Pull, Don’t Push: How To Achieve Anything (Effortlessly)
We all have heard these motivational quotes.
„Work hard, play hard“, „Life is a grind“ , „Just keep going“, „Sleep when you’re dead“.
It’s the mantra of our generation, and we don’t question it. This situation is no coincidence as we’ve been taught this simple mindset since our early childhood. Teachers, parents, and friends have bombarded us with the same message:
„Push forward, whatever comes in your way.“
But what if those people don’t know any better? What if their own teachers, parents, and friends told them the same old message, day in, day out?
First of all, one thing must be made clear: It’s a great feeling to get things done. Achieving goals is fun, success even addictive.
However, some honesty is also needed – we are all tired. Our bodies, our minds, our families, our economy, and most certainly our environment.
We are tired of pursuing goal after goal. It’s hard to be productive every single day. Also, deep down, we intuitively know that limitless growth is not feasible – at least not in the long run.
And rightly so, there are a number of issues with the conventional approach of relentlessly pushing forward in life.
Loss of Energy: The first reason is obvious – you will get tired and burn out. There is no doubt that people across the world are suffering from the idea of limitless and unhealthy expansion, be it on an individual, local or global level. Limitless growth leads to exhaustion and restlessness. It is certainly no coincidence that psychological illnesses like depression and burnout are increasing at an alarming rate.
Imbalanced Life & Tunnel Vision: If you are rushing towards your goals, you tend to lose overview. Think of an entrepreneur who wants to change the world with his mission, but neglects his family and health along the way. How will money and fame benefit him?
Opportunity Costs: Life on a fast lane will lead to two types of problems. On one hand, you will do careless mistakes because of your relentless speed. On the other hand, you won’t be flexible enough to screen your environment thoroughly. You won’t look left and right, and hence you will miss out on better opportunities along the way. This phenomenon is also known as opportunity costs. One example would be a teenager who desperately wants to succeed as a musician but would be happier being a singing coach.
Pull Versus Push Marketing
People don’t question the lifestyle of pushing forward. With all this hustling, grinding and fighting, one crucial question gets neglected along the way:
What if there is a better way to get stuff done? What if there’s an easier, more efficient and playful way to fulfill your dreams?
Ironically, the world of marketing offers a promising solution approach.
To explain this concept, imagine the scenario of a typical business owner who wants to promote his product or service.
Basically, he can implement two kinds of marketing strategies, a pull- or push-based marketing strategy.
With the push-strategy, a business owner literally pushes his product directly onto his customers. He tries to make them buy as quickly as possible. In practice, this could imply short-term actions like doing ads, commercials and direct sales like phone calls.
With the pull strategy, the business owner takes the opposite approach. Instead of walking up to customers he rather tries to attract them. This could be achieved by using marketing techniques like improving brand awareness, word of mouth referrals or inbound marketing.
What Is Your Hunting Style?
Another great way to think about the difference between push- and pull-based strategies is hunting.
If a hunter follows a push-strategy, he will go out into the forest, look for animals and shoot them directly with a shotgun. Pure, goal-oriented action.
In contrast, if a hunter follows a pull-strategy, he catches animals by using baits and laying traps. Then, every few days, he checks if his traps caught some wild animals.
This simple example highlights the different strengths of both strategies.
If you are really hungry and have nothing to eat, you will go out and hunt for animals with a shotgun. No doubt about that. There’s no time to lose. You are hungry, NOW.
However, if you have some food reserves, the pull-strategy will be a far better choice. You will save time, energy and emotional willpower by “automating” your hunting activities. No need to go into wild nature to hustle you a** off. Not only that, you can use this surplus of resources (time & energy) to improve other areas of your life.
When To Use Which Strategy
The interesting thing about these two strategies is that they can not only be applied to marketing and hunting, but to every aspect of life. They represent two core concepts on which you can build your life around.
And both strategies have their justification for existence. However, both approaches are suited for specific uses cases. Used in the wrong way, their effectiveness will be destroyed.
Sometimes You Need To Push
The push-based strategy is perfectly suited for achieving short-term goals.
Going for a run, delivering a presentation, or having a phone call.
In all of these cases, it’s a matter of simply doing it. No need there to complicate things.
However, if you want to achieve long-term goals, the push-strategy will wear you down.
