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What's Your Misogi?

Tell me about your most epic adventure

What's Your Misogi?

I’ve written about the concept of Misogi in the 2% Newsletter before. As a reminder, it’s the act of taking on a challenge that you have a 50/50 shot of accomplishing to expand your capabilities.

This week, we’ll give a quick overview of Misogi (skip down to "The Rules and Guidelines" section if you feel well-versed) then we’ll explore why the two Misogi guidelines are so important and how to find your own Misogi.

The Case for Misogi

Over the course of human evolution, it was essential for our survival to do hard things. To be challenged.

We didn’t choose these challenges. They were part of life and didn’t come with safety nets.

These challenges could come from big hunts, moving from summering to wintering grounds, or a tiger lurking in the bushes.

Each time we would take on one of these challenges, we'd go beyond the edges of what we thought we were capable of. And by surfing those edges, we'd find that we’re capable of more than we realized.

But very recently in the grand scheme of humanity, many of us can survive without being challenged. We can have plenty of food, water, shelter, etc.

By not being challenged, we miss something vital about being human. We never realize what we’re capable of and this limits us.

Enter Misogi. It’s a circumnavigation of the edges of your potential to expand them.

The idea is this: Once a year, go out into nature and do something really hard. The point is to mimic the ancient challenges that humans used to face.

My friend Marcus Elliott first developed the idea of the modern Misogi. He’s a Harvard-trained physician who owns P3, a sports science facility that uses deep biometric data to improve pro athlete performance. But he also realizes that what truly improves his athletes can’t always be measured—it happens between the ears when an athlete accesses previously untapped potential.

The Rules and Guidelines of Misogi

There are two rules of Misogi.

Rule 1: Make it really hard. What's "really hard?" Answer: You should have a 50/50 shot at finishing whatever task you take on.

A true 50/50 shot. This is important because when we take on challenges today, we usually know they’re going to complete them. For example, no one runs a marathon wondering whether they'll finish. They wonder whether they'll finish under some arbitrary time goal. E.g., four hours.

Rule 2: Don't die. This one is self-explanatory … and a joke. I gave a talk in Miami the other day, and a woman thought this was serious. It’s a reminder to be safe. Bring water. Bring a phone. Don't be dumb.

Misogis also have two guidelines. And it’s not a Misogi if you don’t follow these guidelines.

Guideline 1: The Misogi should be quirky, creative, and far out. Something uncommon. “The more quirky the Misogi, the less chance you can compare it to anything else,” Elliott told me. When you remove superficial metrics, you can accomplish far more.

Guideline 2: Don’t advertise your Misogi. It’s okay to talk about Misogi with friends and family. But you don’t Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, or boast about your Misogi. “Misogis are inward facing,” Elliott told me. “A big part of the value proposition is that I’m going to do something really uncomfortable. I’m going to want to quit. And it’s going to be hard not to quit because no one is watching. But I’m not going to quit because I’m watching. And then I can reflect on how I still rose to the occasion in a big way. There’s some deep satisfaction in that. Did you really do what you think is the right thing when you were the only person watching? Or do you need an audience or a big pat on the back for that? Are you not important enough to do it for yourself? We had this guideline before social media, and it seems more relevant today.”

The Problem With the Guidelines—and How We Can Solve It

These guidelines are critical. But they can also present a problem. The quirky and unpublic nature of Misogis also makes it harder for others to get ideas for their own Misogis. For example, we run marathons because other people run them too.

Because people don’t advertise their Misogis, it’s not easy to come up with your own. This is why I’ve had hundreds of people reach out to me asking for a suggestion of exactly what they should do for their Misogi.

It’s an impossible question to answer. Fifty-fifty is different for everyone—that’s what makes Misogis so compelling. So I usually refer the person back to the rules and guidelines and tell them to introspect.

I love the self-examination of figuring out what weird task I think I may or may not be able to complete. But I also realize some people need more direction. And I’d rather someone do a Misogi with a little guidance than never try because they can’t figure out what to do.

This is why I’m asking for your help solving that problem.

If you’ve done a Misogi, please reply to this message and send me exactly what you did. (Don’t worry, you’re not breaking the guideline because it’s not a public share).

I’ll then start a webpage that lists Misogis people have done. It will all be anonymous. I’ll list only the person’s first name, age, and brief details of their Misogi. No Misogi is too small or too big. Send it all.

The idea is to provide a resource to the 2% community so we can get ideas for future Misogis.

Again, if you want to help, please reply to this email and send your age and a few brief details about your Misogi. Thank you.

2% Top Two

My two favorite things from the past week ...

My Hotel Gym Routine

This six-move workout structure is easy to implement on the road.

These Notebooks

I've used them to report all my books. They fit in a pocket and are waterproof. I always buy the orange cover because it's easier to see in a bag or if you set it on the ground.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week,


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When I decided to accept sponsorships for this newsletter, GORUCK was a natural fit. Not only is the company's story included in The Comfort Crisis, but I've been using GORUCK's gear since the brand was founded. Seriously. They've been around ~12 years and I still regularly use a pack of theirs that is 11 years old. Their gear is made in the USA by former Special Forces soldiers. They make my favorite rucking setup: A Rucker and Ruck Plate.