In this installment of the Best of Muscle For Life, you’ll hear hand-picked clips from three popular MFL episodes: an interview with Brad Schoenfeld on the science of time-efficient training, a monologue on the “best” workout split for gaining muscle, and a Motivation Monday episode on how the Stockdale Paradox can change your life.
Some people—my favorite people—listen to most or even all of my podcasts, but my wizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life and thus miss out on insights that could help them do at least a little better inside and outside the gym.
That’s why I do “best of” episodes that contain a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from the more popular episodes I’ve published over the years. This way, you can learn interesting insights that you might have otherwise missed and find new episodes of the show to listen to.
So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:
And we’ll be starting with number one, Brad Schoenfeld on the Science of Time-Efficient Training.
0:00 – My free meal planning tool: buylegion.com/mealplan
4:43 – Brad Schoenfeld on the Science of Time-Efficient Training
20:51 – The “Best” Workout Split for Gaining Muscle
30:11 – Motivation Monday: How the Stockdale Paradox Can Change Your Life
Mentioned on the Show:
Want a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, macros, and micros, and allows you to create custom meal plans for cutting, lean gaining, and maintaining in under 5 minutes? Go to https://buylegion.com/mealplan and download the tool for free!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to the latest and greatest episode of Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews and thank you for joining me today. Now, I have recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle for Life, and I’ve talked about a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, lifestyle. Mindset ranging from the basics of diet and exercise, like energy and macronutrient, balance and progressive overload, and training frequency and volume to fads like the ketogenic and carnivore diet.
And. Collagen protein to more unfamiliar territories like body weight, set point, and fasted cardio, and some episodes resonate with my crowd more than others, but all of them contain at least a few key s that just about anyone can benefit from. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s what helps me sit down in the chair every day and do this, and as cool as that.
It poses a problem for you, my dear listener, especially if you are new here, and that is, ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re talking about probably a thousand plus hours of content at this point. And while some people actually do make the time to listen to most, or even all of my podcasts, my Whizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t.
Every installment of Muscle for Life. Thus, they miss out on insights that could help them get even just a little bit better inside and outside the gym. Because if you just get a little bit better consistently enough, that can add up to big results in the long run. And people have also been telling me that they would like me to do more shorter multi topic episodes like my q and As and says You episodes.
And so I got an idea how about. A best of series of podcasts that contains a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from my most popular episodes. Going all the way back to the beginning. This way, people who are new in particular. Can quickly determine if this is the droid they’re looking for, if this podcast is for them or not, and then those who are regulars and enjoy what I’m doing, but just don’t have the time or inclination to listen to all of my stuff, then I do understand that I don’t take it personally.
you can also then benefit from the discussions and the episodes that you are not listening to in full. And you can also find new episodes to listen to without having to give an hour of your time to determine whether it was worth it or not. So here we are with the best of Muscle for Life. So in this installment of the Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing handpicked muscles from three episodes.
One is an interview I did with Brad Schoenfeld on the Science of Time Efficient Training. I really liked that interview. I. Very practical. Got a lot of good feedback on it. The next is a monologue I recorded on the best workout split for gaining muscle Best is in scare quotes, and I explain why in the episode.
And finally, another motivational monologue, or at least I, I hope it’s motivational at least a little bit, maybe a little bit inspirational called How the Stockdale Paradox can Change Your Life. And we will be starting with the highlight reel from my interview with Brad Schoenfeld on the science of time efficient training.
But first, how many calories should you eat to reach your fitness goals faster? What about your macros? What types of foods should you eat? And how many meals should you eat every day? Well, I created a free 62nd diet quiz that’ll answer those questions for you and others, including how much alcohol you should drink, whether you should eat more fatty fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
What supplements are worth taking and why and more. To take the quiz and get your free personalized diet plan, go to Muscle For life.show/diet. Quiz muscle f o r. Dot show slash diet quiz now answer the questions and learn what you need to do in the kitchen to lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy. The majority of people can optimize most of their genetic potential, much of it at least through fairly, uh, limit brief workouts.
Uh, and certainly maintaining gains, uh, requires much less training. So when you can have a much more efficient, uh, training strategy, if your goal is just maintenance, uh, now if you wanna be a bodybuilder and are looking to, uh, to maximize your genetic potential, that certainly will require more. Uh, more, first of all, more time and also more manipulation.
