A Step by Step Guide to Toe The Line

Posted by Ryan Cogan on 2nd Nov 2017

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

Napoleon Hill’s book think and grow rich is a guide book on how to create riches. The book focuses on monetary riches but the skills and philosophies Napoleon Hill speaks on can be used to create riches in any and all areas in which you desire to make improvement. I strongly recommend giving this book a read through and then another read through.

Last week we gave a basic framework of what Toe The Line is. This week we are going to run through a step by step process on how to implement Toe The Line to achieve a goal.

Step 1. Desire

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” -Napoleon Hill

It can be very difficult to work hard on something that you are not passionate about and nearly impossible to achieve greatness in said something. Step one starts with finding your desire. Maybe your goal is something simple like a 300 lb back squat. By simple I only mean that this goal is binary and for me does not have enough depth. I would urge you to dig a bit deeper than something like a 300# back squat. Why do you want to squat 300 lb? Maybe you have your first CrossFit competition coming up and you want to have the best showing possible. That goal is something that you can get emotional about. You can envision yourself finishing the last workout. You can dream about what it will feel like when all of your time in the gym is put to use as you tackle the grueling day of competition. You can see your name on the leaderboard and that you beat however many people that day.

Everyone’s Desires will be different. It is imperative that your desire something that stimulates an emotional response when you envision standing atop the mountain of your achievement.

Step 2. Start Immediately

You must not sit back and wait for your desire to come to you. This simply will not happen. Every action you take toward achieving your desire matters. Every second you sit stagnant is a second that could have gone toward achieving your goal. The road will be bumpy at first and that is where step 3 comes into the fold. Maybe you have already started and you know what is holding you back from your goal. If that is the case, you can skip to step 4 although, I would recommend reading step 3 as it is unlikely every goal you desire will be one in which you already have experience.

Step 3. Discover Your Line

Ok, you have begun your journey to success. Now you must learn everything that will stand in your way on your journey. Think of anything and everything that you can foresee standing in the way of your goal. I urge you to be critical of yourself in this step. Do not be negative. Remain confident in your ability to succeed. It is important though that you discover as many of your Lines as possible before proceeding to the next step. It is very likely that you will not be able to foresee every obstacle. That is ok and step 5 will talk about how to react to unexpected events on your journey to success.

You may have to do some testing. Going back to a 300 lb back squat, if you have never tested your 1 rep max back squat, that would be a great data point to have in order to find where your line currently lies. Maybe you want to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company but you know you struggle with face to face interactions. That will certainly be a barrier you have to overcome and you best write it down as a line that will need to be crossed.

Step 4. Plan

Now that you know what stands in your way, you can sit down and create a plan that culminates with you achieving your goal. You will take all of the lines you discovered in step three and write out the necessary steps you believe it will take to cross them. Reusing the CEO example and assuming this imaginary individual decided to tackle his or her lack of social skills first, I would recommend his or her plan start with finding more opportunities to interact with people. Then he or she would plan to add volume and intensity to these social interactions. Interact more and with a wider range of different personalities. Go to larger gatherings to get acclimated with interacting in crowds. If you plan to stay inside of your comfort zone all the time, your progress will be slow or non existent. This plan will not only act as a roadmap to success. It will be a checklist that you can constantly look back on to see how far you've come.

Step 5. Toe The Line

It is time to get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you have completed the previous four steps, step 5 should be the easiest one and certainly the most enjoyable. In the previous 4 steps, you learned your weaknesses and you created a road map that will eventually turn those weaknesses into strengths. The previous 4 steps are just as important as the work required here in step 5 because they paint the picture of your success. It will be easier to Toe The Line when you can envision yourself moving through the steps in your plan and ultimately achieving your goal. So, to Toe The Line, you must keep your desire constantly in mind while diligently sticking to the plan you created. You should be living near your Lines and crossing them occasionally.

Remember, your Lines will act as a barrier, sort of like a brick wall at the top of a slippery slope. Toeing The Line, means you are working to climb that slippery slope with the intention of breaking down that wall. Say your wall is strict pull ups. One brick in that wall will be body weight; one will be form; and one will be strength. There may be many other bricks but from someone who used strict pull ups as one of the pillars of my training program for nearly 2 years, the previously stated bricks will be the ones to focus on. When you start pulling bricks out of your wall, you can begin to see the wall getting weaker. The other bricks in the wall become more transparent. Eventually, through your hard work and completing the steps in your plan, these walls will begin to crumble. Acceleration is inevitable. You will gain skills and knowledge about your goal that you did not even know you needed. The knowledge gained from doing and achieving or doing and failing are equally important.

Step 6. React To Failure

Maybe you perfectly implemented the above 5 steps and completed your goal without failing any steps in your plan along the way. If that is the case, congratulations on your success and on gaining the skill and knowledge of Toe The Line. You are better human and have infinite potential for improving in the future. For many of you though, this is simply not the case. You will have missteps along the way and that is ok. Actually, that is great. The data you can collect from a failure is of paramount importance. If you missed my first article, I suffered an injury when I was really hitting my stride in my training to go to BUD/S. If it was not for that overuse injury, I never would have discovered and implemented self massage and recovery into my training regimen. I was doing physical training 3-4 hrs 6 days a week. I should have already had a strict recovery regimen in my training, but it took this overuse injury and the lessons I learned from it to revamp my plan. My injury was a setback. It stalled my training temporarily. I crossed the line/ jumped over the wall without fully knocking it down first. Sometimes you will get away with crossing your Lines too early. Other times, you will get rejected and spit back out on the wrong side of the Line. It can be a tough pill to swallow initially.

You must look at failure as an opportunity to learn. Why were you rejected? Be honest with yourself and dig deep. If failure snuck up on you because you moved away from your plan, whether that be due to procrastination, fear, or any number of things, your solution is simple. Stick to your plan and make adjustments when necessary but never leave your plan behind. If you diligently followed your plan and one of your walls is simply not coming down no matter how many times you try to cross over to the other side, your plan is likely to blame. It is ok for your plan to be dynamic. My plan to make it to BUD/S changed on a weekly basis in the early days. Over time though, through constantly trying and working both successfully and unsuccessfully, I got better at avoiding failure. Planning became easier because I knew where to focus my time. If your plan is to blame, you must change it and re-engage on your journey to success.

Step 7. Success! 

You will complete your goal. Be proud of yourself and celebrate. What else do you desire? Toe The Line and make it happen.

We want to hear from you. Now that we have enabled comments on the blog, I am excited to start creating a platform for you all to share and discuss your own Toe The Line stories. I will read and reply to every single comment. What do you desire? Tell us about a time you Toed The Line. Were you successful? Tell us about a time you failed to achieve a goal. Did you take it as an opportunity to learn about yourself or was it too discouraging? Nothing is off limits. Let’s help people discover Toe The Line and how it can change their lives.

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