When we tackle new goals, we often under-apply our resources. Perhaps you think about what is needed to succeed, and then allocate what you perceive to be the minimum amount of time and effort necessary. If you follow this pattern, are you surprised when you have trouble meeting your goal?
What if you choose to apply far more energy than you think is needed? Do you think the outcome might be different this time?
This is known as meeting a challenge with “overwhelming force.” This concept originates as a military term. Essentially, if you think a mission requires 200 soldiers and three tanks, then send 500 soldiers, ten tanks and two planes. Victory is all but assured and things go much more smoothly.
By over-committing resources and time instead of under-committing, you practically guarantee success. Then it actually takes bad luck to fail instead of good luck to succeed.
Example: Preparing for a Marathon
Let’s look at an example: completing your first marathon, starting out with zero training. Here are some areas in which you may want to focus your overwhelming force:
• Under whelming: There are books that claim you can run a marathon in 4 months starting from a point of zero running experience. And it might work, if everything goes perfectly. But this sort of quick-and-dirty training is more likely to lead to injury or failure.
• Overwhelming: Give yourself 9 months or more. Commit to a long-term plan and then execute it.
• Under whelming: Get bodyweight down to 180 lbs.
• Overwhelming: Get bodyweight down to 145 lbs. Really push yourself!
• Under whelming: Eat a healthy diet.
• Overwhelming: Eat a diet that supports long endurance sports. Be very specific in your food choices and adhere to your regimen.
4. Long run
• Under whelming: Become able to do a long run of 15 miles and hope that race day will carry you through the last 10+ miles.
• Overwhelming: Do long runs once a month of at least 23 miles. The best preparation for a big task is to practice as close as you can to the real thing.
• Under whelming: Get a pair of running shoes.
• Overwhelming: Go to a store that specializes in running shoes and get a free gait analysis and professional shoe advice.
Developing Your Own Overwhelming Force
There are many more aspects of completing a marathon than are listed in the example above, but you get the basic idea.
Simply go above and beyond at every opportunity. Think of yourself as a customer service professional, only you are your own customer. How can you “wow” yourself in each area of focus?
Do you run into challenges and come up short on your goals? This is because, whether you realize it or not, you’re planning only for optimal conditions. You have no backup plan. The challenge is that conditions are rarely optimal and unforeseen situations invariably occur.
If you’re prepared to completely dominate your goal, then you will be successful, no matter what obstacles occur along the way.
To develop your overwhelming force, follow these guidelines when embarking on any project:
1. Time. Ask yourself how much time it should take, then add in a buffer of at least 25%.
2. Cost. Do your research and then add 25% to the expected cost.
3. Assistance. How much help are you going to need? Ensure you get more assistance than you think you’ll require.
4. Learning / Expertise. Gather more information than you’re likely to ever need.
5. Extras. Consider all the resources you’re going to need and then play it safe. Having some extras of everything in reserve is much better than coming up short in some critical area.
Imagine being successful with all of your goals on the first try. Success tends to breed more success. If you can get things right the first time, you’ll increase your confidence in the future, which will in turn help you be more capable. By meeting each challenge with overwhelming force, your success is all but guaranteed.