Pushes are like small sprints. But as we all know, you can’t sprint day in and day out. Human energy, motivation, and willpower are limited. It’s impossible to run towards your goals because eventually you will get hit by an obstacle.
The Rise Of Pull-Based Activities
This is where the pull-strategy comes into play.
Instead of pushing towards your goals, you create an environment that attracts your desired success effortlessly.
Successful examples for the pull-strategy can be be found in business and life.
In fact, the success of pull-strategies has skyrocketed in the last 10 to 15 years. People and organizations start to understand that a new kind of thinking is needed to set yourself apart and achieve long-term success.
In the business world, a great example is business culture design, which focuses on shared values, satisfied employees and a great work environment. The calculation is simple – happy and motivated employees will create successful products and services.
Another example of the pull strategy is meditation. Meditation balances your thoughts and feelings and thus leads to a healthy mind, which again leads to well-grounded actions. Put simply, meditation creates a great mental foundation on which you can build your life around.
How To Pull Success Yourself – Examples From Daily Life
To understand the power of the pull-strategy, let’s compare it with the push-strategy using three common long-term goals:
1. Get wealthy
Push-Strategy – Your goal is simple. Achieving wealth as quickly as possible. Thus, you start to research stories of self-made millionaires and current business trends. After a quick research phase, you come up with several business ideas and decide for the most promising one. Although you don’t know if your business endeavor will turn out to be successful, you quit your job to make it happen.
Pull-Strategy – You realize that getting wealthy is a long-term commitment. While still having a full-time job, you start to break down your interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Based on these results, you come up with several business ideas and validate them with little experiments. After an initial experimentation phase, you decide for the most promising business idea and start to implement it incrementally. After some time, you eventually quit your job because your business generates enough revenue.
2. Get In Shape
Push-Strategy – With a perfect bikini body in mind, you register to your gym nearby. You workout 4 times a week. Although you get tired after some time, you keep fighting in the gym until you reach your bikini figure. But at the end of summer, you eventually experience a YoYo-effect because your motivation declines. Needless to say that you have to start working out all over again.
Pull-Strategy – Before starting to work out, you create an optimal environment that increases your chances of success. This includes an individual training plan, a nutrition schedule as well as the participation in a mastermind group. Besides that, you choose a type of sport which is fun and makes you stick around.
3. Get A Romantic Partner
Push-Strategy – Your flirt mindset is straightforward: The more people you meet, the better. You go to parties, socialize at work and do Tinder. After several dates, rejections, and emotional up&downs, you eventually find a suitable partner.
Pull-Strategy – While you are living a balanced life (i.e. work/education, social life, fitness), you brainstorm new activities you could be interested in. Based on the results, you identify locations in your city where you can pursue these interests (e.g. museum, sports club). You start to visit these locations regularly and get in contact with like-minded people, among them your future partner. Because of your shared interests, getting to know each other will be a no-brainer.
The Problem With Most People’s Lives
People’s lives tend to be centered around push-based activities.
We underestimate the effectiveness of pull-based strategies as well as the negative consequences of push-based actions.
Human beings want results fast – if possible immediately. But who can blame us? In our dopamine- and recreation-addicted society, we choose instant over delayed gratification.
But if you want to become a master of high-leverage action, you need to include pull-strategies in your life. They create room for organic growth and new possibilities. Just think of the hunter example which was mentioned earlier in this blog post.
The Last Time You Experienced Magic
Most people can resonate with the push-strategy. They’ve done it a thousand times in their lives.
But when it comes to pulling success, it gets more abstract. To get a better feel for the pull-strategy, ask yourself one question:
What has been your biggest unexpected success in life so far?
An amazing job opportunity? The perfect life partner? Or maybe a life-changing realization?
And now, in retrospect, what did you do to achieve this success?
Did you actively do something? Did you perform activity A which led to event B?
In other words – did you push?
Probably not. Things just worked out magically. In some crazy way, everything fell together like a domino chain reaction.
This is what the pull-strategy is all about – increasing the chance of magic by designing the right environment. Mechanics meets magic, so to speak.
I know, easier said than done. So, what’s the magic formula?
I will deal with this question extensively in my next blog post. You will learn a flexible framework to start pulling success – no matter what success means to you.