But yeah, it’s uh, I think something that really is somewhat, uh, underappreciated that, uh, you can really make, uh, huge, huge strides with fairly limited, uh, with a fairly limited time commitment. I mean, training several hours a week, you know, let’s say two, three hours a week, uh, three days a week, two, three days a week, even two days a week, you can see a majority.
Again, certainly like three days a week, uh, half hour to 45 minute sessions. So again, these are just generalities and uh, it’s specific to the individual, but certainly I think one of the things that’s even more. Well established is that once you’ve ma, once you’ve gotten gains, that uh, maintaining the gains can be achieved with, uh, substantially reduced volumes and time commitments.
So, uh, uh, and that seems to be pretty much across the board. One of the most important, uh, take homes here is that everyone, uh, has the ability to substantially improve their physique and not, we’re not even talking about health markers and other factors that go along with it. There’s just so many benefits to resistance training, but purely from.
A muscular standpoint, we’re talking muscle development, so hypertrophy, if you will, muscle growth and strength. Really, it’s with very, again, somewhat of a relative term, but I would say very little time commitment. You can make a very nice gains. There was one study that, um, had subjects trained and then put them on a routine that was one ninth of the volume that they did to gain the muscle, and they largely maintained what they had.
Now these were young subjects, so interestingly it does seem there is somewhat of an age factor here that as people get older, they need somewhat of a. A larger dose to maintain. But the dose at that point would be like, I think a third, uh, cutting it down to one third of what they were doing, uh, was enough to, uh, maintain a majority and older people, but in younger people, one ninth.
I’d also say this, uh, this is another, I think, important factor, not that you’d never wanna completely take off. Uh, and this is somewhat of a side topic, but if you do, when you become well trained, um, your muscle has quote unquote a muscle memory, uh, whereby getting back the muscle comes very quickly, even if you stop completely from doing it for, for, you know, fairly long period of time for for months.
But what are some kind of rules of thumb or just general guidelines that you would give people for, uh, putting together a program that allows them to. , uh, get the best results within these time constraints. So, I mean, some generalities, uh, it’s more efficient to use multi-joint exercises compared to single joint cuz you’re working more muscle.
So if you’re gonna do a lot of single joint exercises, if you’re gonna do lateral raises and uh, rear dealt raises and uh, peck flies and leg extensions, you’re just gonna have to do more. A variety of more exercises to work all the major muscles completely. Whereas if you’re doing a squat for your legs, I mean, the squat works basically the entire lower body, and certainly it works the quads and the glutes highly effectively.
But you also get ancillary work in the hamstrings. Uh, a row is gonna work multiple muscles or even it’ll work your sternal pecs. Not only does it work, the back musculature, the lats and the rhomboids. Trapezius, but also it’s gonna work. Your, um, your sternal pecs, it’s gonna work your biceps break your radialis.
So anyway, I I, if you’re looking to optimize time, focusing on these multi joint, large muscle, multi joinin exercises just makes sense. I personally think also using a total body routine, uh, it would be more effective in these types of lower volume. Workouts just because it allows you to hit your muscle more frequently over the course of the week with lower volume.
And this is somewhat debatable through research too. So I will say that it’s, uh, it’s an equivocal, this is more personal opinion just based on the anecdote that I’ve experienced. Uh, but I do think that, uh, total body routines here can be more. Of an effective measure. I mean, generally, um, from some of the limited research we have is that the benefit to split routines or that they allow you to, uh, utilize higher volumes with, uh, greater allowing for greater rest in between your workouts.
Whereas if that’s not the issue, then it just, At least to me makes more sense to use more of a total body approach to, to training. I would say generally, you know, one or two sets, uh, per exercise would be sufficient using strategies like, um, super sets, especially like agonist antagonists. Supersets can be very effective in this regard as well.
Uh, and even drop sets can allow you to get in a little more volume. Uh, within the context of a shorter workout in terms of maybe, um, working sets or hard sets per major muscle group, at least the big ones throughout the week. Should there be kind of a minimum number people should be shooting for? Yeah, probably three to four sets per week, uh, per muscle group.
There’s some, you know, some good evidence that that’s sufficient. I would say if you’re below, if you’re only getting like one, one set per muscle per week, it’s probably not gonna, yeah, you’ll still get some gains. Uh, you know, cer certainly it’s not doing something is better than nothing. And, uh, especially at the Earl, I’m talking newbie stages.
You can make some gains. The vast majority of the population doesn’t. And many of them cite, I don’t have time as a reason why they won’t lift. And, and by the way, these types of workouts can be accomplished with fairly minimal equipment in the home. Uh, even so, I mean, you can, uh, certainly I was, uh, home bound for C O V I D.
