About Experiment Without Limits
“Rather than thinking about these tactics and how they can work harder, are you working on the right things? This comes back to some of the questions we've been asking today, what do you value? What are you optimizing for in your life? What is your vision? What are you trying to create?” – Chris Sparks
Almost exactly two years ago Chris Sparks joined me as our very first guest on Outlier Academy. In this episode he’s back to explore his peak performance and productivity coaching work at Forcing Function. This time, to decode how he works with elite founders, investors, and even artists, to optimize their performance, clarify their goals, and make more progress each day.
Chris works with elite founders, investors, and operators in his twice-yearly program, Team Performance Training, which accepts fifteen students at a time and takes them through his ten-week program.
For more, explore the transcript of this episode.
If you're ready to become an elite performer, consider applying for Chris Sparks's group coaching program, Team Performance Training. In Team Performance Training, Chris will teach you how to optimize your productivity, increase your personal leverage, and show up as your best self every day. There are fifteen spots available in Cohort 4 with applications open until the 27th of September.
Learn more at teamperformancetraining.com.
This episode is our definitive guide to achieving peak performance through experimentation. In it we cover:
- (00:00:00) – Introduction
- (00:02:36) – From poker pro to peak performance
- (00:06:25) – Productivity vs. peak performance
- (00:09:51) – Team Performance Training
- (00:19:33) – Understanding your own values
- (00:25:16) – Dissonance between goals and reality
- (00:37:51) – Writing your personal vision statement
- (00:51:31) – The plan, experiment, reflect flywheel
- (01:07:08) – Systems minimize downtime
- (01:21:25) – Maximizing attention and energy
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
Our Favorite Quotes
Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:
- “Simply put, simple systems minimize downtime. So what we're trying to optimize for is the system to be functioning correctly as often as possible.”
- “The improvement loop is at any moment in time and any dimension of my life or career, I'm always doing one of three things: planning, experimenting, or reflecting.”
- “A starting point that I have with every client is trying to bring to the surface, "Right now, what's most important to you? What are you optimizing for?" And this becomes this automatic reflexive, habitual question, "What should I do next?" Well, what optimizes for that the most?”
- “If I can work backwards from, "This is the thing I want to create in the world, this is what I want to achieve." What did I need to do in order to get there, and how can I break that down into manageable, digestible steps so that I can make progress towards this on a regular basis?”
- “I think of productivity as a gateway to self-awareness and to thinking about, what do I really want out of life? What are the things that really work well for me? How do I do more of that? And just the recognition that productivity is what we would refer to as instrumental value versus a terminal value. So it's instrumental in that it's a means to an end.”
- “A good rule of thumb is, how can you make your learning active rather than passive? If you listen to a podcast episode or an interview or you read a book and you don't change anything about your life after reading or watching it, what are you doing?”
- “If someone says something is the most important thing to them, that gives me a lot of leeway to say, 'All right. If this is the most important thing, then what does that mean you should be doing? If not, is it really the most important thing to you?'"
5 Ways to Dive Deeper
Want to dive deeper? Here the best content we've curated on this subject:
- #1 The Forcing Function: The Commonalities of Peak Performance | Chris Sparks, Founder & CEO: Chris was our very first guest on Outlier Academy - check out this episode full of his productivity tips. (56 Min)
- Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse: Chris recommends this book focused on the importance of staying in the game. (1Hr 33 Min)
- Experiment without Limits: Inside the Creative Process: For more on planning and reflection, check out Chris’ own book. (5 Hr)
- 100+ Resources for Optimizing Productivity and Performance | Forcing Function: Chris has put together an extensive list of products, apps, and tools to experiment with for your own peak performance. (34 Min)
- The Forcing Function Performance Library | Forcing Function: Chris has curated and organized books, academic papers, blog posts, and more on peak performance. (20 Min)
The following books came up in this conversation with Chris Sparks:
We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:
- Team Performance Training | Forcing Function
- Barbell Investment Strategy | Investopedia
- Spot the Difference | Reader’s Digest
- S.M.A.R.T. goals | Wikipedia
- David Eldar | Wikipedia
- Coachella | Music and Arts Festival
- Xerox | Workplace and Digital Printing Solutions
- IBM | International Business Machines
- Eric Lewis | Wikipedia
- Quarterly Review Worksheet | Forcing Function
- Annual Vision Worksheet | Forcing Function
- Day Planning Template | Forcing Function
- Expected Value Calculator | Forcing Function
- Habit Tracker Worksheet | Forcing Function
- Top Values Worksheet | Forcing Function