A mathematical illustration shows a person on an upward curving graph path, approaching a bright symbol at the top, symbolizing success. The cheerful figure, carrying a backpack, walks on a grid with axes and coordinates, with subtle mathematical symbols in the background.

How anyone can get good results without going insane

My mentality behind good results, and how i came to this conclusion.

tldr: Don't try to win, do the thing that ensures winning is inevitable.

mistake minimization

When I used to play football as a goalkeeper it was drilled into my head that the key to winning was keeping the score sheet empty. It was super different to winning as a striker, you could miss 100 shots, but if you scored the 101st, and that put you in the lead, your team won the game. For the goalkeeper, if you conceded that 101st goal, none of the previous 100 mattered. So, I bought in to no mistakes === success.

This mindset was incredibly taxing. Every game without conceding a goal left me feeling super stoked and also bittersweet, after all I couldn't possibly do any better, so I might as well quit while I'm ahead. But, every time I conceded a goal it would shatter my mindset and any previous successful performances. My answer to these setbacks was always practice. So, from 2012 to 2017, I had a very unhealthy obsession with practicing goalkeeping joylessly and relentlessly.

play good football

When I quit football 6 years ago, I realised how insane this mindset was. No keeper can perpetually avoid conceding goals; mistakes are an inevitable part of the game.

After reflecting, I realised the mental solution: if you only focus on playing "good football", success will naturally follow. It's a dynamic yet achievable goal: consistently play what you perceive as 'good football,' and as your understanding of what constitutes good football improves, your chances of winning increases. Crucially, this mindset accommodates losing. Losing a game doesn't mean you played bad football and winning doesn't mean you played good football.

This approach is incredibly liberating. It removes the unrealistic burden of perfection, focusing instead on the dynamic and controllable aspects of the game. Adopting this mindset would have meant that each time I stepped onto the pitch, I was tending towards success. As opposed to my old mindset where stepping on to the pitch was only opening the door to making a mistake and failing.

success as an asymptotic goal

My approach to success today is built on this reflection. Identify one dynamic element I can control, which tends towards success. This ensures that all successful outcomes are natural byproducts of this pursuit.

For my business in Helsinki, the focus was on improving the quality of each event. “Throw great events” and every event that was “great” was a step along the asymptotic path to business success. For getting good grades in school the focus was on feeling less confused. If I asked myself enough questions and reflected on my studies until I felt less and less confused I knew I was learning more and would get good grades. For my side projects, I focus on creating real value for myself and others. The real value here is dynamic and controllable, so striving in this direction will certainly result in success! 🤞