Treat Hard Days Like A Holiday

The smartest quote I ever heard about poker was from Chip Reese. "If you want to really get to know a poker player, watch him when things are going bad."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one of the greatest thinkers of our era, says you shouldn’t trust an idea unless it’s been tested through the ages. Chances are, if it’s been considered a good idea from the time of the ancients up until present day, then it is a good idea. It has been tested for so long that it’s less likely to be fragile.

The same can be said for people.

I do not trust any poker player who has been successful for two to three years. Every year there’s some new guy who is supposed to be the next great thing. Every year last year’s guy disappears without a trace, and nobody says a word about it.

I want to talk to the guy who has been paying his bills from poker since the 1990’s. He usually doesn’t look like a poker player. He’s usually quiet. He usually doesn’t want to talk to me, or anyone for that matter. But he will say the smartest things about the game. Because anything he still uses has been tested for almost 30 years.

You won’t get that from the 20-something who probably never paid a bill of his own before he got his live event score.
I like the old grinders who are still making it happen. Those guys are the Undisputed Champions forged from a 100+ bouts. They have learned a great deal from their times on the canvas. They know how to get back up.

Forget hard days. How many hard years have these guys had? How many times did they think of just getting a job at a loading dock? Yet, here they are, still making it happen.

I want to know what that guy knows.

Sadly, research has proven that most of us, myself included, do not learn from good advice. We need to touch the hot stove before we know it’s hot.

Hard days, then, are necessary to learn harder lessons.

Hard days are a chance to prove your elasticity. They help you discount ideas that are no longer beneficial to you.

Hard days are an opportunity to get ahead of the other guy.

Do you think any champion ever got there without going through a hundred rough days? A thousand?

The truth is, everybody goes through tough days. Every single person on Earth. What separates champions from the average guy is their ability to show up at the gym when they feel terrible. What separates them is their willingness to study when they haven’t been winning at poker for seven months.

You know what’s going to happen if you put in mediocre effort. You will keep getting the mediocre results you’ve always gotten. If you throw your all into something, however, no one knows what will happen.

I truly believe men are not men until they experience that breaking point. I don’t believe you know yourself as a man until you’ve screamed through tears because the pain of exhaustion was too much to bear.

If you get through that, you will know that no one can conquer you. You will have conquered yourself.

How do you get from Triple-A ball to the Major Leagues? You get one extra hit a week. One hit more than you were getting a week before. When you go 0 for 4 at the plate, you find a way to get a single on the fifth time up. You don’t concede anything.

How do you get from playing poker as a hobby to professional status? It’s one extra big bet per session. One extra hour.

Another $20 saved that wasn’t saved the Monday before.

The hard days are a chance to prove you’re not weak.

You don’t have to be strong. You just have to get through it. You just have to show up.

"There’s no talent here. This is hard work," as Conor McGregor put it.

To separate yourself, you have to show up every single day, whether you feel like it or not. Nothing else will separate you. 

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