In my early 20s I sucked with women. I was fat. I wasn’t making any money. I didn’t know how to dress.
No wonder I couldn’t get dates.
I wanted to change everything at once. I didn’t know what to do.
Things are different now. I date hot women. I choose what kind of relationships I want. I’m in shape. All of the problems of the typical American dude are solved in my life. I never have to settle.
I don’t feel guilty bragging about my lifestyle because I hustled my ass off to get here.
So how did I get here?
I got here because I failed. A lot. I’ve made the same mistakes everyone has. But every time I fell down, I got back up again. I refused to stay down. I learned from my mistakes. Eventually I stopped making them.
I wasn’t naturally good with women, so I’ve lived the same journey you’re on. If you aren’t satisfied with your dating life yet, it’s likely that you’re making the same mistakes I was making. Here are the most common ones:
1. You love being comfortable.
Everyone understands that experiencing muscle strain is mandatory for bodybuilding. It’s painful. It hurts. But it’s a sign of progress and no one runs from it.
Unfortunately, everyone forgets this in others area of life, so they avoid discomfort and they keep struggling.
It’s not your fault. I love being comfortable too. Consumer society bombards us with advertising for products that remove any possible form of discomfort. Don’t like walking? Grab an Uber. Don’t feel like cooking? Go to McDonald’s. Feel bad about yourself? Buy a new Lexus.
I love being comfortable, but I won’t allow it anymore. To get good at anything, you have to embrace discomfort. Get HUNGRY for the strain that comes with leaving your comfort zone.
One of my personal favorite expressions comes from the military: “embrace the suck.”
With weightlifting, the suck is physical. With approaching women, it’s psychological. Embrace that shit. If you’re uncomfortable it means you’re growing. If you feel comfortable you should be afraid, because that means things in your life aren’t going to change.
People just don’t want to tolerate discomfort, even if it comes with a guarantee that the pain will be temporary. They trade short-term comfort for long-term misery. Separate yourself from the losers by embracing the suck.
Making excuses is a normal function of the mind. But don’t let excuses keep you in your comfort zone. A common misconception is that you need to be confident and overcome your excuses before you can face rejection or discomfort, but that’s actually backwards. First you do the thing outside your comfort zone, then you gain the confidence. This is because confidence is based on demonstrated performance.
Let’s get specific. When you’re uncomfortable, ask yourself: “What sensations am I experiencing right now?”
When I’m about to make a difficult approach, my heart races. Sometimes my throat gets dry or my hands get sweaty. I ask myself, Are you willing to feel a racing heart and sweaty palms for a couple minutes in order to get better at talking to girls?
That’s an easy YES. If you’re like me, you’d rather experience a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms every day than spend a lifetime watching porn and playing video games.
Keep embracing the suck every single day, and one day you’ll wake up and realize that things don’t suck anymore. It worked for me.
2. You’re obsessing over the outcome and ignoring the process.
Research has shown that top athletes have one factor in common: a growth mindset.
The goal of a growth mindset is to “get better.” In contrast, we have the fixed mindset, with the goal “be good.” When they’re facing a challenge, beginners often want to “be good,” coming at it with the mindset of worrying about how well they’ll perform. Their ego hurts their ability to learn.
There’s a great idea from Carlos Gracie Sr., one of the primary developers of modern Brazilian jiu-jitsu: “There is no losing in jiu-jitsu. You either win or you learn.”
I challenge you to approach with the goal of getting better. Forget being good. Everything you do provides feedback. Every approach puts you one step closer to becoming a social beast. Every rejection is a chance to laugh at yourself. Every time you feel discomfort, you make it 1% easier the next time you’re in that situation.
Focus more attention on the process than the results. Making an approach is something you have control over; getting a number is not. So instead of considering an approach a victory if you GET a number, count it as a win if you ASK for a number, regardless of what happens.
When you learn to love the process, the satisfaction and inspiration that come with going after your goals are more rewarding than actually achieving them. This is why top performers are able to easily bounce back from failure.
Guys who obsess over the outcome and ignore the progress typically aren’t approaching consistently, so they’re not seeing results. Because they aren’t seeing results, they don’t have the motivation to keep approaching. Which brings me to my next point…
3. You’re relying on motivation.
That lack of success/lack of motivation vicious cycle we just reviewed creates nothing but frustration, disappointment, and desperation.
99% of the time the solution is to approach more and fight through the suck. But I’ve been there and I know what it’s like: in the moment, that’s difficult.
Our egos are sensitive to change, especially major changes. No matter how motivated we feel, our brains will subconsciously resist any life changes we attempt. This is why people so often feel like they sabotage themselves and give up on their goals.
Let’s revisit the bodybuilding example. The most important part of bodybuilding is showing up at the gym, over and over. Major positive life change occurs as a series of tiny changes fueled by effective habits, not from a giant burst of motivation. Consistency beats motivation every time.
4. You haven’t changed your environment.
I’m an unhealthy food and leftovers addict. If there are leftovers in my fridge, I will eat them every time. If my Chipotle burrito falls on the floor, I’ll still eat it. What can I say, I’m still a fat kid at heart.