And, uh, it wasn’t a great body building routine, but I was able to get good workouts, right? I may certainly think I maintained the vast majority of my muscle. Our group, uh, and, and collaborations that I’ve done have demonstrated on numerous occasions that even resistance training subjects can make gains in their biceps and triceps without doing direct biceps work.
I, I see it all the time, really. Every one of my studies where I have not done direct biceps and triceps work. We’ve pushed the subjects hard and they have gotten, uh, gains and they’re, these are trained subjects. Now. They’re not advanced bodybuilders. I would certainly guess if they were, you’re talking like a competitive bodybuilder, probably.
Uh, they would not have seen these. Gains or certainly to the extent that they did. But, uh, when you’re asking to quantify, we actually wrote a paper on this about calculating set volume that I collaborated on with some, some of my colleagues. And, uh, it’s hard to pin that down. As a general type of rule, I would say, let’s say for the biceps and triceps, perhaps counting it as a half a set.
So let’s say if you would, uh, want to, for every one set that you’re doing, you’d need two sets to get gains. Or you can, let’s say if you’re doing, uh, Two sets of, uh, of a back exercise. If you added in one set of, uh, biceps exercise, you probably would be at least getting sufficient, uh, you know, uh, volume.
Volume for your biceps. What type of movements would you want people to think with generally? Uh, one lower body, uh, hip H exercise that it’s triple extension that involves the. Uh, an so like a squat, a triple extension, meaning that the ankle, joint, knee, joint and the hip joint would all be involved in, uh, extension on the concentric action.
And that would be, uh, exercises like a leg press, a squat, a lunge, uh, would all fit into that category and they would work. Pretty much the lower body, a chest exercise, so a push for the, uh, packs. So that would be a horizontal, uh, press a uh, overhead press, some type of overhead press, uh, for the shoulders that would really target not only, I, I can get into a little more context of this momentarily, but, uh, you’ll get at least some of the middle and, uh, posterior deloid to a greater extent.
And a, uh, a polling exercise that would be like a. Or a chin, uh, where you’re getting, uh, they obviously are somewhat different. And if you’re a bodybuilder, that can be the difference between winning and losing a comp, but your back muscles will get worked overall. So this is, again, you’d have to give more context as to who you’re talking about training Now.
With the shoulder. So then you have to start saying, well, what about the lateral dels, the, the middle Dels? Mm-hmm. , uh, they don’t really get, like in an overhead press. It’s mostly a frontal exercise. So would it benefit if you really wanna work your middle Dels? Yeah. Again, for the va, for a lot of the population, I don’t think it’s an issue really, like the.
What they’re gonna get out of that. But if, if it is, I mean, aesthetically, that’s where an individual has to make their own decisions about what else do they need to do? The calves. So a squat will work, the calves, quote unquote, but, Are you gonna get optimal calf development from it? Absolutely not. Or not even optimal.
That’s a muscle, again, like the hamstrings, that just doesn’t get a high degree of stimulation. So you’ll get some calf development, but I would say both the hamstrings, doing something like a stiff leg deadlift would be beneficial there, which is a technically a single joint exercise or a hamstring curl, uh, if you want, and a cal phrase.
So perhaps just one set of each of those to, to really, if you wanna talk about rounding it out, and that’s where the nuances come in. So if you just wanna get quick workouts, do four exercises, you are getting out of the gym in 20 minutes or less, one or two sets of each of those. But to get a more well-rounded workout, adding, let’s say a set of hamstring exercises, set of calf phrases, and perhaps a set of lateral raises would also be beneficial.
You can get a majority of strength gains using six plus reps. So yeah. Will you get. Better strength gains, at least for the given exercise that you’re doing with a lower rep range. Yes. So doing singles or doubles, or triples are gonna get you overall better strength gains, uh, than doing, let’s say eight or 10 reps for the given exercise.
So what I mean by that is if you’re doing, let’s say squats and you’re squatting with, uh, one to three reps, you’re gonna get better strength gains than if you’re squatting with eight to 10 reps. Eight to 12 reps. But how that strength transfers to functional tasks is much less established. Uh, certainly through, through research and, and even if you might get, uh, some more strength.
I’m not sure the practical relevance of it. So let’s, let’s even say, all right, and there will be some practical transfer to strength. How does, for the average person who’s lifting packages up, they’re not, they’re looking more at endurance based strength. They’re not looking at maximizing strength. So I would just say for the vast majority of people, again, 95 plus percent of the population using the rep range of, let’s say six to 15 reps, Is, uh, gonna be more than sufficient for the transfer of strength gains to their lifestyle, and it’s just more efficient from a volume, volume load standpoint.
