Tag Archive | Quality

The Quality Game

Always do your best. (Miguel Ruiz)

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Quality Game?”

“It’s a spiritual game, with a double meaning:

the game of playing every game well (Wisdom, Character, Moral Excellence)

the game of doing everything well (Mastery, Technical Excellence)

I like to think of them in aesthetic terms:

Play beautiful.
Do everything beautifully.


One Rep

Learn the macro from the micro. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I internalize quality?”

Always focus on one quality rep.

Internalize that every rep is the most important rep.

If you think ‘I’m doing 5 reps’, you’re focusing on the outcome.
Shift focus to the process.

‘I’m doing one quality rep.’

If you’re not successful, try again,
and again, and again,
until you get one.

If you’re successful, do another quality rep.
Then another. Then another.

You may reach 5, or not.
It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you’re prioritizing quality over quantity.

You’re learning the macro – the Quality principle – from the micro – every little rep.”

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.”

Internalizing Quality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I internalize quality?”

“Count only quality reps.”

Quality Oscillation

To turn it on, learn to turn it off. (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning)

Relaxation is essential for the full expression of power. (George Leonard, Mastery)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

The quality of the on depends on the quality of the off.

“What does quality oscillation look like?”

100% On / 100% Off.

That means two things:

Total Disengagement (Letting Go)
Total Relaxation (Breathing, Centering, Letting Go, De-Tensing)

“Like a reboot?”

“Or a reset [<link; medium read].”

Quality Reps

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How many rep(etition)s are you doing?”

“10 reps.”

Think not in reps but in quality reps (q-reps).

A q-rep is a perfect rep.
A q-rep is a mindful rep.
A q-rep is a learning cycle [<link; medium read].

Better to do 5 q-reps than 10 mindless reps.”

“So the process is, I do as many reps as it takes until I do a q-rep. That’s one. Then I repeat this process four more times.”


There’s also a hardcore level:

Doing 5 q-reps in a row. Whenever you fail to do a q-rep, you start back from one.

This is a staple of Parkour training.”

Learning Efficiency

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

So to maximize learning efficiency I need to maximize the number of rep(etition)s?

Broadly speaking, yes. However that’s just one aspect of it.

Remember what I called the three principles of movement [<link; medium read]?


This framework (QQV) applies to learning as well.

Maximizing the number of reps (rep maximization) is the Quantity aspect.

Maximizing the learning per rep is the Quality aspect. A quality rep (QReps) is a learning cycle [<link; short read].

Is this what’s meant by deliberate practice?


Then there’s a principle of learning called interleaving. This basically means varying your practice. Instead of practicing one thing over and over again, it’s more efficient to practice multiple related things. We might call these, synergistic reps (SReps).

To maximize learning efficiency, you need to maximize all these three aspects. 

Quantity: Rep maximization
Quality: QRep maximization
Variety: SRep maximization

This is a beautiful design process.

On Burpees and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I get to 100 burpees every day like Brian Johnson does?”

“Understand that it’s as much mental as it is physical. You have to make it meaningful.

Deeply internalize that Energy is your most important resource. It’s an enabler for everything you do. Movement is one essential aspect of Energy – and your overall well-being –, next to Rest/Recovery and Nutrition.

The most important systems of personal meaning are your Identity and your Values. You have to integrate Movement into both of these systems.

Embrace your identity of Mover / Athlete.
Embrace Movement as one of your primary Values.

In strategic terms, do them in small sets, and spread them out throughout the day. To ensure consistency, have a system for it.”

“What does your system look like?

“I use the following terminology:

Micro-Unit = 1 burpee (the floor)
Unit = 5 burpees
Macro-Unit = 2 x Unit = 10 burpees (the ceiling)

I like multiples of 5 because they’re easier to count. 

The key to consistency, I found, is connecting the burpee habit with other activities.

More specifically, with my work time. I do 3 units (3 x 5) during every work hour: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. If for any reason I skip one, I do a macro-unit (10) next time.

The beauty of this system is that, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need to track your overall daily progress. You know that if you’ve worked 6 hours, you’ve done 90 burpees.”

“What if I can barely do 5 burpees? How can I build up to it?”

To build up to it, adjust the unit. 

Start with the micro-unit – 1 burpee. This is the habit-seed [<medium; short read]. 
Stay at 1 burpee until it feels easy, then add another one. This becomes your new unit.

Whenever the unit feels easy, add another rep.

Whenever you feel tired during the day and feel you can no longer sustain the volume, gradually scale down the unit for the day, all the way to the micro-unit if need be. It’s more important to maintain the habit – three units per hour, however small the unit – than to reach 100.

Focus on Quality. (Perfect/Quality Reps

Think of every burpee session as a micro meditation. Start every single one by taking a deep breath and connecting with yourself (Centering). 

In terms of feedback, use sound and markings on the floor to assess quality. The less sound you make – this is called Stealth in Parkour –, and the more precise your hand and foot placement, the better the quality of the rep.

You can also add Variety from time to time and experiment with various types of burpees.”

On Learning and Quality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize learning?”

“Realize that there’s two aspects to it: the learning foundation, and the learning process.

The former refers to getting yourself in a peak mental and emotional state for learning. That means optimizing what Brian Johnson calls the Fundamentals:


It also means training your capacity to focus.

As concerns the latter, start by asking a better question.

What exactly do you want to optimize about the learning process?”

“I want to maximize learning density [<link; short read]. The amount of learning I get done every day.”

“The problem with that statement is that it focuses only on quantity.

Let’s say you get a lot of learning done in a day, but of low quality. Think cramming for an exam. You have a high density, but very low quality.

The learning process has an input and an output. Let’s say you have a lot of efficient input in a day but zero output. You have a high density, but an imbalanced input/output ratio [<link; short read].

You want to get more learning done every day. (Quantity)


You want to get more out of your learning every day. (Quality)
You want to be more present in your learning every day. (Quality)
You want to be more balanced in your learning every day [<link; medium read]. (Quality)

Quality has four components: Effectiveness, Efficiency, Presence, and Balance.

We can think of effectiveness as the macro, and efficiency as the micro. Strategy and tactics. Both are essential.

To maximize density, maximize efficiency. 

Better still, focus on maximizing all aspects of Quality. You can think of them as the Quality-checklist.”

On practicing Quality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How many re(petition)s did you do?”


“How many quality reps?”

“Maybe two or three.”

“Those are the only ones that count.

Make it a habit to only count quality reps.

“How can I maximize the number of quality reps?”

“Make it a game. Remind yourself of it by setting the intention before every practice.

Be your own coach. Slow down. Create space for reflection.

Make every rep a learning cycle [<link; short read].”