So when I do have an occasional cheat day (which my diet allows), I’ve learned that I must throw my leftovers away before I go to bed. I don’t rely on willpower, because it will fail every time. I design my environment to make success automatic. I remove thinking from the equation.
It’s the same with dating. You’ll succeed if you create an environment that makes progress inevitable.
Live somewhere where there are women around. Hang out with other guys who are good with women. Go out all the time. Get a second job in retail or bartending.
Guys have no problems moving to a different city for their career, but are rarely willing to move to a better market for meeting women. That’s despite the fact that the decision of who to marry is the single greatest factor for your overall happiness. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Shape your environment and you’ll get what you want.
5. You’re starting too big.
Our society teaches us to view life improvement in black and white, all or nothing. Either I’m going to stick perfectly to my new diet, or it’s not worth trying. Either I’m going to run 5 miles every day before work, or I’m going to stay on the couch. Either I’ll approach 100 women this month, or I won’t approach any. People view anything short of radical life change in every domain as a failure.
If you can relate to this, it means you have unrealistic fantasies about building habits. In reality, we improve our lives by making tiny changes consistently, not by drastically changing overnight. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions fail.
The way around this is to take small action steps that slip past the part of our mind that resists change. Do one pushup. Floss one tooth. Approach one girl. The funny thing is that when you have these small habits in place, they naturally sustain themselves and grow. Our brain gets used to doing a single pushup, so doing two becomes no problem. Flossing one tooth seems silly so you automatically start to floss more. Approaching one girl becomes natural, so you start to do more approaches without realizing it.
For success, momentum is more important than motivation. I’ll repeat myself: the most important part of bodybuilding is showing up at the gym, over and over.
Let’s take my example of flossing. For most of my life I hated flossing so I didn’t do it. A week before my dentist appointments I would start flossing. But it was too little too late: I’d get yelled at for not flossing my teeth, so I’d start again. That would last for about a week and I’d stop again.
But now I floss my teeth every night. It’s actually my favorite part of getting ready for bed. How did I do this? Glenferrie Dental taught me a trick. I started flossing one tooth per night. You read that right, just one tooth. You establish the habit small with one tooth, then the momentum builds up and flossing more teeth becomes automatic. Before you know it you’re flossing your whole mouth without even realizing it.
Stanford professor BJ Fogg talks about the power of flossing one tooth in his excellent TED Talk, Forget big change, start with a tiny habit.
6. You don’t have accountability.
You’re never going to improve without accountability. Create a challenge for yourself and talk about it with people who can hold you to it. Set a consequence for failure, like paying $1000 if you don’t complete 7 approaches in next week. Report daily on your progress. Ask you friends not to let you off the hook if you stop making effort.
This is the same method I used to lose 55 pounds in 2011. It’s what I use with my students to get them results: I put them on approach bets where they put a serious amount of money on the line. Guess what? Approach anxiety is no longer a problem. They embrace the suck and get it done. One of my students even dated the first girl he met on an approach bet for a couple years.
It’s tough to focus on getting better instead of being good when you have no one there to
laugh at your failures with you and make sure you keep showing up. My skills with women improved rapidly when I was younger because I had mentors who would not tolerate mediocrity or laziness. We had a team mentality that turned getting rejection into something a fun sign of growth rather than something to be avoided.
Putting it all together
By this point we’ve seen that success doesn’t happen in huge leaps. It occurs in small increments. We don’t go to bed unhappy one night then magically wake up and say “I’m different now, I made it today!” When we create the right small habits, we slowly become successful over time.
Our society loves the fantasy of the “overnight success.” But real overnight successes take years of hustling, and it’s a long, tedious process.
If I had to pick just one of these as the most important, it’s the final one: accountability. Even if you mess up the first six principles on this list, having accountability forces you to succeed. That’s why I’ve designed this element into the Leverage Program.
Our measuring stick, curriculum path, and end goal is what I call the Inner Confidence Belt System. Super creatively, the end game is to be a black belt. Equally creatively, the starting block is white belt.
Each belt level has accountability built in. From day one, you’ll be paired up with an experienced mentor. We’ll use approach bets to remove approach anxiety from the equation.
It’s so easy to claim we want to approach more beautiful women…we want to learn from successful mentors…we want to live a life where we can choose what kind of relationships we want. Even the most self-aware guys can SAY that.
But what are you doing about it?
I force my students to succeed, because if they don’t then that means I’ve fail as a coach, and I feel like a loser when I fail. That looks different for every guy. For newer students it’s often approach bets, accountability coaching calls, and some other tricks I have up my sleeve. For other students, it’s more hanging out with other guys in the group and getting coaching in person.
Here’s an example from Joel, a student who’s become an approach beast since joining Leverage:
Try out Leverage and use my proven accountability system to make sure you start approaching more. I’m here to help, and I’ve been coaching guys professionally for a decade. I’m not going anywhere and I won’t let you settle. Even if that means you give it your best effort, find that it isn’t for you, and leave within the first 30 days for a full refund.