I’d also say this, which is another relevant point to that, if you’re training, let’s say with six or even eight, I, I can even bump that up to eight to 15 reps. You really don’t need to do warmup sets. Yeah. And whether you need to do a, uh, general warmup depends upon if you’re coming in for like, freezing temperatures, et cetera.
But I, I don’t think for resistance training, that’s, there’s really not been established. And we actually did a study, I collaborated on a study, again with colleagues in Brazil where we looked at performance on, um, moderate repetition exercise. So it was eight to 12 reps as I recall. and, uh, adding in a general warmup or, and or a, uh, specific warmup did not enhance the performance on those uh, sets.
And I don’t think, again, it’s tough to look at injuries to try to study that, but I’ve seen no evidence that, uh, when you’re training with moderate to higher reps, that injury. Will be significantly moderated by, uh, by the use of warmth. Now if you’re doing singles, if you’re squatting, one rm, two rm, three rm, uh, I think it’s really important for, uh, for warmup sets to prime, prime that activity.
But again, from a time efficient standpoint, you just don’t. don’t. You can ditch the warmup and, and by the way, you can ditch the warmup. You also certainly don’t need to do stretching. Assuming flexibility isn’t a, uh, a goal, what are your thoughts about rest time in between sets with these types of workouts?
Yeah. So, um, they can be relatively short. Now, shorter rest does to some extent compromise gains. But again, if you’re doing fewer, uh, sets per exercise and then going to a different movement, it’s not gonna be as. As big an issue, really, the issues tend to be when you’re doing multiple sets for the same exercise and then, uh, keeping a very short rest.
Let’s say you’re doing 30 seconds or one minute rest and you’re doing five sets of, uh, chest presses, that’s gonna substantially reduce the amount of. Of reps that you’re able to get at a given load. Uh, however, if you’re moving, let’s say from a squat to a bench press to a, uh, back exercise, it is not gonna be there.
There’s some systemic fatigue that does happen, but uh, it’s not going to. Reduce that volume mode nearly as much. A another important thing that I would point out too is that you could split up, let’s say you have a home gym. You could do like a short workout in the morning and it doesn’t, nothing says you have to do it all in one session.
You can come back and do, let’s say a double split where you do a. 10 or 15 minute workout in the morning and a 10 or 15 minute workout in the evening. By the way, one last point that I forgot to mention, that this is all predicated on training fairly close to failure, and I think it becomes a little more important too as you are, uh, reducing volume that you should be within.
Uh, At least within one or two reps of, uh, failure if not hitting failure, at least on some of the sets, especially as you get more advanced. So, uh, that’s something to keep in mind that that doesn’t mean that you, you still need to train hard and if not, you maybe even have to train a little bit harder.
Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or, I’m not so loved one even who might want to learn something new?
Word of mouth helps really big. In growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Okay, that’s it for the chosen snippets from the interview with Brad on the Science of Time Efficient Training. And if you wanna listen to the whole episode, it was originally published in September of 2021, so you can go back and find it and check it out.
And now we’ll be moving on to the featured moments from the Best workout split for gaining. What is a workout split? Well, this just refers to how you organize your workouts in terms of which exercises you do and which muscle groups you train in each workout in each training session. My problem with the position that there is a best workout split for everyone, one true workout split is our muscles don’t care.
Workout split. We are following. Our biceps don’t care if they get trained in an arms day, a pole day, an upper body day, a full body day. With an upper body focus, our muscles will grow when we do the right amount of the right exercises with the right amount of weight and with enough post-workout, rest and recovery.
Our workout split is just a tool that helps us accomplish those ends, and those are the key goals. The right exercises, the ones that stimulate the muscles correctly, that train the muscles correctly through a full range of motion, the right amount of volume, so doing the right amount of work with those.
Exercises the right amount of weight. So that’s intensity. How hard do our muscles have to work in each rep and each set, and particularly in each set. So how close to muscular failure are we going and how much weight are we using in relation to how strong we are? And also giving our muscles enough rest, making sure that we are not pushing.
Not to the point of over-training, cuz that’s very hard to do. But overreaching again, where our performance is stagnating or declining because we are not recovering enough. So let’s talk about goals, right? So let’s say your goal is to maximize the development of your. Upper body muscles. Let’s say you’re a guy and you are happy with your lower body, but you are not happy with your upper body and particularly you are not happy with your chest and your biceps and your shoulders, and you want to focus on those muscle groups.
