Give The Things In Your Life Better Competition
I would be terrified to count my total Playstation-playing hours per year when I first left school. I always wanted to spend more time making short films in my left over time from studying but the temptation to go out and party, or sit on the Playstation for hours on end often got the better of me.
I saw the value in doing something more creative and productive with my time – but I rarely found the intentionality to do so.
A Football Team Can Only Have Eleven Players On The Field At Any One Time
There was only one game I used to play – FIFA – the popular football franchise game. As a football fanatic, I enjoyed one particular part of the game which was the Manager Career Mode. Here you chose a real world football team and became the club manager, tasked with improving the team’s performances, prospects and fortunes over time.
You could take a team from the lower divisions of England’s football leagues to winning the European Championship, thus becoming the best team in the world.
You always started with a budget and inherited the team’s existing squad. No matter which team you chose to start with, one that was well advanced or in fact under-resourced, the formula for rising to the top was the same.
Imagine Starting With A Lowly Team
Imagine starting with a lowly team. On FIFA, players are rated on ability from 0-99. So a lowly team might have players with an average rating of 70, whereas the sophisticated top teams will have players whose ratings will be in the mid-to-high 80’s.
Obviously you want to get players in the high 80’s or world class talent rated in the 90’s, but you start with a problem. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe don’t want to play for a team where everyone else is a 70, when they are a 90. Not only that – you don’t have the budget to pay their wages and incentivise them financially to compromise for your side.
So How Do You Attract Top Talent To Win Top Honours?
It doesn’t happen overnight. You start with a shortage of players who want to play for you, and it takes a lot of effort and negotiation to attract new talent. You don’t have access to just any opportunity.
Now on FIFA, as in real life, players’ ability is not fixed for their entire career. They can improve, and they can also get worse. In particular, young players have the most potential and upside to come because they are earlier in their careers – older players have more experience, but less room for improvement.
So even with a limited budget, you might find players rated in the low 70’s or perhaps 60’s that might grow to a potential of 80 or higher naturally over time. You buy them low, and their value increases over time as they are worth more on the transfer market.
Remind You Of Anything?
You would have benefitted from the same rise in value if you’d bought Facebook shares in 2009 – buying low and seeing value rise over time to create wealth is… investing! But it’s the type of investing that is more active.
If you bought players on FIFA that were young, there was a degree of natural growth they might have even if you don’t play them often and nurture them. Say 10 points for example. But, if you cultivated them, trained them, and gave them regular playing time, they’d likely grow by more – say 15-20 points!
You Start Building Momentum
You continually upgrade your best starting team over time. As the older players are better for now they get more game time – but you try to blood the younger players with more future potential as you go.
As this happens, the team gets better and performs at a higher level. You start climbing divisions and getting into more attractive leagues, which makes it easier to attract better players. As you win competitions and get promoted up divisions, you are also rewarded with more prize money and get more buying power, which alongside your greater appeal as a team, is a powerful combination.
So, your ‘player-flow’ improves, but also your buying power. In the same way if you traded publicly traded shares on the stock market, you would be learning more, improving your skills, getting better at spotting potential and value, and improving your access to opportunities with greater buying power.
Momentum is the force that delivers compounding returns.
Remember; You Can Only Have Eleven Starting Players At Once
So as you go with your team, you get selection headaches; the best problem to have. When once you were begging an overall 74 to join your lowly team by selling them the dream, now you have access to any 80 rated player in the world. Which ones do you choose? Do you stick with the current team out of loyalty that has got you this far, or do you brutally sell them off and upgrade?
There is no single answer. In world football, different managers have different approaches and philosophies. For instance, you often must sell your top player to afford another five quality ones. Imagine your young hotshot who has come through the ranks but is now older and not set to grow anymore… you can sell him and now reinvest in five young future prospects, that will each grow over the years.
You can trade shares on public markets in much the same way. Most sophisticated value investors show respect to and stick by their winners, but sometimes the competition from better opportunities is too much to resist.
Because of the competition to be in the ever-improving team, for new outside players to break into the team means they must meet an ever-higher bar. Soon a player will have to be an overall 90 to tempt you to trade out one of your existing players.
If You Continue To Rise, The 90’s Will Seek YOU Out
At a certain point, demand to be in your team gets so high that you have the best players in the world actually competing with one another and begging to get into your team.
Give The Things In Your Life Better Competition
I don’t play as much FIFA anymore – only here and there to relax and turn my mind off (kind of like Francis Underwood in House of Cards). But there was no intervention or cold turkey abstinence involved to cut FIFA minutes. There was not even a conscious decision to play less.
Rather I found myself getting into better things that competed for my time. I started working on cooler projects like From the Ground Up and Sydney Listings in my spare time, and then I got into writing and reading. This naturally left less time for less fruitful rewards for my time like Playstation. Gradually, new business and writing interests came to replace my first business projects too, as I slowly upgraded – without violating loyalty to the things that helped me progress.
You see, playing Playstation to me was like having a thirty-year-old, 70-rated player in the starting eleven of my life; a reliable and steady performer, but with no growth potential; no resale value, no help to help me access improving opportunities or increase my ‘buying power’. I liked the player so much I could not cut him from the team – we never had any fights or disagreements. But he and I both knew there were better options for the team out there.
What happened? I got access to other 70-rated players with growth potential, who could play more positions and help me access even better players going forward. Eventually, that old player understood he was going to get less game time.
The New Players
Reading gives me new knowledge and insights all the time, but is also a bit of a hobby too. It helps me think, write and live better; it is fun but has more of a productive element to it. It is a seed which can grow a whole forest.
Writing is the same. Writing gives me access to a blog, to making a career out of writing and storytelling which are skills that translate to other professionals pursuits like podcasting and business marketing.
The things I write are also like ‘assets’ – they sit on the internet forever and enable people I want to meet to find me. I only have finite ‘time’ just as a team has a finite number of players it can field at once. So, it will take something really special to force reading and writing out of my life.
There Are Many Applications Of This Principle.
This principle, which Scott McKeon and I also refer to as ‘The Bucket’, can be applied to almost any area of life. Elon Musk didn’t start out with SpaceX, he started with other high-growth players that helped him build up to this business project. When he started in business he could not choose any project he wanted – but now he can.
There are cases of celebrities who have upgraded their romantic partner as their social ‘stock’ has risen – highly controversial I know! It’s a bit brutal to give your romantic partner that sort of open competition, just as it is to cut a loyal long-term player in your football team as soon as a slightly more attractive prospect comes along.
In saying that, when on the open dating market, a healthy flow of first dates helps you compare the available options you have access to to inform 1) what you like and 2) which prospects are most suited to your ‘team’ and your ‘style of play’ from the available options.
In business, in dating, or in other areas of life, this protects downside by reducing the ‘what if’. When we need a new striker for our football team, we don’t have to weigh up and assess every single striker in world football. We just need a healthy cross-section.
Jerry Uelsman’s Lesson To Us
The photographer Jerry Uelsman once presented a slideshow on around a hundred photographs he’d taken in a single year. He’d only selected ten for exhibition after taking a hundred, deciding they were the worthwhile ones. He destroyed the rest.
The benefit of this approach is that by making a hundred first and then having to choose ten, he ensured those ten faced stiff competition, thus providing a quality control filter. If he’d just taken ten photos and exhibited them, how could he have guaranteed a quality as high?
They haven’t had competition yet.
Want to force bad or low-return things out of your life? Want To Improve Your ‘Bucket’ Or ‘Team’ Over Time?
Don’t try dropping them without a replacement. First give them competition.