“We’d like to view the world as linear, which is, I’m gonna put in eight hours of work, I’m gonna get back eight hours of output, right? Doesn’t work that way. Guy running the corner grocery store is working just as hard or harder than you and me. How much output is he getting?…Outputs are non-linear based on the quality of the work that you put in. The right way to work is like a lion.” — Naval Ravikant
Minimum effort, maximum reward. That’s the holy grail, isn’t it? The gold we are all searching for as entrepreneurs.
As someone who is interested in the idea of energy conservation, I definitely don’t want to be slogging my guts out for 9 hours a day when I can get better results and make just as much money in 3 hours. I bet you do too.
I admit it — I’m lazy. I love writing, and I love working, but I don’t want to do it all the time. I live up to my star sign, the Leonine Lion of the zodiac.
Lions don’t work often
“From morning to late afternoon, when the African sun is hot to the point of unbearable, lions can be found lounging and relaxing. Lions may rest about 20 hours a day” — AnimalsMom.com
As Naval says, perhaps we have got the concept of work all wrong. Perhaps what we really need to do is be more focused with our energy, rather than our time.
Just like a Lion, perhaps it’s actually possible to spend most of your day napping, if you want.
But society isn’t really set up that way. We don’t all think like Naval — in fact, our culture is the opposite.
Maybe the first thing to really do is believe that it’s possible. Perhaps to believe that you can earn £10k a month for working 3 hours a day.
Once the idea is planted in your mind, you’ll start to look for opportunities as to how this can show up in reality.
How to get the lion’s share of ROI
This approach is nothing new. You might have heard of a concept called the Pareto principle, which is the observation that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.
To get the lion’s share is to firstly determine the hunt.
You are looking for those things that will drive your results — either in terms of community building, or solid ROI.
So in order to get focused, it’s wise to really look at what drives those outcomes. Track back and research how your clients found you, and what services or products you really should be paying more attention to.
What are those tasks that are the equivalent of a lion’s dinner — those that provide sustenance and value long after you’ve initially engaged?
James Clear makes this point about concentrated focus:
(1) Make a list of the 10 things you spend the most time on.
(2) Circle the two that truly drive your results. Do more of those.
(3) Look at the others. Eliminate ruthlessly. Automate or outsource what you can. Press pause on the rest.
— James Clear
Carve out specific ‘hunting’ time
We all know that in order to stay sane in our digitally overloaded work, we need to minimise distractions. That means setting clear boundaries.
If you work a 35 hour week, it’s entirely possible that a radically focused, high octane 20% of that time could yield massive results — if you’re focused on the right things.
How much does that 20% equate to? Just 7 hours a week. That’s just one solid day of going all in.
Perhaps you set an out of office. Perhaps you completely switch off your phone. Whatever it is, try and become indistractable, like Nir Eyal advocates.
No gossiping with your colleague whilst you’re in your 20%. No ‘cheeky scroll’ on Instagram.
Just like a Lion, when it’s time to hunt, it’s time to hunt. There is no protecting cubs, washing themselves or mating.
Their eyes are nowhere else. Their minds are single-pointed in the pursuit of their aim — dinner.
A hungry lion never loses sight of its target
For that 20% of your time, let your mind be completely filled by what you are looking to create.
Naval calls the target a ‘desire’. He says “Pick one desire, and one desire only. The universe will help you get it. Let go of everything else.”
It could be something like ‘I want to earn $2000 a month from Medium writing, and I will write there solidly for two hours a day’.
Napoleon Hill said a similar thing — that we need a ‘definite chief aim’.
“What is a definite chief aim? It is a singleness of purpose. It is about finding a burning desire, a dream or a goal that propels you to action. Just thinking about it gets you excited.” — How Developing A Definite Chief Aim Has Changed My Life
This focuses both the conscious mind and the subconscious, as it is something you keep on referring back to.
You then give your mind a very clear picture of what your ‘dinner’ (note: success) looks like, and spend that 7 hours or whatever time you choose completely consumed in action, whilst you’re relaxing the rest of the time.
Go all in for a small amount of time
Once you’ve figured out the right things to work on, Naval encourages us to work as hard as you can:
“It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathoner running. You sprint and then you rest. You reassess and then you try again. You end up building a marathon of sprints.” — Naval
And that means that your 20% is when you are on fire. It is when you have lit the figurative match underneath your ass and you are sprinting, like the lion, towards your goal.
Of course, this high octane way of working actually makes you quite tired. It burns a lot of energy in a short space of time, because you’re firing on all cylinders — and giving the very best of yourself to your work.
You may not make bank straight away. But that’s not the point — the momentum of sprinting is.
Remember, Lions don’t stress about a failed hunt. In fact, a lot of their hunts are unsuccessful. Lions can only hunt successfully on their own up to 17% of the time.
But they are laser focused on getting that snack, and so try again the next day.
Take a cat nap- you’ve earned the active rest
The period after high octane work is about active rest, a term mostly used by athletes.
Active rest is all about having mental freedom from your target or goal.
Put simply, you mentally ‘let go’ of what you want to achieve and just focus on nice stuff instead.
It doesn’t always have to mean you lay horizontally for the next 16 or 28 hours, either — it can mean going for a walk in nature, reading a book, spending time socialising — anything that gives you energy.
“Lions take active rest periods that enable them to rapidly exert their energy reserves in the moments when an opportunity presents itself. These animals are the epitome of lassitude during most of the day. However, they still manage to hunt prey that is multiple times faster than them.
The key to achieving this lies in their overt laziness through most of the day. It is precisely this skill, which is oftentimes vastly undervalued in our society which encourages us to deprive our energy reserves every single day.” — Serafin Lion Engel, entrepreneur
It’s your business. It’s your life. Why not break the mould and try periods of overt laziness, just like a lion?
Conserve your energy so you can pounce on big opportunities when they arise.