Those are the ones. That you want to develop the most without of course falling behind in your lower body. Maybe you want to continue developing your lower body, and you also do want to continue developing the rest of the major muscle groups in your body, but you are willing to sacrifice progress in those areas to maximize progress in your.
Chest, biceps and shoulders. Well, if that’s the case, then the best workout split for you is gonna look very different than if you are, let’s say, a woman who wants to maximize the development of her lower body. You are looking for more muscle and more definition in your legs and your glutes, and you are pretty happy with your upper body, or you are at least willing to put your upper body muscles on the back burner so you can dedicate.
More of your time and your effort to your lower body. Now, if you’re wondering why you can’t have it all, why can’t you just maximize the development of all the muscle groups in your body, maybe with like a full body workout split, for example. Well, there are some constraints. Take time. Do you have two to three hours per day, five days per week, maybe even six days per week to be in the.
Can you do two a days? Because if you are an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter, that’s what it would take to maximize training stimulus for all major muscle groups because you’re gonna have to do probably 15 to 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week, let’s say you have the time and you have the inclination to spend your time.
Like that there is the effort. Are you willing to put in that much effort? Because that is hard, and I’ve done it before in the past when I was younger and invincible, the old three hours of training per day. Some people don’t want to work that hard, but let’s say you do. You’re like, yep, I will work that hard.
Okay, now we have recovery. Can you recover from that much training? Most people can’t. What. Those of us who are not on a lot of drugs generally have to do is we have to focus on one or two, maybe three muscle groups in a training block, and three would be smaller muscle groups like, okay, our shoulders, our biceps in our chest.
That’s a good example. You can probably get away with that, but you could not get away with, alright, I wanna focus on my. And my back and my legs. You’re probably gonna have to focus on just your legs, for example, and get in the 15 to 20 hard sets per week on your legs or your lower body. We could throw in the glutes as well.
We could throw in calves if you wanna train those directly. And then you are going to have to probably use, uh, a more of a maintenance level volume on the rest of. Muscle groups, something around 10 to 12 hard sets per week, which is generally not enough to progress if you are an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter, but it’s certainly enough to maintain everything you have.
So then maybe in your next training block, You want to focus maybe on your pressing muscles. And so this is the mindset that you have to adopt as you become an intermediate and an advanced weightlifter. When you were a newbie, you could maximize the development of everything because it didn’t require as much volume.
So anyway, coming back to workout splits, just know that you don’t have to follow one particular. But you do have to follow a few non-negotiable training tenants. You have to implement progressive overload in your program. You have to use the right amount of volume and intensity. You have to include the right amount of rest and recovery in your program.
You have to do a lot of the right types of. Exercises, you’re gonna have to do a lot of compound exercises, and you’re gonna have to do ones that are safe and effective. And isolation exercises are great as well, and some are better than others. And many workout splits can do the trick, but some do make all of that.
Easier than others. For some people, so for example, body part splits often make it difficult to train a muscle group more than once per week, which is a good idea if you’re trying to maximize the growth of that muscle group. Particularly if you are an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter who has to do 15 to 20 hard sets per week for that muscle group to maximize its development.
It would be a mistake to do all of those sets in one session because research shows that beyond. 10 sets for an individual muscle group in an individual session. You are now in the realm of diminishing returns that the next five sets, so let’s say you go from 10 to 15, those additional five sets are going to be less effective as a training stimulus than.
Ending that workout at 10 or doing something else, stopping at 10, and then doing those additional five on another day. Now many full body workout splits suffer from the opposite issue. They tend to overdevelop some muscle groups and under develop. Others, many full body splits that I’ve seen are very lower body centric, which is fine if that’s what you want to do, or are very squat bench and deadlift centric, which is again, fine if that’s your goal.
If your goal is to get as strong as possible on those exercises, that’s great, but. That may mean that some of the smaller muscle groups are not going to develop the way that you may want them to. Your shoulders may not develop the way that you want them to. Your triceps may not develop as quickly as you’d like.
Your back and your lats in particular may not develop as quickly as you’d like. So when you are contemplating your training programming and what split or splits you should or shouldn’t be following, don’t think in a rigid, mutually exclusive manner. Uh, to use the terms of Jim Collins who wrote Good, great, and Built To Last In business books don’t submit to the tyranny of the ore.
