Buster: I am very much against the idea of
a tiny habit Tony: take a commonly held belief and blow
it up Tony: Hello welcome to Lift habit TV, I’m
here with Buster Benson who I consider to be the godfather of behavior change apps,
he created a number of really notable ones, 43 things, health month, and bud.ge, he is
someone when i was starting Lift i thought a lot about his work thanks for coming.
So right before the cameras started rolling you were asking me about Outliers, which is
one of those books that everyone assumes they read without even reading it.
Buster: when you ask people the say “The 10,000 hours book”
Tony: what do you think of the 10,000 hours rule?
Buster: I love it because it is a way to summarize my problem with a lot of
Tony: I’m about to violently disagree with you but i wanted your opinion first
Buster: but you haven’t read it, people are all about shortcuts and this book is about
avoiding shortcuts and the fact that you can’t avoid shortcuts and he’s obviously an eloquent
person so he states it in a way that i could have never thought of.
Tony: so the 10,000 hour rule is essentially the point at which you cap out on improvement
in the pursuit of mastery. after 10,000 hours of practice.
Buster: no, that’s not what it is Tony: what is it?
Buster: it’s before you can become a master of something, before you can rise to the top
of a particular skill you have to put in your time. and the people that are excellent that
if you go back and you think about the beatles or steve jobs or bill gates, at what point
did they become recognized as excellent? and they revise the story to make it seem like
hey we just started in our garage when actually they have been programming since they were
14 and had access to free computer time when no one else did
Tony: so this idea of shortcuts is that there are all these people who want to be steve
jobs, want to be justin beiber who is considered this youtube sensation but he actually probably
put in a huge amount of time. Buster: those 10,000 hours are often cut out
of the story after the fact Buster: habits are not tiny, they are large.
they aren’t just like drinking a glass of water, the habit is rewiring your brain. a
habit is not really an extension of your mind as it is an extension of your body in a lot
of ways. you’re not just trying to think differently, you’re trying to change the
way your brain thinks about things around a whole lot of inputs. For example, running
more or changing my diet, and all these things that need to happen the root goal is to think
about myself and believe that i am a healthier person so that seems difficult its a big huge
thing to have to change about myself so i said lets break it down into 1000 unidentified
steps and say I’m starting at 1000 I’m counting down, game mechanics give me the
ability to see it as a journey, when you run you focus on something that is far away and
the bumps that you come across seem smaller, you are able to pace yourself a little better,
the failure, like if i go down the wrong block once its not like i suck at running, its that
i have to get back Tony: what are the steps that you’ve taken
recently ? Buster: going on a run counts, 7 days of eating
salads for lunch counts as a step, having a meditation practice counts because it requires
mental strength, reading books that have something to do with willpower. the great thing about
1000 is that there are so many of them and so many things count so i don’t have to count
things that are specifically toward that goal, because ultimately i am trying to train for
an identity change rather than a behavior change
Tony: is there something in there about momentum? there are so many things that count so you
start to build an upswell of success? Buster: yes, you see things happening and
we react almost as strongly to a small positive than to a large positive, our hedonic treadmill
only recognizes positives and then it usually simmers down. if i go on a 10 mile run that
counts as one, no matter what, it’s not going to seem like a big deal a couple of
days later, but having a lot of small things, it seems like the stock is going up
Tony: so you’ve framed it so that it is possible to succeed
Buster: yes, as long as i start ticking these things off, and go to the marathon and run
it and continue afterwards Buster: when i make goals, i frame them as
a sentence, and the sentence is framed in a way that it is true or false on a monthly
basis. It has to be framed in such a way that if I fail, i’m disappointed and if i succeed
i’m happy so you find that line, maybe hitting the mile pace wasn’t the right goal because
you can be a few seconds behind and u are still doing well so its framed wrong and its
built to disappoint you even when u are making progress and doing well. it should be “run
at all” or whatever it is, the least you can do to be happy that you did it.
Tony: Alright so you… it’s already coming out you’re a fanatic and skeptic at the
same time. Buster: I thought I was a fanatic for a long
period of time. Tony: So just to clue our viewers in, you
have no hope. Okay go.
Buster: (Laughing) I have lots of hope, but I think that I don’t have a strategy for
success, I don’t know what is going to work. I feel like there are 100 or maybe 1000 of
us on the starting line trying to figure out how to finish a marathon. And solving the
problem of how do we change ourselves is at mile 26.
Tony: So what are you hopeful for, what makes you the fanatic? You have put out… I know
of 4 products in the space. Buster: I really, really want to solve the
problem. As far as problems go it’s really the only problem that has any interest to
me because it’s the problem underneath all the other things we want to do in our lives.
Knowing how to change yourself is the only path to knowing how to change anybody else,
to then changing the world, to having an impact, a legacy to feeling like you’ve made meaning
in your life. So if we can’t change ourselves, there is no way in hell we are ever going
to be able to do the other things intentionally. They might happen by chance but why hope that
you got the right pachinko ball? Tony: You know I ended up giving up my Fuel,
my Up and my Fitbit for this watch which is just my GPS Nike Watch, not because I like
the data, but because it motivates me to exercise, like it’s so big…
Buster: Like Nike is staring at you. Tony: Yes I must, it actually plays with my
sense of identity like oh ya I’m somebody who works out, I’m sporty, it’s more impactful
than any of the technology. Buster: Ya that’s why I wear sneakers, it
gives me that reminder that I can run whenever I want, so why don’t I.