Steve learned to play on hard and turn that frustration into motivation. He’d play the same course 100x over before winning if he had to.
I gave up like a bum after one attempt.
Steve went on to do big things. He treated every game in life as if it had to be played on hard mode. Now he lives like the king and I’m in his shadow.
The framework of “choose your hard”
Life is a series of Nintendo games.
We get to choose what difficulty level we play on. For the last 9 years I’ve played on hard mode on the internet.
People have ridiculed me for it. They’ve called it hustle p*rn. They’ve called me a “guru.” They told me to shut up about success. They think money is evil and people like me ruin society.
Here’s the thing: these people play life on easy mode.
Then they wonder why life sucks. They’re angry at how I play the game because they don’t realize I’ve selected hard mode. Nothing good comes out of an easy life. Just ask trust fund babies. They’re miserable.
My former mate Lionel knows that life too well. Ever since he got gifted a brand new Mustang from his oil tycoon father, he’s never been the same again.
It’s not politicians, society, the financial system, or racism that’s to blame.
It’s easy mode.
The framework of choose-your-hard is simple. Once you understand that hard mode is the only way to live, then everything you consider is hard. It just comes down to what type of hard you want to choose to do.
Hard has little competition
The title of this story comes from Zach Pogrob of Behavior Hack.
He argues that many people stop when it gets hard. But the small few who understand the advantages of hard mode start something because it’s hard.
The reason you want to choose hard is because there’s barely any competition. In my little niche of writing I have almost no competitors. 99% of people won’t write daily or do it for 9 years.
In the field of basketball Kobe Bryant chose hard too. He figured out most of his teammates or competitors would get a 6-figure NBA salary then get comfortable and fall into easy mode.
The money was their only drive and once they got it, it made no sense to do hard things — only the bare minimum to get paid.
You can see this reality everywhere.
And once you see it like I have, you can’t unsee it.
Hard is where all the growth is
The growth rate of whatever goals you choose is important.
Some people are slow as hell with a goal. They go at snail’s pace and procrastinate. I love to take 5-year goals and ask “how could I achieve this in 90 days?”
Smashing timeframes is the first step to living life on hard mode.
Once you can simplify and break down a goal into chunks, it becomes easier to find faster ways to get momentum quicker.
It doesn’t mean you fall for the overnight success fantasy and become impatient. It just means you move with confidence and speed.
Once you get results on hard mode they compound much faster and give off the illusion that you’ve had some overnight success.
It’s not luck though. It’s hard mode doing the work in your favor.
Hard mode is the only mode with exponential growth curves that give you an unfair advantage and make you look extraordinary.
Hard is the most fun
Easy mode isn’t that fun.
Complain, blame, eat the leftover scraps, get paid less than you’re worth … that’s no way to live. When you play hard games it’s more fun because you get addicted to the drug of progress.
And people that play life on hard mode are rare. So if they see you playing on hard mode too they’ll instantly be attracted to you.
It’s why I tell people that I don’t network. I don’t need to. Playing on hard mode does the networking for me. So my emails light up. Then all I do is validate they’re actually playing on hard mode and connect in a group chat.
The secrets you unlock from other obsessed people playing on hard mode further compound your personal growth.
Hard is 5+ years doing something you freaking love
The big difference with hard mode is you think in 5-year visions.
You take fast actions but you expect the true fulfillment and meaning to happen in 5 years. This level of patience is rare. It’s what you hear Gary Vaynerchuk talking about all the time.
Again, when you think in longer timeframes a lot of society becomes aliens to you because they think in 60 minute terms. They get programmed to watch a Netflix show and see a resolution in an hour.
When life doesn’t work that way they subconsciously are programmed to get pissed off.
5 years might sound like a long time but it’s not when you do something you love. That’s why it makes zero sense to be obsessed with something you don’t care about and do it on hard mode.
Hard mode is easy mode when mixed with genuine obsession.
The bizarre category of people who play life on hard mode
Writer John Lester told me something interesting.
According to the data the most successful franchisees in America who make the most money are either ex-farmers or ex-military.
It makes sense. Being a farmer is damn hard work. Being a soldier is even harder. It might explain why my writer friend Sean Kernan is so good at his craft. His dad was a navy seal.
Even though Sean never joined the military, hard work is in his blood.
He’s not looking for free handouts or shortcuts. He’s willing to do what it takes — and that’s the mindset of someone on hard mode.
Hard work has now become a hustle culture meme. But hard work is at the core of hard mode and it’s impossible to get anywhere without it.
Hard is what you remember on your deathbed
When we’re close to death we won’t remember the easy things.
No. We’re going to remember the breakups we came back from. Or the businesses that collapsed and became reborn. Or the divorce that felt like death but was actually a miracle. Or the child that died in a car accident but helped us have another kid.
When I tell stories to teenagers the only ones they care about contain impossible odds. They’re not impressed by easy mode.
Start living on hard mode now so you don’t regret easy mode on your deathbed. We’ve gotta stop thinking we live forever. We don’t.
So today is the time to choose hard and watch it change your life.
Why the hell would you want to do anything that isn’t hard?
That’s the question I’m going to leave you with.
I can’t for the life of me understand easy mode. It’s full of struggle and depression. I got tired of begging and asking for permission while living on easy mode.
It’s more exhausting than just doing the hard work to achieve your goals. While everyone else gives up when it gets hard, make hard the reason you begin and keep going no matter what.
Hard mode is easy mode.