You can have this or that, but you can’t have both. You can have an upper lower. Or a push pull legs or a full body. Instead, embrace the genius of the, and as Collins says, so you could have the push pull legs maybe as a base and an upper body day in there, because that makes sense. Or maybe it’s lower body because that makes sense for you.
And if it fit your goals, you could throw in an arms day. So there is a little bro split action. And then maybe a full body workout too, just to deliver a little bit more volume, a little bit more training stimulus to several muscle groups that you want to make sure are developing as quickly as possible, or you want to make sure are not backslid.
Okay, that’s it for the highlights from the Best Workout Split for Gaining Muscle. And if you want to listen to that episode, it was also published in September of 2021, so you can just go back and find it and check it out. And now lastly, we have how the Stockdale Paradox can change your life. As the highest ranking officer in the Hanoi Hilton prisoner of war camp during the height of the Vietnam War, Jim Stockdale knew he was not getting out anytime soon.
Instead, he was tortured regularly and he had no prisoner’s rights. He had no release date or really any reason to believe that he would live long. To see his family or his country again. Despite all this though, Stockdale refused to give in. He did everything he could to keep his fellow prisoners alive, and he also worked tirelessly to stymie his captor’s attempts at using him and his comrades for propaganda, even going as far as disfiguring himself, so he couldn’t be held up as an example of a well.
Prisoner Stockdale encoded intelligence messages into letters to his wife, risking brutal torture and death. He devised guidelines for dealing with torture that increased his fellow soldiers odds of survival, as well as a morse code like system of communication, using taps to ease the isolation anxiety among the men, just to name a few of the things.
Stockdale did wall imprisoned, and when it was all said and done, Jim Stockdale spent eight years in captivity and after his release following the American withdrawal from the war, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Now, it’s hard to imagine even for a moment what. Stockdale’s experience must have been like, how in the hell did he not just collapse into a completely catatonic state?
How did he find the strength to stand up every day and continue to work against the enemy? What was the secret of his unbreakable will? Where did his hope come from? Well, Quoted from the fantastic book, good to Great. Here is the answer in his own words quote. I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.
This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you’ll prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose with the discipline to. The most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. Now, Jim Collins, the author of Good, great, he called this Mentality the Stockdale Paradox.
The belief that you will prevail in the end harmoniously coexisting with the willingness to face the darkest facets of your current circumstances. Now, when Stockdale was asked about the people who didn’t make it, his reply was very interesting. He said. Quote, the optimists. That’s right. He said that the optimist were the ones that didn’t make it.
He said that they were the ones who said, we’re gonna be out by Christmas, and Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. They’d then say, we’re gonna be out by Easter. And Easter would come, and Easter would go, and then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again, and they died of a broken heart.
Now I think that this message is powerful because what it says is that hope is vital, but unbridled optimism, especially when a borders on delusion can be very dangerous. Winston Churchill knew this as well, which is why he created the statistical office early in the war, and he assigned it a very specific job.
He wanted it to feed him unfiltered facts and data about the conflict. No matter how disturbing, Churchill said that he had no need for cheering dreams because facts are. Than dreams. And he said this at a time when the Nazi blitz Grieg was stampeding through Europe, a dark time, a bleak time, especially for Britain.
And Churchill end up relying very heavily on this department throughout the entire war. And he could not have made the decisions he made without the willingness to face things as they. Not as he wished they were. Now, while it’s doubtful that we’ll ever have to face personal hardships like stockdales or carry burdens as heaviest Churchills, we can count on this.
We are going to have to deal with shitty situations that we feel are unfair or maybe even unbearable. We’re going to suffer setbacks. We’re going to suffer disappointments. They may be completely without reason or even sometimes without anyone clear to blame. The bottom line is if we are going to go anywhere and if we’re gonna do anything meaningful in our lives, there are going to be obstacles, many, many obstacles, and many, many large and intimidating obstacles, and how we deal with these inevitable difficulties.
Is going to define who we really are as people. Are we gonna be like the unfortunate optimists that Succumbeded in Hanoi, unwilling to see the forest for the trees, or are we gonna be like the stoical? Stockdale never giving up, but also never giving into fantasies of imminent bliss. Are we gonna sit in our hands with our heads in the sand, or are we going to never stop working toward our goals while also maintaining full awareness of what really lies ahead of how much work lies ahead of where we are versus where we want to be.
All right. Well, I hope you liked what I chose for you from the episode, how the Stockdale Paradox can change your life. And if you want to listen to that episode, it was published in April of 2018. So go back and find it and I hope you like it. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share.
Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.