Extremifying

Here’s a little trick I picked up I-don’t-know when. I just now decided to name it. I’m calling it “extremifying.”

Extremifying is the act or process of making something more extreme than it already is.

I’ve used this to great advantage over the past few years, and I’m naming it now because I’m planning to both continue using it in the future and start recommending it to others.

I’m not sure when I first started with it, but one example that comes to mind is when I tried to grow dreadlocks. I’d already made up my mind to grow my hair out pretty long. The next question I asked then was, how can I go even more extreme?

The answer to that question, at least for me, was to try to grow dreads. Dreads felt like the extreme version of long hair. So that’s what I did – that’s what I tried.

Another example that comes to mind is when I read the Bible in a month. I realized I wanted to read the Bible, so one of the next questions I asked myself was, how can I go even more extreme?

My answer to that question was to challenge myself to try to finish the entire Bible in a month, actually less than that because I spent the first week of the month finishing finals.

Those are just two examples. I’ve also extremified writing (writing a 100-page script in a month, writing a 100-page letter, writing every day), eating (eating a jar of peanut butter a day for a month, eating “live”¬†octopus), and earning a university degree (finishing two in three years), to name some others.

I thought moving to Korea would feel extreme enough. And for the first few month or so, I guess it was. But I soon realized I needed to up the challenge. So I added various secret projects on top of just living here, which leads to the next point.

In some cases, most that I’ve tried, it’s easier to accomplish things once they’re extremified. Without adding to the challenge (and the reward), projects can feel too boring, too normal, too ordinary. Extremified, though, they suddenly feel more exciting, which helps provide the needed motivation to pursue them.

Extremifying also weeds out the competition (maybe that’s really why the motivation goes up). When trying to do something everyone else is already trying to do, it’s not all that inspiring. When you take on a challenge few have tried, much less accomplished, it’s much more inspiring.

On top of that, once you commit to a difficult but inspiring challenge, it’s much easier to recruit others to radically support you. Some people will think you’re crazy, yes, but others will recognize the potential and be inspired themselves. These ones will be much more willing to contribute because they know you need all the help you can get.

I didn’t realize it until recently, but basically all the projects I’ve especially enjoyed over the past few years, whether ones I led or ones I joined, have been extremified projects.

But maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you’re not as driven by challenges as I am. If you are, though, or if you want to get me involved, one of the best ways I’ve discovered is through extremifying.

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