On reps and perfection
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Perfectionism usually has negative connotations.
How do you reconcile the idea of quality rep(etition)s with perfectionism?”
“We can distinguish between different kinds of reps.
Binary reps are reps you either do or don’t do. Did I show up for my work today or not? Did I write today or not? Perfection in this case means consistency.
Quality reps are reps where how you do something matters. I like to distinguish between two kinds of quality reps: process reps and outcome reps.
Outcome reps are reps where you want to get the exact same result every single time. For physical skills, especially skills that have a degree of risk, this is essential. You want 100% success, not 99%. In some endeavors, that 1% can kill you.
Process reps are reps where what matters is doing your best regardless of the outcome. Brian Johnson uses the metaphor of an archer. The only thing the archer can control is the process of setting the arrow loose. Once the arrow is in flight, it’s no longer within his control.
Similarly, the structure of a process rep is doing your best, and letting go.
When focusing on outcome reps, you’re striving for a perfect outcome.
When focusing on process reps, you’re striving for perfect execution.
The problem with perfectionism is not perfection itself, but misplaced expectations – expecting perfection when inappropriate.
For every rep, it is important to identify what kind of rep it is.”