Do the Opposite to Get Results

Bottom Line Up Front: Doing the exact opposite of the conventional wisdom or what you have been doing may be the key to making you mission capable.


Imagine I told you the right thing to do was to encourage alcoholics to drink each morning because their head hurts otherwise or to stop running because it makes you breathe heavily as soon as you start. You would say I am crazy, right? The right thing to do is get free of the bonds of alcoholism, kick the addition. The right thing is to progressively run farther and faster until you aren’t exhausted in the first 50 meters. You know the only way to get past either of these barriers is not to challenge yourself less; it is to challenge yourself MORE!

George Costanza figured out in episode 22 in Season 5 of Seinfeld that everything in his life was the opposite of how he wanted it. He decided he would do the opposite of every decision he would normally make. Clearly this had tremendous results. It also made for great television.

Here are the top 5 things most people do when they should do the opposite (like George did).

1. Sit as much as possible…because it hurts to stand. Just like you shouldn’t be surprised that you won’t get stronger if you don’t lift heavy things, you shouldn’t be surprised that you are in pain when you stand if you never stand! Most Americans get up from bed, go to a table to eat, drive to work in a car, sit at a desk all day, sit on the couch at home, and go to bed. They are really just sitting all day with an occasional break to go sit somewhere else! Don’t avoid standing because it hurts. Progressively stand more and more until you can do it more than you sit. Sitting is only making you weaker not resting your body.

2. Wear shoes with big puffy soles and oversized heels…because their feet hurt when they run/walk/exercise. Your feet weren’t meant to have shoes. Over thousands and thousands of years, the human body got to the point where it is today. The curve of the spine, the positioning of the hips, the bend of the knees is all effective because is it a system. When you throw shoes, any shoes, on your feet, you have adjusted the system from the bottom. This has ripple effects all throughout the rest of the body. The effects are bad. Wear shoes with the thinnest and flattest soles you can find. Go barefoot as often as you can. This will make your feet stronger and improve your arches, not hurt them.

3. Wash their hands incessantly…because germs are bad for you. Western society has become hyper-sanitized. The germs that are around us all the time are both good and bad for us. Kids should be playing in the dirt. They should not be using hand sanitizer all the time. Kids who are exposed to more germs as children are healthier as adults.

4. Drink coffee (Red Bull, Monster, etc.) in the middle of the afternoon or throughout the day…because they can’t stay awake without it. If you have a problem with alertness and energy, adding in more stimulants isn’t the answer. The answer is get the right amount (7-9 hours) of good, quality sleep. Make it a priority.

5. Workout more and rest less as they age…because they “get worse” if they don’t. I don’t know how many senior Soldiers I know who swear that if they don’t run every day they immediately get slower. How well you recover is based on a lot of factors like sleep, stress, nutrition, and genetics. Another huge one is age. You will not recover at 50 like you did at 20 no matter how well you eat or sleep. You should be resting more not less as you age. Thinking that taking a week off makes you worse is all in your head too.


QUESTION: Is there anything else you do that is opposed to the conventional wisdom? Post thoughts to the comments section below.


Further Reading

  1. “The Opposite”, Season 5, Episode 22 of Seinfeld.
  2. You Might Want to Sit Down for This
  3. Keep your kid’s heels on the ground | Feat. Kelly Starrett | MobilityWOD
  4. How to Safely Expose Your Kids to Dirt
  5. Don’t Be a Stick in the Mud: Why You Should Let Your Kids Get Dirty
  6. How to Get Better Sleep: The Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Sleep Deprivation

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